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Principles of Control and Restraint,
Part 1

Editor’s note: This two part article is excerpted from Strategic Air Command Manual 125-2, Air Police Control and Restraint Techniques, SAC Headquarters, September 1958

Purpose and Scope This manual describes the basic principles in the application of control and restraint techniques. The application of these principles is necessary to the development of those combative skills essential to air police personnel in the performance of their official duties. Corollary benefits will be the development of self-confidence and the promotion of physical fitness.

Background The nature of air police duties is such that military personnel engaged therein must at all times be mentally and physically prepared to apply whatever force is necessary to accomplish their mission. The air policeman’s training dictates that he first resort to all means short of the use of force to control any situation. There will occur certain circumstances under which the use of force is unavoidable. The ability to act effectively will quickly terminate such encounters in favor of the air policeman with little or no injury to the offender. This manual is intended to provide further refinements to basic training in air police control and restraint techniques, and to develop and instill confidence within the air policeman in his ability to cope with such situations.


a. To insure the ability of the air police to tactfully and skillfully cope with situations which require the use of force in the control and/or restraint of personnel.

b. To integrate combative training with modern control procedures, teaching the principles of restraint so as to prevent the use of unnecessary force in the handling of military personnel and/or prisoners.

Fundamental Principles

There are a number of fundamentals in combatives measures skills. Some must be observed at all times; and others are used in special situations. Where one begins and the other leaves off is difficult to define and can only be determined by the user. Often the application is separated only by a split second. The essential principles basic to effective combative measures and restraint application are:

a. Relaxation – the keeping of mental or physical tension at a minimum by "giving way" to resistance. This practice tends to increase self-control and adaptability in combative measures performance.

b. Psychological time – creating the element of surprise by temporarily distracting the adversary’s attention through subtle psychological or physical means for preparation of attack, counterattack, or control.

c. Leverage – grasping the clothing and applying the fulcrum-lever principle against the adversary’s weaker muscles, joints, or off-balance positions serves as a means of leverage in the control or handling of individuals.

d. Footwork – correct shifting of the feet insures both balance and strong counterattacking positions. Crossing the legs must be avoided. The effective control of the adversary is dependent upon proper footwork.


e. Physical timing – the principle of physical timing is to attack at the split second when weight, momentum, and strength are gathered for use against itself.

f. Balance – Mental balance, or stability, is a state of mind that is necessary before physical balance can be achieved. Physical balance must be retained by the air policeman and destroyed in his adversary. The destruction of the adversary’s body balance, after he has been led by a finesse or subtle movement into an off-balance position, is a fundamental of Judo technique. A sudden push or pull applied to the upper parts of the body will weaken or break body balance and serve to nullify the adversary’s strength or offensive power. Once the adversary has been place off balance, he should not be allowed to regain it. This should be followed by immediate control or restraint.

g. On-Guard Position – To get into a position which offers fighting maneuverability for offense, defense, or control, the feet are placed apart about the distance of the width or the shoulders, palms are open, posture is erect, and knees are slightly bent. In this position, the air policeman can move about and is in a state of readiness to meet the adversary according to the action or type of control that might be required to terminate the situation.

h. Avoiding The Adversary’s Attack – Avoid working against or stopping momentum initiated by the attacker; use it and/or redirect its force to defeat it through its own action. For example, if the adversary attacks with a wild blow, quickly avoid the impetus of the blow, parry, and let his momentum take him off balance; immediately apply follow-up restraint. Usually unskilled individuals will use wild swinging type blows, and many times they will pick up implements that may serve as a weapon for attack. Such blows may be avoided and parried outward or inward with the edges of the hands and forearms. The impetus of a missed blow will also create for the air policeman an opportunity to apply any one of the restraints or come-alongs outlined in section IV.


a. If striking is necessary, striking techniques must be used only to the extent necessary to effectively control a physical problem situation. All striking techniques should be executed with caution and control. The more serious types of blows should never be administered unless a life is endangered.

b. The immediate objective in any offensive or defensive encounter is to control the adversary as quickly as possible, and if it becomes necessary to administer some type of striking technique, it should be executed with lightning action and accuracy. In executing these techniques, one should always bear in mind the following points:

1. The bone edges of the limbs can be used as a means of attacking the sensitive nerve plexuses or soft areas of the body, either from far range or ground positions in which self-defense may be involved.

2. Striking techniques directed to muscle areas or across bone areas are effective in diverting the attacker from any mode of attack. An element of surprise is effected when this technique is applied. It is recommended only against an antagonist who is difficult to control.