Here is an interesting video showing two police offers take on a MMA fighter in a live drill. Weapons are included too. I’m not a police officer, but there are many things that leap out at me when I watch this video. My main observation would be that the importance of context is not fully realised and hence the correct tactics are not employed and dangerous practises are observable.
I think this will make for a good discussion so, to kick things off, here are is the video with some of my initial thoughts below.
1 – A skilled fighter is defeated by two guys with lesser skill due to the numbers involved. From a civilian point of view, this should further illustrate that fighting is a bad option when outnumbered even if you are more skilled that your enemies. “Fighting to flee” as opposed to fighting to win is the way to go.
2 – The police officer in the grey top is stabbed at 1:54. The gent playing the role of the bad guy stabs him in the back. The neck is also vulnerable due to the position of the officer. For reasons unknown, by 2:02 we can see the bad guy has let go of the knife. I can’t see any disarm, so I assume he chose to let go of it? Certainly it’s hard to see how the officer could have got him to let go whist being on the bad guy’s back? The officer in grey continues as if he had not been stabbed, which is fair enough, but it should be noted that he would have suffered a significant puncture wound. If the knife had been better retained, the bad guy would also have been able to stab backward into thighs and ribs of the officer in black. What is good position when fighting unarmed, is nowhere near as good when the enemy is armed.
3 – One officer was stabbed, and the other one may have been (we cant’s see), and both could have been stabbed a lot more if the knife had been retained. It’s therefore fair to say the officers messed up in choosing to fight. The officers would have been better maintaining distance and using their voice (possibly in conjunction with the threat of weapons i.e. draw their firearms) to get the bad guy to put his arms out and keep them there. One officer could then have ensured this position was maintained, while the other searched for weapons and employed handcuffing procedures. In the scenario as shown, there was no need to engage as they did and hence a non-fighting option would have been far better. The choice to engage was a very bad one as the objective could have been achieved more safely using non-physical options. It could have been that the officers were told prior to the drill that they must engage … and that’s bad too as they are being forced to do something dangerous and inappropriate to the circumstance as presented in the scenario enacted (i.e. bad habits are being encouraged).
4 – As 2:04 the officer in gray kneels on the knife. Pretty easy to do in the mess of things, but it does show how injury can be sustained through environmental factors.
5 – Throwing the knife out of reach (2:06) is a smart move as it ensures the bad guy can’t pick it back up. This of course assumes the bad guy was operating alone. If he was not, the weapon could have been used by another.
6 – At about 2:50, the bad guy was able to reach the gun of the officer in black. He does not reach for it, and the officer does not seek to pro-actively protect his weapon. The only thing that could have prevented the bad guy taking the officer’s gun would therefore have been the design of the holster. As the officer in grey attempts to manipulate the legs of the bad guy, he also positions himself in such a way that his gun is potentially available to the bad guy. The officers and the bad guy therefore effectively “play unarmed ju-jutsu” and all three ignore the fact that two guns are available. Both officers could have been killed had a more realistic attitude to the guns been taken. The only reason their failure to protect their weapons was not exploited was the fact that the bad guy also ignored them.
7 – At 3:27, the officer releases his hold because he thinks the bad guy has tapped out. The coach can be heard to say, “No there is no tap. For what? Keep going.” The coach seems to be underlining the fact that tapping out has no relevance to this situation (aside from the safety of those in the drill). I think that is important and very valid.
8 – At 3:30, the officer in black asks the bad guy to put is arms out straight. The bad guy complies. I can’t help but feel that would have been the way to go early on i.e. avoid physically engaging all together. The officer in grey takes the officer in black’s handcuffs and passes them to him. This is a nice bit of team work which is evident throughout (i.e. one officer concentrating on the upper body and one on the legs while communicating verbally).
9 – The officers continued control of the bad guy during handcuffing is good. They work as a team and limit the bad guy’s options.
10 – It may have been better not to call time on the drill until the bad guy had been effectively stood up. I’ve only done one handcuffing course, and during that I was made aware of methods to ensure the person cuffed can get up safely. In this drill, they stopped too soon in my view as it is possible to do what the bad guy did and bring the cuffs to the front while lying down. A minor point perhaps, but standing him up would have been a more appropriate place to finish.
I’m sure others will have their own observations to add to the above, but one overriding thing for me is that I don’t think the context has been fully appreciated in this drill for the following key reasons:
A – The officers could have avoided conflict all together by choosing more effective options (i.e. verbal commands from a distance). If they had wished to drill the use of physical techniques, then the bad guy should have rushed the officers. And seeing as it’s impossible to take two guys down at once, we would not see this “double ground work”. As one officer was engaged, the other would be free to do as they please. As it was, the officers rushed the bad guy and hence made a major error. This “mistake of context” should not have been permitted as it put the officers in unnecessary danger. A very dangerous “martial arts” habit is being reinforced i.e. fighting is all we know, so fighting is your only option. The officers messed up big time through choosing conflict and ignoring safer, more effective methods.
B – The use and retention of weapons is largely ignored by all involved. People were stabbed during the drill, and could have been stabbed much more, and potentially shot, if a more realistic approach to the weapons had been taken. There are no weapons in consensual “duels” (i.e. dojo, mat, or cage fighting), and all three participants largely failed to switch contexts with the weapons being entirely ignored after the first stab. I think this is a danger of not fully thinking through contexts and ensuring only appropriate “cross-over” is permitted through realistic, objective focused drills.
C – To me, it looks like Jujutsu ground work was forced as the only option in a context where it was neither a wise or necessary option.
Another thing we can see from this video is that more than one person being involved changes things greatly. It’s a huge error in much of modern training that things are always one-on-one. The introduction of others (which is commonplace) changes things dramatically. Fighting is a bad option and hence escape skills need to be introduced to live practise to ensure that the right tactics are practised and adhered to by default when under stress.
We should all be practising with multiple enemies and simulated weapons … and ensuring we adopt the right tactics as a result. While there is some good stuff in this video (i.e. the fact the there is more than one person, they do work as a team, weapons are included, it’s a live and unscripted drill, etc) it seems to me like one-on-one, unarmed, fighting tactics and thinking are still very much present i.e. the context is not fully appreciated.
There was no need for the officers to engage as they did and conflict could have been entirely avoided. Physical engagement should never be presented as the only option when other more effective options exist. Martial artists are bad for this as they often present their particular skill set (i.e. physical fighting skills) as the go to solution for all things. As the old saying goes, “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” From a civilian self-protection perspective (as well as in police training) the non-physical aspects need to be included, emphasised, and taught in an in-depth and realistic way. It is only then that the more effective non-physcal options can be chosen as an alternative.
Weapons were included in the drill, but they were not realistically used, exploited or retained. I would suggest this was because unarmed thinking dominated. Therefore, to me, this video is a good example of the dangers of not identifying the objective, the context not being fully appreciated, and hence potentially dangerous and inappropriate methods being employed.
All the best,