Should Jiu Jitsu be mandatory for Police Officers?

One of eleven recently proposed pieces of Michigan Police reform legislation would require law enforcement officers to have some form of competency in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. While it is far from being enacted, we wanted to hear from someone who has experience in both law enforcement and BJJ.

To get a better understanding of if jiu-jitsu helps police officers handle certain situations we reached out to Eric Lee, a police officer from Denver Colorado with over 20 years of experience on the force and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Below are a few questions we asked Officer Lee:

Q: How has your BJJ training impacted your ability to do your job as a police officer?

“Even having a basic understanding [of jiu jitsu] has given me confidence in most scenarios to where most of the time I don't need to resort to being all that physical.”

“Grappling skills, such as jiu jitsu, takes the fear and anxiety out of most scenarios from the start. Officers who take their training seriously know they will be able to better control a person physically because jiujitsu can be tested and repeated at full speed in training. I wouldn't want anyone to test a knee strike or a full power baton strike on their partner in training, but full speed grappling is completely safe and would give officers instant feedback as to what would work and what wouldn't.”

Q: What is one skill in particular that you could see being helpful?

“Top game would be the most important. Being able to pin and control someone’s limbs so that they can’t reach for weapons can help keep situations much more under control.”

Q: What are some potential downsides to this being enacted?

“Outside of just the logistics and cost of making it happen, making sure that the programs are done right and well maintained could be difficult. In addition, some aspects of sport jiu-jitsu won’t be directly applicable to situations officers could see themselves in and therefore be dangerous. With that being said, a hybrid of some judo with plain clothes jiu-jitsu training would be highly beneficial for officers.”

“In my career I have never come across a police officer who doesn’t want more training.”

Q: What are some other positives you see that civilians might not see themselves?

“The mental health aspect of this form of training for officers is often overlooked and has been key for me throughout my years on the force. Just being able to go into the gym, train and take a break from what is typically a really high stress day can be crucial and certainly has been for me. On top of that, if you add in going into the gym with officers from your unit, the team aspect and bonding that would come from it would also be a great addition.”


Our thoughts:

While we’re fully aware of how jiu-jitsu can benefit everyone by improving confidence, dealing with stress, and becoming physically healthier, it's important to get a deeper perspective about how Jiu Jitsu can be incorporated into law enforcement training from someone with unique experience like Officer Lee.

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