We’ve seen videos posted on Jiu-jitsu Times of law enforcement involved in grappling situations in the street with resisting suspects. In some of the situations, the officers are unfamiliar with basic ground grappling and the already dangerous situation escalates into an uncontrolled fight, placing everyone at risk.
Fortunately, in other videos we see proof of how a police officers who have training in BJJ can control a volatile situation and protect themselves.
The Jiu-Jitsu Times spoke with Chris Bumgarner about BJJ for police officers. Chris is a BJJ black belt under the Pedro Sauer Jiu-Jitsu Association and a 15-year law enforcement veteran
JJT: Why do you feel it is important for LEO to train in BJJ?
CB: That question actually has a really big answer. For me jiu-jitsu has had not only tactical and physical benefits but mental and emotional ones as well. Tactically BJJ is the perfect art for a police officer. It teaches you how to take down and control a person while giving you options to escalate or deescalate force as needed.
Physically it is some of the best fitness training you can put yourself through for this job. There is nothing quite as exhausting as grappling with someone bigger and stronger than you. The best way to build endurance for that task to actually do the task itself, which is what we do every class at BJJ.
On the mental and emotional aspects, I have found that jiu-jitsu gives you a sence of confidence that can help you to deter or deescalate some situations. BJJ for me, like for many people, is also that place where I can come and decompress from life and my job. The added benefit is that my hobby also reinforces my on the job survival skills.
JJT: What is the type of hand-to-hand combat or arrest training that law enforcement trainees undergo at the academy? How far does that minimum training go to equip an officer for the situations that they encounter in their duty?
CB: One of my duties as a police officer is that of trainer in control tactics. I can tell you the average academy spends about 80 hours of training devoted to this type of training out of about 600 hours of training. These 80 hours are used to cover handcuffing, searches, ground survival, takedowns, arrest control, weapon retention, weapon disarms, and baton, among other things.
This is a lot to cover in a short amount of time. With such a short amount of time most academies focus on the very basics of handcuffing and officer survival. In my opinion, for an officer to become truly skilled and comfortable in controlling a resisting person, they should seek training outside of what they were given at the academy.
JJT: How does one adapt BJJ to prepare a police officer for possible use in the course of duty? How is it different from the way BJJ classes are normally run in most academies?
CB: To adapt BJJ for law enforcement requires a few key changes from a legal, and technical perspective. For example, you need to focus an awareness on not just body positioning but hand control. Hands kill, they access weapons, and an uncontrolled weapon can quickly make a for a bad day even when you’re in a dominate position. Everyone has that guy in their academy who can get the bottom of your lapel and have it half way around your head without you knowing it. That happened because you didn’t have an awareness of where his hands were. In a street fight he could have used that opportunity access a knife or firearm.
This is just a simple example that anyone can implement into their training. I recommend that if you’re a BJJ coach who wants to help law enforcement that you seek out some training from a police officer that is also knowledgeable in BJJ. There are many out there.
JJT: Have you or your colleagues ever had to use your BJJ training in the course of dealing with suspects?
Yes. If you are working the street as a police officer, you will encounter a person who resists arrest frequently, maybe even every week or every day depending on where you work. Most of these are just people who are refusing to comply with commands, pulling away from you, or wrestling against you. The skills you learn in BJJ help you to maintain your balance, get the takedown, and control the position. You also have skills for when a fight goes past resisting to violently assaulting you.
JJT: What specific advice do you have for law enforcement who are training grappling?
CB: Keep training and train smart! If you are looking for a school, I recommend finding a school that trains at least some self-defense regularly. And I am not just talking about a school that goes through the motions of an old school self-defense curriculum. Ideally you should look to find one that does some more active and alive self-defense drills on an occasional basis.
If you are at school that only trains sport, and you love it, then no need to leave. Just find another cop buddy and do a little bit of law enforcement specific training on the side, maybe even at open mat if your instructor is cool with it. You can also get a massive benefit from going to a law enforcement specific course. I recommend my friend Rob Magao and the LOCKUP Ground Fighting course. Rob is a BJJ black belt with 20 years of law enforcement experience. His class is the best I have seen. But remember you don’t have to train with knives, guns, punches, and duty belts every day to get a benefit from BJJ. You will get a massive benefit from just showing up to a regular class.
Instagram : @chris_firststatebjj