When All Else Fails
by John Perkins
Most “defensive tactics” training given to law
enforcement today has three characteristics:

1.       It is focused on non-harmful arrest/control/
restraint techniques
2.       It is fairly effective against a non-resistant
subject, not so much against one offering even mild
resistance, nor against multiple subjects
3.       It fails to adequately prepare officers to fight
for their lives when necessary

A street cop, in order to be maximally effective at
preventing harm to himself, his fellow officers and
the citizens he is sworn to protect and serve, must
be well trained to FIGHT all-out, unarmed and with
all available tools. This fact is not often understood,
as it seems to fly against the politically correct ideal
of a kinder, gentler law enforcement officer who
uses technology rather than get down and dirty
with suspects. Ironically, the lack of moral will to
teach cops effective unarmed close quarters combat
leads to GREATER potential for badly injured and
killed suspects and citizens.

A cop who is not confident in his ability to handle
himself physically against determined attackers is
MORE likely to try to resort to higher levels of force
(i.e. firearms) in questionable circumstances than is
one who knows he can protect himself physically
should a situation suddenly go wrong. Cops who
are undertrained and lack confidence in their
abilities often revert to verbal abuse and disrespect
(usually driven by fear). This leads to civilian
complaints, lawsuits and mandatory programs that
teach emotional sensitivity and cultural awareness.
This results in an even more frustrated, rather than
more confident and capable, officer--a vicious cycle!

A cop trained only in benign arrest and control
techniques and the use of tools (taser, pepper
spray, firearm) cannot confidently go to contact
with a suspect to effect an arrest or modify
behavior because he instinctively knows that in
close quarters, the suspect could turn the tables on
him in a flash and his only possible response would
be to somehow create enough distance and time to
access a tool. This lack of confidence in physical self-
preservation ability leads to premature and/or
unnecessary deployment of tools, and even worse,
desperate (as opposed to appropriate and well
trained) attempts to deploy such tools mid-fight,
which create ideal conditions for wild shots and
disarmed officers.

The solution is to train cops in the relatively simple
skills and tactics of all-out unarmed combat, as
exemplified by the training programs formulated
during World War II by such men as William
Fairbairn and Rex Applegate, with some
enhancements based on a street cop’s specific
needs and the greater amount of training time
available to him. A street cop who has been trained
to, when necessary, apply the principles of
combative balance, fright reaction, weight dropping,
efficient striking to the most effective anatomical
targets in chaotic circumstances, disengagement-
and destruction-based ground fighting and a
general “Attack The Attacker” mindset (to quote
Brad Steiner), is a cop who can dominate a close
quarters situation instantly should a suspect
suddenly become aggressive. The confidence such a
cop exudes will often deter a suspect from trying
anything funny. And should a suspect still decide to
take it there, even with a concealed weapon, the
well trained officer will be able to immediately
escalate to the appropriate level of force without the
potentially lethal delay of deploying tools. This
officer will also be far better able to create the time
and space necessary to safely deploy a firearm or
other tool should it become necessary, with far less
risk of being disarmed or disrupted.

We should also consider how all-out unarmed
combat training would prepare a cop to deal with
worst case scenarios, such as planned, sudden
close quarters ambushes by multiple attackers.
Contrary to what one might conclude after
witnessing typical “weapon retention” training,
where it seems the major threat to an officer’s
weapon would be from a rather stupid assailant
reaching awkwardly directly for his exposed
sidearm, the fact is that most officers who are
disarmed are first beaten into submission,
sometimes by multiple attackers (and, notably,
often while in plainclothes). A cop cannot effectively
deal with a premeditated assault by a cohesive team
of criminals via arrest and control methods, nor via
any method that requires prolonged engagement
with a single adversary. Nor can he count on being
able to draw his sidearm or any other tool under
such dire circumstances without first fighting to
create the time and space to do so. Again we see
the need for effective, hard hitting, continuously
mobile unarmed combat skills, both standing and on
the ground. If we compare Fairbairn’s “Mad Minute”
drill (which forced a trainee to fight his way through
an attacking crew of six or so heavy suspended
man-shaped dummies) and its modern variants to
the much more sedate, single-suspect-focused
training seen in most police academies today, which
would we say better prepares the trainee for the
nightmare ambush scenario?

Speaking of sidearms, we should note here (though
this could be a topic for another article entirely) that
the firearms training given to most cops today
should be radically overhauled or at least expanded
to prepare cops for the true dynamics of close
quarters gunfights. (Note that the FBI recently
began to move in this direction after an extensive
analysis of agent-involved shootings.) Just as most
police unarmed training today focuses on controlled,
compliant situations rather than more threatening
scenarios, most police firearms training focuses on
proactive/intellectual rather than reactive/intuitive
shooting. Proactive shooting training assumes the
officer will control the initiative, timing and distance
of the situation. The unfortunate fact is that MANY
of the situations that force cops to draw their
weapons, and notably the most dangerous, are
REACTIVE situations, in which the psychological and
physical dynamics more strongly resemble those of
all-out unarmed or contact weapon combat than
they do those of any shooting match or range
qualification. In a fight for his life against criminal
assault, a cop needs instantaneous, intuitive spine-
shot/head-shot accuracy from contact to seven
yards against wildly moving multiple targets while
focusing on the threats, dodging, moving, drawing,
hitting, pushing, evading and protecting his weapon
at reflex speed, on his feet and on the ground.

So we see that training a cop for the full spectrum
of unarmed combat, up to and including lethal force
self-defense, actually makes him and all those
around him safer—even the suspect! The cop who
is confident in his ability to immediately dominate a
close quarters situation unarmed, at any given level
of force, is not a cop who will introduce lethal
weapons prematurely or in uncontrolled
circumstances, nor is he one who will shrink from
his duty to protect and serve due to lack of
knowledge of how to handle any given situation.
Training cops in all-out combat methods yields more
confident, calm, polite officers, fewer complaints of
excessive force and rudeness, and fewer taxpayer
dollars lost to perps with lawyers.

Police history in America’s toughest cities bears this
out. Let’s not handicap cops and in turn endanger
cops, suspects and the public with misguided
attempts at kinder, gentler, politically correct police
Police Author
John Perkins
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker  
Former forensic crime scene expert and Yonkers
NY detective John Perkins has been called
“America’s foremost self-protection expert” by
the Trends Research Institute. In 1978 he created
Guided Chaos, a totally free-form, adaptive self
defense system for both professionals and