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Use Of Force Tactics for Today's Legal Standard
Why Martial Arts Professionals do not make good Law Enforcement Trainers ~ By Jimmy Terrell
For several decades, Law Enforcement Officers have gone to Martial Arts Professionals for use of force training. Officers have had black belts in various martial arts, professional fighters and other experts in the field of martial arts come to their department and provide use of force training. I believe most Martial Arts Professionals have good intentions and a genuine desire to help Law Enforcement Officers perform their jobs more effectively and safer.
As a professional MMA fighter prior to my Law Enforcement career, I was guilty of this also. I taught numerous Law Enforcement Officers techniques based on my years of training in martial arts and working as a bouncer / security officer at several night clubs.
The problem with this is that at the time I didn’t have any idea how complex a Law Enforcement use of force was. It is impossible to know until you have done the job. Martial Arts Professionals are amazing at what they do but what they do and what they teach does not always translate well for Law Enforcement use. In fact, Martial Arts Professionals who provide use of force training and instructor training for Law Enforcement may even be placing the Officers at greater risk.
When I started at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Academy in 2004, I had nearly 20 years of martial arts training, over 10 years of working as a bouncer, over 200 amateur kickboxing and boxing fights, 19 professional fights and multiple world titles in MMA, kickboxing and Muay Thai. I went into my Law Enforcement career confident in my fighting ability.
That all changed during my final use of force scenario training day. I performed very well during several scenarios including boxing, striking pads, and a scenario where a ‘suspect’ in padded suit refused to comply and fought with me.
The final stage of my testing was fighting from the ground. I laid down on the ground and an instructor mounted me. As I started to escape, the instructor transitioned to side control. I escaped the mount and side control as I had done thousands of times before. I made it to my feet quickly and was proud of myself for being able to use my training to easily escape two dangerous situations. My pride quickly faded when the instructor turned toward me from his knees and began pointing a handgun at me. I immediately responded as I was trained by sidestepping and beginning to draw my own firearm. That’s when I realized the firearm my instructor was pointing at me was the one he took from my holster as I escaped.
It took my instructor nearly two hours to convince me not to quit the academy that day. I felt that I was not cut out for a career in Law Enforcement. If that were a real scenario, I would have gotten myself and/or my partners killed. My instructor finally convinced me not to quit when he grabbed me by the shirt, looked me in the eye and said “That will never happen to you again”. He was right, I would never be unaware of my firearm again in my life. I also realized that years of very extensive martial arts training did not save me in that fight.
That day, I started developing techniques and a system of training based specifically on the needs of Law Enforcement Officers. I continued to develop and test that system for over ten years. During that development and testing process, I discovered that 90% of what I had learned in a lifetime of martial arts could get me killed, sued, fired or even prosecuted as a Law Enforcement Officer.
I began looking into the training provided by other Martial Arts Professionals and discovered that almost none of them had ever worked in Law Enforcement. I found that many of them taught Officers how to beat someone in a fight but not much else. None of them covered the legal reasons for using of force, using the proper amount of force and control or properly documenting the use of force. Many of the techniques taught expose the Officer to having their weapon taken or use techniques that are impractical for Law Enforcement.
For example, placing a suspect in an armbar doesn’t allow the Officer many options other than breaking the arm and does not factor in the possibility of the suspect being armed. Attempting an armbar on a suspect armed with an knife will most likely end in the Officer being severely injured or killed. If the Officer breaks the suspect’s arm, how will they explain their legal justification for doing so? There are situations where breaking a suspect’s arm would be a lawful use of force but those situations are very rare and there are many more effective techniques that should be used in those types of situations.
Many Martial Arts Professionals qualify their training by saying they tested their techniques while wearing a gun belt or by talking to Law Enforcement Officers. Talking to Law Enforcement Officers will never allow them to fully understand the complexities of a Law Enforcement use of force. Would you let someone perform brain surgery on you simply because they had talked to a brain surgeon about how they perform their job?
Another thing to consider is how much training does it take to become proficient in martial arts? Even with twenty years of daily Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, there are many people that can tap me out repeatedly in training. In a real life Law Enforcement use of force encounter, tapping out is not an option. Most Law Enforcement agencies are only required to do four hours of use of force training every two years.
Any training taught to Law Enforcement must be able to be learned and retained to some degree with a minimal amount of instruction and practice. In addition to being able to be retained, the techniques have to be effective when performed by Officers of all shapes, sizes and athletic ability.
The system designed and taught by the National Force Training Academy is the only system designed by an active Law Enforcement Officer and Professional Force Instructor for numerous Southern California Agencies specifically for the complex needs of Law Enforcement Professionals. We provide a complete use of force training system covering every aspect of Law Enforcement use of force from first contact to report writing and courtroom testimony.
CUSTOM TRAINING FOR YOUR AGENCY
WE TRAIN ANYWHERE
We train in a number of different locations to make our training as realistic as possible for our clients. With our course variety, we provide specialized training across the country based on the need of the department or employer.
We instruct classroom courses
It’s important that not all instruction is done on the mat. With today’s legal focus on use of force, its vital that Law Enforcement stay educated on all legal updates surrounding a potential use of force.
we train any size AGENCY
We designed our courses to maximize the benefits and needs of each Client. Smaller Law Enforcement Agencies face the same dangers as larger agencies. Whether your agency has 20 or 20,000 employees, every member of your agency will benefit from our training.
We are versatile
Our training is specialized and designed for all levels of instruction. In addition to training Patrol Officers, we provide custom courses for specialized details such as SWAT, Undercover Officers, Riot Response / Crowd Control Teams, Custody and Correctional Officers, Cell Extraction Teams, etc