I recently read the above article where someone talks about a survey they did of police and why police don’t train, this spawned some group discussions with other martial artists and I wanted to address a few things as many people end up with police in their classes but do not have the proper police mindset to know how to train them. They often give bad advice that is bad because they don’t have an understanding of how police do things, their political restraints, et cetera. Below is loosely the response I posted in one of these groups. I originally posted this to one group because I was frustrated by the fact that most cops don’t train, and also by the choices of some that do.
I vastly believe that Oyata's FULL Art is much better and very much suited to the way in which police do things. Taika taught numerous cops, he had several who were dojo owners, extra stuff that didn’t go into the normal seminars including ground. I have several videos of such. We can discuss individually more but I spent years 3-4 in retail security, then 27 as a cop, and counting my pre-cop time with Officer/Shihan Mike Waddell I now have over 30 years training cops. I've taught recruits Nationally with N.L.E.T.C. (National Law Enforcement Training Center) as well as sit/sat on numerous panels where trainers from all of the world discuss what cops do, what works, what they need, et cetera.. I'm responsible for teaching Police Trainers via N.L.E.T.C. and have been certifying people as police trainers as well as teaching in multiple academies since 1998 and involved in various in-service training programs since 1989. At KCPD's Regional Police Academy every Use of Force/Response to Resistance report were reviewed for every single officer. The key things cops use the most during their confrontations, not including verbal skills, is wrist, then elbow, then shoulder locks. Taika's art is well suited in that endeavor and 99% of what I used in and on the street and what I teach recruits still to this day.
I have seen recruits come through with all sorts of backgrounds throughout the years; wrestling, boxing, Karate, Tae Kwan Do, Generic MMA, BJJ, Traditional JJ, et cetera. Hell, my background that I don’t advertise is Karate, Tsing-I, Bagua, Judo, BJJ, JJ and that’s all I can remember now that I have formally studied in smaller doses over the years since around 1983 but I only claim Oyata’s art which I do not consider even remotely as Karate. I only ever refer to it as Karate when speaking with someone that asks what I do and I don’t feel like explaining to the uneducated person that only knows what they see on TV what Taika’s art is. And I am in no way trying to be insulting when I say uneducated. I am uneducated in a great many things. But we’ve all been at that party where your friend introduces you to the Soccer Mom that wants to put their kid in Karate so you are suddenly in this conversation with this person that has no idea what you are talking about. Taika’s art is a hybrid of Ryukyu and Chinese arts but saying that just confuses the heck out of anyone, even people that have been training in the arts for years….but I digress. The other arts I have thus experienced firsthand as well as been exposed to thus far, all have some minor issues with the philosophy of being a cop. I believe (I, I, I, I, my opinion) that they each have significant weaknesses. A lot of these weaknesses have been exacerbated with the advent of pocket phone cameras and everyone's arm-chair quarterbacking of recent years. There is good and bad to that. Good - keeps bad cops more in check. Bad - People with no true knowledge of how we work become Judge Judy and executioner. One exacerbation is that many departments won’t allow a closed fist or a carotid response because it looks bad on T.V (now the interwebs).
Several style weakness are obvious like kicking above the head, pinning someone face-up, focusing too much on a non-head up position during ground work, therefor being unaware of the surrounding environment and friends of the suspect. I posted a link to a video in regards to this several months back where two people that were quite well known in South America for their in ring prowess, and had great in ring records, got hurt bad at a gas station, well actually I believe one was in a coma for a while and may have died. Ring Mentality and Contest Mentality I have personally seen get cops hurt. Not saying Oyata’s art is perfect, but so far I find it superior in every way. IF I didn’t get those other parts of the art, the little things not seen in most seminars, and actually thought what we did was Karate then I would probably not feel the way I do. But I got a lot more from him because of my occupation as did other cops in Okinawa before he left, NY, MN, KS, MO, CA and probably many others I didn’t even know about. Heck, when I first got my shodan from Taika he told me to cut my hair because it was well over half way down my back. He really didn’t know much about me, I came to class and was just quiet. When he told me to cut my hair, I told him I was an undercover cop and he proceeded to show much a bunch of techniques. This was as one of his outdoor camps at Tall Oaks. Most everyone had left, it was Sunday afternoon and the few of us still there got a bonus seminar. The philosophies of that man are why I got into this particular art, stayed in it and quite literally are why I am alive today. I wasn’t on the street but a few months when I disarmed a guy from shoving a sharp and pointy object into my heart with the very Oyata technique we had practiced that very night in the dojo prior to me coming to work. (For those that do not know, a Kevlar bullet resistant vest will not stop a sharp pointy object like a knife, icepick, or screwdriver. Most US cops don’t wear STAB-Vest)
There are key things that happen in every market and police training is not exempt from that. One of which was all of the ground work that led many years back to a slew of BJJ and JJ schools coming into the L.E. market. This came about shortly after that first big UFC bout with the one of the Gracie’s dominating the event and suddenly everyone wanted to be in the UFC. This insertion into the market was good in some ways as it did reveal some weaknesses of techniques, for instance the old standard of using your bodies kinetic motion to help knock a hand off your gun doesn’t work when you are lying on your back. What happened at the time, is that without any stats to back them up, people on departments said ‘We got to add this!’ Of course they received no more training hours, so they neglected other aspects of training. We ended up with lots of academy recruits that were mediocre at best on the ground after a 6 months academy, but couldn’t stand up and cuff someone or safely get them to the ground prone instead of supine. Of the probably tens of thousands of cops over the years, I’ve known ONE that got into a situation where a bad guy pinned him and started the M.M.A. cage fight smack down. I am referring to the full smack down with intent to deprive life, NOT just getting on top for a few hits and running off. The cop used an alternate tool and survived. The M.M.A. guy did not. The ring mentality is a one on one, get the better of you fight but still has rules. The suspect mentality is possibly one on one, but get the hell out of there fight. In most cases, a punch or two fly but their goal is to get away, not stay and fight you. They know that more cops are probably en route so they want to get a quick advantage and get away. As the good guy you are trying to detain them while they are trying to flee. Wrist, Shoulder, Elbow and occasionally in group activities the knee and ankle lock. So when asked if they are only going to spend a few hours a week what should they spend that time on? Taika’s art. Again, this is my opinion backed by 30+ year not in the martial arts but in police training. But again, it is my opinion.
The Dojo Challenge
Here is a dojo challenge for you. Put a $20 bill somewhere in the dojo, a good ways away from the mat. Or a coupon for a free month of lessons. If your dojo is big enough maybe a few turns or hallways away. You and your student go as far away from that money as possible. Stand facing each other and at some point while having a gainful conversation about someone’s favorite activity, sports, or anything other than politics…..try and grab your student and get them prone, pinned in a position where both hands would be able to be handcuffed (I realize most of you probably only have the fuzzy leopard skin ones). Your students challenge is to get free (they can kick, punch, et cetera….most anything goes within reason) and run to the $20 bill. If they touch it, the game is over and they keep the $20. Do this with every student in the dojo and start over till you have done it a thousand times.
Then you might just understand the game is a little different. Screw that, vastly different. People have a different mindset when trying to turn and run that face and punch, kick, et cetera. They don’t want to go to jail and they don’t have a great master plan like in the movies. Odds are, they were not expecting this confrontation. They just want to get away. On a rare occasion, they may be looking for a fight but that is not normally the case. The vast majority of police fights have two different goals. Theirs is to get free and run, yours is to pin and cuff.
Back in the 1970’s, as police departments got more and more organized and something called the International Association of the Chiefs of Police (IACP) came together, cops started organizing everything including injury reports and inevitably training. (In reality this started in 1893 but really the things I’m going to describe didn’t really start happening until the 1970’s) Chief’s started talking to their peers across the nation and then across the world. Their lawyers converged and started looking at liability and how to handle all the injuries, payouts, et cetera. Prior to this there was really no Defensive Tactics training programs that were very detailed, vetted, and organized to the extent we see today. (Side Note: Really should be Offensive Tactics in most cases as we usually make the first move….to arrest). You pretty much came on, went through a couple weeks of school work, were handed a baton and a gun and scooted out the door. Large departments like ours searched for and found a Martial Artist, because ‘they know best’. It was really the loss of money from lawsuits that drove departments to this and to some extent the loss of life. There was really no good formalized handgun retention program in the United States and officers were getting killed with their own weapons. So departments all over the world started doing this and got some rather screwy results. If the martial artist came from a rule based, one on one environment, the program reflected that. Whatever the artist roots were, the arts DNA went down into that department’s officers, good and bad. Later, as injuries and law suits were still happening for many, and people still getting hurt, the IACP conferences would have sessions where lawyers and D.T. instructors came together to compare notes. I am somewhat over simplifying what took many years but you get the point. So for about 50 years these have been refined over and over. What is trending? What department or group has the least amount of excessive use of force complaints, officer injuries and other various stats like who held onto their gun the most successfully during altercations? These discussions, critiques and refining are still going on today. I have been involved in this process for 30 of the 50 years in one way or another.
Now, what was the most frustrating for me in over 30 years of training cops is that 99% of them are lazy ass shits. The survey in this post I found interesting BUT sincerely not honest in the results. Most young/new cops say they'd rather spend time with family and stuff like the blog said, however if you dig deep they are spending all sorts of time doing 'fun' things, playing online games, et cetera. I have offered free training to recruits and veteran officers over the years and rarely do they ever take me up on it. So that is my frustration. I can’t get them to train free at the dojo. I cannot get them to come in or stay late an extra 30 minutes for free training. Training I am not getting paid for.
In a nutshell, I would like to see cops be more concerned about their safety. Too many cops get by on nothing. I personally have a close friend who came on the job with me, known him since the 7th grade. In his first year he got his gun taken away and in the struggle he was lucky and by complete accident the magazine fell out. This particular gun had a magazine safety and even if one round was in the chamber it wouldn’t fire if the magazine fell out. During this struggle over the gun my friend fell back and the bad guy stood victorious with his gun. Bad guy pointed it at my friends head and pulled the trigger. A click was all that was heard. He pulled it I believe three more times, tried to rack a round, nothing. Bad guy ran off with the gun and my friend just sat there in stunned silence wondering why he wasn’t dead. Guess how many self-defense or extra D.T. classes he signed up for since that incident in 1992? Zero. He is alive only because the magazine release was bumped during the fight. He completely failed on his handgun retention techniques even though he was just mere months fresh from learning and practicing them in the academy. THIS is what frustrates me and gives me bouts of insomnia. The fact that I’ll have to go stand out in a line and listen to bagpipes yet again. This friend was lucky but I’ve buried others that weren’t.
Me, at a Friends Funeral