6 quotes to strengthen your use-of-force training

Being willing to employ an effective technique or tactic the instant it is justified will do more to control a suspect than starting with an inadequate one


During my “Fight Like a Fighter Pilot” presentation, I suggest applying Colonel John Boyd’s OODA Loop to police tactics and training. The presentation begins with a series of quotes that apply to Boyd’s concept.

The sources for these six inspirational quotes range from the ancient Sun Tzu to modern American trainers.

The following is a brief explanation of how to apply each of them to police use-of-force training.

Good tactics (enhanced by realistic training) are the foundation of the successful officer and a successful outcome.
Good tactics (enhanced by realistic training) are the foundation of the successful officer and a successful outcome. (Photo/PoliceOne)

1. “If you’re in a fair fight, you didn’t plan it properly.” — Nick Lappos, Chief R&D Pilot, Sikorsky Aircraft

Research has shown that an officer’s strength starts to wane after only 30 seconds in an all-out fight. Are you trained to dominate a resistive subject to a point of control in 30 seconds or less? If not, you aren’t training for the reality of a resistive suspect and potentially setting yourself up for failure.

2. “What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins but does so with ease. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage.” — Sun Tzu

Fighting smarter – not harder – is the key. Being willing to employ an effective technique or tactic the instant it is justified will do more to control a suspect than starting with an inadequate one that allows a suspect to be charged with enough adrenaline that follow-up tactics are rendered ineffective.

3. “The skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible and does not miss the moment to defeat the enemy.” Sun Tzu

This is the goal of an effective police officer. Good tactics (enhanced by realistic training) are the foundation of the successful officer and a successful outcome.

Are you doing everything you can to put yourself in a position of advantage – distance, cover, tactical positioning relative to the subject – on every call?

4. “By using good tactics, we lower the chance of resistance. By lowering the chance of resistance, we lower the chance of injury. By lowering the chance of injury, we lower the chance of liability.” Andy Casavant

Both Andy Casavant and John Boyd were fans of Sun Tzu. Here, Casavant takes Tzu’s concepts and applies them specifically to the world that we live, work and fight in.

The “L” word (liability) scares a lot of officers. There is no nice way to hit someone. Be confident in what you can and can’t do. One baton strike as hard as you can hit will stop a suspect sooner and cause less damage than 10 strikes that gradually rise in power and damage due to ineffective technique caused by concern over “liability.”

One liability too many officers forget about is the liability of injuries of all levels and even death to us when we cannot or will not apply appropriate force.

5. “Strategy inadequately learned is the cause of serious wounds.” Miyamoto Musashi, Book of Five Rings

6. “Unrealistic training leads to unrealistic expectations and unrealistic expectations are deadly on the street.” Jeff Chudwin

It would seem that a legendary 17th-century Samurai and modern police chief and trainer have the same philosophy. It’s important to not limit yourself to the guidance given only by those directly involved in law enforcement. You can learn from athletes, for example, even though they work in a different environment than you do. All it takes is translating what they offer to the arena that you fight in.

Seeking out words of wisdom and applying them to police training and tactics can be a great way of strengthening your abilities. Let these words guide you in your ongoing physical training.

This article, originally published 02/22/2016, has been updated.

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