The value of Jiu-Jitsu for SWAT operators

The level of control needed during this martial art is the same as when responding on a SWAT call


I’ve always enjoyed being physically active, likely one of the reasons I became a SWAT officer. I’ve trained in different martial arts since I was a young kid, and have been a gym rat since I was a teenager.

My fitness routine consists of weight training, CrossFit, heavy bag sessions and high interval training. I’m sure most people have the same time issues when it comes to balancing work, family and hitting the gym. As a young Marine, I was expected to spend several hours a day working out. Now, I’m always trying to get the most out of a workout in the shortest amount of time. 

I’ve found that no amount of weight training can replicate the feeling of actually fighting someone. The force put on the body when someone is trying to move you, take you down, control you on the ground and ultimately submit you, requires you to use every muscle in your body. I recently started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and it has kicked my physical fitness to a whole new level. It has helped increase my grip strength, core stability, flexibility and my cardio.

Outside of the physical advantages, the mental benefits of Jiu-Jitsu are what keep me coming back for more. It’s a life-size game of chess. You have to stay mentally switched-on while under stress and remain calm while being pressured by an adversary. If you don’t get a grip (pun intended) of yourself and allow yourself to give in to the stress or let your emotions take over, you will lose.

This level of control is the same as what’s needed when responding as a SWAT operator. I’ve witnessed these advantages during team training and deploying on callouts. As a sniper, I’ve had to jump walls and fences, crawl into positions, climb onto rooftops, and redeploy quickly with all of my extra gear to take suspects into custody. If I’m not physically and mentally ready to do the job, I could get myself or members of my team hurt or killed.    

Whether you are on a full-time or part-time team, my top tip for peak performance is to find something you enjoy that targets your entire body and incorporate it into your training routine.  

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

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