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The Expandable Baton For Law-Enforcement

by Steven J. Kaplan

In past articles for Arresting Solutions, I've written about a variety of batons used in different law-enforcement settings and capacities.  These included the Yawara Stick, the Security Baton, the Police Baton, and the Riot Baton.  Additionally, I authored an article on the Jutte, the forerunner of the modern police baton.  If one were to combine and modify techniques from all of these, we would find the Expandable Baton to be the weapon to utilize the many techniques.
The Expandable Baton is generally 6.5" to 8.5" in the closed position, and approximately 16" to 21" extended, depending on the sizes offered by a given company, or issued by a given department.  Made of stainless steel, it may be straight, or possess a guard at the base of the rod, similar in shape to the nunti, with one Jutte-type prong facing up, and another facing down.  Some expandable batons open with a flick of the wrist, others have a spring-action mechanism which opens the baton with the push of a button.  When in the closed position, it may be used as a Yawara Stick.  Open, there are a myriad of techniques available to the user, taken from the Tanbo, Hanbo, and Jutte.  Since this is a metal baton, great pain can be inflicted.  That is why this is to be considered a purely defensive weapon.  There is not a branch of law-enforcement whose officers cannot benefit by utilizing this weapon, and this includes military police forces.  As with their non-military counterparts, their goal is an arrest, not a kill.
With a wide array of techniques available, it would seem logical that a two-tier system of training and instruction be in effect (which is how this author has taught the weapon for many years).  The first tier is the basic techniques, consisting of blocks, counters, and very basic restraints and come-alongs.  A simple "clock method" approach may be used, where the baton is held in one hand to block and counter, moving the baton in the direction of the numbers on the face of a clock, always accompanied with appropriate taisabaki.  This system is well suited for officers who do not have much time to devote to extensive and intensive training.  Further, the "clock method" is similar in principle to Taiho-Jutsu, where the techniques are easy to learn, easy to retain, and does not require repeated practice to be effective. 
The second tier reflects the art of the Expandable Baton.  Principles applied to all techniques come from JuJutsu/Taijutsu, and require greater training to employ effectively.  There are stances, carrying techniques, striking and blocking techniques, and an above average knowledge of human anatomy as it relates to pressure points and nerve centers.  Additionally included are restraints, come-alongs, and "body chokes".  Techniques are effective against unarmed and armed (non-firearm) attacks, ranging from a knife to a six foot staff, to a sword, and hands and feet.  When purchasing a baton, it is important to avoid "cheap", i.e., poorly made, and a low price, which usually reflects the quality of the weapon. The Expandable Baton is a weapon an officer relies upon for his/her safety. To compromise this for a lower price is the height of foolishness.

When carrying the Expandable Baton in a closed position, it is best to keep it in its case, either on the left side of the body on the belt (for one who is right-handed), or behind the back on the belt,left of center on the back. When worn on the left side, the baton is drawn with the right hand, with the grommet wrapped around the wrist. The draw and the wrist action snapping it open are done in one motion. When carried behind the backto the left, it is pulled out of the case with the left hand, and put into the right hand while securing the grommet around the wrist. Carrying the Expandable Baton behind the back serves the purpose of hiding the weapon. This may prevent an initial escalation of the situation. If the baton needs to be used, the officer then has the element of surprise in his/her favor. From either position, the officer is able to quickly assume a defensive stance.

When assuming a stance, the weapon is in the lead hand, with baton and head facing the assailant. The body itself is sideways to the assailant (similar to a fighting horse-stance), providing minimal target areas. From this position, a block-counter combination can easily be effected in one smooth, flowing motion. The officer also has the option of approaching a potential assailant(s) with the baton in a closed position, hidden in the hand. The grommet is around the wrist, and the baton is vertically in line with the fingers. It is hidden until needed.

If the encounter is one where the assailant is physically close to the officer, and can turn into a grappling situation, the closed baton is used as a Yawara Stick against nerve centers and vulnerable areas of the body. Thismay also be done if a wrestling or grappling situation actually ensues. In these situations, the officer must have knowledge of and training in attacking these anatomical points, to the point where the baton strike will be natural and accurate. There can be no time wasted searching for the right point or area once the fight begins. After the initial physical encounter, the officer may snap the weapon open, and follow up with additional strikes and a takedown of choice.

There are those who may be intoxicated on either alcohol or drugs, and as such, may not feelor be affected by the pressure point pain. This is why pressure point attacks cannot be solely relied upon. Immediate follow-up techniques must be engaged in, whether they are with the Expandable Baton or unarmed. Once the assailant is brought under control, handcuffing takes place. As mentioned earlier, all movements are done with taisabaki, placing the officer in the safest possible position.

An officer may choose to approach an assailant with hands on each end of the open baton, handsfacing downward. This too is a non-aggressive and non-provocative posture. If, at some point, the assailant reaches for or attempts to draw a weapon, the officer is in a position to react swiftly and immediately to disable the attacker. The principle of reacting before the weapon is drawn is directly taken from Jutte-Jutsu. Here too, taisabaki and timing are essential aspects of the defense. The Expandable Baton should, if possible, be drawn and open when approaching someone with a knife, stick, pipe, tire iron, bat, sword, or any non-firearm.

When the Expandable Baton is used in a restraint or come-along, it is vital that a weakening technique first be employed. Even if the officer wishes to apply the restraint or come-along to a non-violent or non-actively threatening individual, a weakening technique should still be the first step. There is no predictability as to how someone appearing to be "mildly intoxicated" or on any substance will react. The "weakening technique" need not be overly aggressive. Its purpose is to offset the potential assailant enough to allow the restraint or come-along to be successful.

A final category of Expandable Baton techniques are reserved for more serious situations. These are the "body choke" techniques. With these, the Expandable Baton has already been used to block and counter an attack. As a follow-up, or as a continuation of thecounter, or used if the officer is in a wrestling hold, the Expandable Baton is placed around a part of the body, the baton's ends held with each hand, and the body part is "choked". As examples, a person may use one or two hands on an officer's shirt to pull him/her forward. This could be to threaten, or to pull him/herin for a punch. The officer in this case wouldimmediately place the baton behind the assailant's neck, and with thumbs pressing in and forward on pressure points behind the neck, the neck is pulled forward with the baton. The baton may also go around the ribcage of an assailant if the position warrants it, and then "choked" in the same manner. These techniques can be applied to the legs as well.

As indicated at the beginning of this article, and illustrated with the examples presented, it seems a two-tier approach is a wise and practicalmeans in training and teaching the Expandable Baton. The "clock method" may be taught to any officer as part of a basic police tactics course, while the advanced, second-tier techniques reserved for those wishing a higher level of training.

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