Defensive Tactics: The MOST important skill for police.

This is an absolutely must watch video! As a Defensive Tactics Instructor, I may be biased, but in my opinion, Defensive Tactics is probably the single most important skill to be trained for law enforcement. Sure it can be argued that firearms is also incredibly important (And it is!) and is obviously much more likely to end badly if you screw it up. We often train for that one moment that MAY happen to the exclusion of the thing that we know WILL happen. By all means be proficient with all your firearms, but absolutely do NOT neglect your physical skills.

This is a topic that I have been putting off writing about for awhile. It is something I feel so strongly about, that I wanted to create the “perfect” article about it. I have decided it is important enough that instead of writing one perfect article,

I will most likely cover this multiple times with multiple points. This video is an excellent example of the difference between a trained cop and a poorly trained cop. Watch this video and ask yourself one question. Would a lesser skilled and fit police officer more than likely have been forced to shoot this suspect? I believe so.

How much time do you thing most agencies train in defensive tactics? Once or twice a month? Or maybe more? Or less? I know when I was in the Army we trained almost every day (especially if I had a say in it). While it is possible to get into an officer involved shooting in your career, most law enforcement officers are never forced to use their firearm anywhere other than the range or to kill deer their entire 20+ year careers. We do kill a LOT of deer. On the flip side, how often does an officer have to use physical force to affect a lawful purpose, such as an arrest or taking someone into protective custody? Daily. Every single day of a shift…unless you’re one of those retired on duty types. Force has to be used in some form or another EVERY DAY. That doesn’t mean a WWF style brawl every day. It can be something as simple as making sure you have control of a suspect before you place them in handcuffs. Even if they are being compliant. Compliance can end quickly. As we see in the video.

So knowing that physical force, whether it is a simple guiding touch to a fight for life is nearly guaranteed to happen every single day, how much time do you think most admin’s allow their officers to train every year? If you guessed a few times a month or even a few times a year, you are either wildly and horribly wrong…or you found a unicorn of an agency with an administration that has achieved Buddha like levels of wisdom and a nearly unlimited budget. Most departments only perform as much as EIGHT (8) HOURS of Defensive Tactics Training in a YEAR. This time is also often shared with Taser. That’s assuming the agency even does DT at all. I know of one agency that has a world class firearms program. Their guys can shoot the wings off of flies. And they haven’t had DT one time in almost 11 years.

Science says it takes 10,000 repetitions of something before you can achieve unconscious competence. Most people call this “muscle memory.” This is the level of skill necessary to be able to perform the movement while stressed and under pressure in a dark alley when some suspect lunges at your favorite chest cavity with a large rusty doper knife. Anything less and you can get dead.


  1. Training in Martial Arts (DT) allows you to USE LESS FORCE to take someone into custody. This will literally save lives. Not only yours, but the suspect’s.

2. Training in martial arts will help eliminate the fear of confrontation that all rational people have of physical violence. I will cover this as a topic of its own later.

3. Training in martial arts and having to use less force means less chance of injury to both you and the suspect.

4. Training in martial arts means a much lesser chance of showing up on YouTube! I know, I know. Everyone wants to be on YouTube right? Trust me if you end up on YouTube it had better be because you are trained and know what the hell you’re doing, like the Deputy in this video. Don’t be like the poor guy’s in some of the other videos I will analyze later. Though honestly the fault primarily lies with their agency for failing to provide the training.

5. YOUR DEPARTMENT DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YOU! This is one of the most important and least understood points. Sure they don’t want you to be hurt or killed. But they don’t care enough to provide you with the tools necessary to do your job and potentially save your life. If they did, you would see the agency put it’s money where it’s mouth is and actually provide the training that is critical for both the officer and the public.

So…if we have established how truly important it is for you know your kung fu, flying arm-bar, ninja death touch skills AND we established your department won’t actually ensure you have said skills, where does that leave us?

IT IS UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL OFFICER to ensure he or she maintains a high level of training. I will talk about the best ways to do so very soon.

Disagree? Or have a question or concern? Please feel free to let me know. I encourage discussion. I will keep everything anonymous and the question you don’t ask because you think it might be stupid may very well be someone else’s question as well.

Originally published at So you wanna be a cop?.