Fighting to Survive
The Importance of BJJ in Law Enforcement
“Control, I’m in a fight.”
Are the distressed words you hear your partner mutter over the radio. Followed by unintelligible screams mixed with the rustling noise of a microphone being keyed up between two bodies. You look at your patrol car’s computer and get an approximate location of where your partner last updated.
The dispatcher broadcast an emergency tone alert and requests your assistance to respond. You activate your siren and overhead red and blue lights while heading in the direction of your parter who is several miles away.. and is fighting to gain control of a violent subject. Does your partner have the ability to maintain control while you navigate through the dark city streets to get to them?
Obligation to the Public
Law enforcement is a career where a large part of the day is interacting with individuals who may be hostile or unpredictable. Interacting with narcotics induced individuals, those experiencing psychosis, violent gang members, or someone just having a bad day may pose inherent risks.
Possessing the confidence and ability to use more than just the tools on your belt is a requisite and an expectation of the public and fellow officers. Having the gift of gab is an excellent self resource, but also having the gift of BJJ becomes necessary when simply talking someone into custody is just not feasible.
Obligation to Yourself
While going home uninjured at the end of shift is one of every officers biggest concern, there is also another key component in recent years. With law enforcement officers being under the spotlight of social media scrutiny, being physically and mentally able to safety apprehend a resisting or fighting individual is ever so important.
As officers, we are constantly reminded to slow the moment of hostile encounters. BJJ is a valuable resource in doing just that when engaged in a violent encounter.
Use of force experts will universally agree, “ineffective force looks like excessive force.” Ineffective and repeated strikes with fists or batons while telling the aggressor to “stop resisting” not only looks bad, but can cause unnecessary injuries and is an over exertion of energy in a fight.
Reliance on an Electronic Control Device (ECD, and commonly known as a TASER) in a fight scenario almost always leads to multiple deployments and the inevitable transition to another tool all together. While the ECD is an excellent tool to be used in a stationary setting, LAPD recently released data showing ECD’s were only effective in the field in approximately 57.5% of applications. While some departments show an effective rate of approximately 75%.
Philosophy Minded Training
In BJJ while on the mats students are taught “position over submission.” This in itself can be considered slowing the momentum. One must first find a way around their opponents resistance (scoring a takedown and passing guard), next one must physically control their opponent and secure a dominant position (obtain side control, mount, etc), and only then one should consider using their favorite submission.
In law enforcement this philosophy is exactly slowing the moment, de-escalating, and rather than “submitting,” is instead securing the individual into handcuffs or other forms of mechanical restraint.
Additionally, BJJ teaches students the body mechanics of our’s and others limbs. While on the mats we are focused on fancy joint locks and Kimura’s, however not releasing the submission when “tapped” will result in an injured training partner. Understanding the limits of joints and proper pressure keeps everyone safe on the mats and in the streets. As an law enforcement officer, knowing the anatomy is a key in preventing unnecessary injuries to a resisting individual who is having a bad day.
Not only is BJJ an excellent tool to reduce injuries to combative individuals, it also applies to a reduction of injuries to officers involved in physical altercation. Rener Gracie through Gracie University conducted a case study which mandated at least one hour of BJJ per week for all officers. Over the course of 18 months this was proven to reduce officer injuries (involved in use of force incidents) by almost 50%.
This is likely due to the conditioning BJJ training provides to your body. While training, students are placed in positions where their flexibility and explosive movements become natural. BJJ is one of the few disciplines where practitioners have the ability to test their skills at “game speed” against an actively resisting opposition. As a law enforcement officer having a place to be put in those uncomfortable positions for repetition allows those uncomfortable positions to become familiar.
Physical & Mental Fitness
This also promotes an aspect of lifetime fitness. BJJ training provides one of the greatest “all in one” workout packages. Sometimes law enforcement officers are tasked with working long hours, weekends, holidays and throughout the night. This can lead to a difficult balance of work, home/ family life, nutrition, personal care, and fitness.
BJJ provides physical and cardiovascular conditioning as well as a mental decompression which is increasingly necessary in law enforcement. Due to experiencing traumatic incidents almost daily officers are encouraged to seek environments where they can find understanding with those incidents. BJJ for many becomes a form of meditation and reset due to the unclouded focus required during a match.
Be Who You Expect
As a member of law enforcement I understand the hesitancy to dive into a new group of people or an activity outside our comfort zones. Raquel and Renato along with the entire Hybrid Jiu-Jitsu family have created a safe and competitive atmosphere welcome to all. Within the walls of the gym there are members from all walks of life and the experience to go with them. Members are focused on not only self improvement but also helping to improve those around them.
This not only comes from on the mat training, but equally as important is learning everyone’s specific journey and the lessons gained through their own lifetime’s of experience. If you are a member of law enforcement and are debating taking up BJJ, understand it is your responsibility to the public, your family, and yourself to be the officer who shows up in your own time of need.
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