We just got back from teaching a five day law enforcement class in Memphis, TN to a great group of officers. We had fun and so did the class… much fun as you can have while being extremely sore and worn out anyhow. It really makes you take what you teach serious when you are showing a handgun defense laying on your back with the gunman mounted on top of you and one of the officers in your class says “That brings back bad memories, I was there once. Got it redirected just as he pulled the trigger”! So this blog is aimed at those who may some day be training law enforcement.

First off, make sure what you show them is the most street proven, scientific and effective techniques out there. Don’t show crap from a system just because it’s your system. Ya know, when we teach civilians it may well be for the one time in their life they need it and that is serious. It is much more serious when you are showing techniques to a group who WILL use most of what you show in the next few months!

Differences in teaching Law Enforcement compared to teaching civilians are numerous. First and foremost is that we teach civilians to run from danger. If someone has a knife my first defense is to beat feet out of there! Law Enforcement has to go in when the safest thing to do is run. This gives me a lot of respect for them and ratchets the danger of teaching scenarios way up. They respond when we civilians use common sense and get away. The other big thing we teach civilians is that if we must do a technique we beat the attacker until we are safe, which is usually when the scum bag is unconscious. Law enforcement officers must actually try to keep themselves unharmed while using restraint. This means that as they are doing a technique they must cuff, etc. the bad guy and he’s never done being a threat. When they let up he is still able to come back at them…and it starts all over if he does.

Other insights when training law enforcement;
-In Krav Maga we love to punch. We punch a lot! Teach law enforcement to use palm heel strikes. If they punch and fracture a bone in their hand on a skull they cannot access their higher force options.
-In civilian class we run drills from 1 to 5 minutes at a time. This is a waste for law enforcement as their drills shouldn’t last longer than 15 seconds. They should never be in prolonged fights on the street. If what they are doing isn’t working in 10 or 15 seconds they should be moving to higher force options. A prolonged fight with one bad guy allows the bad guy’s buddies to get there.
-A lot of our combatives have to go low line. For example, we teach stomp kick to an attacker’s chest to push them away. Officers have on vests, belts with a lot of equipment hanging down, etc. and are not going to be able to go that high with a kick. We show them to attack legs with their boot tread instead of going high with the bottom of the foot.
-Targets. We show civilians that the only places they should be throwing combatives on a bad guy are the places that do the most damage. We teach targeting the throat, xiphoid and groin. Sometimes officers cannot go for such damage. They must be taught that groin kicks sometimes are lower leg kicks and palm strikes to the soft part of the face must be shoulder “pops” to displace the suspect’s body mass without the damage of a face shot.

Krav Maga is perfect for law enforcement. It doesn’t take much training time because it is natural body motions, it’s easy to learn, easy to remember and most of all, it is effective. These techniques have been used many times in the real world to save lives. One officer in the class did say “I’m not sure I can teach such brutal stuff because of our policies” when another officer corrected him and said “when there is a weapon involved anything goes, even our politicians understand that”. I couldn’t say it better! BE SAFE!


1 Comment

  1. Good points Mark. I take my responsiblity of teaching my officers to survive very seriously, and I consider it to be the highest form of service I can give. Teaching the guardians to guard their own lives and welfare is exceedingly rewarding. These men and women place themselves in harms way daily so that others don’t have to, and they carry the responsibility of returning to their families safely with them.

    Too many times, Officers get caught up in the potential aftermath of their use of force. I always tell my officers that when the fight is on and their lives are on the line, they exist for no other reason than to win the fight.

    Too often, we get hung up or hesitate thinking about future implications. Believe me, I’ve been on the wrong end of those lawsuits, but nothing is gained by dwelling on policies or media criticism. In fact, the loss may be profound. Krav Maga is an ideal system for LEO for all of the reasons you’ve listed here. We’ve been in those dirty messy fights for life. We have to know what works, not what’s fancy or looks impressive on film or in a cage. Good work buddy.

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