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Defensive tactics training: Moving from Sankyo to rear compliance or decentralization

Sankyo is a versatile technique that can be used as a come-along, takedown or control hold on a non-compliant suspect

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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.

In my previous article in this series, I showed you Sankyo. Some readers suggested this move would never work on the street. For those of you who said that you are correct. It will never work on the street for you if you look at a technique and discard it at first glance as you will commit neither the time nor the effort to train to make it a viable street technique for you. That goes for Sankyo and any other technique you can think of.

For me, I found I had to work long and hard before my Sankyo technique was street-ready so I can understand the hesitancy of others. Even when Sankyo became street-ready for me, it was never my go-to technique. I used it when I wanted to not only win but also impress a crowd of onlookers. If I had to arrest someone in front of a crowd, I wanted the crowd on my side. Sankyo was always a crowd-pleaser.

Moving from Sankyo to rear compliance

Sankyo is a versatile technique that can be used as a come-along, takedown or control hold on a non-compliant suspect. Once you have Sankyo applied and your request to “Stop resisting!” has been met, in most cases you will want to handcuff the suspect. The easiest way to do this is to quickly transition from Sankyo into rear compliance.

Step one: Secure the triceps

From the Sankyo hold on the suspect’s right arm, maintain your grip on the suspect’s right hand with your left hand, while you release your right hand and quickly place the palm of your right hand on the suspect’s right triceps area.

Step two: Secure the back of the hand

Your left hand will maintain the grip on the back of the suspect’s hand, except now, instead of twisting the hand you will put pressure on the wrist toward the triceps via the hand while placing pressure on the triceps with your right hand. You will squeeze the triceps and the back of the hand together, creating a situation where you will at least have mechanical control of the hand and if you wish, because of the suspect’s continual non-compliance you can achieve pain compliance.

Step three: Bring it behind

With control of the back of the hand and the triceps, you can now simply move the arm down and behind the suspect, so his hand is positioned near the small of his back. Transfer the right hand from the triceps to the back of the hand by sliding between the suspect’s arm and back as you immediately tuck the suspect’s triceps against your biceps or chest for counter pressure. When it reaches the back of the suspect’s hand you can reenforce the left-hand grip on the back of the hand with your right hand.

You will be in the position of rear compliance to control the right arm with your right arm as you request that he bring his left hand to the small of his back. When he complies, you will be able to apply the handcuffs with your left hand, with practice, while controlling the right arm with your right hand.

Decentralization from the Sankyo

From Sankyo you can also choose to take the suspect to the ground or as some police systems would call it, “decentralize the suspect.”

The Sankyo decentralization has such an artistic look that it is hard to believe it works. All I can say is, like the old Alka-Seltzer commercial, “Try it. You’ll like it.”

Step one: Apply Sankyo

To decentralize from the Sankyo technique, first, apply Sankyo. From the hold visualize your grip on the hand as your grip on a sword that you are holding over your head. Assume this position and prepare for the takedown.

Step two: Slice with the sword

Once you have visualized the suspect’s arm as a sword, hold the Sankyo hand position as you make a slicing motion with “the sword.” If you are controlling the right arm, as you slice, step forward with your right foot as you lower yourself forward and down onto your left knee. This combined movement can be done gradually, or quickly. If you perform the move gradually the suspect will have a tendency to lean and then slide to the ground on his stomach. If the move is done quickly they will have a tendency to flip and land on their back. As you bring them down tell them, “Down, down, down. Get on your stomach.”

To better control the suspect on the ground with ease, I found it best to perform the movement gradually so they landed on their stomach. This set them up in a better position for handcuffing.

Step three: Apply rear compliance

When the suspect is on the ground, maintain your grip on the back of the suspect’s hand with your left hand, while your right hand slides up to the triceps and then squeeze the two together bringing the arm behind the back creating rear compliance as you say, “Relax. Stop resisting.” You can re-enforce both grips by tucking them between the interior of your knees.


In law enforcement, empty hand control is becoming a bit of a lost art, but becoming proficient is within your grasp if you have patience, a partner to train with and a commitment to excellence.

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.