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Defensive Tactics Versus Combative Tactics

Defensive Tactics Versus Combative Tactics

Chris Periatt / SWAT Digest

I really think it’s time that we in the police community need to stop sugar coating hand to hand combat. We create all of these politically correct terms and phrases that really lead officers away from what is really going on out there on the street. What is defensive tactics? When I am attacked as a police officer I am trained to react and attack the suspect back in order to gain control of them and take them into custody. The problem is that somewhere someone changed the term of hand to hand combat to defensive tactics.

Defensive tactics means defending yourself, but then what. You attack and attack some more if necessary. You fight until your adversary is under your control and you can take them into custody. Not just defend yourself as the term implies. I don’t like the term defensive tactics, what we do is by all accounts combat in it’s simplest form. Whether it’s H2H (hand to hand) , baton or gun fighting it’s combat. I don’t like sugar coating these terms to appease the administrators and politicians. We as trainers have a duty to let our students know that it is combat, not just defensive tactics.

You have to let your students know that it’s ok to attack and attack some more if that’s what it takes to put your adversary down and take them into custody. I don’t want to water down those essential skills that our field has lost in recent years. I mean some departments are so stuck on the magic bullet like the taser that they have totally forgotten about H2H combat for officers. I have had administrators actually tell me that “we have tasers we don’t need H2H for our officers”. I mean yes tasers are awesome, don’t get me wrong. It’s a tool that’s all and in some situations it just isn’t feasible to use it. I have seen situations, as I am sure we all have where the taser doesn’t work and we are forced to go hands on.

If you are not ready to go hands on and that monster suddenly turns and faces you what are you going to do? Are you going to be, as Lt. Col Dave Grossman say, “a sheep or are you the sheepdog”. Well we all need to look inside ourselves and ask ourselves that very question. Because folks no matter how you slice it we need to learn and keep our combative tactics fresh in our officer’s minds. If your department doesn’t teach of train you on some regular basis in some form of combative tactics then it’s time you have the integrity to go to your local dojo or boxing facility and learn them.

  • 3865552356_b034ced2c4_1__max50


    about 4 years ago


    Very good article. Unfortunately its getting officers to actually care about training that is a big problem. Way too many of them think they don't need it, until something bad happens. I work at a department of 120 officers. There is a standing invitation to each and every one of them to come to my martial arts school and train for free and we would show them how to apply it in arrest situations. Me and the other instructor are both officers and have a total of almost 45 years of law enforcement between us. To this date there has been only 3 officers that have come for a decent amount of time and 2 of them were not from my department.

  • Segway-police-unit-china_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Also good advice if you're pepper spraying little kids. (previous article reference) :)

  • Photo_00002_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I totally agree with this article. Anyone trained in any discipline of H2H will agree that the bearing and confidence of a trained and practiced fighter makes people very reluctant to try anything in the first place. Predators sense that you will not be an easy fight ! The last thing that those cowards want is to get hurt themselves.

  • Derrick_max50


    over 4 years ago


    You hit on the head because those hard core criminals are training everyday and if your not in shape and no some type of self defense tactics you may find yourself in a fight for your life, learn how to put them down and keep them down. A well place elbow or knee will bring down most idiots you may have to fight with. Stay in shape, stay alert and stay alive GOD BLESS be safe.

  • Drknite_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Well said..Good article.

  • Profile1_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Great article.

    I would like to add that when cases hit the courtroom and a jury has been and is repeatably fed the term 'defensive tactics' both in society and during a trial it is much too easy to instill an impression excessive force was used.

    It is a spin that is not honest and destructive to public opinion. To avoid the word combat and replace it with defensive creates the illusion combat is wrong and only self defense is appropriate.

  • Thinblueline_max50


    over 4 years ago


    definitely a good article here. i am a CO and dont have the luxury of tasers, batons(unless its a riot situation), and OC is as close as the closest sgt or Lt. to you at the time. so H2H is necessity when sh*t hits the fan. the taijutsu ive been studying is awesome and thankfully i have not had to fully break it out in a 1 on 1 or 2 on 1 situation yet, but should that happen, the skills i have acquired would surely benefit me in that situation. so i would seriously advocate taking SOME KIND of MA to help yourself out.

  • 4398057_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Great article. No need to sugar coat it at all. Whatever words you throw at it, it's basically survival. Never be embarrassed to take community self defense classes. If you live or work in a bad area or environment, there are no rules. Real life isn't what you can copy in MMA (sometimes you can), it can be dirty. Say whatever you want about taking a Martial Art but it's also a philosophy that comes with most of them.
    When Bruce Lee was writing about Jeet Kune Do, he basically mentions right off the bat that 'basic fighting' isn't a style. If you are fighting for your life, then there are no rules. The only one being humiliated is your enemy for threatening you, not in the manner you defeat them.

  • Snoopy-cool_max50


    over 4 years ago


    A female officer in my city lost her life in 2007 because her gun was taken by a mental patient who was off his meds. She struggled with him on the ground for several minutes before she was over powered. As a female who is applying soon, I am looking for some kind of training in H2H to start working on while I'm in the hiring process and before and during academy training. I don't want to go down like that. Unfortunately though, they weren't carrying the tasers either at that time. I find it amazing too that there are officers there who don't wear their vests either. They are not supplied by the department and the weather is SO freakin hot here that they don't do it. That sure won't be me!

  • Dogs_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    Good article. There is also a video/training course that is titled "If you are shot, you don't have to die", I personally know someone who lived due to this. He was also a former Marine, which helped greatly. The point is never give up. I am a small female, and struggled with people, remember Sean Connery's comments in The Untouchables, "never give up".
    As far as martial arts training, I have to admit I am prejudiced , as my husband has taught aiki-jujitsu for 50 years. His instructor is one of the most imaginative people I have seen. Search "Prof. Harold Brosious", a former LEO.

  • Jim_and_jeff_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    Good article. I have always hated the term “Defensive” tactics. Defensive is an implicit way of saying wait until you are attacked and then re-act. Police work is not grade school tom foolery where it is “you hit me first. No you hit me first”. Often times the first significant strike that lands ends the fight.

    There is no law, policy, or rule that I am aware of that states you must wait for someone to attack you before you can act. As warriors, you should strive to be able to recognize the threat and control it while it is potential energy, not wait until it becomes kinetic energy and the fight is on. That is tactically unwise.

    There is a truism in combatives training: Action beats action and the only thing that beats action is already being in action. Training should utilize responses rather than re-actions. As long as an officer is re-acting, they are playing catch up. If you are familiar with the “reactionary sequence” then you know that re-acting is a recipe for disaster.

  • 100_1599_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    I think a lot of officers fear administrative punishment not to mention law suits when fighting a suspect. My thoughts are I gonna go home no matter what it takes to control a suspect. I am a short officer so I have to work twice as hard when controlling giant suspects.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago

    This is right on point on most videos you see, you alway see the criminal clocking the officers and all the officers is doing is trying to hold on, no fight back. fight like you train, and train like you fight. one instructor at the academy teaching the P.P.C.T. political correct crap training just to look good in court.. said we are not warriors get that combat crap out your mind we are public servants. he was preatty ticked when i told him i am a warrior with a sevants heart to those who are good people but i will be a predator to the evildoer.. eye for an eye tooth for a tooth.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago

    Sometimes your training is all you have to back you up.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    I am a Security Guard in my state where we can not push the action. If we can we must back away. I am also one who has studdied Karate and hand to hand for over 30 years. Police get jumped on for Excusive Force, because someone walks in on the end of a fight started by a bad guy, and screams it. I think you LEO's get a bad deal alot. And as one who taught my own Girls how to fight H2H, keep on leaning. Its needed and yes the fight aint over untill your in control. We as citizens can not alow our LOE's to be victums,for if they are who will fight for you. I have stood along side of many LOEs in my state and helped in controling of people, people who dont know any better will and have said I am to exseive, But its better to hurt one than to let him get away and hurt many..

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