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Police officers around the world train in martial arts to help with their day to day career skills.
Many people believe the focus for martial arts should be on the attack skills each style provides. However, there is plenty more to consider as martial arts styles and teachings can differ vastly from each other.
For example, many of the older styles have more traditional teaching methods and values. They focus on self control, discipline, respect and overall mindfulness. Some of the newer styles have a stronger focus on striking and defending, with a single mind toward sells defense or sport.
A combination of these skills is important across the police force.
Selecting multiple martial arts styles to learn and practice would be beneficial to anyone considering entering the law enforcement field. Outside of the practical defense and mindfulness skills that can be attained, martial arts are a great way to stay in shape.
This is a general list of the most beneficial martial arts for law enforcement. It is important to consider your own goals before selecting a style to begin.
Overall, though, there is no bad choice when it comes to selecting a style to choose, as they can all provide you with life and career skills.
It is a matter of debate among the martial arts community regarding which style is best for law enforcement. Across the board, though, Krav Maga tops most lists as the best.
It is an intense fighting style that teaches individuals to be aware of their situation and focus their self defense instincts. Those skills allow you preemptively defend and counter your opponent whenever a situation arises.
Krav Maga combines many different martial arts styles into one. The teachings include grappling and takedowns from wrestling and judo as well as strikes from karate and boxing. It is an intuitive and swift style that will constantly keep you on your toes.
This fighting style was developed by Israel Defense Forces. It incorporates military-style training into the regime.
The focus on situational awareness is a unique trait of this particular style. It is not just a focus on mindfulness, but observation and positional awareness, as well.
This fighting style originates in Thailand and is likely one of the hardest styles to completely master.
Muay Thai does not focus on any one type of attack, but is a full body workout including fist strikes, elbow strikes, shin kicks, foot kicks, knee strikes and foot thrusts. It develops muscle groups across your entire body and is truly a full-contact sport.
But fighting is only part of the required training.
Body conditioning is required to be able to stand against skilled opponents. Some followers of Muay Thai go through a process called cortical remodeling in which they strike their shins against a heavy bag repeatedly to harden the bone and condition themselves against attacks.
Balance and discipline are major focuses of this sport. Followers must learn to be quick on their feet and to move fluidly with their opponent. Balance is incredibly important because the move set often includes several quick spinning kicks and strikes in quick succession.
Being able to remain on your feet and unphased by the rapid movement is imperative to success.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is very different than the first two martial arts styles described.
It works on the core principle that a weaker person is able to defend against a stronger opponent given the right training. The fighters begin the match on their feet and take their opponent down using grapples and holds. Once on the floor the focus becomes control and submission.
To push their opponent to submission, fighters use locks and holds. They are taught to complete these safely but ultimately are still blocking the airway of the downed fighter or making them stop with pain-based submission techniques.
The fighter that is held must verbally or physically tap out to end the match.
Ground fighting is a skill that is somewhat neglected in a lot of more traditional martial arts styles. BJJ is slightly less aggressive than the previous styles mentioned. It focuses on controlling an opponent or gaining control of an aggressive opponent.
These skills are invaluable within the police force, though.
Here’s a great video showing an example of officers using BJJ in the field (with commentary from the Gracies):
Boxing was once the most widely used type of martial sport among police officers in the United States, but has not been as popular in recent years.
This style promotes strength and balance and provides conditioning for its practitioners. The previously mentioned martial arts styles will all teach you how to avoid being hit, but boxing teaches how to absorb a punch that may come.
It may seem counter intuitive to want to take a punch, but it is incredibly helpful for law enforcement to not fall down after being assaulted. The only way that one can be sure they are prepared is to place themselves in a boxing ring for some realistic sparring.
Boxing requires significant amounts of cardio. The best boxers are always moving and anticipating the next punch, without getting too winded.
Training can be difficult and tiring, but the rewards are worth the effort. Boxing may not teach one to be mindful, but studying it it will absolutely make you a better and more confident fighter.
So, which style is best?
Each of the styles I have described here can offer such vastly different skill sets. It is almost impossible to choose a style that could be considered the best of the best.
They are each uniquely beneficial to police officers and the entire law enforcement community.
While training and working as a police officer, it is important to maintain a sense of self to determine what skills you feel you could improve upon. Use that to determine which martial arts style is best suited for your needs.
With that being said, if you absolutely only want to focus on one style I highly suggest Krav Maga. There is a reason it tops most lists for most useful martial art to master.
Its quick and intuitive fighting style promotes situational awareness and preemptive action.
I cannot think of a better martial arts regime for anyone in any law enforcement or security enforcement career. It encompasses both the aggressive defense tactics you need on the street, and keeps you mindful and aware enough to provide full control of your surroundings.
Of course, police also get to use a good set of non-lethal and lethal weapons, as well (including Tasers).
Got another favorite martial art for police officers? Post it on the comments!