Sunday, January 5, 2020

Why Cops Don't Train Jiu Jitsu-A Research Paper

Why Cop’s Don’t Train-A Study
Investigations On Why Police Officers Avoid
Jiu Jitsu and Use of Force Training

Version 1.4.  Published: January 5 2020

Disclaimer: This study was conducted over an 11-month period (2019) that included 3 surveys (1120 officers) and interaction/discussion (430 officers) that were “non-training” (total of 1550 police officers). For the purpose of this study, a non-training officer was one that was not participating in Jiu Jitsu or combatives outside their regularly mandated incremental training required by their department.

This study is by no means exhaustive and certainly open to interpretation. We are neither scientists nor professional statisticians, and therefore acknowledge the inherent flaws in this article. We also note that we may have left things out which are glaringly obvious. We conclude that this is just the second of many refined research papers we will tackle.

We also tried to keep this paper “short” and concede it’s not scholastic in nature and may contain errors. We wanted to give the bare bones in order to get the message across in normal everyday language and presentation.

Lastly, it’s very important that we state that we are pro police (obviously). The complexities of the job are vast and the struggles officers deal with in an ever- changing environment are real. We are NOT looking to cast a shadow over officers that aren’t training. We aren’t trying to guilt trip cops in to hitting the mats. We are trying to show the multitude of reasons police are not training.  Our research has identified an interesting discovery that we call the “primary-secondary phenomenon.” 

The Author and Collaborator are both active police officers, black belts in Jiu Jitsu and use of force teachers.

Goal: The goal of this study was to uncover the reasons police officers are not training and use that information to reverse this trend and get more law enforcement learning this valuable skill.

Why Train: If you are reading this you probably know the Invictus Leo Jiu Jitsu Collective's main objective is to get police officers to train in Jiu Jitsu. The hashtag movement #BJJMAKEITMANDATORY has spread tremendously since our inception. There are a thousand reasons to train but sadly it only takes one excuse not too. This study and article does not focus on the benefits of Jiu Jitsu (which there are many).

The Discussion: Among trained officers, the discussion on why the majority of police are not training in Jiu Jitsu as their primary use of force art is common place. We wanted to see how these were reflected in an actual study from non- training officers.

Before we continue, we need to state that officers are trained at a variety of different levels. Every academy, agency and department will have their own standards. Some are better than others. 

The Primary-Secondary Phenomenon:

We don’t have a catchy name for this so we simply are calling it what it is. What we uncovered during our study was that officers that do not train jiu jitsu have their “main reason(s) for not training” (primary) but almost always acknowledge a secondary aspect that kept them off the mats. This secondary phenomenon is what we found most interesting during this study.

Demographics of Responding Officers
Years of Experience:
Less than 1 Year: 4%
1-5 years: 10%
6-10 years: 21%
11-15 years: 33%
16-20 years: 15%
21 + Years: 17%

Our statistics show that there seems to be a trend that officers who have been on the job longer than 6 years are less likely to train.


We will tackle the Primary Reasons first. We will add some statistics but have opted to refrain from throwing out numbers and percentages en mass in order to make for an easier read. Note that these were the TOP and most frequent reasons officers listed for not training jiu jitsu or combatives. Many officers also combined 2 or 3 other reasons for avoiding “extra curricular training”. Percentage statistics do not equal 100% in many cases because officers selected multiple areas of reasons and excuses. 


Lack of time appeared to be the most common primary reason cited for officers not training (71%) Non Training Officers identified several sub reasons on why time was a factor in not training.

a)    Family: 78% of officers identified that spending time with their family trumped all other considerations. Because of the hectic and long hours that policing requires, especially at the patrol level, officers did not prioritize training as something they wanted to do. Given the choice between training and their family, family almost always “won”.

b)    Hobbies: 45% of officers identified secondly (after family), that their down time was important to them. This included and sometimes overlapped family time. These hobbies included but were not limited to: sports (gym, running, biking), media relaxation (movies, Netflix, video games), reading, and social outings with friends.
c)    Schedule: 15% of officers cited that their work schedule prevented them from training (shift work, nights) but also admitted that they had not sought out other officers within their departments to conduct “mat training” on their own.


Officers cited cost of Jiu Jitsu classes a barrier to training. Cost ended up linking to family commitments often (45% of the time) but interestingly; officers also cited that they believed their departments should flip the bill for their training (38% of the time). Officers however were aware of that their departments are under budgetary constraints are can’t always provide for this. 


This was cited as another reason officer did not pursue training. They acknowledged that their departments would consider injuries outside of work time not to be covered by workers compensation. Officer’s noted that they did not want to engage in what they perceived as a high risk actively where they could get injured (48%)
65% of respondents said that they have pre existing injuries and did not want to risk re-injuring themselves in high risk martial arts training.


Another high percentage response (usually coupled with one of the other primary reasons, on why cops weren’t training). 86% of non training officers noted that they didn’t know the benefits of jiu jitsu or combatives training. Of that number, 50% believed that it would take “too long to become proficient” to make training worth while. Also, 44% identified Jiu Jitsu as “Mixed Martial Arts or UFC fighting” and really did not know what the art could offer.


These two categories came in almost identical at around 18% each. Many officers noted that they relied on their physical condition (strength, speed, endurance) to win their use of force encounters. Further to that, 50% cited that the gym and lifting weights were more important than ‘technique training.” Officers tend to spend more time lifting weights and shooting than practicing arrest and combatives skills.

Almost identically (17%), officers listed that weapon usage (baton, taser, OC spray and firearm) equalized or prevented physical encounters. About 50% of all the officers polled in this study stated that they "worked out".


We understood that simply asking if “ego” was a factor would prevent many from selecting “ego as the factor”. Therefore, we masked how we asked this question which lead to our secondary reason below. Ego is a broadly defined (in our context) as: consciously believing that one does not need something based on experience, feeling or justification.

Secondary Reason for not Training: Normalcy Bias

During this study, we discovered a secondary reason that a staggering 86% of non training officers cited as a reason for not doing extra curricular jiu jitsu training. This secondary reason overlapped all the primary reasons. This, we believe, is actually one of the CORE reasons cops aren’t hitting the mats.

Members in our study indicated that that during the course of their careers, they had not needed Jiu Jitsu training because they felt they had come out on top in most encounters. They pointed to the “haven’t needed it so don’t need it” in this section. This is called a Normalcy Bias.

The normalcy bias, is a belief people hold when there is a possibility of a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the likelihood of a disaster and its possible effects, because people believe that things will always function the way things normally have functioned. The normalcy bias is often experienced when people have never had a situation happen to them before. They use the fact that an event has never happened to justify their belief that it will never happen. It is similar to confirmation bias (which we have written about previously).

Our respondents pointed to team tactics (more officers than suspects, tool deployment and strength/endurance) as the reasons for this. Although approximately 35% acknowledged that they don’t know what they don’t know. This meant that officers didn’t understand the benefits of jiu jitsu because they didn’t know what it was or how it could help them improve.

We noted that officer and suspect injury was higher in non trained officer’s by nearly 300%. This alone should be the selling point to every department in the World. We know that we need to ask more questions to get a better understanding on this number. We only asked if officers were injured or suspects were injured in their encounters. There is much more to be investigated on this subject of course.

During our discussion with non-training officers (non polled), we tried to get more information on the “haven’t needed it so don’t need it” reasoning. Surprisingly, the majority of officers said that they knew that injury could occur on the job but felt their experience dealing with these situations was sufficient. Officers oddly noted that they felt their departments could give better use of force training and also understood that members of the public are more trained than ever before. They acknowledged that trained suspects offered a much higher risk of injury to themselves and others but many hadn’t run into them yet.

We offered the analogy in our discussion that “its too late to learn how to swim once you’ve been thrown into the deep end.” Officers acknowledged that being proactive rather than reactive was important and that the risk of injury did exist after better reflection. They also stated that they were aware more and more suspects are training today than ever before.


After looking at our results, we have concluded that the normalcy bias is a real and present reason for most officers not to train jiu jitsu. Our discussions also lead us to the conclusion that there is an understanding among officers that there is benefit to jiu jitsu but they could not find the “time or justification” in training. There are several inherent contradictions we uncovered.

We also noted that of the 1550 officers polled, 50% said they hit the gym or exercised on a regular basis (2 times a week+). However, these same officers noted that they didn’t have time for combatives training even though they made time for other exercise. There is a priority of importance here that defies logic.

Not enough time was cited as the primary reason for not training with the belief that the skills officers had were sufficient in hand to hand and arrest encounters. This secondary belief was re-enforced based on the officers experience of not being injured on the job or discounting injury as a low percentage occurrence. Again, officers were aware that they were not invincible and that they may be more likely to seek out training if they found their skills not working on a higher percentage.

The majority of officers noted the last time their received combatives training was in the police academy and that the skills they learned were "bare bones". Some officers stated that their use of force instruction at their academies were jiu jitsu based and that they found that they retained and used some of those skills on the job. This appeared to be the response of officers who had 10 years or less on the job.

Although not polled, we have evidence to suggest officers who are in the later part of their careers, close to retirement or not ‘on the street’ are much less likely to train in jiu jitsu and use of force combatives. Furthermore, as a side note to this, officers who we know that fall into this category (later in their careers) but are training, are training because of the health, exercise, and benefits in dealing with PTSD.

Lastly, we anticipate that this study may raise more questions than we initially studied. Discussion is good. This needs to be talked about. If you found yourself to be one of these statistics, that's ok. The great thing is that you can change this at anytime, if you are willing to. We'd like to thank all the officers that took the time in providing input into this study.


We have noted that the culture of policing is changing slowly in regards to Jiu Jitsu training. More officers than ever are taking up Jiu Jitsu as their primary use of force study because of its practicality and usability on the job. They understand than its real and scalable for the line of work that they do. Approximately 3% of police officers are training in Jiu Jitsu. This number is too low. It must be changed. And it is changing. 

The culture is changing based on the efforts of officers in departments pushing the #BJJMAKEITMANDATORY movement. More use of force instructors are trained in Jiu Jitsu and are becoming leaders within their organization and thus changing the culture. There is of course resistance by both departments and current use of force cadres that don’t understand the benefit of jiu jitsu or are not willing to acknowledge that there are better ways to control another human being that does not want to be controlled.

We encourage you to join our movement and start training. We can direct you to certified and police friendly academies around the world. The Invictus movement is not in competition with other Jiu Jitsu police companies-we are an add on to help push the narrative the Jiu Jitsu saves lives. Lets us help you.

Please visit our website for a list of our super seminar schedules. All instruction is volunteered and proceeds go to a foundation that supports families of fallen officers.

Keep training. Start training. Be Safe. Be Smart.

Ari Knazan and Jason Rebsch
Founders, Invictus Leo Jiu Jitsu Collective
Follow Us on Facebook and Instragram @invictusleo_officical
Contact us at


We are adding this section to note that we had struck a chord within the policing circles. Our article had been read over 10 000 times in a one week span with numerous officers and agencies reaching out for this PDF article. This is pretty impressive considering the niche market we cater too (cops who train jiu jitsu and those who support this cause). We have also received dozens of emails with great feedback. And best of all, we have literally had officers let us know that they are returning to Jiu Jitsu, which is the biggest win of all. Yes, you should train and shelve the excuses. As you can imagine, there are officers with all the same time, family, and money constraints you have-but the difference is that THEY ARE TRAINING. So what is the disconnect? I am sure you’ve seen what our research has shown and can figure it out.

We will continue to research and help police agencies and individuals understand the science behind all of this. More to come.

This is also available in PDF format. Please email us and we will send you a copy. Please share this link or PDF with your fellow officers.

Friday, October 25, 2019

A Preview for 2020 for Invictus Leo

Invictus Leo is certainly not slowing down for 2020. The momentum we have gained is pulling us full speed into next year. We are very happy to announce two confirmed seminars, one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast.

   April 18 2020: Burien Washington               June 13 2020: Chesapeake Virginia

We have two others that we are working on for later in the year but are still working on the logistics for those. As soon as they are confirmed, we will announce via our social media platforms (Instagram and Facebook).

We have been getting several requests from gyms to hold our events. We totally appreciate it (keep them coming) but as you can imagine, there are only so many we can do within a given year. We encourage you to attend if one is in your 'region' rather than waiting to see if one lands in your city.

What about Shwag? We have released a couple of tee shirts this year and more designs are coming. They are on a pre-order basis so when they go up for sale, you better jump on board and get your orders in. We also look forward to releasing a new rash guard design for 2020! Our last rash guard was so popular that we made a second run at it.

Gis. We are super excited that we have teamed up with one of the premier kimono companies to design out gi. We've been taking our time because we want to get it right. And when they are released, they will be incredible. Be patient.

We have a ton of new 4 inch invictus patches on the way. They will be on sale in the next 2 weeks on our website so keep an eye out for them. The last batch sold out in 60 mins so don't wait.

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Confirmation Bias and a reason Police avoid training

Welcome to the administrative and political quagmire that police refer to as defensive tactics training. Its no secret that the Invictus Leo movement is trying to get more (all) officers to adopt Jiu Jitsu as their primary defensive control tactic skill. Within Law Enforcement, there is a small group of officers who train Jiu Jitsu and understand its importance for the job. However, this article isn't about the benefits of Jiu Jitsu, its the very real and uphill battle of getting cops to train who don't.

So, why aren't police training in Jiu Jitsu? Why wouldn't they adopt a skill set that not only would make them more effective at their job, but would also protect them and suspects from harm?

The specific excuses that are holding cops back are numerous. Eg: I don't have time. Its too expensive. I don't want to get hurt. Or the biggest and most dangerous one of them all :

"I've never needed Jiu Jitsu as cop and things have always worked out fine for me." 

This article isn't a feel good one. It's not designed to sugar coat anything. It's designed to open your eyes to your confirmation bias on why you are not training.

Confirmation Bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea or concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views or prejudices one would like to be true.-Dr. Shahram Heshmat Ph.D

Before becoming a police officer, I earned my degree in philosophy which included logic and how people are constantly using fallacies to back up their claims about the world they live in. Let me tell you, there are more cops using wishful thinking (which is a form of self deception) to give them a false sense of optimism about their skill sets.

The skills officers need today are vast. The majority of interactions with the public are verbal in nature. Cops use their verbal skills to communicate, to de-escalate, to command, to sympathize and to navigate the world they work in. 99% of all police interactions are resolved using verbal skills. However, of the 1% left, the physical realm if you will, is broken up into control tactics, intermediate weapons (less lethal) and firearms (lethal). Of this 1%, 90:% is hands on, arrest and control. However, the amount of actual training police receive in this area is typically less than 8 hours a year. Yes, you read that right-8 hours a year. 

The average citizen who is training Jiu Jitsu or MMA as a HOBBY (for example) is training that in one week.  So, an officer who runs into some with training, say with 2 years experience, will have 100 TIMES more training time than the average cop. As such, the officer will likely be unable to use any control tactics will a high rate of success and need to transition to less lethal or lethal weapons to survive the encounter.

Many officers do not train Jiu Jitsu or defensive tactics outside their duties because of confirmation bias. They have glided through their career not needing it. The rely on force presence (uniform), their position of perceived authority (which is diminishing by the way),  strength in numbers  or weapons, or size (strength, age, athleticism) to back up this bias.

The majority of departments have a limited time to get officers certified in the basic defensive tactics laid out by their agencies. But one of the greatest disservices in this training is what is being taught. Many departments are using old and ineffective defensive skills. It is perpetuating a culture of ineffective training. Advances in tactics are constantly being developed. There ARE better ways to teach officers hands on control (Jiu Jitsu) but many departments still rely on ineffective strikes, poor grappling concepts and low percentage pressure points as their bread and butter.

While there are some very forward thinking departments around the world, the majority simply maintain the bare minimum to keep officers trained. Cops can't rely on their departments to pay for everything and keep them at the forefront of training. All the go getters and cops I know who excel at their jobs (no matter what area they are in) and the ones who take the EXTRA time to get better. These are the cops who stay after their shifts end, the ones reading and researching topics on their own time, the ones taking courses and the ones who are training outside the punch clock. These are the best of the best in their respective areas.

If you are on the front lines of policing (patrol), you really should be adding jiu jitsu to your tool box. It will give you confidence. You will absolutely learn how to control another human being. It will help with stress and PTSD. It is fun. It will make you more confident and less likely to rely on your tool belt.

If your confirmation bias includes that you have never needed Jiu Jitsu up until now, let me use another analogy for you. Its like not learning how to swim. Its too late when you find yourself in the deep end and you think "I really should have learned how."

Be proactive in your training. Don't rely on someone else for your betterment. Seek out training and start no matter your experience or age. 

Make Jiu Jitsu mandatory. Your survival may depend on it. There are probably a few people in your department training Jiu Jitsu. Seek them out and ask how you can get involved.

-Ari Knazan-Invictus Leo Jiu Jitsu Collective

Thursday, September 19, 2019

How to Deal with Grief in Jiu Jitsu

Grief and Jiu Jitsu by Meagan Cooper

First, if you searched for this, let me say that I am sorry for your pain. I lost my father March 31, 2019.I helped him palliate in my home. Early in my bereavement I searched this topic and didn’t find the information I was looking for, so I am offering you my experience with anxiety, limited capacity, ego, community,and goals. Grief changes you; you don’t have much choice. Don’t be destroyed;lean in and rise.

 In bereavement I was anxious all the time. Nothing triggered it.It was a monster butterfly flapping in my stomach 24/7. Before my first night back on the mats, I asked a trusted friend for help. I had no idea what would happen-I didn’t know if I would make it through the hour, burst into tears, or pass out. I knew that whatever happened, he had my back. For the next few months,I asked for the support of my trusted people. I managed my anxiety by being very selective about my training partners and my rolling partners. I didn’t roll right away,either. I had to build the capacity for rolling. 

 The lack of capacity in bereavement was a shock. I had maybe half an hour of concentration and energy before I was unconscious. When I first came back to Jiu Jitsu, had about 30 mins of attention before the familiar, floaty sensation of disassociation set in. Each week, I’d gain about five mins before the feelings of disassociation returned. Because of the lack of capacity, I found that one class a week was enough. Once my capacity reached a full hour without feeling disassociation, I added another class. I managed my capacity by guarding my energy. Having patients with myself during this phase was frustrating

 Some days I was angry at the grief process. I wanted to be “who I was”. Today, I feel gratitude; I feel solidified. The way I approach Jiu Jitsu has also changed: I am softer-not as hard on myself. When I first came back, I told myself my game should be like it was. With the support of my coach, I saw all the should’s for what they were: ego. After seeing ego for what it was, it was easy to drop the story and start cheering for the small accomplishments. Even if I tapped a million times, replacing the should’s and focusing on the small accomplishments gave me something positive to hang on to. I managed my ego by cheer leading myself.

 In all of the management strategies I’ve talked about, I’ve received the support of my community. When I first lost my Dad, I questioned everything and fell out of love with most things,including Jiu Jitsu. The only reason I kept going was the people. Few people at my dojo knew what I was going through, but no matter whether they knew or didn’t know,they held space for me. No matter whether they knew or didn’t know, I felt supported. The dojo was (and is) a place of acceptance and connection. Today, it is six months later, my love for the community continues to grow and my love for the game is retuning even though the skills aren’t where I’d like them to be yet. 

 Increasing specific skills has become my new goal. For so long my Dad and his health were my goals. When he died, I became untethered and disengaged. Most days I’m fighting apathy. A teammate and friend who recently complete in the World Masters casually mentioned he’s looking for his next goal. In that moment, I suddenly saw that goals are our anchors. They give us something to be interested in, cultivate attention to living, and provide something to grow into. 

Grief forces you to grow. Grief burns away who you thought you were. You are forced to manage anxiety, limited capacity, and ego. Feel the support of your community and set goals to anchor yourself. You have no choice but to be changed by grief, so lean in and rise.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

How is Your Commitment Level?

Excerpt from the book From the Ground Up: The Jiu Jitsu Survival Guide to Jiu Jitsu by Professor Keith Owen. (A most excellent read geared toward beginners but valuable information for all) 

How is Your Commitment Level? 

I have seen numerous people quit Jiu-Jitsu after they swear that they are in it for the long term! There is a sales expression I learned as a younger man: “Time kills all deals.” This means that as time goes by, there is a good chance that people will talk themselves out of what they initially wanted. I have done it, and chances are you have done it as well. This can be especially true for Jiu-Jitsu. 

You start out excited and come to class on a regular basis, and then one day your progress starts to slow, which it inevitably will. You get tapped out a few times too many. It becomes harder to come to class and then you start to make excuses not to attend. You make more excuses and finally you come to the decision that you are just “too busy” to go to class. You have lost the momentum. You come to a complete standstill. You take “time off,” which is just another way of saying “I’m quitting.” You start thinking about just how out of shape you are and how hard it will be to get back into the groove of class. You start to have other interests. You start to put other interests ahead of your Jiu-Jitsu training. It becomes easier and easier to quit. 

This is the time you will call your instructor (or you will duck him for weeks and he will call you) and tell him that you are “taking a break.” Every martial arts instructor knows that this is code for “I’m outta here!” You swear to the instructor that you’re coming back, but very few do. It’s merely a graceful way to exit without having to come to grips with the real truth: You are no longer in love with Jiu-Jitsu. It’s sad, but thousands of people do it each year in the martial arts. 

Later on, you feel bad for not coming back but you are too embarrassed to get back in the game. You have done this countless times in other things and pretty soon you simply accept it as part of life. You have become a good quitter. What is your commitment level? Is your goal really black belt? If it is, be prepared for a long, tough haul. Times will not always be easy; you need to admit that to yourself. You will have tough times that you are not expecting and haven’t prepared for. But you need to expect it. You need to harden yourself to these times. You will see your classmates getting ahead of you and decide that it’s better to just quit. You may not want to go through all the trouble of starting back up after time off, even after an injury. Is this how you want to waste your time? I don’t think so. 

You might not even be able to envision yourself as a black belt. Why bother if you can’t see yourself with the coveted black belt? If you plan to succeed, you need to have things squared away. You need to make a commitment as opposed to having a simple interest in training. 
Can you deal with setbacks? Can you deal with the monotony of training? The pain? The loss? Can you handle the self-doubt? Can you deal with the time it takes to get a black belt? This is a direct reflection of your character and who you are as a person. Don’t rely on your instructor to motivate you. You need to come to grips with the fact that sometimes it won’t be as fun as it was when you first started. Remember showing up is 90% of success or, in this case, getting a black belt. It’s a battle that is so easily lost. Will you be a casualty of this war?

Find Professor Owen's book on Kindle: From the Ground Up