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The Police Baton

by Steven J. Kaplan

For many many years, the term police baton” has been synonymous with a 24" or 26" wooden baton, with or without thong, utilizing a variety of techniques by law enforcement and military police. While quite a few law enforcement agencies have substituted other standard issue forms of the baton for this classic, the vast majority still utilize it nationwide. Its effectiveness is certainly established. A question that comes up is, is there a set of techniques which make it best suited for the Taiho-Jutsu course as taught by the USTJF?

Reviewing some of the techniques seen in books and videos which line the shelves of stores and homes, it appears there is a virtual supermarket of moves to select from (Note: techniques for this baton differ from those of the expandable baton, even though the size of the expandable when opened may be the same. This will be discussed in a future article.) Stylistically, they range from Japanese to Filipino to Korean, to exotic looking combination forms. Unfortunately, there is no conformity amongst City, County, State, and Federal agencies, thereby preventing any sort of standard to be evaluated. Regardless of style, there are principles that are essential elements of Taiho-Jutsu which should be incorporated into the baton’s curriculum. Below are four of the more important ones, leading to maximizing of officer safety.


1) The baton is primarily a defensive weapon. It should not be used as a dueling weapon against any other non-firearm.

2) Avoid some of the more “exotic” techniques. They require a level of skill generally beyond the training the average officer receives, and unless executed with great precision, they leave the officer vulnerable.

3) Taisabaki is vital!! Whether blocking or moving in for an attack, the body should be moving in one direction, with the baton going in the other . This places an additional safety range for the officer, and puts him/her in a position to utilize appropriate follow-up techniques.

4) While no longer used as a clubbing weapon, avoid going to the other extreme, e.g., using the baton as an aiki-type weapon, attempting a takedown or come along without first using appropriate weakening techniques on the assailant. These are vital to successful follow-up moves.

If these principles are followed, the baton maintains its place as the established standard issue of departments across the country.

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