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Defensive tactics training: Front compliance

Learning to apply this hold short of pressure also means it can be used as a tactically superior escort hold

Dan Marcou DT tactics escort 1.JPG

Having been an active street cop for the entire 33 years of my police career, as well as an active police trainer for 43 years, in this series I share some of the defensive tactics techniques that helped me prevail on the street. The series presents a variety of defensive tactics in a format that allows you to follow the instructions and practice the technique. Remember practice makes prepared.

One of the first “come-alongs” I ever learned when I was aspiring to be a police officer was something called the “bar walk” by some, the “goose neck” by others and “front compliance” by still others. I used many different control holds on the street, but none more often than the front compliance hold.

This hold not only works to overcome resistance but also convinces some suspects to stop resisting as well. Learning to apply this hold short of pressure – so that the suspect is controlled but does not feel any pain on contact – also means it can be used as a tactically superior escort hold. In other words, through training and experience, you can learn to control by touch the “pain on” and “pain off.” This is an important skill to develop.

Once an officer truly understands the pressure/counterpressure dynamics of this particular hold, it can be adapted and applied no matter the position of the suspect’s arm. This will be demonstrated in following articles, but first here is how to apply a basic front compliance hold.

Step one: Capture the arm

Utilizing what is called the “pincers grip” (thumb and middle finger), take hold of the right wrist with your right hand and the area slightly above yet on the elbow with your left hand.

Dan Marcou escort 1.JPG

When sensing the initiation of resistance after applying a standard escort grip, you decide to apply front compliance.

Step two: Bring the right wrist up higher than the elbow

If you choose to move to front compliance because of the situation, bring the right wrist up higher than the elbow, while controlling above and behind the elbow with your left hand, forming a kind of Y-shaped block with your left hand, pushing slightly forward just above the elbow on the triceps to maintain your grip.

Dan Marcou Escort to Front Compliance 2.JPG

Bring the wrist up higher than the elbow as you start the downward bending of the hand at the wrist with your right hand, while maintaining counter-pressure initially with your left hand above and behind the elbow in a Y-block configuration.

Step three: Bend the wrist downward

As the suspect’s forearm is brought up higher than the elbow, with your right hand bend the suspect’s right hand downward configuring his arm and hand a bit like a goose neck.

Dan Marcou Escort to Front Compliance 3.JPG

Quickly shoot your left hand between your bodies to the back of the suspect’s hand and index your middle finger across the knuckles that meet the hand and bend downward.

Step four: Shoot your left arm between his arm and his body and cover the back of his hand

As you reach a point where the suspect’s hand is higher than the elbow, with your right hand controlling his right wrist and your left hand forming a Y-block against the back of his arm just above the elbow, shoot your left hand quickly between his arm and his body and with your left hand cover the back of his right hand, maintaining the downward “goose neck” configuration of the wrist. Your left hand’s middle finger should be indexed along the suspect’s knuckles for the best controlling position on the back of the suspect’s hand.

Dan Marcou Escort to Front Compliance 4.JPG

Re-enforce your left hand with your right hand on the back of the subject’s hand, using once again the middle finger across his knuckles as the indexing location. Add pressure enough to get compliance. Ask him to move his hand to a location such as on top of his head to check compliance. Once compliance is achieved you can let up on the pressure without releasing the hold.

Step five: Cover the back of the suspect’s hand with your right hand to re-enforce the hold

Once your left hand is in the proper position across the back of his right hand, with your middle finger indexed and aligned with his knuckles, take your right hand from his wrist and cover the back of his right hand, re-enforcing the grip of your left hand. Tell the suspect as you perform the movement, “Police (or sheriff) relax, you are under arrest.”

Once the hold is in place, you can request that the suspect place his opposite hand where you want it. That might be on top of his head, palms up. You may have him place his hand behind his back in a position to handcuff if you choose.

In a team arrest, your partner would be applying the same hold at the same time on the left side, mirroring your movement. Officers working in tandem have a powerful effect on not only a subject being arrested but also on a crowd watching the arrest in progress.

You can, with practice, put this hold on quickly without any pressure on the wrist at all, saving the pressure for moments when you feel resistance. Remember that if you do get resistance and add pressure, tell him to “stop resisting” when he or she does comply, let up on the pressure, but do not release the hold.

This hold is a very powerful control technique once mastered. It can overcome an initial tendency to refuse to comply and gain compliance with a bit of pain without any injury. The pain can be delivered justifiably after sensing resistance to your legal arrest, then release the pain-causing pressure, without releasing the hold, when compliance is achieved.

In future installments you will be shown how to:

  1. Adapt this hold dynamically on the street.
  2. De-centralize (take a suspect down in a controlled manner) from this hold.
  3. Take the suspect’s hand behind his back and handcuff without losing control.

Stay safe, stay strong, stay positive and stay tuned to Police1.

Photos by Anya Marcou. Techniques demonstrated by Lt. Dan Marcou and Aidan Marcou.

Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. Additional awards Lt. Marcou received were 15 departmental citations (his department’s highest award), two Chief’s Superior Achievement Awards and the Distinguished Service Medal for his response to an active shooter. He is a co-author of “Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters,” which is now available. His novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes” and Destiny of Heroes,” as well as his latest non-fiction offering, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History,” are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.