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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.


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