Police brutality has been a stain on our legal system for decades and the events of the last few weeks have been a call to action for citizens around the country to put an end to that plague. Throughout history, civil disobedience has always been the last resort of the people when they feel their cries for help have been ignored. Like it or not, this is where we have come to.
Many reasons have been given for this painful moment we are currently experiencing, and it appears that real changes will be made to correct the systemic failures our police force has historically failed to properly address.
These changes must be made, and most of them I am woefully under-qualified to address. So, I’m not here to debate defunding the police force or the many issues of racial inequality that appear to place people of color in higher degrees of danger. I’m also not here to comment on the misjudgments of the police force in their interactions with citizens, because I’ve never had to deal with the pressures of being a police officer. Nor am I a person of color living in America qualified to speak on the fear of existing in-country so rich in racist culture that rioting and looting are the only recourse I have left to make my feelings heard.
All I can do and speak to the area of expertise I have. I am a black belt instructor in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. So I am here scream as loud as I can to anyone that will listen to why I believe mandatory training of all officers in the art will save thousands of lives every year and help our police officers to better deal with the stressors they encounter every day on the job.
First, above all else, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the ultimate martial art for non-lethal self-defense, and I can speak on this from experience. I work in a seedy bar where I’ve had to use BJJ often to masterfully subdue out of control patrons.
A trained Jiu-Jitsu practitioner can control and subdue an aggressor in a manner unlike any other martial art known to man. It’s like having a superpower. An untrained assailant is helpless to defend themselves against a trained practitioner. And it doesn’t take long to obtain that level of dominance.
A highly trained player also has the where with all to not inflict damage while applying the art. We spend hours training with one another in fully engaged combat. During these sparing sessions, we put each other in countless dangerous positions until our partners tap in submission to defeat. These simulated situations train us to understand when danger is approaching and how not to do serious damage.
This is an important point to make when considering the argument for mandatory police training. Choking an opponent’s unconscious does not equate to killing them. It only takes 3-7 seconds of restricted blood flow to the brain to render a person unconscious and immobilized. It takes serval minutes of the same to kill them. An understanding of that distinction is the difference between controlling a potential attacker or leaving them for dead.
Training under the duress of simulated fighting circumstances also trains the brain to think and act in a controlled manner when real dangers arise in the field. The human brain is an amazing organism that has adapted to survival over thousands of years of development.
One of these evolutions is the fight or flight mechanism that stimulates the body to activate on impulse under the fear of death. This reaction pumps the body full of adrenaline causing superhuman strength and reflexes. However, it also dulls the mind’s ability to function at its highest levels of rational thought and inhibits the body’s fine motor skills.
Training Jiu-Jitsu regularly trains the mind to avoid this fight or flight impulse and stay focus during moments of danger. Moments that police officers find themselves in daily on the job. A focused officer will be more aware of the harm they could inflict on a detainee resisting arrest.
However, the most important benefits of training BJJ regularly are psychological. Jiu-Jitsu challenges a practitioner in unimaginable ways throughout the course of their training. This journey can often take 10-15 years to complete and challenge players both physically and emotionally while they climb the latter of belt successions. A Black Belt in BJJ obtains more than just the skills of combat, they learn lessons about themselves that change them into better people. No one suffers through the time required to master this art without overcoming demons in their souls they never knew existed.
This struggle adds self-awareness, and that self-awareness builds the character required to be confident enough to not sweat the small stuff during physical confrontations. While practicing BJJ, its devotees spend endless hours fighting with one another. When conflict arises, we don’t care to prove a point because our egos have been crushed then rebuilt for weeks, months, and years on end, and that is the most important element. Growth beyond the need to arrogantly posture an inflated ego when the occasion to use our skills are required.
As a Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt, I consider it my moral obligation to weigh the well-being of my earthly co-inhabitants as a priority. With great powers comes great responsibilities, and this mantra has served me well in life. In the past, I have been less than stellar on many occasions, but Jiu-Jitsu changed me from an angry youth into the spiritual sheepdog I am today. I choose to avoid a confrontation at all costs in most cases because I have been on the other side of the equation so many times. Which is why I am writing this article.
I don’t like to write anymore. It’s tedious, time-consuming and frankly, I would just rather jump on a podcast and have a conversation with an interesting guest to tell my stories. But the world needs help to heal, and while I might not be able to fix everything, I call upon the expertise I do have to offer one possible solution. A solution of which I have first-hand evidence to support its effectiveness.
Make police training of BJJ mandatory. Hire instructors to run classes at precinct sponsored gyms or pay memberships for training at local BJJ schools. The art of Jiu-Jitsu teaches more than just self-protection, it heals broken souls and instills the desire to protect above all else to everyone willing to try and conquer it. Any public servant that swears an oath to protect and serve should be eager to search for the answers to how to live up to their words.