Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Definition of Defensive Tactics

Thomas Gerace of the things worth believing in has posted something worthwhile at the Defensive Tactics Convocation, which he administers at CoCA. I'm reposting it here.

I was going to post something original to open up this group, but I find that I cannot do better than what Bernard Lau defines as Defensive tactics:

Police defensive tactics are NOT the same as self-defense. The role of defensive tactics in law enforcement and corrections is to assist the officer in performance of arrest and restraint, and to increase the margin of safety for both the officer and the suspect. Defensive tactics charge the officer with protecting others as well as themselves. The definition of "defend" as used here is neither punitive nor passive, but instead "to repel danger or harm while serving and protecting." Meanwhile, self-defense encompasses any and all means of protecting oneself. Self-defense techniques are not meant to apprehend an assailant. Indeed, there is no regard for the safety of the attacker whatsoever. So obviously self-defense and defensive tactics are not synonymous.

Defensive tactics are not martial arts, either. While martial arts provide a technical basis for defensive tactics, they are generally not suitable for use on the street. That said, martial arts training offers many benefits to officers, including fitness, strength and agility, balance and flexibility, stress reduction, recreation, etc. Indeed, the benefits for self-perfection inherent in long-term practice are enormous. Therefore, without denying that martial arts training can benefit officers, it is not necessary.
On the other hand, training in defensive tactics is more than simply issuing officers a nightstick and saying, "Don’t hit anybody in the head." It only takes a few seconds to be issued a tool, but learning to use it is a never-ending process.

Furthermore, you don’t always have the right tool in your hand. It may be on your belt or in your car, and while it just takes a few seconds to get it, that may be more than you have. Therefore another purpose of defensive tactics training is to give you a few seconds. You can use those seconds to get a tool or to plan a better response or simply to breathe and therefore regain mind control.

Finally, once you learn the techniques, you can’t forget to bring them with you, either. Sure, you can lose the skills if you panic, or if you refuse to practice them, but there is no way anyone can take them away from you short of rendering you unconscious.

The only way I depart from Mr. Lau is in a slight redefinition of the role of Martial Arts in defensive tactics. I have found that in many departments that there is little motivation to maintain any sort of regular DT training. As a matter of fact, the issues of on-duty injury, mandating DT training, unions and workmans-comp tend to make departments lean away from forming a regular DT program. That being said, officers concerned with maintaining their skills may be better advised to find training on the civillian side. However, the officer needs to be careful in what he is being taught. Not all arts teach techniques that can be directly translated to the various levels of force one finds necessary in performing the LE mission.

"...self-defense techniques are not meant to apprehend an assailant. Indeed, there is no regard for the safety of the attacker whatsoever. So obviously self-defense and defensive tactics are not synonymous." This is true, and encompasses the problem, to me, for a law enforcement officer: he or she is so focused on, and hamstrung by the rules which protect the suspect, that the officer is more likely to get hurt or die. As Mr. Gerace says, most department I've trained, worked with, or surveyed, have no qualification to maintain DT training once the officer completes his academy training. To me, the problem goes even further with a reliance on techniques which assume someone's on the way to back them up, and the removal of effective techniques which can save their lives (e.g. the lateral vascular restraint/blood choke).

Further, Gerace is right on, in my humble opinion, that civilian MA techniques don't mesh well with DT, in many cases, but mostly because they would open the department up to excessive/unnecessary force suits.

To me, one of the best uses of an officer's time is to learn a street-effective art such as Aikido, Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do, Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ (I know, they all need modifications), in addition to a weapon art effective in teaching responses to clubs or knives. Filipino MA fit the bill perfectly (Arnis/Escrima/Kali).

Disagree with me? Head over to the Convocation's DT forum and tell me why!

Technorati Tags: ,


BSM said...

I could not agree more. It was the same issue in prison 15 years ago and I bet not much has changed. The system was built around not getting sued so it put officers and staff in danger.

Big sticks for EVERYONE I say!


Nathan at TDA Training said...

Actually, it seems to be getting worse. It's no wonder defense attorneys are despised - except when you need one...

Look at the Taser (should be another post). You have something which probably prevents serious injury to arrest subject and officer alike, and it's always under attack (attorneys). It works. Saves lives.

Seems to be better to actually shoot someone than fight them sometimes.

Nathan at TDA Training said...

BTW, you can use your Wordpress login now to comment here. Just FYI.

Anonymous said...

I can agree to disagree with Mr. Bernard Lau's definition of Defensive Tactics and Martial Arts.

I would depart Mr. Lau in the redefinition and categorizing Martial Arts into two seperate entities: Sport and Combat (Street Effective).

I would also disagree to agree with the comment made about MA Techniques not mesh well with DT in some cases. I agree with it the context of Legal Use of Force, but disagree in that even techniques taught in LEO DT can still open a Department to excessive/unnecessary force suits. For example; the Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint (as seen several times and banned by some departments) is one of those techniques used in Martial Arts and DT that can either truly assist the Officer or First responder or come back to bite him!!

I would agree to the difference between DT and SD. SD basically your defending yourself, and not worrying about control, restraint, or tactics. But I would also add that even in DT, that line is sometimes crossed.

The comment made about street-effective Arts such as Aikido, Krav Maga, JKD Jiu-Jitsu, BJJ, or I'll add Kajukenbo, Boxing, Wrestling, or Other reality based systems. I would argue that again we need to be clear on the two differences in Martial Arts and that is the difference and reality of Sport Martial Arts versus Combat/Fighting Martial Arts. I would also add that even BJJ and the other arts named aren't always effective when used improperly.

Lastly, I will add that in the history of Defensive Tactics, Defensive Tactics derieved from Martial Arts, in fact most if not all of the techniques (control tactics, strikes, ground survival/control, defense, baton, Hair-Control, LVNR, etc) came from and off of various Martial Arts. So without totally throwing out any relativity between Martial Arts (combat) and Defensive Tactics, we need to be clear on which is what, what came from what, and how they ARE related and differ at the same time.

Just my very humble opinion!

Anonymous said...

I have personally trained in both Defensive Tactics and Martial Arts. I can tell you from both experience and training. Defensive Tactics isn't always as effective as people claim it can be, nor is it better then most if not all Martial Arts. Several of your points are correct, if your training in a Sport Martial Art then you'd react how you train. But Martial Arts used for the right reason (I.E. Fighting/Killing) can truly be effective and damaging on the street. And even assisting in Defensive Tactics (which 98% of the time it does, because Defensive Tactics fails 9/10 times) Using effective Martial Arts on the street for making an arrest, restraint, or control in a life or death situation, works wonders!

Here's my two cents, Defensive Tactics CANNOT be Martial Arts, but Martial Arts (if used and taught properly) CAN be Defensive Tactics.

Defensive Tactics is NOT better then most Martial Arts. I know you quoted an article from Mr. Lua's DT article. I disagree with him in defining Defensive Tactics with Martial Arts. They are truly interchangable when done correctly.

Defensive Tactics concept is different, but the techniques are not!