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Grappling In Police Tactics

In discussing the issue of grappling in police tactics, we are referring to courses from all perspectives, whether they are Taiho-Jutsu or go by some other name. Again, it is the course which we are speaking about, rather than a more comprehensive belt rank system.

When we speak of grappling, it encompasses what we would generically call wresting styles and systems from any culture or country. Grappling has been around for as long as humans have left any record of their history. Pictures are found on cave walls, pottery, and in the earliest form of print. The question here is, does grappling/wrestling have a place in a police tactics course, and if so, to what extent?

In 2008 America, we see grappling books, television competitions, videos, and individuals practicing these methods almost everywhere. In the Japanese arts, grappling and mat work have an ancient history in the various JuJutsu ryu, and were ultimately incorporated into Judo and some styles of Karate. Even the grappling in the popular "Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu" is really nothing more than Kosen Judo, a style of Kodokan Judo which has its emphasis on mat techniques, and were added to by practitioners over the years. Kano himself, wishing to emphasize the stand-up techniques of Judo, still realized the importance and value of the Kosen style. Today there are a small number of universities in Japan competing with the old Kosen competition rules, placing great emphasis on newaza.

Once more, given the above brief background, we ponder the question as to whether there is a place for these techniques in police tactics courses. In the opinion of this writer, the answer is, "no". Below are some reasons to support this response.

1) Assailants who choose to grapple are usually experienced enough to want the confrontation to go to this level. An officer, unless having trained privately, will probably not have the same skill level as the presumably trained assailant, and therefore, will in all likelihood, lose the encounter.


2) Regardless of an officer's level of skill, s/he has no clear visual range of who or what is going on around the scene, and may be pounced upon by allies of the assailant while in this vulnerable position.

3) If the initial encounter is with more than one assailant, engaging in a grappling contest places the officer at a distinct disadvantageous position, while being outnumbered from the outset.

4) An important and basic principle of self-defense is violated when engaging a grappler on his/her terms. The rule -- use your most against his/her least. One should not go to the mat with one whose strength is mat work.

5) In 1942, there was a booklet published titled, "Police Wrestling". It actually had some good defensive moves shown. The problem, however, is that to implement the techniques against an aggressive or violent assailant without first seriously weakening him/her is simply unrealistic. Herein lies the fifth reason. It violates the underlying philosophy of Taiho-Jutsu, or any police tactics course which is relatively effective. The techniques must be easily learned, easily retained, and require minimal practice to be effective. This is not the case with any form of grappling/wrestling.

Taiho-Jutsu has adequate defenses to use against an individual attempting to grapple. If, for whatever reason, an officer finds him/herself on the ground with an assailant attempting to grapple, any and all weapons directed at any and all vulnerable areas should be employed, with a maximum degree of force. It is vital to remember that the grappler has the potential to put the officer in a life-threatening situation, and the maximum force recommended is justified. It is additionally using the officer's “most” against the assailant's "least", a cardinal rule of Taiho-Jutsu.

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