We need to clear up some misunderstandings.
I have seen several articles and videos lately, giving reasons why police should train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. These often come across as amateur opinions, telling the public that LEOs don’t know how to do their jobs. Common sense tells us that even if it was true, nobody likes being told they don’t know how to do their job. Let’s be practical about this. Nobody thinks police are worth a lot of money, and a gym entirely full of cops would be a hard sell to a new student. The BJJ community really does want to help.
Here are some actual facts.
A recent PEW Research study shows that 44% of officers agree that some people can only be brought to reason the hard, physical way. It’s not my place to say it’s right or wrong, we just know that force will be used. We also learned that 86% of officers say the public doesn’t understand the risks and challenges they face. By contrast, 83% of US adults say they do understand. This points to a clear public relations puzzle. On a bright note, 72% have never fired their service firearm while on duty.
Let’s talk about using force.
As we know, a certain amount of force is inevitable. It’s part of the job. What is currently being done works, there is no need to debate that. What Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training offers is increased efficiency and lower stress. Some people object, saying it is always bad to go to the ground. However, we have all seen video of officers yelling “Get down on the ground!!” We have also seen plenty of video of officers dragging resisting suspects to the ground, sometimes punching and kicking to make them stay in place.
You can control positions with less effort. Consistent training maps out the positions on the ground, making us much more accustomed to handling a fully resisting person. We study the use of gravity combined with the mechanics of the human body to control top positions. Yes, guns add complexity to the problem. That does not change body mechanics and gravity, it adds ONE more detail. The targets at a shooting range don’t shoot back, but does it still improve your aim?
You can navigate away from bad positions with maximum efficiency. When I put someone who rarely trains in a bad place, their breathing goes crazy. If they get away, it takes a lot of energy, and is extremely stressful. By contrast, someone who trains consistently has already identified the position by the time he’s there, and is making steps to get back to safety. This has nothing to do with athleticism. What we are doing is taking a chaotic adrenaline soaked mess, and turning it into a few paths that can be traveled with clear intent.
A word about public relations.
Police are an important part of the community. All interactions with the public leave an impression. The officers that I have trained with have done a great job of showing themselves to be humble, competent public servants. They are proactive in being good at what they do, and improving public image one friendship at a time. A good gym brings people together who normally wouldn’t meet, which is helpful for all of us. Nobody expects an already overworked officer to be a black belt, but showing a willingness to train builds public confidence. (It would be nice if blue belt skills were common) The BJJ community has extended an open invitation to make the most of a resource that will increase efficiency, reduce stress, and improve everyone’s safety.