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The benefits of Jiu-Jitsu beyond technique

Aside from the obvious benefits of the art itself, we are only beginning to tap into the full potential of what Jiu-Jitsu offers law enforcement officers


Those of us in law enforcement who have studied Jiu-Jitsu for a long time know that there are benefits of Jiu-Jitsu beyond subject control techniques.

Photo/Tyson Kilbey

Recently there has been an awakening in the law enforcement community regarding the value that Jiu-Jitsu brings to the profession.

The techniques of Jiu-Jitsu have proven to be effective and scalable in that they can be applied with significantly less chance of unnecessary injury to the subject they are used to control. This alone is enough reason for Jiu-Jitsu to be a significant component of a defensive tactics program. But those of us in law enforcement who have studied Jiu-Jitsu for a long time know that there are benefits of Jiu-Jitsu beyond subject control techniques.

This article considers some of these benefits and why they are crucial to law enforcement.

1. Physical fitness

First, the physical health component of training Jiu-Jitsu brings benefits to not only police officers but anyone in a career field that involves stressful conditions, varying shifts and overtime needs that often make finding time to work out a challenge. Jiu-Jitsu is, in and of itself, an excellent physical workout.

2. Mental wellness

Next, there is a mental wellness aspect of Jiu-Jitsu. I have had countless conversations with Jiu-Jitsu students who recognize that when they are on the mat training, the day’s problems tend to disappear. Many students train simply for that time when they can clear their minds from the worries and stresses of work and personal life. Jiu-Jitsu is a beautiful outlet for achieving a mental break and clarity of thought that many strive to attain.

3. Focus on nutrition

Hand in hand with physical and mental wellness comes a healthy diet. Part of the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle includes a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and proper hydration. In addition, many practitioners follow a specific eating style that involves eating healthy natural foods spaced adequately throughout the day. Many healthy diets work for different people, but it is ubiquitous for a practitioner of Jiu-Jitsu to adopt a healthy diet to coincide with their training.

4. Problem-solving

Jiu-Jitsu has a problem-solving element that is directly correlated to law enforcement. On the mat, several obstacles arise for the Jiu-Jitsu student to find solutions in their journey. This could include how to escape from an inferior position or defend against a particular submission. These problem-solving skills are helpful for police officers who spend a substantial portion of their job attempting to find solutions to problems.

5. Confidence

Jiu-Jitsu teaches students to be confident in high-pressure situations. By constantly being put in difficult positions, over time, the student develops confidence in themselves that begins to move into effectively dealing with difficult situations they find themselves in outside of the mat room. The value this brings to a law enforcement officer is readily apparent to anyone who understands the profession.

6. Efficiency

Efficiency is one of the paramount principles of Jiu-Jitsu. As students grow in the art, their ability to adapt this principle beyond the mat also grows. Embodying the principle of efficiency is a must for a police officer, who is often called upon to wear various hats and respond to a broad spectrum of calls. An efficient officer can handle more calls in less time, with positive results.

7. Breathing techniques

Finally, focused breathing is an essential facet of Jiu-Jitsu. One of the first things a new Jiu-Jitsu student learns is the importance of effective breathing so they don’t burn all their energy when training. Law enforcement has also known for many years how important it is for officers to use tactical breathing techniques to maintain composure during stressful events like pursuits and crimes in progress calls.

I have been pleased with the emergence of Jiu-Jitsu as an essential aspect of law enforcement defensive tactics. Aside from the obvious benefits of the art itself, we are only beginning to tap into the full potential of what Jiu-Jitsu can do for many in this challenging yet rewarding profession. Even this list that I presented is only a fraction of the benefits training Jiu-Jitsu can bring to law enforcement professionals worldwide. Train hard and be safe!

NEXT: 4 steps to incorporate Jiu-Jitsu into your department’s use of force training

Tyson Kilbey has more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement, consisting of three years as a hotel security supervisor and 22 years as a deputy sheriff for the Johnson County (Kansas) Sheriff’s Office. He has worked in the detention, patrol and training divisions, SWAT and accident investigation units. He is currently a captain of the Training Unit for the Sheriff’s Office.

Tyson authored “Personal Defense Mastery,” a follow-up to his first book “Fundamental Handgun Mastery.” Tyson is a Jiu-Jitsu black belt under UFC Pioneer Royce Gracie. He has numerous defensive tactics and firearms certifications and has received multiple awards in competitive shooting and grappling. He is the Match Director for the Brandon Collins Memorial Shootout, a shooting competition named in honor of a deputy who died in the line of duty. Proceeds from the match go to charitable causes.