As we’ve argued on numerous occasions, few people can benefit more from Brazilian jiu-jitsu than police officers. In an age where people are becoming more and more aware of police brutality, officers of the law need a martial art that allows them to control suspects without causing serious physical injury. That’s precisely what BJJ offers.
Officer Anthony Hall of Sheffield, England, is doing his part to help introduce police officers to the Gracie art. He has started a jiu-jitsu program specifically for police officers — which he jokingly refers to as “copjitsu” — that goes down every Wednesday night.
The Jiu-Jitsu Times spoke with Hall via Facebook instant messenger about his club. The following interview has been edited for clarity.
The Jiu-Jitsu Times: First, off, tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live, how long have you been doing BJJ, and what got you into BJJ?
Anthony Hall: My name is Antony Hall. I live in Sheffield, England, and train at Rebellion BJJ in Sheffield under Professor John Goldson. I’ve been a police officer for 12 years and essentially I’m a beat cop. So, if people ring the emergency number…I come.
I started BJJ three and a half years ago and essentially I started it to help control dangerous offenders and to spend time with my brother, who already trained. I am now a blue belt with one stripe.
JJT: Nice! So tell us about this BJJ police club. Why did you want to start it?
AH: Well, myself, Sergeant Mike Miles and driver trainer Steve Daikin, all of whom train BJJ, we all recognized how good it could be in self-defense and we all loved the family feeling that the BJJ community has, so we set up the South Yorkshire Police BJJ Club. It is intended to introduce cops to BJJ for self-defense and fitness. We started in mid 2017 and the class is growing and growing. We all train at different BJJ clubs and so we all asked our coaches if they would teach a class every Wednesday on a rotating system. We also have my judo coach to teach work applicable takedowns.
We intended to set it up as a platform to introduce cops to BJJ, to get some grounding before moving to a local club. This has been really successful, with lots of cops joining local gyms. But most of us keep Wednesday free to meet up for “copjitsu.”
JJT: So, it’s kind of like a gateway into BJJ?
AH: Yes, exactly.
JJT: There’s been a lot of attention in the American media to police brutality. Are there similar problems in England?
AJ: Yes, for exactly the same reasons. Often the media only prints the view points of the offenders and people that have no idea of how quickly cops have to make life or death decisions.
Often the media only prints the view points of the offenders and people that have no idea of how quickly cops have to make life or death decisions.
JJT: Why do you think police officers need a gateway into BJJ? Are they just not aware of it, don’t have the time, or what?
AH: Yes we do feel that, although it is growing massively in the UK, people don’t understand the benefits of BJJ in a policing scenario. I think people look at a gi and fail to recognize that you can use a person’s everyday clothing to control them as you would a gi. I don’t feel that people actually understand what grappling is and how is can be used to control a larger opponent or suspect.
JJT: Last question: how do you think BJJ can help police officers do their duty?
AH: I think it allows cops to remain calm under pressure, to think more clearly at crucial times, and of course to subdue an opponent should they have to. I need to mention that the BJJ class run in conjunction with the police sports and social club.
All photography sent by Anthony Hall. Used with permission.