Decades ago The LAPD did a study around altercations with the police. From this study the "myth" was born that 90% of all fights end up on the ground. But the truth of the matter is the LAPD study does not show that “90% of fights go to the ground.” Instead, the LAPD study shows that 95% of "altercations" mimicked one of five common "patterns." And of THIS 95%...62% resulted in both the officer and the suspect "on the ground" fighting.
Fast forward to today, with the popularity of The UFC, MMA and the proliferation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu across the country and around the world, and you'll be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't had "some" exposure to this world. Ironically, those that need the most exposure and training in this domain are among those with the least amount of training in it; cops.
If you work in a profession in which you deal with unknown subjects on a daily basis and there is fairly solid data that shows that, if involved in an altercation with said subjects, there's a greater than 60% chance you're gonna end up on the ground, why in the world would you not train to fight on the ground?? That's like a doctor knowing that when she operates there's a 60% chance that she'll encounter a particular complication. But rather than train and prepare for it, she simply hopes it never happens. Would you want to go under the knife with that doctor?
Now, rather than getting into training specifics about BJJ (which I have absolutely no business doing), let's just agree, for the sake of this blog, that it is valuable and relevant to police officers in the law enforcement arena. That being said, let's discuss why most police officers do not train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Additionally, why hasn't every police agency incorporated some form of this into their training for their officers?
Police departments these days are all about mitigating potential liabilities. And as you might imagine, the greatest liability for police agencies comes from the actions of their police officers while dealing with the public. In particular, police departments are looking to minimize the number of civil suits filed against them for use of force and wrongful death. That said, if police officers were trained in an art that allowed them to neutralize threats and quickly and efficiently end altercations with minimal force and without firing their weapon, wouldn't that be a good (if not GREAT) thing?
Now we all know how much police departments care about their officers...right? Right! But as many officers know, if something happened to them tomorrow, they'd be replaced with a new recruit within months, if not weeks. So an even more important reason to get this training under your belt is for your OWN livelihood and survival. Let's face it...you need to worry about your own behind. We all know the guy who was simply doing his job and got jammed up, right? And then his department hung him out to dry. NOTE: If you haven't heard this story yet...you haven't been on the job long enough. Don't ever fool yourself when it comes to this job. You are obligated to ALWAYS look out for yourself first and foremost.
That being said, if you could learn a skill that could potentially keep you out of hot water and, even more importantly, keep you alive, why in the world wouldn't you take the time to learn it. I would venture to say that most of us are easily within 30-60 minutes of a bjj academy. Nobody is saying you have to go 6 days a week and be working toward your purple belt. Even one class every other week could give you a "basic" foundation of the fundamentals. Isn't your LIFE worth the time energy and effort to acquire this potentially life-saving knowledge?
Listen, being proficient with your firearm is important. You'll never hear me say otherwise. But the reality is, for most of us, drawing our firearm will only happen in less than 1% of encounters throughout our careers...if that. I've said this before and I'll say it again: The greatest tool police officers have is their voice. Having strong narratives, command presence and being a good speaker is priceless when it comes to this job. ALL of us should be master hostage negotiators, master mediators and master counselors. A close second, in my book at least, is your WILL to fight (blog on this coming soon). Third is your SKILL to fight!
Learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a police officer could literally save your life or the life of one of your co-workers one day. In all honesty, it could also prevent you from having to take the life of a suspect which could lead to God knows what for you and your family. Going home at the end of your shift is the most important thing...we know this. That's why I can't stress enough the importance of learning this (or a similar) art form. And not for nothing, but bjj is also a killer workout.
If you're a patrol officer on the streets and haven't taken the time to get some basic bjj and/or ground-fighting skills under your belt, leave a comment below as to why you DON'T think it's important, valuable or relevant to you as a law enforcement officer.
Suresh Madhavan is Founder and CEO of New York based 221B Tactical. He served 13 years as a full time police officer after graduating university Pre-Med. Madhavan invented the now world-renowned Maxx-Dri Vest for body armor ventilation. Over the last 15 years he has trained with some of the top instructors in the country. These instructors have backgrounds as Police Officers, Marines, Green Berets and Navy SEALs. Madhavan has harnessed this knowledge and training and shares it with first responders around the country. For additional information please email firstname.lastname@example.org