Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quick update

Hey everybody your favorite Samurai Super Cop hasn't checked in for awhile.  I've been busy getting my ass kicked 14 hours a day by Marc and Rory.  I'm having a blast, but every minute is scheduled either training, eating, discussion or then if there is time sleeping.

So I'm sorry I haven't blogged much, but as you can imagine this week is generating tons of material for future blogs so stay tuned true believers.

I'll give ya one quick story to tide you over until then.
In future blogs I will discuss power generation, structure, and force but for now just the story
Rory had us doing a drilll that I won't go into detail about.  Not that its an operator only drill or secret, just that if you read about the drill it won't be nearly as worth while when you experience it for yourself.(and you really should experience this training 1st hand)
So, regardless of the drill Marc gets his hands on my shoulders from behind.  I have one motion to do something about it.  Now Marc is someone I know and respect.  He has made me a much more efficient operator, and a better teacher.  Having said all that still some part of my brain was like - pshh good luck little guy.  Next thing I know I'm a good 10 -12' from where I was and struggling not to smash into the wing chung dummy in the corner. 
My next thoughts were:
1) Wow! that was fucking awesome
2) Why did I think this guy who has helped improve how I throw guys wouldn't be able to use that same information to toss me
3) Giggle giggle lets watch him throw some other guys.

So stay tuned to learn how Marc threw me and how you can apply it to what you do.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Best of the Best

I am helping to develop and implement fitness training and testing for the SWAT team.  I really want to win a plaque for a perfect score so I need to drop my mile run time.  I found this article on how to do that so I thought I’d share.

Interval Training for the PFT Run

Improving Your PFT Run Time
I received an email asking if interval training was a good way to improve speed in your military PFT run. The answer is absolutely.
"But what exactly is interval training and how do I determine what speed I should train?" the question continued.
There are some general formulas that can help you determine where you should be, but I personally like to use the following method of determining interval workout components that include: Distance, Run and Rest Interval, Repetitions, and Time. Each of these components of interval training effect the other as noted below.

I do not use a general calculating formula but a more specific running approach, since we all are different types of runners. For example, a runner runs the USMC 3 mile in a 21:00 - that is a 7:00 mile pace. To get a perfect score on the USMC run, one has to run an 18:00 time - that is a 6:00 mile pace. How do you get to be a better runner so you can drop three minutes off your run time?
Follow the steps outlined below and you will have an idea of how to integrate interval training into your regime:

1) Time yourself in your PFT run.
- Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force use the 1.5-mile distance.
- Army uses the 2-mile distance.
- Marines use the 3-mile distance
2) Determine a reasonable goal for your PFT run.
3) Find your GOAL time for the PFT run. Divide your goal to figure out the mile pace.
4) Divide your mile goal pace into 1/8-mile, 1/4-mile, 1/2-mile distances.
The following distances are great for any of the military PFT run interval training and the times listed below will help our sample runner decrease his run time to a 6:00 mile.
For instance the USMC runner should train at:
- 1/2-mile times should be run in 3:00
- 1/4-mile times should be run 90 seconds, and
- 1/8-mile times should be run 45 seconds

It is recommended to either walk or slowly jog as a recovery method in between the timed runs above. The interval of rest depends on your fitness level. Walk to rest if you are a beginner or average runner and jog to catch your breath if you are more advanced. Usually the walking distance is equal to or 1/2 the distance you just ran. So, if you ran a 3:00 1/2-mile, walk or slow jog a 1/4-mile. NOW you know your pace at each distance...time for the workout!

Putting all the components of interval training together creates a challenging workout that will help you decrease your PFT run time:
- Repeat 3-4 times
- Run 1/2-mile at goal pace
- Walk or jog 1/4-mile
- Repeat 4-6 times
- Run 1/4-mile at goal pace
- Walk or jog 1/8 of a mile
- Repeat 4-6 times
- Run 1/8-mile at goal pace
- Walk or jog 100 yds

Do this workout two times a week combined with two longer runs of three to five miles during the week. In a few weeks, you will see your running pace increase and your mile times begin to drop while making your pace easier to maintain. Here are a few more tips to help you pick up your pace and stay injury free:

1) Breathing
Take big, deep inhalations and exhalations similar to the way you yawn. This will help you receive the oxygen your body needs. Slow down the running pace if you need to, but concentrate on your breathing.

2) Stride and Heel / Toe Contact
When jogging, open your stride but lean slightly forward to a point where you will land NEAR your heel (closer to the ball of your foot - not the bottom of your heel) and roll across your foot, pushing off the ground with your toes. Many people run flat footed, back heel, or on their toes causing stress on their lower back, hips, knees and ankles. You can eliminate this by following the simple Audio Test. If you can hear your feet hitting the ground when you run, then you are running wrong. It should sound like your shoes are rolling on the ground quietly. Comfortable running shoes will also aid in prevention of injuries.

3) Arm Swing
You should have a relaxed arm swing but very pronounced. Swing your hands from about chest high to just past your hips in a straight line. The term "hip to lip" is a good way to remember this when you are running. Your arms should be slightly bent but not flexed.

4) Relaxed Upper Body
You should relax your fists, arms, shoulders, and face. This causes the oxygenated blood that you need to go to your legs to also go to your upper body. The only things that need to be working when you are running are your "lungs and your legs."

5) Start Slowly and Warm up
Do not stretch your legs until you have warmed up your body by jogging or biking slowly for about 5-10 minutes. Run every other day if you are just beginning and only add mileage to your run as you feel comfortable.

Good luck with your running program and I hope you see improvement soon.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

by Stew Smith

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A trip to the dentist

I’ve been working on two projects lately.  One an analogy using a tree growing from a seed to explain what and how I teach.  This analogy can be used to help other Instructors teach professionals ( L.E. / Military) regardless of what style they come from.  I’ve also been hustling like a pimp promoting Marc MacYoung and Rory Miller’s Violence Dynamics Seminar

Pimps don’t cry

This blog will be a combination of using the former to explain my frustrations with the latter.

No matter what type of tree (art) develops, in order for that tree to survive harsh weather (violence), its roots have to spring from a solid seed.

That seed is composed of both mental and physical elements

  • Your up bringing,
  • Your religious views (or lack there of)
  • Your view of how the world works

  • Your personal code of conduct (Bushido / The Code of the west)
  • Your capacity for violence

Not what you technically know how to do to another human being, but what you allow yourself to do to another human being and under what conditions you are willing to do them. 

  • The rules of engagement set by society and codified into law by the state

Movement (Tai Sabaki)
Structure (Tachi Waza)
Power Generation

Good training nurtures the seed and strengthens the entire tree (all aspects of the art)
What I call SPECTACULARIZED training has a very narrow focus.  Despite the narrow focus this type of training claims to be a magic cure all to any type of violence.

Marc and Rory nurture that seed.  No matter what style you study they will make you better at surviving violence.  That is why it is so frustrating to me that more people haven’t signed up for the seminar.  I have spoken to several officers who are very excited for the opportunity to train but their department won’t pay for it.

I feel it comes back to the old teaching what is needed vs. teaching what is wanted argument.
Marc and Rory (and Jimerfield btw) teach what is needed (nurture the seed).  All of those guys could make huge bank teaching what is wanted but they focus on what is needed for our benefit at their financial loss

An example from Rory’s website

There is a rule of thumb in this business that there are three kinds of training: Effective Training; Feel-Good Training; and Liability Reduction Training. 

I won’t do the last two.

It is easier to instill confidence than competence, and training designed to increase confidence without competence can set the student up for failure. 

It is far easier to report good training than it is to conduct good training, and too often this has been sufficient for people interested in personal liability protection and unconcerned about who might get hurt. 

I believe that instilling solid skills (what is needed / nurture the seed) increases confidence without over-confidence and that troops who are trained and empowered to make good decisions are the best liability protection.

Sadly it is hard to get people to buy what they need.

It’s easy to get someone to by candy (what is wanted).  It’s much harder to get someone to pay for a trip to the dentist (what is needed).

Candy is fun and yummy and comes with brightly colored marketing!!! -  But it will rot your teeth.

Everyone understands that you need your teeth to function in society

But, people don’t want to admit that candy has wrecked their teeth and that they need to get some work done. 

Getting your teeth fixed hurts.

Maintaining your teeth is hard work
  • Brushing
  • Flossing
  • Mouth Wash
  • Wearing your retainer
  • Not eating anymore candy

Every one who looks like this…

Wants to look like this

But very few are willing to put the work in to do it.

Further frustration comes from candy being disguised as dental care or focusing on one small facet and claiming it will protect your teeth from every thing. (Teaching what is wanted)

I don’t care how good your sugar coated dental floss works.  If the patient only has 3 teeth your dental floss isn’t going to help them eat corn on the cob, no matter how well you market it.

I guess I’m just pissed that departments will pay 4x as much for well marketed sugar claiming to improve your teeth than to give their officers teeth that can actually bite.

Any Officers reading this who would like to attend the seminar but their department is unwilling to pay please contact me we will figure out a way to make it work.

Train Hard, Train Smart, Be Safe

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

90% of all fights go to the ground.....Really?

Hey everybody,  I've been working on some pretty big projects and haven't blogged in awhile.  The results of those projects will show up here soon I promise.  But in the mean time, in my research I came across this article.  It puts to rest a lot of myths used to advertise different martial art styles and is a good source of accurate statistical information.

Please enjoy


Going to the Ground: Lessons from Law Enforcement

By Chris Leblanc
Copyright © Chris Leblanc 2007. All rights reserved.

Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) go “hands on” in both armed and unarmed physical confrontations more often than perhaps any other armed professionals. Within the self-defense and martial arts communities, this naturally has led to a great deal of interest in the experiences of officers in physical encounters. And no other information coming from the law enforcement community has received as much attention as an elusive set of statistics that purportedly show that 90% (or more) of physical altercations “go to the ground.”
The responsibility for the popularizing of this statistic is most often laid at the feet of the famous Gracie family, proponents of the art of Brazilian jujitsu, and dismissed as a shameless attempt at marketing themselves and their family fighting system which, not coincidentally, emphasizes fighting on the ground.

Unfortunately, I have yet to see a single source within the martial arts community -- affiliated with the Gracies or otherwise -- that accurately cites the actual study, or that does not either accept the statistics (or repudiate them) almost wholesale. If the constantly repeated Internet forum discussions and “letters to the editor” to various trade magazines are any indication, the topic has actually become an emotional argument for some. That argument usually finds those who practice Brazilian jujitsu or a similar system with a strong ground fighting component supporting the stats, and those who practice an art with minimal or no ground grappling denying their relevance. After personally posting the information below on several Internet forums with a wide dissemination, I still see the statistics often misquoted, misunderstood, and misapplied. I have seen them dismissed as pertaining “only to law enforcement,” and explained away as not offering lessons for self-defense.

The statistics provided here are quoted directly from the ASLET (American Society of Law Enforcement Training) pamphlet for their July 1997 Use of Force Training Seminar. The training was presented in Los Angeles by Sergeant Greg Dossey, Sergeant John Sommers, and Officer Steve Uhrig of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). It includes a description of the study and methodology used in investigating Use of Force incidents by LAPD.

In 1991, Sergeant Dossey, an exercise physiologist with the LAPD, completed a comparative study of use of force incidents reported by LAPD for the year 1988. Sergeant Dossey looked at all 5,617 use of force incident narratives written by officers in 1988, and devised a method for codifying the information contained and analyzing it for what they identified as dominant altercation patterns. The study was replicated in 1992 by LAPD’s Training Review committee.

Below, I will provide direct quotes (in italics) from the 1997 ASLET report along with some analysis and commentary which should help shed more light on what lessons law enforcement and the concerned citizen can glean from the study. After that, I will do the same with information taken from a 2003 survey of attendees at a Calibre Press Street Survival Seminar.

1997 ASLET “Use of Force Training Seminar: Future of Non-Lethal Force Training--Reality Based and Integrating Techniques for Non-Lethal Force Training”
For the purposes of this article, the significant findings of the 1997 ASLET study are: [EN1]
1. During 1988, there were 316,525 arrests made by LAPD.
  • 5,617 (1.7%) of these arrests required the completion of a use of force report.
  • 2,031 (0.6%) altercations developed from these arrests. “Of the 5,617 reports examined, only 2,031 incidents contained a sufficient level of aggressive resistance by the suspect toward the officer to qualify as an altercation.”
Thus, the study confirms what every police officer knows: most arrest situations involve little or no use of force, and minor resistance does not qualify as a “fight” (or in this case, altercation). Semi-compliant persons are often stopped by a mere order to comply or with a firm control of an arm or wrist for handcuffing. Nonetheless, even these low level uses of force may require use of force reports in many agencies, as does the pointing of a firearm at a subject who may not resist physically in any way. This study has accounted for these facts.
2. During 1988, there were an average of 867 arrests and 5.6 altercations per day. Eight hundred fifty six officers reported injuries from such altercations. These 856 officers missed a total of 2,095 days from work due to injuries sustained in altercations.
3. Altercations were most likely to develop from the following field activities: disturbances of the peace (33.8%), traffic stops (18.5%), and observed narcotics activity (14.8%).
4. Over 90% of the subjects involved in altercations were male; only about 9.5% were female.
5. Five scenario patterns accounted for 95% of the altercations: “Within each of these five patterns, a description of the most frequent first, second, and final combative action was generated by the computer… Four combative actions by suspects accounted for almost two thirds (65.8%) of these I.O.D. injuries; the officer was kicked 23.4 percent, punched 16 percent, thrown/tripped 15 percent, or was bitten 11.4 percent. In 1988 the average officer in uniform and assigned to the field was in less than 3 altercations.” The thrown/tripped statistic includes injuries sustained from wrestling on the ground.
As for the five patterns, they were:
  • Subject pulls away from an officer’s attempt to control the subject’s arm. “33.7% Officer grabbed the subject by the arm and the subject pulled his arm away; the most frequent second act was the officer applying a joint lock (32%) and the most frequent final subduing act was the officer taking the subject down to the ground (46%)”
  • Subject attempts to punch or kick the officer. “25.4% Subject ran at the officer and swung punches and kicks; the most frequent second act was the officer evading the subject and striking him with the baton (26%; a close second was taking the subject to the ground 22%) and the most frequent final subduing act was taking the subject to the ground (35%).”
  • Subject refuses to assume a searching position. “19.3% Subject refused to assume a searching position as verbally ordered by the officer; the most frequent second act was the officer applying a joint lock (35.5%) and the most frequent final subduing act was taking the subject to the ground (36.5%).”
  • Subject flees and officer pursues. “10.5% Subject ran from the officer, officer chased the subject; the most frequent second act was the officer taking the subject to the ground (40%) and the most frequent final subduing act was also taking the subject to the ground (39.5%).”
  • Subject takes a combative posture, but does not attempt to strike the officer. “6.8% Subject assumed a fighting, martial arts, or boxing stance but did not attack the officer; the most frequent second act was the officer striking the subject with the baton (38%) and this was also the most frequent final act (41%).”
The study also included the percentages of injuries based on targeting of the attacks. For example: kicking resulted in injuries to the legs (36%), the head (27%), the rib cage (22.5%), and the groin (14%). Although several fractures occurred, the most common injury was a bruise to the legs, head, ribs, or groin. The most common injury suffered in ground fighting was a strained lower back.
6. The report concluded: “Nearly two thirds of the 1988 altercations (62%) ended with the officer and subject on the ground with the officer applying a joint lock and handcuffing the subject.” Given this, it is better put that the LAPD data says when officers physically fought with suspects (versus simply encountering minor resistance or non-compliance which required a minor use of force, but did not escalate into an altercation), 95% of the time those fights took one of five patterns, and 62% of those five types of altercations ended up with the officer and subject on the ground with the officer locking and handcuffing the suspect.
After this report was published, LAPD instituted a program that included training in ground control skills, which in turn were based on modern judo and jujutsu grappling skills specially adapted for law enforcement. A follow-up study presented the following conclusions:
  • Use of force incidents and use of force percentages were reduced. The average 5.6 altercations per day in 1988 reduced to 1.7 altercations per day in 1991. Certainly, other factors were involved, [EN2] but Sergeant Dossey has been quoted (at Defend University, as saying he believes this was in part due to increased confidence in handling altercations.
  • Injuries were reduced. Suspect injuries were down 34.6% and officer injuries were down 17.7% in 1991.
  • The same 5 patterns still accounted for 90% of altercations. Although the same basic patterns applied, the chance of officers receiving a punch or kick attempt increased from a 2-11% chance (depending on scenario) to a 25-71% chance (depending on scenario). Officer involved in shootings increased by 6.3% as well. Thus, it appears that even as officers became better trained, suspects were becoming more violent.

Calibre Press Survival Seminar, 2003
In its April 2003 online newsletter, Calibre Press published results of a research project completed along with PPCT Management Systems. This project measured the other side of the equation, namely the frequency in which police officers were forced to the ground by attackers. About 1,400 cases were reported by officers attending the Calibre Press Street Survival Seminar. [EN3]
Respondents were asked whether an attacker had ever attempted to force them to the ground. More than half (52%) reported this had occurred. Of that number, 60% reported that their attackers had been successful in taking them down. Of the 60% taken down, 52% reported receiving ground control training prior to the event, and 40% after.
At the time of the assault, most of the assailants were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Most of the takedown incidents occurred during domestic and other disturbance calls, or during traffic stops. These are the same situations in which the majority of officers are assaulted and killed each year (31% during disturbances, accounting for 15.6% of officer deaths, followed by traffic stops, accounting for 15.1% of officer deaths).
  • 45% of the attempts to take the officer down occurred during interviews
  • 40% occurred at handcuffing
  • 10% at escort
  • 5% during booking
Standard assault patterns took the following forms:
  • Pulling the officer to the ground (33%)
  • Pushing the officer to the ground (28%)
  • Tackling the officer to the ground (24%)
  • Kicking or punching the officer to the ground (15%)
Once the officer was down:
  • The subject continued to assault the officer once the officer was down (64%)
  • The subject fled (31%)
  • The subject waited for the officer to get back up to continue the fight (5%)
Of the ground fights, suspects generally continued with grappling and pinning techniques (77%), or used punches, kicks, and strikes (66%). However, in 21% of the cases, the subjects attempted to disarm the officer, with 5% being successful. As a side note, the FBI states that of 594 law enforcement officers killed between 1992 and 2001, 46 were killed with their own weapon.
On the ground, the officers tended to use weapons other than firearms:
  • Pepper spray (OC) was used 29% of the time
  • Impact weapons (sticks, batons, flashlights, handcuffs, etc.) were used 26% of the time
  • Hands, feet, holds, etc., were used 24% of the time
Officers used firearms in just 13 cases (less than 1% of attacks). However, during these 13 uses of firearms, three resulted in suspect fatalities.
Final Comment
Statistics should be viewed more as guidelines than as specifics. The varied situational, environmental, physical, and psychological intersections that occur within confrontations make each and every one different. However, if similar patterns occur time and again, the patterns should not be ignored.
The LAPD study does not show that “90% of fights go to the ground.” Instead, the LAPD study shows that 95% of altercations took on one of five familiar patterns (with which any street cop will be intimately familiar). It also shows that of that 95%, 62% ended up with both the officer and the suspect grappling on the ground.
Obviously, being professionally charged with restraining someone versus being primarily focused on escaping an attack will change the dynamic of a confrontation after the initial engagement. This is why I believe police in an arrest situation are more likely than a citizen in a self-defense situation to stay on the ground during a physical encounter.
Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that more than half the officers surveyed by Calibre Press reported that suspects had attempted to take them down, and that the suspects accomplished this 60% of the time. Of that number, the overwhelming majority stayed on the ground grappling with the officer (77%). When considering these patterns of assault, they are of the same nature as criminal assaults on citizens. In other words, the mechanics of an assault (versus the mechanics of arrest) do not change simply because one of the people involved is a police officer. [EN4]
To conclude, one can quibble with the exact percentages, but being on the ground happens frequently during serious altercations. Could a person’s being taken down and not having an effective means to deal with the situation increase odds of death or serious injury, either to him/herself or to the assailant? My personal view is that this is the case.
About the Author

The author is a law enforcement officer and use of force instructor in the Pacific Northwest.
Dorsey, Greg, John Sommers, and Steve Uhrig. (July 1997). “Future of Non-lethal Force Training-Reality Based & Integrating Techniques for Non-Lethal Force Training.” ASLET Use-of-Force Training Seminar, originally presented at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton and Towers, Los Angeles, California, July 10-12, 1997
Dunston, Mark S. (April 2003). “Instructor’s Corner: Ground Fighting -- Assaults on Police Officers,” Calibre Press Street Survival Newsline #630
EN1. The 1997 ASLET study also goes into liability concerns such as excessive force complaints, lawsuits, and settlement amounts paid out, but these are beyond the scope of this article.
EN2. During this period, TASER use increased by 76.7%. This factor should not be ignored when evaluating the reduction of altercations and suspect/officer injuries.
EN3. These seminars take place yearly throughout the United States and include officers from all walks of the law enforcement profession, from federal agents to patrol and tactical officers, detectives and corrections personnel, and any other type of sworn law enforcer.
EN4. In the cases involving violence that I have seen in which neither of the involved parties was an LEO, most had a significant portion (or at least a significant moment) during which one or both of the participants was on the ground, or fighting under conditions that were similar to ground fighting (e.g., on a bed, on a couch, etc.).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Going too dynamic too fast is detrimental to training.


Recently I read a post by a trainer that read “Any training that isn’t dynamic force on force training is bullshit!!!”

I agree that dynamic / live (training against random attacks by a resistive partner) is a fantastic learning tool.  But only after a solid technical foundation has been laid. 

Going too dynamic too fast is very detrimental to training. 


Judo was one of the first arts that created a safe way to train dynamically.  Many believe that is the reason Judo defeated Jujutsu in the famous 1888 Tokyo Police competition.  They trained against resistive partners as opposed to Kata training only.  Obviously that competition (by its very nature) was against a resistive opponent giving the Judoka the edge (weird Judo guys winning a Judo competition).

However, a Judo Sensei will not allow a new student to begin dynamic training until a solid foundation has been built.  No Judo coach worth a damn would throw a white belt with very little (for the sake of argument lets say 3 months) training into Shiai (competition) much less the State Tournament.

So why are we doing dynamic training with cops who have a whooping 40 hours training?

Why are we throwing cops into the most dynamic possible situation, potential life and death struggles with such little training?

Ok, I’m getting side tracked by an issue I’m passionate about.  Cops you are not trained nearly as well as you should be.  Get off your asses and find quality training on your own.

Back on topic, that topic being….

Going too dynamic too fast is very detrimental to training.

Steve Jimerfield published a great article on this back in 2000 which I include here, enjoy.




Keeping The Negatives Out of Defensive Training:

A case for awareness

Steven Jimerfield
CPL Alaska State Troopers (Ret.)
(Word Count 2347)

The Nature of the Problem

After years of teaching defensive techniques and watching others train and be trained in advanced driving, physical training, and shooting, I have noted a growing pattern emerge from all this work. Without intent or malice, we trainers and trainees have been putting negatives into our learning, negatives that range from uncomfortable to effective defeat of our primary training goals. These are negatives of the subconscious mind. We are not deliberately sabotaging our training, but we are making these negatives happen, and we need to recognize them and address the need for change.
A good example of inadvertent negative training involves using pepper spray. A remarkable step toward understanding what a weapons system can do is the experience of being sprayed and learning to fight your way through it. Once mandatory spraying went into effect, however, we allowed sprayed trainees to go immediately to a bucket of water and then to a shower. This is a compassionate move (pepper spray is very irritating) but it lets the trainee subconsciously associate pepper spray with the availability of water. Thus, should an officer happen to be sprayed in a street situation, he or she we will habitually start looking for water, and with none at hand, the only option is to give up. Remember, under stress, we usually fall back on our habits (trained or personally learned), and we have just been trained to expect water and showers with pepper spray.
Once it was discovered that nearly everyone can fight through a pepper spray attack and survive it, we became stronger mentally, tactically, and more effective in court. Despite this experience, opposition remains today to mandatory spraying and fighting through. I think it is a tradeoff of discomfort versus saving a life.
Importantly, cops are not the only ones training with pepper spray. For example, gang members also train to defeat pepper spray, yet some law enforcement leaders continue to resist training in ways that can keep us safer on the street. Over the years, I believe I have now heard nearly every excuse for not training or staying in a simile of an uncomfortable street setting.
Do I have your attention yet? With this model in mind, lets look at ways of keeping negatives out of training to save lives.

Adult Expectations in Training

Adult learning operates on a set of known rules (known as andragogy) that help us design and implement our officer training programs.
A good example of these rules that we all know is that people under stress do what they were “trained” to do, whether or not that training was formal or happens to be personal experience. Stories about cops picking up brass in the middle of a gun fight are legion (they were probably all hand-loaders, too).
Another rule is that the last thing a person is taught is usually what will be remembered. So if that last lesson was not a positive experience or clearly negative, then all of your training may be for naught. For example, doing dynamic training at the end of a class can leave a student with the lesson that he or she is going to get “beat up.” We recognize this problem with our admonition that “Red Man” training is only as good as the man in the Red Man suit, who may not let the student win.
We may say that we will let them always win, but did the student feel like he won. If he did not, the student will most likely not tell you. Instead of integrating the technique into an action package, the student will walk away not believing in the technique because his subconscious mind is saying “no” to using them on the street, and all of your training effort just went out the window. These are the true negatives we put in training. 
Adults look immediately for the applications and practicality of a technique. Learning is not subject oriented, but issue or problem focused, and adults are very aware of contradictions. What happens when we teach a contradiction?
I believe we teach negatives, for example, when we tell a student to maintain a reactionary gap and yet they have to give up that gap to arrest a suspect. When doing “bar checks,” it is very difficult if not impossible to maintain a reactionary gap. The contradiction shows up in the training in that every time someone gets close we push them away, and then have to re-address that person to take control or arrest him. On a practical basis, re-addressing an individual usually means more of a fight. It is better to use the person’s closeness to take control rather then push him away and later try to move back in to take control.

Some Specific Trainee Negatives

Our students are experienced adults and bring their own set of negatives. As instructors, our task is to recognize these negatives and set out to remove them. Let’s look at some examples.
Resisting a maneuver too early in the training: Most of our defensive techniques depend on an element of surprise. When someone knows what you are going to do, it is easy to defeat even the most effective maneuver. Defeating a control technique before it is completely learned educates the student’s subconscious that the maneuver will not work. Once the seeds of doubt are sown, it will be hard for any student to avoid feeling that continued practice is a waste of time.
Resistance to new techniques: Above even the fear of cancer, humans fear change most of all. There is a contentment in feeling that things learned before are the only way to go. Couple contentment with the fear of change and you have a student with a closed mind. Our task is to open these minds and ready them to accept change as a new found treasure, not to mention that the new material really works faster, better, easier, etc. 
Trying to teach the instructor techniques learned in a prior training program: This trap goes hand-in-hand with the previous sense of resistance. A student will typically start to show things learned in prior training such as a counter to what you are teaching or another similar technique. This is an insidious process that undermines your training, leading to a whole class of negatives. The instructor needs to watch for this diversion and redirect the student from the past to the present. Unfortunately, the student showing the alternate technique usually has already closed his mind to the training at hand and will be a distraction to the rest of the class.
Fighting Hollywood Style: Hollywood not only makes pictures, it also sets up expectations of what reality looks like, including fights. Students come with a notion of fighting Hollywood style. This is when you knock the assailant to the floor and then pick him up to cuff him and then put him back on the ground. Every cowboy and lawman in Hollywood has fought this way.
For our students, fighting takes on the sequence of taking someone to the ground, then standing them back up to put them down again! This technique is so subtle that you will have to stand back and watch for this one as the students work through an arrest maneuver. It really came home to me when I was the one being arrested during cuffing practice. In every instance, when the students tried to put me on the ground they were actually holding me up. And some of the experienced cops do this, too, as so nicely filmed for the program Cops. And it appeared again while I was on patrol with working officers.
No one means to make these moves, they just do it, and even pointing it out can leave a student scratching his head, unable to recognize what you are talking about. And many  instructors do not think about the problem; they just teach.

Some Specific Instructor Negatives

If students can come to training with a fist full of negatives, we can gift them with a whole bouquet of our own.
Letting the student resist to early: So often, we let students do things too early in the training program that can undermine their mastery of the technique. Students will try to resist controlling techniques, and a leading negative from us is that we let them.
Showing techniques rather than teaching: Showing a technique rather than teaching it can hurt students. You can gather a large number of negatives by deliberately hurting or injuring students. Instructors fall into this when they are trying to impress the student group. Confident, competent teaching techniques will impress your students a lot more than any student injury can provide.
Mismatching the teaching level for the class: It is surprisingly easy to teach either too advanced or not advanced enough. As adults, most students do not want to redo what they have already learned. They may think they know the techniques, when a simple test by the instructor can prove they do not. The negative here is letting them go with immature skills because they are looking for something new. 
But we can still teach over their heads. A six year old student taught me this simple rule of teaching at the class level many years ago. I was trying to get this student to pivot, and I kept saying “pivot,” and demonstrated the technique. He was just not getting the idea. After thinking about it a bit, this young man tugged at my gi and said “what does pivot mean?” I said “turn.” He then said “Oh!” and went on to do the technique just as I wanted.
Not enough allotted time to teach the needed techniques: Most in-service training for defensive tactics spans four hours or less. The amount of time in each academy varies, but 40 hours (if that) is typical, and that covers all of the basic techniques: handcuffing, hitting, kicking and what ever else we can squeeze into those fast 40 hours. The loud complaint we hear is “too much in too little time.” More negatives.
In addition, we use our hands on a suspect more then anything else, and yet “hands-on” techniques are what we teach the least. We qualify with weapons three times a year, but never qualify our hands-on skills. In other words, we train in-service but no one has to be proficient with these hands-on techniques. Simple exposure is not the same as learning. More training negatives.
Going dynamic too fast too soon: Nearly all students like dynamic training, especially early in the training, but is it really good? Usually this is the last part of the program for a week of training. Positive or not, this is likely the last thing they will remember, and all of your training effort just went out the window if the experience was negative. This also relates to “red man” training. It is only as good as the man in the suit. Sometimes too many attitudes are in the suit, and the student just walks a way thinking “I did everything the way I was taught, and it did not work.”
Setting up students with a narrow range of opponents: A big question for a training class is: Who works out with whom. In general, avoid having women work only with other women. Female officers are going to be arresting men and must feel comfortable that the techniques will work against a larger, stronger person. At the same time, male officers are going to be arresting women and need this experience. In other words, rotate workout partners so everyone will get a chance at a person with a different stature, even though at time women will work with women.
Instructor and assistant instructor(s) are on different pages: The Instructor must control the class, and that includes making sure all assistant instructors are teaching the same techniques and philosophies.
Teaching techniques that are not street proven: Force Report Forms are an important means of finding out which techniques are in fact working. One way of hooking the students into your program are testimonials on your working techniques from other officers. In addition, you should survey students to see how techniques have been working for them on the street.
An instructor in poor physical condition: Whether it is fair or not, your students are going to evaluate your physical conditioning. Being in shape can be a strong, positive influence on your students. At the same time, being out of shape can have a strong negative effect on the training outcome.
Perhaps the instructor’s greatest frustration is not getting the material across. This frustration is usually not focused at the students but the instructors themselves. This fact doesn’t prevent the instructor from taking it out on the students, however. For us, this usually means we have to change what we are doing to get the technique across. Back off, re-think, re-address, change your teaching style, terminology, and always try to teach to the level of the student.


We can never make training as realistic as it will really be on the street, no matter how hard we try. Field training officers need to be in concurrence with your academy training because they are working street coaches who can negate all of the academy training if they are in opposition to the academy training or not up to date. Contradictions only leave the student thoroughly confused when they first hit the streets. This puts the student and Field Training Officer both at risk.
So, let’s look at our training, identify the valid negatives, and address them and make our training better and more productive for our students

Cops you are not trained nearly as well as you should be. 
Get off your asses and find quality training on your own.
Dynamic training is necessary but has to be done smart.
Going too dynamic too fast is very detrimental to training.
Get the time in to develop a solid fundamental base.
Then and only then refine your ability to use those fundamental skills against a resistive opponent.

Train hard, Train Smart, Be safe