The Top 10 BJJ Positions that all Cops should know An Article by Brad Parker

An Article by Brad Parker
Brad Parker runs Defend University (, a research and development group dedicated to the exploration of leading edge techniques and strategies for self-defense, security and defensive tactics.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu burst onto the scene in America when a quiet, good-looking Brazilian named Royce Gracie shocked the martial arts world by winning the first Ultimate Fighting Championship in a seemingly effortless fashion. What the rest of the world didn’t know is that the Gracie family had been developing this art for the past 75 years in Rio de Janiero. What’s become known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) proved to be a dominating factor in mixed-martial arts tournaments throughout the 1990s’.

The public safety sector picked up on its success and now agencies such as the FBI, DEA, and LAPD and various elite groups of the military including the Rangers, Delta Force and Marines have included the techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in their curriculum.

“With this you are able to survive long enough for help to get there,” says Pat “Hawk” Hardy, long-time law enforcement officer and current assistant district attorney and criminal investigator for Jasper County, Texas. “The thing that makes it great for law enforcement is that it’s easy to learn, you don’t have to be super athletic and it is effective.” Hardy should know what he is talking about – he has 35 years of martial arts experience with a national full-contact karate championship title won in 1975. In 1977 he fought for the world full-contact karate title. “What I like about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that it’s easy to do,” he says. “Most of your criminals out there have plenty of time to workout and get strong, a lot more time than you or me with a family and trying to make a honest living.”

BJJ Reduces Injuries, Claims

According to Sgt. Greg Dossey of the Los Angeles Police Department, the adoption of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into its arrest and control curriculum is good for LAPD officers, arrestees and the community. LAPD now has a curriculum that consists of ground techniques based on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as the traditional joint locks and “pugilistics” or striking techniques.

In the first two years the techniques were introduced, Dossey says there was a 19 percent reduction in injuries to arrestees and a 8.5 percent reduction in injuries to officers. There was a 13 percent reduction in excessive force claims against the department and a nine percent drop in civil actions filed against the city. He says 6,400 officers have been through the 40-hour program and they receive continuing training three times a month as well as bi-annual divisional training and an annual recertification. “We don’t try to make them the world’s most skillful grappler,” says Dossey, “but we definitely give them enough skills to develop confidence on the ground.” He attributes a 24 percent decrease in the use of force reported in all arrests to that increased officer confidence.

Advantages for Public Safety Personnel

The reality-based techniques and the emphasis on controlling the subject makes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu perfect for public safety personnel. The techniques put you into a position where your opponent cannot strike you, but you could, if you chose to, strike him. This gives officers and public safety workers an option to increase the escalation of force. The techniques also allow a smaller officer to wear out a larger and more aggressive subject. The techniques do not rely on pressure points for pain compliance. The bulk of the techniques center on joint locks and carotid restraints.

This means that the officer does not have to be stronger than the suspect, they only have to be stronger than the suspect’s weakest point – usually his elbow, shoulder, ankle or neck. The techniques are relatively easy to perform and are quickly picked up by students. In fact, we’ve had students with as little as two training sessions report using the techniques successfully in securing an arrest. The responses of opponents to the techniques and strategy of BJJ practitioners are amazingly predictable, allowing skilled practitioners to appear almost magical in their ability to maneuver the subject.

Many martial artists and defensive tactics instructors tell their students to “never go to the ground” with a subject because of the dangers to be found there. However, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners aim for the exact opposite outcome – their goal is to almost always take the fight to the ground. Both LAPD statistics and the Gracie family assert that between 65 to 85 percent of altercations eventually end up on the ground anyway. The Gracies have made a career of training to live and feel comfortable in the position which has the greatest probability of occurring. Conversely, when you stand up in an altercation, the variables for you concerning distance, weapons, strikes and movement are theoretically infinite.

Unfortunately, the momentum of any fight can be reversed instantly by your opponent when he lands a lucky punch or kick, but on the ground everything slows down and the opponent cannot generate much force behind his strikes. Here are the ten Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques you should know:

1. The Clinch

The most dangerous distance in any altercation is kicking and punching range.

2. The Takedown from Handcuffing

The most common position where passive resistance like “pulling away” will begin, and immediate/safe action can be taken

3. The Mount

Follows the takedown, and is needed to control and de-escalate to then begin the handcuffing and arrest process

4. The Back Mount

This is exactly like the mount with the exception that you are astride the suspect and he is face down.

5. The Closed Guard

If an officer falls or is taken down, he must be able to operate safely and efficiently operate from his back

6. The Kimura

Used as either a weapon-retention technique from all positions or an armlock to put a suspect into a handcuffing position

7. The Open Guard

If the suspect is too large or too strong to contain in your closed guard

8. The Cross Side

This is another major BJJ position that uses body weight to control the opponent.

9. Knee on Belly

A transitional control position used to either de-escalate, strike, communicate, or move to handcuffing

10. The Arm Triangle /modified arm-triangle

When suspects turtle up or are actively resisting and fighting from different positions, this restraint position can be used for control in numerous situations and minimizes injury to the suspect while effectively controlling the situation.