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A Diminishing Role For Taiho-Jutsu?

From time to time, I go through periods where I feel the "need" to watch COPS-type shows, solely for the purpose of seeing what, if any, arresting techniques are used. My usual reaction is most negative, and I’m then "cured" until the next urge. Recently, following one of these spurts, I began to think that taiho-jutsu, and any other form of unarmed police arresting techniques, will have a greatly diminished role in the future.

To elaborate, let us first glimpse the techniques themselves. What I witnessed was extensive use of wrist locks, particularly when attempting to place an assailant in handcuffs. Another widely utilized move was a come-along, which consists of grasping the assailant by the arm just above the elbow. This is usually followed up with placing the assailant’s arm in a hammerlock to secure him/her in handcuffs. Examining just the use of these three techniques, a few things are noted. To begin with, I have yet to see any officer apply these techniques correctly. The wrist locks are forced, using no preliminary moves before entering into the hold. Additionally, there is usually more than one officer using strength to force the assailant into the proper position for handcuffing. The bottom line to this first example is that it is the combined force of more than one officer that makes the wrist lock and handcuffing "work".

The second example is the come-along. What was noticed in this technique is that the officer is usually walking the assailant, who remains surefooted and balanced, in a position and at a pace where s/he can counteract the ineffective, come-along. Once again, there are usually other officers at the scene. While backup is certainly appropriate during an apprehension, that does not justify techniques which are ineffective and dangerous to the officer.

The third example was the hammerlock before handcuffing. This may be the most glaringly dangerous out of the three examples given, since the counter to this move is one commonly used by street fighters, and places the officer in the most danger. There is certainly a proper method to place an assailant in a hammerlock and in position for handcuffing or a come-along. What it is consistently seen on television is not the proper method.



While a conclusion that may be drawn using just the three examples above (and there are numerous others which could be cited) is that while there is truly a paucity of effective arresting techniques being taught, there are other factors to consider. More and more, we’re seeing the offices use mace and tasers to subdue unruly assailants. This is appropriate. However, when we couple what appears to be minimal, ineffective training in defensive police and arrest tactics with an increase in weapon use, along with two or more officers relying on strength rather than finesse and proper technique in securing an arrest, we see the role of not only taiho-jutsu as the ideal model, but all systems of unarmed police tactics truly becoming diminished. The question then becomes, can this trend be altered?

Prior to answering this question, I must preface all remarks by stating that any technology, whether mace, taser, or sound (as utilized by Israeli police) which will add to officer safety and effectiveness is to be encouraged. However, law-enforcement is not all black-and-white. There are many shades of gray, i.e., many variables enter into any encounter. As such, there will certainly be times when the officer will be on his/her own. It will take wits and proper training in self-defense and arresting techniques which will put the odds in the officer’s favor to emerge from the encounter safely. To drive the point home, one may look to the role of judoka Mel Bruno, and Gen. Curtis LeMay in bringing the S.A.C. program to the level it was. It seems that one or more persons in positions of authority, realizing the importance and effectiveness of taiho-jutsu (or other systems perceived to be effective) to officer safety would be the catalyst to increase rather than diminish the role of arresting techniques. Until and unless this occurs, we may well see a diminishing role for taiho-jutsu.

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