Krav Maga for Police: Effective?

Krav Maga for Police- Is it Effective_

Being a Police Officer and Training Krav Maga

Being a Police Officer and Training Krav Maga

I had 2 months of martial arts training before I started the police academy. I didn’t know the difference between jiu jitsu and Muay Thai. 

In the police academy, we were taught many hours of arrest and control techniques. These included searching people, handcuffing, takedowns. We also learned some self-defense techniques, including grappling, gun defenses, punch defenses. 

We were encouraged during the academy, thankfully, to train in martial arts after [correction: if we were lucky and good enough to make it to] graduation. I took that to heart, and determined I would find a place to train as soon as possible after I graduated. 

And that’s what I did. I heard of Krav Maga a few years prior from a friend who trained. I knew it was focused on self-defense, and I liked that. But first I tried a Brazilian jiu jitsu school. The instructor talked shit about all other martial arts disciplines, and it rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t go back.

I found a local Krav Maga school and started training. I enjoyed it, and the main instructor had experience training law enforcement and military. So I stuck with it.

Throughout my field training as a police officer, and working in patrol for a couple years, I trained. I also became an arrest and control instructor with my department, and trained recruits and officers at our police academy.

Training Krav Maga (a well-rounded style of Krav Maga, and adding separate Brazilian jiu jitsu training) while training and being a police officer has had tremendous benefits. Here’s a couple:Learning to be comfortable putting my hands on people

This is one of the first “hurdles” you go through working patrol. In our very active city, we were searching multiple people a day. Putting your hands on random people is not something a normal person is comfortable with. Training helped to break down this barrier. Additionally, working with people of various sizes and abilities. As an officer, we weren’t only dealing with tall muscular men. We encounter people of all different sizes and athleticism, and having experience working with a variety of people proved very useful in my work.

Learning basic self-defense and fighting concepts

Where are you most vulnerable for an attack? What are the most common ways people attack you? Stance, balance, awareness. These are all basic, but make a huge difference in being prepared for an encounter.Supplementing my police training

As I said earlier, we received a lot of instruction on arrest and control techniques during the academy. After the academy, the ongoing training requirements for police officers are small, laughable. Physical skills diminish greatly if you don’t keep them up. Additionally, depending on what system and techniques that are taught by the department (they vary greatly from department to department), you might (aka will) have gaps, and will need more training. In my case, my department taught some good things, and some that I believed would never work in real life. So I needed something to replace that. This of course depends on the policies within the department, and what you may or may not be allowed to use. Enhancing resilience

Pushing yourself physically helps you to become stronger mentally. Take that a step further- you need to have some mental fortitude to face someone (in sparring, let’s say) who wants to punch your face in. Or who wants to break your arm off. And if you do get caught, to keep going, keep fighting, learn, and overcome. This is vital in any violent encounter. And resilience is a critical skill for all aspects of life.  Mental training

Training also helped me to process scenarios and situations that happened during policing. If I or a fellow officer got into an encounter, I would break it down afterwards. Sometimes I would do this myself, or sometimes I would ask my instructor. We would look at it from multiple angles and see what, if any, could have been done better. This was valuable to help progress my learning in both policing and training.Fitness

Staying in shape was a part of my job. Not for looks, but to be able to run, move, and fight while wearing over 30 lbs of gear.

Did I use a lot of Krav Maga while working patrol? No. 

There have been many studies that show officers with more training use less force than officers with less training. Within my department, this seemed to hold true. There are many factors that contribute to why officers use force, and level of training is one of those factors.

Do I think Krav Maga is the end all be all for law enforcement? No.

Many people say it is one of the few truly “realistic” martial arts. They say “we don’t wear boxing gloves in the streets” and train without equipment. That’s all fine, until you break your hands and can’t train. And then what? I rolled once with my gun belt on, and it was not fun. I would not consistently train with that thing on. Is it good to do every once in awhile? Sure. But all the time? No. We have to train safely, and longevity is huge. You get injured in training, you can’t train, but more importantly you can’t work. And that defeats the purpose.

I have known cops that train in all different disciplines. All of the benefits of training that I listed above are applicable to a variety of martial arts, not just Krav Maga. And I know many officers that would be able to handle themselves in an encounter that have different training than me.

The thing I like about Krav Maga is that it is pretty comprehensive (at a good school). It includes standup striking, ground techniques, weapons, and specific self-defense techniques. It also strives to address size differences between people- an important thing, since officers come in all sizes. We don’t have the luxury of only arresting people in our weight class. This has helped me to have a well-rounded knowledge in fighting and self-defense. This helped me to be more comfortable and confident in many situations.

As a police officer, I was not fighting for my life every day. I knew this was a real possibility, and I wanted to have the skills to survive. Which is one reason I placed so much importance on martial arts training.

The bulk of what I did was controlling people. Not people who were actively fighting me (some did of course), but people who are just trying to get away, or trying to not get placed into handcuffs. It is important for officers to have training in controlling people. There are concepts from different martial arts which can help with this. I used a Kimura lock on someone once to control them, and it worked great. This is probably one of the main differences between civilian training and law enforcement training. In civilian Krav Maga training, people are taught to defend, counterattack and run away if possible. As a police officer, this is not an option. 

Depending on what type of department/area you work, it is also important to learn how to work with others. In my area, I worked alone for the last few years. But I was fortunate to have backup close by. This meant that I was usually not going hands on by myself. But it was not always easy to work with other officers. Different training, sizes, mindsets, and lack of communication sometimes led to inefficient or ineffective attempts at controlling people. This is another aspect of training that is important for law enforcement, that is not typically addressed at martial arts schools.

Overall, consistent training is beneficial and crucial for police officers. Krav Maga is a great choice, but there are other disciplines that provide good training. Knowing the department’s policies and how to apply the training within those policies is important. Constantly evaluating encounters and scenarios is important. Being open minded and looking at other ways of doing things is important. Being mentally prepared and confident will change the way someone does their job, and help to create better police officers.