Free Jujitsu for Cops!

With more examples on the Interwebs of police officers in grappling situations, we are seeing more offers to teach jiujitsu to cops at reduced rates, or even free.

These instructors have their hearts in the right place. And, it would be great for police officers to study jiujitsu – no question there.

But let the buyer beware – if you are specifically thinking about jiujitsu for police you’d better be aware of the many issues surrounding how police can use jiujitsu. Remember, despite what some instructors may present, there is a marked difference between sport jiujitsu and jiujitsu applied in arrest and control and survival situations – not to mention self defense for the average citizen.


  1. Jiujitsu offers NO discussion of use of force laws, policies, or liability.

None. There is no concept of the laws and rules that surround use of force. There is no understanding of necessary and reasonable force or excessive force concepts.

A teacher instructing officers on “how to do” something may be utterly ignorant that what he just showed went too far….

Similarly, due to misunderstanding and erroneously interpreting the above restrictions,  there is a lack of education on when officers actually can go further.


2. Jiujitsu does not teach tactical awareness or tactical thinking.

There is no de-escalation. There is no disengagement. There is no use of cover (creating reactionary gaps) or other environmental factors. There is no weapons awareness. There is no verbal component to the confrontation.

This goes hand in hand with the above. Yes, police should be getting this training professionally, but an officer studying jiujitsu and not integrating it with other use of force concerns is not being trained adequately, and not necessarily patterning the right things.

I have seen this even with experienced officers who do jiujitsu – physical application divorced from tactical understanding.

In terms of physical technique, jiujitsu is not tactically oriented, it is technically oriented: witness the various examples of instructors and officers moving out of a superior position – a control position in which cuffs can be applied – in order to attempt a submission. It’s not just Rener Gracie doing this – there are plenty of examples of street cops dropping to the ground – or choosing to stay there – to attempt arm bars or other submissions.

As another example there was a bizarre “jiujitsu vs. rapist” video where the girl placed herself in a much worse position – going to the ground with the attacker for a submission – when she could could have much more easily taken his back standing and escaped out the door.


Lack of tactical thinking….and a focus on the sportive approach to jiujitsu.

The reasoning for this, I think, is because:


3. Jiujitsu thinks of real encounters as one-on-one “street fights” and not tactical situations or arrests.

The jiujitsu paradigm is about “fights” as a test of personal skill and personal will, and thinks about winning them, ideally through submission.

In an arrest or tactical situation, or personal defense encounter,  one of cardinal rules is to avoid becoming involved in a test of skill or ego-measuring contest. It’s not about who is the better fighter!


4.Jiujitsu (sport jiujitsu) makes no allowance for weapons.

Modern Brazilian jiujitsu is an unarmed fighting sport. It makes no allowance for use of weapons except in its rather stilted self defense curriculum, which is not tested under the same pressures as it’s grappling. Why is anyone’s guess.

This is the exact same paradigm found in Judo, whence modern Brazilian Jiujitsu was born.

We’ve talked about that before, too.

Heck, sport jiujitsu doesn’t really even deal with striking.

Deriving from this is often a false sense of agreement pertaining to self defense and tactical situations. By agreement, I mean that the parties involved agree to engage in a test of skill (see above) in which certain means and countermeasures are prescribed.

A puzzling example of this we seem to be seeing more often is the application of “T shirt” and “Hoody”  strangles as practical methods for “street defense” or police usage.

Worst is when these are shown with the practitioner in the guard – on his or her back or butt, with an attacker between their legs.

The problem here is that the practitioners must use both his or her hands in a series of several movements – and you will note that in nearly every case one or both the attackers hands are completely free to do whatever they want.

Such strangles may be useful in a situation where the practitioner is on top of the attacker, because the effectiveness of a free hand can be limited much more easily through position. But then you have issues of necessary and excessive force – none of which even the most eager jiujitsu instructor is likely discuss with much authority. Not that it stops them from doing so…

By all means study jiujitsu – I do!  Much of what it teaches makes me much safer, much more competent, and much more confident dealing with real world violence with composure.

But make sure you understand the differences, and how they need to be adapted tactically.


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