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It's Time To Start Choking Cops & Kids
An unexpected answer to address some of our most pressing problems.
When you first read the title, you probably thought, "What kind of twisted mind would even think of such a thing?" But before you grab your torches and pitchforks, let me explain. My aim is to introduce an unconventional proposition to address difficult challenges in law enforcement and education.
Over the past decade, our nation's police have grappled with the most divisive and fraught issues they’ve ever faced. Amid wave after wave of public spotlight, trust in law enforcement is at an all-time low. Officers everywhere have left the profession while agencies struggle to recruit replacements. Couple this with rising crime rates and increasing targeted violence against officers, and you have the recipe for disaster.
Take a look at the current state of one of the nation’s most storied police agencies in the video below. Count the number of Taser deployments.
Equally, our nation's children have faced their fair share of trials over a transformative decade. School shootings, the erosion of traditional family structures, an over-reliance on technology, and the impact of pandemic lockdowns, have all conspired to create a generation of young people facing an uphill struggle in life.
You might think there's a room full of geniuses somewhere, huddled together, working on a solution to these problems. There isn’t. Even if there was, the last thing anyone needs is another comprehensive solution or unfunded mandate from the federal government. The answers to these problems start with us. With individuals and communities.
So, what's the proposition? It’s twofold. First, law enforcement agencies should incorporate Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) into their training programs. Second, the principles and techniques of BJJ should be taught in schools, especially at the elementary and middle school levels. It should become a primary component of Physical Education (PE) classes.
What is BJJ?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling-based martial art focused on ground fighting and submission holds. BJJ is about far more than just choking out your opponents. Emphasizing technique, leverage, and mental fortitude over brute strength and aggression, it provides a unique and transformative approach to self-defense, personal development, and conflict resolution.
Now, before you accuse me of advocating for a world where children and police officers run amok, strangling people in the streets like a scene from a ‘Purge’ movie, let me make it clear: that's not the the idea. BJJ teaches respect, discipline, and empathy, while promoting physical fitness and mental resilience. Its core tenets align closely with the values we wish to instill in our children and our police force, making it an ideal tool for enhancing their education and professional development.
For law enforcement officers, understanding and controlling a situation is key to keeping the peace. BJJ is all about controlling a potentially harmful situation without causing unnecessary damage. It teaches you how to immobilize an opponent without having to throw a single punch. For police officers, this can mean the difference between an altercation escalating into lethal violence, and a smooth, peaceful resolution. Imagine a world where officers are as adept and comfortable at de-escalation as they are at handcuffing. That's the power of BJJ.
What about our kids? Children are not immune to the dangers of the world. But instead of sheltering them, let's equip them with the skills to defend themselves. BJJ isn't about brute strength; it's about technique, strategy, and confidence. If little Johnny can handle himself against a bully without throwing a punch, he’s not only safer, but he’s learned a crucial lesson in conflict resolution.
What this looks like?
How Law Enforcement and Students Benefit
How much training do you think your local police officer gets each year? Whatever your guess, I’ll bet it’s less. Partly due to staffing shortages, and partly due to funding, training isn’t a top priority for many agencies. This is a colossal mistake. Initial training is never enough, and no guarantee of continued competency at the level of initial training. This is common sense, but as a society, we ignore it. We are what we practice.
The type of training matters just as much as the quantity. The vast majority of police training occurs in highly regulated conditions. Think of your local gun range. The lighting, visibility, and weather are perfect. There are no distractions. This rarely reflects reality. One of the biggest benefits of BJJ is the real-world training it provides. From the first day, students are on the mat experiencing the training firsthand. They are experiencing the rush of adrenaline and the activation of the fight or flight mode. Officers training in this mode are prepared for it when it happens in real life, and their cognitive abilities are less impaired when put into those situations on the street.
BJJ champions the idea of inhibitory control. It’s the kind of self-restraint that keeps an officer's trigger finger in check when tensions rise. It's the difference between a measured response and a headline news incident. It’s the kind of skill that can save lives and careers, offering a viable solution to a problem that's been plaguing our police forces for years.
Inhibitory control isn’t only for the badge and gun crowd. Our kids, with limitless reserves of energy, could do with a lesson in restraint. Teaching them to think before acting, to control their impulses, not only creates a better behaved child but also a future adult capable of making well-considered decisions.
Don’t take my word for it. Several police departments have implemented BJJ certification and weekly training and proven the benefits. The city of Marietta in Georgia and Pasco in Washington shows clearly what BJJ can do for law enforcement. Marietta has seen the following:
23% reduction in taser use.
53% injury reduction.
59% use of force reduction.
The mental health benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are also noteworthy. Studies have shown that BJJ can relieve stress, improve mood, and foster a sense of community. It’s not only a physical exercise; it’s a mental workout. The art of BJJ is a ceaseless struggle against not only an opponent but also one's self-doubt and limitations.
Police departments, already facing a mental health crisis, could benefit from adopting BJJ. Officers under constant stress could find solace and strength on the mat, turning a potential source of trauma—the use of force—into an empowering and therapeutic experience. A cop who's got his mental house in order is a cop who can make better decisions in the heat of the moment.
For children, they're dealing with the pressures of growing up in the digital age dominated by screens and virtual interactions. A world where perfection is expected and failure is magnified. BJJ can help them navigate these turbulent times. BJJ provides a physical, real-world outlet for pent-up energy and anxiety. It fosters discipline, focus, and self-confidence, traits that can carry over into the classroom and beyond.
When you spar in BJJ, you’re not pretending to throw punches or kicks. You’re grappling, straining, and sweating, all while trying to outwit your opponent. There's no room for delusions of grandeur with this martial art.
This realism has profound implications for law enforcement training. Too often, police training is dominated by static, unrealistic drills. BJJ provides dynamic, realistic training that prepares officers for the fluid and unpredictable nature of real-world encounters.
In schools, this practical, hands-on approach to learning could revolutionize physical education. Instead of rote drills and games with dubious real-world benefits, children would engage in meaningful, practical, and enjoyable physical activities. They would learn not just how to move, but also how to think, adapt, and overcome.
Indeed, in the United Arab Emirates there has been widespread implementation of BJJ training in middle and elementary schools. In numerous studies over the past several years, researchers have found that BJJ training yielded significant improvements in mental health, as well as in classroom behavior.
Who among us couldn’t benefit from having our assumptions challenged?
Martial arts requires a continuous improvement mindset. This ethos, transplanted into law enforcement, could revolutionize our police forces. An officer who sees himself as a lifelong student, who is continually striving to be better, is an officer who won’t stagnate or become complacent.
For children, the experience of failure and the resulting humility are invaluable life lessons. In BJJ, you're going to get pinned, and you're going to lose, a lot. It's a humbling experience, but it teaches resilience and the importance of perseverance. When little Susie gets her math problem wrong, she'll remember her BJJ training, dust herself off, and try again. You only fail when you stop trying.
It’s very helpful for people to hear that they should make themselves competent and dangerous and take their proper place in the world. There’s nothing to you otherwise. If you’re not a formidable force, there’s no morality in your self-control. If you’re incapable of violence, not being violent isn’t a virtue.
People who teach martial arts know this full well. If you learn a martial art, you learn to be dangerous, but simultaneously you learn to control it because it’s the alternative to being weak. … Even weak and harmless, which is what young men are being encouraged to be. Life is a very difficult process, and you’re not prepared for it unless you have the capacity to be dangerous.
Dr. Jordan Peterson
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not just about making oneself competent—it's about becoming dangerous. But 'dangerous' here does not mean becoming a threat to others. Rather, it is about cultivating the ability to protect oneself and others. It’s about becoming a sheepdog in a world of sheep and wolves.
For police officers, this means becoming highly capable guardians of the community. BJJ trains officers to use force judiciously and effectively, balancing the scales of power without tipping them to any side. It’s about being a servant and protector, not an oppressor.
For children, becoming 'dangerous' is about transforming vulnerability into strength. It’s about learning to stand up to bullies, to assert oneself properly, and face life's challenges with courage and resilience. The training becomes a microcosm of the larger world, where kids learn not only how to fight, but also when and why to fight.
Make It Happen
Implementing BJJ in schools and law enforcement agencies is no small task, and there will undoubtedly be challenges. Some may balk at the idea of martial arts training for police officers, fearing it may lead to more violence, not less. Others may resist the notion of such training for children, perhaps picturing playgrounds turning into battlegrounds. These concerns are unfounded.
Achieving this vision will require collaboration. Public schools, law enforcement agencies, and local BJJ gyms must work together to pool resources and knowledge. Community involvement is just as crucial. Parents, teachers, and local leaders should advocate for the inclusion of BJJ in schools and police training. Likewise, the BJJ community should actively engage with these institutions to raise awareness and interest.
The recent success of education reforms such as those with school choice and ESAs in Arizona which allow for public education dollars to be directed by parents offer an additional opportunity as well. Parents could choose to allocate part of the funds in their education savings account to physical education with a BJJ gym of their choosing. Additionally, PE in traditional school could be privatized with local BJJ gyms and instructors.
It's time to choke some cops and takedown some kids - in the best way possible, of course. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is no miracle cure, but it might just be an unexpected answer to address some of our most pressing problems.
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Sources & More Information
BJJ training data documents reduction in injuries for Marietta Police
An exploratory study on the impact of defensive tactics training on police recruits’ self-efficacy in handling violent encounters. Martial Arts Studies, 13, 61-70.
Getting officers motivated to train: An approach grounded in psychology. The ILEETA Journal, 12(4), 10-11.
The benefits of brazilian jiu-jitsu: Training to improve officer wellness and community relations. Police Chief Magazine, 89 (5), 50–53.
New Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program strives to empower NH youth with disabilities, special needs. New Hampshire Public Radio
Karate kid: Games and activities for introducing karate to early elementary students. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
Classwide peer tutoring in a martial arts alternative education program: Enhancing social and psychomotor skills Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth
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Modern unexplored martial arts – what can mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu do for youth development? European Journal of Sport Science
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The Physical and Psychological Effects of Tactical High-Intensity and Jiu-Jitsu Training on Law Enforcement Officers Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise