Police self-defense is the most diverse and technically complete and
complicated self-defense curriculum. As Peace Officers police can’t resort to the brutal military methods, but, unlike civilians, police officers looking for trouble and can’t just cut-n’-run from hostilities.
Proliferation in the US police training of Krav Maga (as was taught by late Eli Avikzar) and Gracie Brazilian jiu-jitsu led to raise in claims of police brutality due to offensive nature of those styles.
As a police officer comes under unarmed attach or attacked with small knife or accidental weapon, his goals are:
1. to repel the attack
2. to disarm attacker
3. to subdue attacker
4. and to take him into the custody
Police is not uniformed and so police self-defense training. Also, some of non-police occupations and job titles imply inherited hazards that requires police-type training.
Criminal investigators, court officers, patrolman, and SWAT members have different tasks, risks, and deployment environments. Prison Service officers and Martial Service, when are not formally police (not belong to local police departments), have the same tasks and goals.
Different law enforcement agencies (such Border Patrol, Forest Service, Fire Martial, etc.) have their own specifics when in general conform to the same rules of engagement in hostile physical confrontations.
Emergency technicians, mental ward nurses, privet investigators, and civilian security officers also need police-like skills in handling physical confrontations.
Been a life-long career choices all those, police and non-police alike, professionals expected to maintain their physical skills, including self-defense skills, ether as a part of their employment obligations or, at least, as a self-maintained job “safety tools” and self-defense training may be a part of “on-the-job” time schedule or “after hours” personal activities or both.
Agency specific rules and regulations also affect type and focus of special training. Unarmed policy of British police, for example, puts additional importance on non-armed fighting skills (in contrast to gun caring regular American or French police forces – as an example, – who need unarmed self-defense and arresting skills, but can resort to weapon in aggressive emergency intervention scenarios – like stopping robbery-in-progress).
Many issues, relevant to different aspects of police self-defense
and arresting skill set, addressed throughout the site.
However, I would like specificity address one hot topic (that I already
briefly mentioned in the beginning of this page) that greatly affect
police and self-defense training in the United states: Brazilian
jiu-jitsu and role of ground-fighting and grappling skills.
When I have nothing, but admiration to Brazilian
jiu-jitsu and Gracie amazing family's sporting achievements, all prominence of ground-fighting in the self-defense training is based on a statement that “80% of all fights end on the ground”. I don't know who pushed first it into the public domain, but this statement has one (seemingly small, but indeed highly significant!) error: it should read “80% of all arrests end on the ground”. In this version it looks reasonable, even I'm not
aware of the source of the original statistics and can't confirm it (“80%”
sound just as a generic paraphrase of 80-20 rule; standard
police arrest of unresisting suspect in the United States often starts
with the request “lay on the ground face down with hands on back of
your head!” when resisting suspect often wrestled to the ground before
handcuffing; however, FBI non-resistant arrests for non-violent
white-color or espionage charges may not include this step).
While performing handcuffing during an arrest when on the ground
makes sense as this tactic limiting suspect's movement and facilitating
his immobilization, it should not be seen (and used!) as self-defense
tactic (police or not) as it is not
self-defense! The issue is not (only) the brutality and humiliation
of its implementation, but its applicability and inherent risks to police officers themselves.
When performing arrest, the arresting officer is not in imminent
danger (he's already in control of the situation) and, more often than
not, he has a partner securing his back from a surprise attack by any “3rd
On the other hand, in self-defense, the operational situation and risk are unclear, the danger is imminent, and back-up may not be readily available.
This difference in operational tactical environment render police ground arresting techniques inapplicable in police self-defense.
The other issue, that worth specificity pointing out, is the use of military combat techniques in police self-defense training curriculum.
As many career police officers recruited from military veterans who have been trained in military H2H / CQC techniques, police departments widely adapting brutal military techniques due to their simplicity and effectiveness. However,
when this will work from the pure force protection point of view, police, unlike general military, isn't tasked with elimination-of-enemy,
but with peace preservation, and adhesion to military brutality may create (and, in many historic cases, have created) civil tensions that negatively affected police – community relations, trust to police personal and institutions, and reduced effectiveness of police work.
Police self-defense vs. other types of combat