Everyone Wants to Be a Warrior, Until It’s Time to Learn How to Fight

Everyone Wants to Be a Warrior, Until It’s Time to Learn How to Fight

I’m not a huge fan of the word, warrior, especially as it relates to policing. Not because there aren’t some real, bad ass warriors that exist in policing, but mainly because I think the term gets thrown around way too often to celebrate things like doing kettle bell swings or just absolutely CRUSHING a CrossFit WOD!!! OK, OK, calm down. I’m not saying these things don’t have a lot of value, but they don’t teach you how to fight, which I believe is the most fundamental skill of an actual warrior. 

If we want to be warriors, we need to know how to fight. For cops, the way to learn this is through Jiu Jitsu because it’s the art that most closely matches the encounters that we’re constantly involved in. I’d also argue that it’s the best art for self defense, especially considering that almost every fight I’ve been involved in or watched in training videos primarily involves grappling - opposed the Hollywood idea of fending off multiple attackers or knocking someone out with one punch. And if you think Jiu Jitsu is bullshit and that it wouldn’t work against you - or work in a “real fight" - reach out to any professional MMA fighter and get their opinion. Don’t just take my word for it. 

Despite all of this, it’s rare to find cops who train, or are even willing to try training Jiu Jitsu. I’ve always had theories as to why, but now there’s at least some evidence to support those theories. Recently, our friends from the Invictus Law Enforcement Collective published an article on this topic, where they polled 1,500 officers as part of an 11 month study. Of the Officers polled, the primary reasons cited for not training included the usual suspects:

  • Time
  • Cost
  • Ego
  • Fear of injury

The last one kills me. Can you imagine a warrior telling you they don’t want to learn how to fight because they’re afraid they may get hurt? We need to do better. 

The article also cited a few other reasons I find interesting. These are:

  • Not understanding the benefits of the art
  • Believing in strength over skill and in tools over technique

There's definitely a lack of understanding of Jiu Jitsu for those who have never trained. I’ll admit, if I were someone looking in from the outside, watching grown men wrestle each other in pajamas would probably strike me as odd. I think cops who don’t train also lump Jiu Jitsu in with all the martial arts we were exposed to as kids - Karate, Taekwondo and King Fu, with conjured up images of dudes breaking boards with crazy spin kicks. That would turn me off too. For those of you who have these images in your brain, rest assured that Jiu Jitsu is the opposite of all that. 

The last point of believing in strength over skill is something I observe all the time. When we lift weights and get strong as shit, our ego makes it easy for us to buy into the idea that we can kick the ass of every single person on planet earth. Strength definitely helps, but strength alone is not enough. The reality is that good technique will beat strength. We see it all the time with new grapplers in Jiu Jitsu gyms across the country. Big strong guys will come in and get choked and arm locked by people half their size - including women. They also gas out quickly because the cardio needed for fighting is very specific and different from that of running, circuit training or other forms of exercise. A great example of this can be seen in the video below, where McDojo Life coordinated a sparring match between an internet tough guy and a professional female fighter. Watch as he quits around the 10:45 mark for no other reason other than he was tired. 

Ego is also a big reason cops won't train. This video is a great example of that as well, as the internet tough guy, after getting his ass kicked round after round, still professes that the only reason he lost was due to his cardio. He refused to admit that he flat out has zero fighting skill and got completely dominated.

Another great example of technique over strength can be seen in watching the early days of the UFC, where average looking guys like Royce Gracie defeated guys who looked like Captain America, using....Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

Additionally, fighting is almost always easier said than done. How many times have we heard, “I would have kicked that guy’s ass,” or done this, or done that. What strikes me when I hear this is that it almost always comes from people who have never trained a day of any fighting style in their entire life. Why are we so confident that we can win every fight without actually knowing how to fight? It’s no different than if I were to tell a professional Crossfit athlete that I could walk into any gym and outwork them. That’s crazy talk, as I would get absolutely destroyed. Again, nothing against CrossFit whatsoever, but when someone is trying to attack us, we’re not using CrossFit against them. We’re also not using some bullshit “approved technique” that we learned seven months ago at our annual eight hour in-service training day (if we can even remember how to do it). We’re almost always using basic grappling, consisting of specific things like take downs, punch defense, headlock and choke defense, arm locks and positional control.

You can certainly continue to do the other forms of exercise that make you happy and fit. But if you work patrol, please, please add Jiu Jitsu to the mix. Not only will it teach you how to fight and round out your training, but you’ll discover SO many other benefits that will help you win at life. See my previous blog post on why Jiu Jitsu makes your life more awesome for more info on that.

In the meantime, go train.


// Jason



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  • Jason

    @ Steve – unfortunately that’s very true. We see a lack of training far too often, which usually results in over reliance on intermediate tools.

  • Steve

    Sad to see many officers and personnels who aren’t well trained and are unable to deal with situations simply because of lack of training.

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