When you’re an instructor of any topic in law enforcement, you’re bound to hear some outlandish things from some of the officers you’re training, especially during combative tactics training. I’ve heard all the cliche responses of, “I would just (insert crazy, unrealistic nonsense here)." There's also the one officer who always believes everything you teach is bullshit and would never work in a "real fight." But the one statement that drives me insane is when I hear, "I would never take the fight to the ground.” The smart ass in me usually replies with, “Good call. Take it to the air." I also laugh at the hypocrisy of this, due to the fact that every fight I've been in on the street or have watched in training videos consists of cops trying to take the suspect to the ground or yelling commands to get on the ground.
The point is; when we’re fighting with someone or trying to control an uncooperative person, the very first thing we should be doing is taking them to the ground. Doing this eliminates space, makes it difficult for them escape and adds another layer they're forced to fight against. However, as a collective profession, we suck at takedowns. We see it in training videos all the time, whether it be a single officer scenario, or multiple officers trying to take an opponent to the ground. In both cases, what usually prevents us from being able to take someone down is that we’re trying to use brute strength over proper technique and leverage.
Here’s a great video example of this, where two officers are trying to force a suspect to the ground unsuccessfully by pulling on his head and arms. Eventually, a bystander comes over and uses a basic double leg takedown to put the guy down (one of the fundamental takedowns in our Five-O fundamental series). The takedown happens around the 0:12 mark:
Another reason our industry sucks at takedowns is because agencies either don’t teach them at all, or we’re taught crazy, unrealistic techniques that only work in static environments against fully cooperative partners. I can remember as a new officer - before I was an instructor - sitting through an entire 8 hour training day, where we used the entire day to learn ONE takedown. It was broken down into a system of numbers and steps and practiced in the air for half the day before we actually trained it with a partner.
Finally, I think there’s a romantic ideology that exists, especially with men, that when you’re in a fight, you’ll be able to easily knock someone out by punching them in the face. Despite what you see on WorldStar or old highlight reels of Mike Tyson in his prime, knocking someone out is not that simple. Based on experience and observation, strikes are usually ineffective. Even fights that start with two people swinging at each other typically end up with one of them trying to take the other to the ground. Most importantly, striking someone with closed fists can cause damage to your hands and render them useless, which is obviously a problem if you do need to access another weapon and/or your handcuffs.
Here's an example where both officer and suspect exchange punches, with little to no effect. They fought hard, but we need to find ways to fight smarter and not harder, especially while wearing 25 pounds of gear. Takedowns are a great tool for that.
So, how can we get better at learning takedowns? Here are some simple ways to get started:
Check Out our Five-O Fundamentals Series
Specifically, you can learn our basic takedowns and start working them into your training. We’ve got several basic, effective techniques to get you started. Here’s an example, which is one of my favorites and probably would have been a good option in the kitchen fight above (the officer had the position to set it up toward the end of the video):
Learn from the best
Find a wrestler in your PD or Jiu Jitsu gym and ask them to show you some basics. Wrestlers are masters of this domain and a great resource!
Add takedowns to your in-service training
Again, you can use any of our Five-O Fundamentals to get you started. You can also send your instructors to a ground based combatives course through one of our Jiu Jitsu Five-O partners. Contact us or send us a message on one of our social channels for recommendations.
Train for real
START AT LEAST ONE ROUND ON YOUR FEET WHEN YOU ROLL. I can’t stress this enough. If you’re a cop who trains Jiu Jitsu (which you should be), don’t start every round by pulling guard or butt-scooting your way up and down the mat. Almost all of our fights start on our feet and the only way to get better at takedowns and takedown defense for that matter, is by forcing yourself into it. Again, find a wrestler at your gym and ask them to start standing. They will no doubt accept your offer and probably kick your ass at the same time, but it will be well worth it.
Go train. Oss.