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KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 6851
Location: McHenry County, IL
Styles: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bujin Bugei Jutsu, Gokei Ryu Kempo Jutsu, MMA, Shootfighting, boxing, kickboxing, JKD, Pekiti Tersia Kali

PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:04 am    Post subject: Martial Arts Instruction and Law Enforcement Reply with quote

This particular article has been making the rounds on social media of late pretty heavily. It's largely an obtuse sales pitch for this individuals canned program to LE. That said, the article does bring up some good points for discussion and has generated lots of controversy on both MA and LE pages I'm on.

Take a look:

Now, after trying to article point by point positions on several threads, I broke down and posted my thoughts on the article and subject material. I put it out here to generate discussion, pros and cons, and stimulate thought. I'm always so much more impressed with the level of discourse here than anywhere else MA gets discussed on the web. So, here was by reply to the article:

This article has dominated my newsfeed for the last couple of days and judging by the amount of times I've had to respond to different aspects of it on groups I'm just going to address and be done. Given that this year marks by 28th year in the martial arts and my 12th on the job, I'd like to think that I speak from a point of view that is relatively unique to the subject.

First, let's be clear, this article we are all talking about is a sales pitch. A well intentioned and informed sales pitch, but a sales pitch none the less. Keep that in mind, but the points brought up are valid.

Now, let's start by saying that I think any martial art taken from any instructor is a good thing for any cop. Why? One, you might (MIGHT- depending on which art and why you're doing it) learn some skills that will be useful. What's even better is that they are physically active and making themselves more resilient; harder to beat. Even a cop who solely lifts weights is FAR better off than one who power lifts half a dozen donuts each morning. This, more than anything else it probably the greatest asset to an officer individually doing the martial arts. Confidence can be a secondary, but this can also work against an officer. More than once my personal hubris on these matters have led me to circumstances that probably were best to be avoided.

This is at an individual officer level and it's how new tactics should be brought into the profession. By LE officers with specific training who can integrate these into existing policy, case law, and needs.

It's that last part of the paragraph that we need to focus on as we move to the next part of this. There is way more at issue with police use of force than simple execution of technique. This is where outside instructors teaching wholesale control tactics protocol and systems can lead to poor or even disastrous results. LE use of force is driven by 4th Amendment issues, defining case law, department policy and procedure, as well as emerging threads and threats in given, specific geographical locations. This is far beyond the scope of a martial arts instructor with no background in LE.

So, while I think individual officer taking martial arts is a good thing (because they have the background to integrate and sort based on experience and training as well as ever changing trends) I think that wholesale instruction of cops by individuals with no background is a horrible idea. All of this must be in context.

First, we must contextualize tactics vs. UoF law. Muay Thai is one of the single (if not the) single greatest, most effective and brutal striking arts known to man. If every solution a cop comes to drives from the eight limbs then we are going to run into issues. Basing a CT program around striking only will be problematic. 90 percent of hand on cop work comes down to control. Not pummeling to a bloody pulp. Now, we get to the 10 percent of the time that the fight is on and great bodily harm is at stake. Does MT come into play then? it sure could. A cop will understand the line that this represents and how to integrate. They can articulate immediate vs. potential threat and the Graham vs. Conner factors that make this an acceptable course of action. Often, outside instructors will have no concept of this.

So should we all study grappling arts since cop work is so control based? Well, there are great things to learn there that can help, but it's not the answer in it's entirety either.

How about RBSD people? Well, JKD or Krav may be a great option for a woman leaving a mall who gets attacked in the parking lot; however, the first time a cop eye gouges someone without some signifigant totality of the circumstances there will be lawsuits. Well earned ones.

But it's effective?!

Yes. And outside the bounds of UoF law and protocol.
Clearly there are tools that cops can learn from martial artist. However, wholesale instruction to officers at large needs to be specific to the job, with experience in the field, and a grasp of the underpinning legal, physiological, and psychological issues.

LE officers tasked to train officers also have an understanding of what it is we are actually doing. This is lost on almost every instructor I know. The reality of what human aggression looks like, moves, changes, and goes up and down the scale of seriousness is something that people who have not been exposed to it do not understand. How many martial arts instructors have been there, routinely, over and over again, for years at a time?

"Had to use my skills once when I was bouncing and another to de-escalate at a bar." Awesome. For a lot of beat cops that's called Friday night. Repeat for the weekend. Now for the next 20 years of your life.

The experience this builds is unsurmountable by theory.

So, in closing, should be partner with talent martial arts instructors to learn new skills?

Yes. Totally. And there are some incredibly talented ones I've trained with and been in awe of who freely share information and pointedly tell you to take it back and see how it works with what you do. They are fantastic. Diana , I'm looking at you here! Thank you.

Should martial arts instructors be given duties at Academies, and oversee in-service training whole scale? No.

Once tactical information is sharpened it should fall to cops to integrate it into a useable format that dovetails with current methods. This means that they need to make sure it works, unarmed, to pistol, to rifle and everything in a cohesive package with body armor and full duty gear on with minimal differences in overall body mechanics. All the while, it must be vetted against policy and law. Again, there's not that many martial arts instructors that can do all of this. Can there be exceptions? I'm certain, but they are so few and far between that we shouldn't set policy and precedent on it.

There, my full views on the matter. I'm just posting this every time someone on a group asks my opinion from now on. Whew.

So, there's the complete (minus a self edit on my part) reply to the article and it's assertions. That said, I open the floor for opinion. What does everyone else think?
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KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14301
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


A so so sales pitch VS an excellent post; post wins with a knockout opinion!! Excellent OP, Alex, excellent!!

I agree with what you've penned wholeheartedly!!

I've had LEO's as students for as long as I can remember. In that, I'm no LEO, and I don't ever believe that I can understand and appreciate that industry having not ever been a LEO myself.

I've something of value to teach to anyone, including any LEO. And what it is that I do teach is depending effectiveness on the LEO, in part, and on unforeseen circumstances, on the other part.

I provide some tools, and how the LEO uses/applies said tools is dependent on a wide parameters that chance, or can change, per the event, per the situation, per the circumstance at that very moment.

My job as a MA instructor is to teach that what it is that I'm qualified to convey to said student. My job isn't to interpret the entire scope of the world that a LEO is thrust into daily; with policies and the like that dictate the every movement of a LEO.

No, my job is to teach, and the LEO's job is to apply what I've taught wherever it's applicable and sound and lawful. I teach the LEO, for example, how to punch utilize our brand of Tuite effectively, then, the LEO must decide, at that very moment, and without fan fare, if the Tuite I've taught that LEO is proper, and appropriate, to execute or not.

Should a MA instructor run the SD course at a academy for LEO's?? As Alex has already mentioned...NO!! I agree!! Hard to teach a LEO anything without having lived in that world. However, a MA instructor can provide specifics on a MA subject that a LEO might be able to utilize while on the their job, even though a LEO can't be expected to fully understand the world of a MA instructor, or for that fact, the MA in itself.


Tools are utilized to complete said task, whatever the task might or might not be. Without tools, what do we have?? Assumptions!! Wonderment!! Raised hair on the back of ones neck!!

LEO's are subjective to many of things departmentalized as well as things not departmentalized. Whereas, I, as a MA instructor, am not!! I teach the MA so that student might be effective. I did say might, because humans are quite fallible to the Nth degree. Crud happens!!!! What a LEO does with what I can teach them is entirely up to that LEO!!

I never pretend to know the comings and goings of a LEO, and I never will unless I don the badge as well as the oath!! Albeit, the MA is a free expression of ones knowledge and experience, and I've more than my share. I don't expect the LEO student to appreciate what I might possess unless they don the very same things that I've experienced these 50 plus years in the MA.

I believe that a LEO is a not a unique student of the MA. NO!! The LEO is just another student!! Please allow me to be quite candid, if I may, concerning what an average LEO can do against someone of my particular skill sets...NOTHING!! Without the strapped on tools of their trade...a gun...a tazer...etc., I'd pretty much eat them up and spit them out!!

This isn't to say that I'm uncontrollable!! No one is uncontrollable!! Again, crud happens!! One simple lapse of thought, and the average LEO will eat me up and spit me out!!

Even those of us MA instructors that are not LEO's of any degree, can still provide solid MA instructions. Once that's been done, or is being done, how the MA is applied while on their job as a LEO, will be left to that LEO, and not the MA instructor!!

I teach, the LEO learns...Then the LEO has to apply EVERYTHING, and every bit of their knowledge in and out of the MA...that's up to that LEO, and not up to the MA instructor!!

**Proof is on the floor!!!
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Pre-Black Belt
Pre-Black Belt

Joined: 14 Dec 2007
Posts: 897

Styles: Matsubyashi-Ryu, Okinawan Kempo, wrestling, bits of BJJ

PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The article was a nice sales pitch. Very subtle in discounting folks after building credentials of the writer.

There are some points I disagree with you on Alex, not totally, but enough I think I want to argue them.

Should MA instructors be given training duties at academy? I won't say they should be, but they can be. With a few conditions. The would be instructor needs to be given the department's use of force guide lines, be given time to speak with the county/city attorney and the head of the academy/sheriff/CLEO. This is to clarify what they receiving agency expects out of it's officers. The instructor(any one, even LEO going into this position) needs to know what officers can and cannot do. Use of force AARs should be made available so the potential instructor (again, anyone getting this job, not just noLEO MA people). And I mean the good and the bad. See cases of good use of force and bad. Know the warning signs of what is not legal and or so questionable that legal action against the officer and agency is going to happen. Not just might, or will and it will 90% likely be dismissed, but the sort of things that lead to officers losing jobs, going to jail, or the jurisdiction having to settle a case etc.

Next, make available a typical vest/duty belt mock up for the trainer to work out of. As the US Army discovered, BJJ is all well and good as a combatives program until you armor up, kit up and toss firearms into the mix. That motivated them to move away from a BJJ exclusive (or nearly so) program. If the instructor doesn't get to get a feel for the burdens and restrictions of a typical duty officer, it will be hard to adjust the training to fit the needs of said officers. If my cuffs, radio, and OC canister, etc are going to cause problems with what I'm doing, or offer grab opportunities to suspects, that instructor better be able to test out his ideas. Theory is fine, but getting to test it in force on force separates the wheat from the chaff.

Next, make available some senior LEOs who have a lot of force on force experience to speak with them and run ideas buy. Let them coach the "bad guys", or make up the bad guys, in force on force set ups. This will help build more realism into testing of ideas and setting up realistic training. If the trainer(MA or LEO) doesn't know what is going to be the most commonly needed things, they cannot build a base curriculum that addresses typical needs. Hands on training, just like firearms training, and most other follow on training for LEOs has a low time/money budget (much lower than it should be), so you need to boil things down to essentials. Those senior LEOs know what happens most often and the instructor can plan accordingly.

The last thing I want to address is the part about the LEO having vastly more experience on what use of force is compared to someone who only has do to it, assuming most martial artists, occasionally. That is true, however it tip toes dangerously close to if you don't fight for a living, you can't teach anyone else to fight. Same logic applied to firearms means someone who's only had to use them a few times in defense of self and others is not qualified to teach. There would be only a handful of people not hailing from the military who would be able to teach under that train of thought. The firearms training community holds men like Claude Werner and Todd Greene in very high regard, and they were never Mil/LEO. So, I think it is very possible for someone who isn't LEO to very much understand what is needed to do the job if they adequately prepare. Just like a LEO teaching self defense with empty hands or firearms to non-LEO needs to do their homework, because what they know doesn't translate 1-1. Context, context, context in regards to all training for use for LEO/Self-defense is king.

All the above, to me, would apply to any instructor teaching restraint/control/SD techniques to LEO candidates (and active officers). Most especially the use of force guide lines and investigation. You need to understand the needs of people you are teaching things to. When I am training students and we are discussing self defense, what I know a 17-25 year old to be most likely to encounter and worry about, are different than what most of the 35+ crowd is going to be facing. The drinking party/bar scene isn't so much of a problem for men and women as they approach 40. Defense of family and lost of some of the physical attributes is however something to consider. Know your target audience.
Kisshu fushin, Oni te hotoke kokoro. A demon's hand, a saint's heart. -- Osensei Shoshin Nagamine
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