Monday, May 11, 2020

A Cops Journey from White to Blue Belt-The Struggle.


Brazillian Jiu Jitsu for Law Enforcement and My Journey to Blue  by Josh Laiva

To start with a little information about me- I'm not a talented athlete.  I am not particularly talented or strong.  Yes, I was a Golf Teaching Professional in my previous life.  But,  I’ve always been a little overweight.  I only learned the benefits of working out in the three years leading up to my first Jiu Jitsu class.  The reasons I started training were pretty simple.  A Police Sergeant that I had known and worked around was tragically murdered by a suspicious person he checked out with.  As many of our local Officers did, I took Sgt. Greg Moore’s shooting to heart.  I had not worked with him in a while because I changed departments to a nearby larger city, but going to his funeral brought the issue home.  At the same time I also noticed several of my coworkers from the city I was now working in getting in fights and getting hurt.  I wanted to make a change.  I needed better training and I owed it to my family, myself, my coworkers, and my city to seek that training on my own.

One of my teammates when I started training was a BJJ blue belt and former MMA fighter.  He was a pretty laid back and confident dude, that one would not want to mess with.  So I challenged him every chance I got.  It was exciting throwing each other around the shop where we ate lunch and I found out very quickly he knew what he was doing.  I had done Jiu Jitsu in my Police Academy for a few weeks and I thought I knew it all.  How hard can it be, Right?

That same coworker had mentioned that I could get a membership at a local Judo club based out of our Police Academy and several of our coworkers already trained there.  I watched some Judo videos on Youtube to get hyped and my son and I went to our first class.  One of the Senseis was a Sergeant for my agency and he had me out there helping my son with kids class on the very first day.  I had no idea what I was doing in my Judo Gi that was two sizes too big for me but I was trying.  I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed and I struggled with some of the concepts and movements.  Truth is that my lack of understanding continues still today and I have learned this is actually pretty normal.   The only way I found to be a better learner is through repetition.  I remember after that first class that I had never felt so sore before in my life.  I had been playing rec league hockey for the past few years and that never compared to how bad I felt.  I really enjoyed learning the different chokes and throws.  The Sensei did a great job of explaining how they could apply to my job and even though I had learned the Rear Naked Choke or “Lateral Neck Restraint” before it was really helpful to drill it  and work with it so much.

After a few classes I learned my first lesson in body movement and spazzing out like a big dumb animal.  While doing simulated matches and going for my throw, I thought it would be a good idea to spin, and pull, while holding onto my larger opponent who also wanted to pull away.  My right knee popped and it hurt really bad.  Turns out I sprained my ACL.  I took a few weeks off and even needed to go to physical therapy to help heal up again.  I have been prone to knee issues all my life even dating back to High School sports.

After recovering but still feeling knee pain during class, I stopped going.  I kept taking my son, however he had never done anything like the Judo classes before and at the time he did not like it.

After initially graduating from the Police Academy, lack of funding to train was the main reason I never tried to join a local Brazillian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) academy.  The Judo club was fun but I believed Brazillian Jiu Jitsu would be a better fit for my chosen line of work and I was at a point in my career where I could actually pay for training.  I chose to start my training with a local BJJ academy where I knew several other local Officers trained.  I signed up to try a class.  I remember how scared and intimidated I was during my first training session but the Professor made it enjoyable.  I started training alongside one of the instructors who had taught at my Police Academy.  I found BJJ was different from Judo, with more focus on the ground portion and it seemed to not hurt my knees as much as Judo.

I remember the first few months were brutal.  I would get tapped out by pressure or being tired.  I really feared live rolling.  I also started kickboxing at the same time and OMG, I learned I had no idea how to fight.  Up to this point in my life I had been in a pair of fights in highschool and had only punched one other person.  It was easier to see my progression at kickboxing than in BJJ.  After my BJJ classes, I would be exhausted with both of my shoulders hurting and almost feeling numb, sore ribs, and a sore neck.  The guys I trained with were great but destroyed me.  Rightfully so, because I had to learn how to protect myself.  Despite the struggles, I was having fun.  I remember I trained hard for months and then out of nowhere, there was a promotion ceremony where one of the students got his blue belt.  He was a beast, and at that time getting to the blue belt level seemed nearly impossible.  Something strange happened that night during the promotion ceremony, I got my first stripe on my white belt.  I felt invincible, with my new stripe, but it didn’t change the fact that I was still the new guy and had no idea what I was doing.  Everyone at the school was great but I thought there was something wrong with me because I could not understand more than half of what was being taught and struggled to execute what I was shown.  We would finish up many of our classes with no gi training and I also found that very intimidating.  I did notice that just days after that blue belt got his promotion, he stopped coming to class.

Our gym flooded one night during the end of the summer due to a bad water line and was closed for a few days.  When we got back to training after the water dried up, we were learning some new chokes.  While rolling with an upper belt, he was using one of the techniques we learned that day, and ended up punching me full speed in the throat.  While being hit, I heard an audible crack.  I could breathe okay and there was no blood but it was very painful and I could not stop coughing.  I took the next few days off to go vacationing with my family.  We went to a local lake cabin and after a few days my throat was still sore to the touch, like a bruise on my neck, but no further issues. 

The following day I was back at work, and while sitting in my patrol car, I had a sensation I had never felt before.  I started to have a horrible gag reflex, like someone was choking me.  No pain, just felt like gagging constantly.  It felt like a huge pressure build up in my throat like there was something around my neck.  I could barely talk, without gagging, and went home sick.  After a few hours the gagging subsided and I went to see a Doctor.  With one look in my throat, the Doctor diagnosed me with a throat infection and put me on antibiotics.  The Doctor did not believe the issue was related to my injury from the previous week.  I took some more time off work while taking the antibiotics. 

After a few days things felt a little better and I went back to work, but still with a bit of the pressure feeling in my throat.  That day things got really bad.  When trying to stand and do some paperwork, I suddenly had horrible, nearly unbearable, neck and back pain.  The pain was so intense I could barely physically stand, so I finished my paperwork, and went home sick.  Our locker room is on the second floor of the building and I could not even walk up the stairs.  I was so sore.  I went home and hoped I’d feel better.  The next morning things were worse and I had never felt so sore and sick in my life.  I was worried I was dying and Google searches were not helping.  I went back to the doctor worried I had contracted Meningitis or something worse.  After a few tests, I learned I had contracted Mononucleosis combined with a pretty severe case of Strep Throat.  A new host of antibiotics was on the way and I was told I would have to fight through the mono.  Over the following two days, I slept for 17 hours straight.  The only problem was, for the time I was sleeping, I slept on my left arm, with my head on my bicep.  When I awoke, I felt a little better but had this deep pinching pain in my left shoulder.  I was actually barely able to lift my left arm.  Back to the Doctor I went and was given some steroids for my arm.  They made it feel better but I still could not move it very well.  I went back to work a week later on light duty on account of my enlarged spleen.  The problem was now my shoulder.  I was in constant pain and unable to lift anything in my left arm.  I never told anyone other than my family and doctors about the issue.  I went to a bunch of physical therapy and Doctor’s appointments.  Turns out I had pinched the super scapula nerve when I slept on it and then caused muscle atrophy as the nerve healed.  It took nearly a year for the diagnosis and nearly two to fully recover. 

With the nerve damage in my shoulder, training seemed impossible.  I struggled to hold my arm up in a fighting stance and I was too weak to keep it close to my body.   I didn’t believe I would be able to progress in my training and I was only able to train a few times in the following months.  After multiple recurring bouts of strep and a nasty antibiotic resistant bacterial infection in my tonsils, I had to have my tonsils surgically removed. 

I had never had surgery before and was freaking out the day I had my tonsils removed.  I was in my late 30’s which is typically not good for recovery when having your tonsils out.  When the nurse told me the Anesthesiologist was coming in, I struggled to hold it together.  Just then, Trent walked in.  Trent was one of my favorite training partners at my BJJ academy.  I calmed down quickly and with some medication from Trent, everything went surprisingly well. 

After my surgery, I was very hesitant to continue training.  I was told by the Doctor that if I ruptured the surgical area around my tonsils, I could bleed out in a matter of minutes.  Plus, after all the infections in my throat, my gag reflex was really bad.  Any restriction around my chest, neck, or abdomen caused me to want to gag and throw up.  My Doctors advised I was okay but it made training miserable.  I stopped training BJJ more than once a week and focused on kickboxing two days a week.  The kickboxing highlighted the weakness in my shoulder but actually helped with rebuilding my strength.

How Brazillian Jiu Jitsu actually saved my life:

A Reserve Officer and I were working together one day when we responded to the report of a boyfriend threatening to kill his girlfriend.  When we contacted the pair, neither wanted to cooperate with our investigation.  Thanks only to the victim’s family we identified the boyfriend.  Turns out he was wanted by the US Marshals.  The suspect/boyfriend was a bigger guy, in good shape, built a lot like a football player.  When the Reserve Officer went to arrest him, he pushed the Officer, in the chest, back and onto the ground.  I jumped in and went to detain the suspect who approached me head on.  Based on his actions, I pulled the suspect into a clinch.  When I did so, he utilized my external carrier as a handle, ripping it off to the ground and pulling me to the ground with it.  My left knee hit hard on a rock on the frozen ground and instantly felt as if something was broken.  I remember being on my knees, feeling the pain, looking at his legs as he was turning to run.  Then I remembered my BJJ training, I didn’t need to be standing, and I have all I need to get the job done right here from the ground.  So I wrapped up the suspect’s legs, pulling him down and moving up to his hips as the Reserve Officer jumped back into the fight as well.  Once on the ground, I was able to continue to move up his back and secure the RNC, to effectively bring the fight to an end.  The suspect provided his hands before needing to be rendered unconscious.  Without the training I had been doing for the past year, I didn't believe I would have reacted the way I did to arrest the bad guy. 

When my knee struck the rock, it ended up just being a good sprain.  I went to a local hospital and was given a few days rest with time off work.  The bad news of the injury was I had developed a horrible case of patellar tendonitis which I deal with to this day.  When I went back to work, I still had trouble walking, but started wearing the padded knee sleeves under my uniform that I had been using when training BJJ to prevent any further knee injuries. 

The following work week after the injury, I responded to the report of a male passed out behind the wheel of his truck after injecting unknown drugs into his body.  I was close by, and was the first Officer on scene.  When I went to stop the guy, he charged out of his truck towards my patrol vehicle, with his hands digging in his pockets.  I was able to get him pushed back onto the hood of my patrol vehicle where he pulled his hands out of his pockets.  I told him why I was stopping him and he went digging in his pockets again.  As a Police Officer, I was fully aware of what it means for someone to have their hands digging in their pockets.  They are either accessing weapons or contraband and it is a very dangerous situation.  I spun the male around to handcuff him and he spun right back at me.  The witness said he swung to punch me, but I missed that because I had shot in at his hips as he spun around.  We went down to the ground and he ended up in a turtle position, still going for his pockets.  I then used the RNC to bring him flat to his stomach and he started to comply.  The helpful witness went and grabbed the bad guy’s arm, yelling he had a hold of him, but let go, when I let go of his neck and grabbed the other arm.  The bad guy then rolled on his back and was pushing me away.  Without hesitation, I went to a knee on belly position, while pulling on his wrists, holding him down briefly, before he rolled away and tried to get back up.  After the suspect got back to his feet, I took his back as he tried to run away.  As I secured the RNC again, the bad guy ran head first into the tailgate of the nearby truck.  The suspect ducked and put my head into the tailgate before falling to the ground.  After hitting my head and falling to the ground, I missed the hitch to the truck by mere inches.  I did maintain my grip on the RNC and rendered the suspect unconscious once on the ground.  I learned the true pressure it took to render a Heroin addict, who had just shot up, unconscious, and had the bruises, from my fingertips, on my bicep, to prove it.  After handcuffing him, my backup Officer arrived.  When I walked back over to the area where we had initially struggled on the ground, I observed a folding knife on the ground, around all the gear that had been yardsaled off my vest.  The knife’s blade had been opened.  The knife, and some needles, had all been located in the bad guy’s pockets and he had opened the knife during our altercation.  He was likely planning to stab me with the now open folding knife.  Turns out this bad guy had a felony out of state warrant.  Apparently he had fought and injured three Officers in another state and they had put the warrant out for his arrest. 

I wholeheartedly credit my BJJ training with saving my life from the knife wielding Heroin addict.  I had only trained for a year up to this point.  The movement, concepts, and repetition of training saved my life and prevented me from being stabbed or even worse.  After this incident, I re-dedicated myself to training BJJ.  I switched to a Renzo Gracie academy that had just opened up in the area where I live.  The Renzo Gracie school offered more classes and a pair of talented black belt Professors Jordan Damon and Tony Meonich. 

Over the next one and a half years, I continued to train, sometimes attending as many as four classes a week.  My Professors at Renzo Gracie have done an amazing job explaining the movement, concepts and submissions as I trained.  I’ve trained through bruised ribs, broken fingers and toes, and my fair share of bumps, bruises and sprains.  I love to train and there has not been a week that goes by that I don’t use some of my training at work.  I have had to take some time off for injuries, but I usually snap right back into training. 

I have attended multiple seminars at several different schools and even had the pleasure to train with Sheepdog Response.  The Sheepdog Response classes really gave unique and invaluable insight into using BJJ while defending against weapons such as guns and knives.  I have had the opportunity to learn from great instructors and competitors such as Dave Camarillo, Trevor Prangley, Guy Metzger, Marcus “Buchecha” Alameida, and Joao Assis. 

I will admit it has not all been perfect, I was in another fight last spring where I got punched a few times by a suspect after I fell down, when I tried to complete a throw while holding onto a sweatshirt that ripped in half.  Again, thanks to my training, I was able to think, and not go condition black, while being punched in the face with the suspect standing over me.  I was able to think about my training and remember to utilize my legs, as we had trained, to create distance between the standing suspect and prevent him from hitting me more.  Having a hard head helps too, but I was able to ask myself what to do, and how to defend myself, while being punched in the face.  I also learned some valuable lessons.  Trying to power throw someone by grabbing normal clothing is a risk, because it will give way.  Normal, basic, high percentage takedowns would be the most productive for daily fights in the line of duty.  In a fight, where someone is fighting to flee, or to prevent being arrested or imprisoned, there are no rules, and they will fight with no regard for anyone’s safety, to include their own.  What that means for me or any other Officer training in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, is it may take a lot of work to hold that person down, more than you would expect.  I was a little disappointed with my performance and the fact I allowed myself to get punched.  I made my training partners at the academy run through the scenario with me multiple times and my professor was so great we drilled the movements for a full week in class.  Through my academy, I got connected with an Officer from Syracuse NY, who was a former MMA fighter.  He shared how much he had struggled during one particular incident to take a suspect in custody despite his training.  It's completely different in our jobs because there is so much we can’t do and we have policies and procedures to follow.  I was reminded of a valuable tip that I don't think I’d heard since I was in the Police Academy.  Under stress, you will revert to 10% of your training.

The 10% statistic turned on a light for me and for the next half a year, I trained more than I ever had previously.  I also started recognizing movement patterns that were easier for my body type and that I felt more comfortable with.  My Professors all told me they could see the improvements.  I will admit sometimes it didn’t seem like I was moving forward.  There are a handful of white belts, a stripe or two below me that I really struggle with at my academy.  I have to remind myself that as I train and improve, they are too.  So whenever someone new comes in and I get the opportunity to train and work with them, I can get a good grasp on how much technique I already know.  Over the last year one of my favorite parts about training has been the little details.  I may have seen a sweep, escape, or submission before, but each time I see it again I try to take something new away from it.  I try to add one detail to help me out and recognize the concepts that make the movement work.  I have learned that the small things make a big difference.

I had been given my 4th stripe on my white belt in the spring, so I assumed that by fall I would be promoted to a blue belt.  I know not to focus on the belt, but for me I saw it as a symbol for all I had learned and been through to get to that point.  Ultimately I could train at a white belt for the rest of my life and still be happy because I really love to learn the endless details and how it all works.  I realize it is a valuable skill that I want to become second nature for my job, however I believe at the same time I have become addicted to BJJ.

In the early part of 2020 there was a large seminar scheduled with the part owner of our gym who also owned numerous BJJ Academies in the Texas area.   Professor Brian Marvin was a really inspiring dude, who was also an amazing BJJ Champion.  The problem was the seminar was scheduled on a day I was working.  The month before, my Professor told me that they would be doing promotions that day and I needed to be there. 

It was pretty stressful leading up to the seminar.  I was told to bring my family, but never actually told I would be promoted.  Nearly every student from the academy was there.  My sons had been training on and off with me at Renzo Gracie and I wanted to show them the value of all the hard work I had put in.  I had seen the progression of some of my teammates as well and knew for sure some of them were getting promoted, but I was a little unsure of myself. 

When the day came, I was still very nervous, but we had an amazing seminar, with the promotion ceremony afterwards.  I was one of the last few to get promoted to blue belt, and when the Professor called my name, I was ecstatic.  For me being promoted to blue belt meant I was progressing in my training and actually improving.  I’ve never claimed to be good, but I just want to work to get better.  The weeks following my promotion were especially tough, with all my other teammates no longer holding back and throwing everything they had at me.  It was like the promotion brought out another gear in everyone else.  I welcomed the challenge and was excited to work to continue to improve.

Unfortunately at the beginning of March, I had to stop training for fear of the Coronavirus.  I continue to work out at home, and will be excited to start training again once this is all over.  I can’t wait to continue this journey.

I'm writing this for all the Police Officers/Deputies/Troopers out there considering training BJJ.  The training you receive at the Police Academy is great, but not enough.  In my humble opinion, with the changing political climate for our jobs, the laws, and the policies and procedures put in place by our administration, there is nothing better you can do to protect yourself, your family, coworkers, and society than to train BJJ.  I’m not really concerned with injuries, nor should anyone who starts training be, and I have found I get hurt worse working on projects around the house.  It's an amazing cardiovascular workout that builds strength and self confidence.  Plus the bonus is it is the best stress reliever I have ever found. 

Josh Laiva


Friday, February 7, 2020

How Jiu Jitsu is Saving Lives in Law Enforcement- A Research Paper

Charlie Foxtrot:
SHATTERING THE MYTH ABOUT 
JIU JITSU TRAINING AND HOW
ITS SAVING LIVES IN POLICING


Version 1.0 February 2020
© Invictus Leo Jiu Jitsu Collective 2020
www.invictusleo.com


By Ari Knazan
with support from Jason Rebsch

Forward:
 The paper you are reading is the second in a series that is ongoing. Our first study: Why Cops Don’t Train: Investigations on Why Police Officers Avoid JiuJitsu and Use of Force Training, was released in January 2020. That paper was read over 13 000 times and shared to over 50 police agencies by members. The information we uncovered put ‘cold hard facts’ in the hands of those who wanted statistics. To be honest, we were really happy and surprised it went so ‘viral’. During that study, we polled officers that DO NOT TRAIN JIU JITSU OR COMBATIVES to get our data.

That paper can be found on our website as well www.invictusleo.com or on our blog https://bjjmakeitmandatory.blogspot.com and we strongly suggest you take a look at it first before diving into this one. 

Invictus Leo really has a particularly small niche. It’s focused on Law Enforcement officers that train Jiu Jitsu AND getting Law Enforcement officers to train Jiu Jitsu. As you can imagine, most of the information we uncovered is only useful to a small handful of people around the world. But the information is important because it literally will save lives.

While our first paper uncovered the reasons police officers were avoiding use of force training, this paper gets into the nitty gritty on WHY Jiu Jitsu is important and dispelling the myths that many police agencies level against the training that we do. We feel its time to open the doors to honest (and brutal) discussion about how we look at use of force and training for cops around the world.

Typically, follow up papers are not as well read as the first but we must say that the information in this paper is more valuable (and interesting). THIS STUDY IS CONSIDERABLY LONGER so be forwarned. We encourage you to share the link of this study to your social media pages or email them to other officers. The more people who see this, the more our message gets out there.

We appreciate your support in our ongoing goal to get more officers training Jiu Jitsu.

Ari Knazan and Jason Rebsch
Invictus Leo Jiu Jitsu Collective
Founders
#BJJMAKEITMANDATORY


Disclaimer:
This study was conducted as an online survey that included 564 police officers that train Jiu Jitsu. We acknowledge that the sample size is “small” but you must also realize that the percentage of cops training Jiu Jitsu is remarkably small also (yes, that stat is included in this study). For the purpose of this study, a trained officer was one that was 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 concede this paper is 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.

Goal:
The goal of this study was to uncover the reasons police officers are studying Jiu Jitsu and how it is bettering their lives and also making them more safe doing their job. We wanted to see how injury rates doing combative training compared to other activities cops usually enjoy. We also were curious on how Jiu Jitsu training for police helped PTSD that many cops deal with.

Why Train:
If you are reading this you probably know the Invictus Leo Jiu Jitsu Collectives main goal is to get police officers training in Jiu Jitsu. This includes use of force instructors right down to patrol members. Jiu Jitsu offers exactly what cops need on the streets. Unfortunately, the majority of police training is either inadequate because departments are relying on unproven use of force training or there simply isn’t ENOUGH training happening for them.

We hope this paper brings some clarity to officers, departments and the general public on why we believe the #BJJMAKEITMANDATORY movement is so important.

How to Contact Us:
If you’d like to follow us on social media, you can search out @invictusleo_official on Instagram or search Invictus Leo Jiu Jitsu Collective on Facebook. We also have a private group on Facebook for Law Enforcement officers who train Jiu Jitsu as well. Our website is www.invictusleo.com where we have a ton of information about getting cops involved with Jiu Jitsu as well as our yearly seminar schedule. Finally, if you’d like a PDF version of this study to post in your departments or send to your administrators, you can email info@invictusleo.org
 
Q.1 :Law Enforcement Experience:

In our last study, we uncovered that police officers who did not train but had more experience on the job were less likely to take up Jiu Jitsu training than officers who were newer to the profession.

When we polled officers who do train Jiu Jitsu, the experience was spread out with the largest amount of officers being in the 11-15 year range (25.7%) followed by the 4-6 year range (17.7%). 

Conclusion drawn by this statistic shows that there is a good spread of experience among law enforcement officers who are training Jiu Jitsu as of 2020.





Q. 2: What City Do you Work for?

We collected this data based on our own curiosity. We are not releasing this information because we promised to keep the results as anonymous as possible. It was pointed out a few times in our comment section that some departments are very small and it would be easy to correlate answers to specific officers in those departments. It was further pointed out that there were those in  management or use of force positions that may not look upon the officer favorably based on the answers they gave. As such, we are not releasing this specific information. We can say however this was the break down of those officers who chose to answer.

USA: 475
CANADA: 56
International: 27


Q.3: Jiu Jitsu Experience: How Many Years have you been Training?

As the years have gone by, Jiu Jitsu has become more popular among the populace for martial arts training. It has been said that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the fastest growing arts in the world. Despite law enforcement experience (table 1), our survey suggests that the majority of officers (42.7%) are new to Jiu Jitsu in the last 1 to 3 years. If we combine with the “under one year of experience” bracket, that percentage is pushed over 50%.

Speculation drawn by this data suggests that the importance of Jiu Jitsu is affecting cops view on use of force training. With several law enforcement programs out there that are Jiu Jitsu focused, more cops are getting exposed to the art. Based on this stat, it is likely the majority of police officers that are training Jiu Jitsu are blue belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (as of 2020).

It can be argued that as time goes on, this number will change and more officers will become higher ranked and more proficient in the art. However, basic statistics of jiu jitsu have shown that the majority of practitioners, no matter what their profession, obtain the rank of blue belt before quitting.

Since police officers are people too, it is likely that most will obtain a blue belt before they stop training in Jiu Jitsu.

Proficiency of a blue belt:

We are of the opinion that a blue belt level in Jiu Jitsu will give you solid fundamentals in self-defense. You will have a good understanding of movement, leverage, angles and submissions. All things being equal, a blue belt in Jiu Jitsu will give you a remarkable advantage against the average person. A blue belt police officer with 3 years experience in the art will have spent hundreds of hours on the mat. This equates to approximately 30 TIMES more training and experience than officers receive in normal use of force training per year at their departments.



Q.4: Injuries while using use of force application while working?

We asked officers in this study if they had sustained injuries while on the job, specifically during use of force situations. We acknowledge the inherent danger of physical encounters, especially in an environment that is unforgiving, like the street.

We suggest that officers who are training Jiu Jitsu are 2/3 less likely to injury to themselves during an encounter because of their training. This injury mitigation is due to the understanding of use of force application. We acknowledge that we need to really look into this statistic more but our first survey suggested (from untrained cops) that they were 200-300% more likely to sustain an injury during a use of force encounter.

We want to also point out that we believe that suspect injury is considerable less with police officers who know Jiu Jitsu because they are less likely to strike or use intermediate weapons during a physical encounter. We hope to have a future study that explores this point. The information we base this on is anecdotal and not stat driven at this time. 

Have you been injured during use of force situations?


Other Factors to consider about on the job injuries:

Of those surveyed who had sustained an injury on the job, there was a section that asked what specific injuries they had sustained. Of the 195 responses from officers that had received an injury, many mentioned that the injuries had happened prior to knowing Jiu Jitsu (84 responses). Therefore, the initial percentage of the above graph needs to be adjusted based on this information. We acknowledge that a better question needs to be asked to set a firm correlation between the two questions: Have you been injured on the job and did you know Jiu Jitsu at the time of your injury (and how long had you been training).


Q.5: Types of Injuries Officers have sustained while in Use of Force Encounters:

Nearly 200 officers listed the injuries they had sustained while on the job and during a use of force encounter. Combing through these, we have collected the following: Abrasions/Bruises/Minor Cuts resulted in nearly 70% of those who had been injured report in this category.

These were followed up by
Deep Cuts/lacerations
Sprains
Concussions
Bite Wound
Eye Damage
Back Injury
Shoulder/Elbow/Hand Injury (Tendon/Ligament)
Broken Bones


Q.6: Have you been injured while training Jiu Jitsu?

We asked officers who are training Jiu Jitsu if they had been injured and asked them about those injuries.

20% stated that they had not been injured in Jiu Jitsu.
50% had stated that they had sustained some sort of minor injury including minor sprains, mat burn, soreness and muscle pulls.
30% had stated that they had sustained some sort of major injury including things like bulging discs in back, neck injuries, broken fingers or toes (many considered those minor), elbow, shoulder or knee separation, knee damage (ACL,MCL, meniscus etc), Ribs etc

Q.7: Have you been injured outside of work doing other activities (gym, running, skiing etc)?

A common concern and fear from administrators is that Jiu Jitsu training would lead to higher rates of injuries of officers hence their reluctance in sanctioning it for training at departments. However our survey indicates that 72% of officers have received injuries outside of work and that were not Jiu Jitsu related.

Our conclusion from this is that an active lifestyle outside of work does lead to injuries over 70% of the time. These injuries, like in Jiu Jitsu, range in severity After combing through the responses, the top non work/non Jiu Jitsu injuries were: back injury, ankle injury and knee injury. Of note, the majority of back injuries were the result of “lifting weights” in the gym.



Police Work Out Culture:

One prevalent lifestyle choice among cops is what we refer to as the “workout culture”. Police officers like to hit the gym and work out. This is done to keep in shape, build muscle and stay strong for a physically demanding job. We have zero problem with strength training (we encourage it) but we need to point out that the rate of injury officers receive while working out is very real. A cursory examination of work out injury compared to Jiu Jitsu injury seems to show a higher chance of injury in the gym. We took into consideration that more officers train in the gym than train Jiu Jitsu. Further study needs to be done in this area of course and this was not the focus of this study.

We would like to present the idea that administrators who are against Jiu Jitsu training because it would ‘lead to higher rates of injury among officers” is incorrect and not based on our data. Administrators believe Jiu Jitsu is more dangerous based on their limited knowledge of what the art is. We propose that risk is part of any physical endeavor and acknowledge that injuries do happen training Jiu Jitsu. But we also posit that learning a skill set that is going to keep officers safe and alive on the streets while also lowering suspect injury is too powerful to ignore.

Q.8: Based on your department size, estimate the number of officers that are training jiu jitsu at your agency.

When involved in Jiu Jitsu, you realize that it is a small community. As such, practitioners know who trains and where within their department. Every cop we know has ‘run the numbers’ within their organization to figure out what the percentage is. You would automatically assume that larger departments with more members are going to have more officers training Jiu Jitsu. This is not always the case because we have encountered some smaller departments who have embraced the Jiu Jitsu philosophy actually have more cops training within their walls.

Generally speaking however, 74% of police departments have less that 3.0% of their officers training in Jiu Jitsu. That is a remarkable small amount of officers and shows that across the world, the number is still too small.



Q.9: Is your department using Jiu Jitsu as its primary use of force training and application?

Of those officers polled, our feedback indicted that 22.3% of departments are using Jiu Jitsu as their standard use of force model. The remaining departments are using older models such as pressure point tactics (PPT), Reality Based Self Defense (RBSD), SPEAR, Aikido or are “tool belt focused” in their training.





Q.10: For those departments that don’t use Jiu Jitsu how would you describe the training?

The majority of departments do not use Jiu Jitsu as their primary use of force model (77.7% of them). In fact, many actively avoid any physical training for their officers. Many departments have moved towards scenario and tactic based training with little to no emphasis on how to teach officers arrest, control, takedowns and ground work.

 

We acknowledge the importance of tactical training but also recognize that many officers on the street have almost no knowledge on how to conduct themselves in physical encounters beyond compliant handcuffing. We had hundreds of responses to this question where officers detailed “what” kind of training their agencies were using to prepare officers for physical encounters.

 

Many agencies combine systems as well.

Pressure Point Tactics: This is a general term for a mode of training requires officers to press, strike or pinch areas of the body in order to gain compliance. 55 respondents included this in their answers. There was a very high correlation between this type of training and tool belt focus below.

 

Tool Belt: 85 of the respondents stated that their agencies either solely focus of tool belts or have this in a combination with PPT above. The over reliance of tools for policing is common-place and a very real problem in our opinion. Having the right tool for the right job is paramount but if all you have is a hammer, all problems are seen as nails. 

 

RBSD/Krav Maga: 35 officers responded that their agencies are using the Reality Based Self Defense (RSBD) as their primary use of force model. This included Krav Maga and other such systems. Among those polled and who answered in this category, 27 officers mentioned that this style of training heavily focused on striking, eye gouging and groin strikes to achieve its objective. Officers further noted that grappling, groundwork and basic takedowns were lacking. The over reliance of speed and aggression to achieve the goal in this training was seen as a major hindrance. There were also several explanations that the lack of a scalable system only allowed higher level of techniques and didn’t have proper answers to lower levels of resistance or control.

 

SPEAR System: 10 officers mention that their departments were using the SPEAR system invented by Tony Blauer. We noted this as the SPEAR system enjoyed a strong following a few decades ago. Many departments used (use) this system (RBSD) for officers. There appears to be a downward trend on the number of departments using this system. SPEAR has added elements of ground work as the years have gone by.

 

AIKIDO, KOGA, and Other arts: There were many mentions of joint locking from the aikido system being taught in police departments today as well as other systems like KOGA, JKD, and boxing as arts used as primary defensive tactics

 

None: Possibly the most shocking statistic we found in this question was that 46 officers responded that they receive zero training whatsoever in physical control and survival tactics and haven’t had anything since their academy days. Having no (proper) training is inexcusable. The dangers officers face in the street is very real and not having anything in place sets them up for catastrophic results.


Q11: Are the defensive tactics instructors in your department Jiu Jitsu practitioners?

This question (and its answer) was a bit of a quandary. Almost half of DT instructors in departments we listed as Jiu Jitsu practitioners. We can a couple draw suppositions from this data. It is possible that that the instructors at departments are Jiu Jitsu practitioners but have yet to get their department on board with Jiu Jitsu as their primary use of force model. We suspect that this is the case because our previous data indicated that just over 20% of departments are using Jiu Jitsu based systems. It is also possible that many who read this question thought we were asking if officers in their departments trained jiu jitsu.

 

We hope these results mean that more DT instructors are training jiu jitsu despite what their department or agencies are running for their officers.

 




Q.12: Does your department utilize Jiu Jitsu style training such as C4C, GST, Sheepdog, Invictus?

Nearly 50% of members said that their departments have used outside training modalities for their officers in some manner. Again, this statistic shows nearly half of agencies have sought out other experts to drive some of their training.  Again, we need to narrow down this question and make it more specific as this number seems to contradict the 20% of agencies that use Jiu Jitsu as their use of force model. We can’t draw a conclusion from this data until we get more information.

 

What we infer from this question is that departments have used these companies even though almost 80% of them have no Jiu Jitsu use of force training or curriculum in within their walls.

 


Q.13: Does your department allow officers to train Jiu Jitsu at the station (On or off duty using the dept facilities?)

Just over 65% of departments do not have or do not allow Jiu Jitsu training at their facilities. The reasons some members gave were that there were no proper mat rooms for it or that the administrators thought the liability of injury was too great. As we have already uncovered, officers are just as or more likely to injure themselves working out as they are training a martial art that could potentially save their lives.


Q.14: Has your Jiu Jitsu training protected you from serious harm or death on the job? If yes, describe.

Of those polled, 22% of officers stated that they have not needed to use their jiu jitsu in a manner that would have saved them from serious harm or death on the job. 78% noted that Jiu Jitsu literally saved their lives (or serious injury) while working. We asked the officers what and how those situations occurred. We collected over 360 accounts of situations where Jiu Jitsu was utilized.

 

The vast majority of those who answered yes (75%) stated that “Jiu Jitsu allowed me to control a violent suspect with little to no harm to the subject while giving me the confidence in my abilities.” (para-phrased). There were several answers that included very dangerous situations where Jiu Jitsu was able to immediately control or incapacitate a suspect thus saving the officer from harm

Q.15: If you do train, what is the focus of your academy?

Officers identified that 70.9% of them train academies that mix both sport and self defense elements into their Jiu Jitsu training. This is an important stat because reality Jiu Jitsu introduces different scenarios that sport Jiu Jitsu does not cover. Learning to deal with punches and weapons charges how one applies their technique.

 

Q.16: Do you regularly train weapon retention techniques during the year?

This question was broad and did not ask “at your department” or “on your own time.” We simply wanted to see if cops were taking the time to add this modality to their training. Some Jiu Jitsu instructors include this into their training and we believe it is a must when it comes to training.

 

23.2% of those polled said they never train weapon retention while 34.4% said they do it once a year. 15% of officers polled said that they regularly train weapon retention techniques more than 5 times a year.

 

We absolutely believe that weapon retention (and deployment) is imperative for the job of law enforcement.


Q.17: If you started your Jiu Jitsu training after you became a cop, what got you started? If you were training before, did your focus change?

After receiving answers to this question, we determined that this would require a paper unto itself. The different reasons are fascinating. We have included a few examples below but need to collect and comb through over 500 responses.

Started training Jiu Jitsu after I became a cop. Saw a lot of injuries happening at work because of not knowing how to arrest a suspect and hurting other officers in the mix. 

 

The effectiveness of it. Plus, it’s fun. Lack of department training. I was sent to become the subject control instructor for the department and realized how little I retained after going to the one week course. 

 

After having trained in various martial arts over the years I decided to take stop making excuses and started training Jiu Jitsu after the new year. New years resolution. At the time I had 21 years on the job and was 47 years old. 

 

Started Japanese Jiu Jitsu as teenager in 1980s....... Stopped due to shift work and other team sports in 1990s and 2000s. Resumed in 2015 and continuing. Utilized skills learned as teenager throughout career. 

 

I wanted more tools for my tool belt, more options going hands and more options before lethal force

 

Just seen to many videos of officers struggling way to long with suspects 

 

Friend that was a BJJ Brown Belt. Also needed to adapt to ever changing MMA suspect environment mixed with stricter Use Of Force laws

 






Q.18: What is your main control measure to get a suspect onto the ground?

While conducting this survey, we were curious on what officer’s go to moves were to get a suspect to the ground in order to affect an arrest. Not surprisingly, the body lock takedown rank the highest at 29.4%. We attribute this to how easy it is to execute the maneuver (learn) and that you literally use your body weight and pressure to drag another person on the ground.

 

The second most utilized takedown was listed as the single or double leg takedown at 20.3% followed by foot sweeps (12.1%) and leg reaps (10.1%).

 

 

Q.19: How often has a non trained officer disrupted your arrest, causing you to lose control AFTER you had already gained control? (Eg: rushing in and pushing you off or pull the suspect in the opposite...

More than 55% of officers polled said that less than 5% do have other officers disrupt an arrest in progress. While officers who don’t train out number the ones that do, It appears that over half understand when their fellow officers are ‘in control’ and note that more officers is not always better for control. This is usually attributed to training and keeping the engaged officers safe during an arrest (crowd control, observation, traffic control etc).

 


Q.20: Do you believe suspect injury has dropped since learning jiu jitsu?

Officers responded (92.6% of them) that since learning jiu jitsu, they have been able to control suspects easier which in turn has lead them to believe that suspect injury has decreased. This is of course perception based and the actual numbers would have to be crunched on this data stream. The basis of this belief is that officers are not reliant on weapons, do not have to strike and are not in protracted battles with suspects.

 

One of the key factors of jiu jitsu is the skill of controlling another person who DOES NOT want to be controlled.

 

 

 

Q.21: How often does your department have Use of Force training for members? Not firearms or scenario training by hands on training.

Readers should take note of this question and the results from it.

This is a shocking number demonstrating how little training police officers are receiving yearly in defensive tactics. Nearly 25% of those polled indicated ZERO training outside their academy days. Then at 50%, officers said that they received 1 training day a year for use of force.

 

We would like to bring to light that should an officer (or suspect) wish to challenge an injury received while an officer is at work, lawyers could (and do) look at the amount of training police receive at said departments. One could articulate that some departments are not doing enough to prepare their officers for physical conflict and that the rate of injury in these departments could be quite high. We would logically conclude that knowing Jiu Jitsu helps officers, suspects and administrators alike. Nothing but good can come out of training.

 

 

Q.22: How many hours of actual hands on use of force training are you receiving yearly via your department?

This is a follow up question to #21. We wanted to know how many actual hours cops were getting in hand to hand tactics on a yearly basis. Nearly 63% of officers said that they received zero to 5 hours of training in a calendar year. We don’t have to harp on his data as you can clearly see the deficiency in this response. 

 

We also need to point out that if a department states that they have training twice a year for officers and that each session is 8 hours, this number isn’t a true number. Most departments combine firearms, scenario and DT into these numbers. They also don’t take into account lunch, sitting around time and early release from these training sessions. Given the example we just cited, an officer would be lucky to receive 2 hours of actually DT instruction annually.

 

And given those 2 hours, the intensity and quality is usually below average. 

 

A typical police officer training in Jiu Jitsu on their own time and own dime will get anywhere between 3 and 10 times the amount of training in just one week by visiting their Jiu Jitsu academy than they would in one year through their department.

 

 


 

Q.23: Do you have PTSD from work related matters.

PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) affects just over 25% of officers according to our poll. This number doesn’t take into account officers that are unware that they have symptoms of it either. The majority of the public don’t realize the stress placed upon cops and most civilians are not exposed to the sights and sounds police deal with. If a quarter of all police officers are the walking wounded, we wanted to know if activities like Jiu Jitsu helped in managing those symptoms (see next question).

 

Q.24: Has Jiu Jitsu helped manage your PTSD? If so, how?

Our follow up question showed that over 50% of those suffering from PTSD listed Jiu Jitsu as a tool to manage it. Of those, the majority of officers mentioned that the mental clarity and toughness they get from training. Other words like confidence, stress release, meditation, family, and fun were also used frequently. We believe there is a strong correlation between training Jiu Jitsu and keeping grounded in everyday life.

 

Many officers who do not have PTSD stated the same factors and praise their Jiu Jitsu training as being armor against the stressors of everyday life.

 

Q.25: Has your understanding of Jiu Jitsu and body mechanics allowed you to articulate use of force better in reports?

When officers are involved in use of force situations, most departments require a detailed report on the occurrence. 92% of officers stated that knowing Jiu Jitsu has allowed them to articulate their use of force better and more accurately. The fact that officers who train jiu jitsu and understand concepts like base, angles, leverage, balance as well as body mechanics and range of motion, have allowed them to be better writers when detailing their encounters. 

 

Also, the fact that Jiu Jitsu requires ACTUAL MAT experience is a huge bonus to cops. The art is not purely academic it's practical. Many arts and use of force training cite the old line “its too dangerous to go 100%, so I can’t show you HOW effective the moves are.” In Jiu Jitsu, training partners can go 100%. Cops can encounter pressure on a daily basis, making them more aware to what actually works and what does not.

 


Q.26: Have you been injured by colleagues due to their attempt at arresting someone?

We were curious about collateral damage cause by other officers during an arrest of a subject. 18.4% stated that other officers had injured them during an arrest typically citing “rushing in” or “errant fists or knees” during an encounter.

 

Q.27: If you answered Yes to #26, were the moves they use “approved departmental” techniques?

 

 

Q.28: What are the biggest benefits you have found with Jiu Jitsu Training?

We received over 500 responses to this question. We are providing a sample list of some of them below (“confidence” was used over 390 times):

Able to learn more body control of suspects. 

 

Confidence, confidence, confidence. 

 

General fitness 2. better body control of my body/movements 3. dealing with stress/handle pressure 4. confidence in self.

 

Control and confidence in ability. 

 

My ability to remain calm and collected in use of force situations. I’ve been able to restrain combative individuals while keeping good COMS to incoming units. Because other officers I work everyday with have seen this, they are very receptive when there are multiple officers trying to take custody of someone. I’m able to give them clear instruction of where they need to be on a suspects body and they listen and we’re able to take the suspect into custody as a team safely, quickly and effectively 

 

Subject control 

 

Gaining a large confidence in my use of force and have made me not afraid if a situation goes violent. 

 

Better feeling knowing that you can control an unruly suspect if needed until backup arrives. Knowing my own limits and capabilities, and learning to go with the flow instead of fight the opponent’s strength. 

 

Complete self-improvement (Dietary, Alcohol consumption, planning) Confidence in physical capabilities Confidence in applying techniques against resisting individuals. 

 

Jiu jitsu has changed every aspect of defensive tactics for me. I have a new and educated outlook on subject control and fighting people. I'm by no means an expert, but I've never felt more confident in my career.

 

Being that it is a grappling based martial art, I feel better equipped to ground an offender in a controlled manner. I rarely ever have to strike and jiu jitsu has taught me how to use misdirection, less energy, and utilize an offender’s energy against them.

 

First is the use of control over strikes. In the world we live in now where everyone has cameras, striking a suspect while attempting to arrest him looks terrible. The second is the benefit of sparring: both physical and mental. After about a year of sparring I noticed a HUGE difference in my mentality when getting into confrontational situations. I’m less keyed up during arrests, confrontational interviews, operations, etc.






Q.29: Rate your current use of force and defensive tactics at your department.

We asked officers on the quality of their training. 48% stated that they thought their use of force was poor or below average and further cited that they train on their own time knowing how vital the skill is to have.

 

Q.30: Do you pay for your own Jiu Jitsu training?

No surprise here. Own time. Own Dime. Cops need to stop using their departments as the reason they are not training. Over 90% of officers pay for their own training.

CONCLUSION:

If information is power then this study should be an eye opener for departments and administrators who wanted ‘cold hard facts’. Let’s be real however. If this information doesn’t fit the narrative of agencies then they will simply ignore what we have offered in this study. As we identified in our last paper, confirmation bias and/or normalcy bias is a very real thing. Some departments STILL argue that there is no need for a change in defensive tactics culture because “things have always worked and nothing bad has ever happened so there is no need to change.”

The fact is, bad things are happening daily. It is time for police to recognize the benefits to Jiu Jitsu training. If your department is not adopting or encouraging you to train Jiu Jitsu, you must take it on yourself to change. The moment you swore your oath to the badge is the moment you lost the privilege of being out of shape, untrained and unmotivated.

We want to thank the hundreds of officers who took the time to take our survey and send us their thoughts. We truly appreciate your effort. To those officers who have yet to start training, please reach out to an academy or fellow officer to get you started. The benefits are numerous. 

WE ARE WHAT WE REPEATEDLY DO. EXCELLENCE,THEN, IS NOT AN ACT, BUT A HABIT.-Aristotle


 

AFTERWORD:

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 that it's real and it is scalable for the line of work that they do. Less than 3% of all 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

If you would like a PDF version of this study, please email us at: info@invictusleo.org