Skip to content

Police and Jiu-Jitsu: The best martial art for police officers

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that has been taking the nation by storm and is becoming more and...

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that has been taking the nation by storm and is becoming more and more popular among law enforcement officers. Why is this? Because it’s applicable in the gym and in full gear. Here’s an inside look into BJJ in and out of the gym and why it has become a valuable asset to law enforcement agencies across the country – and perceived as the most effective martial art for policemen. 

First, what is BJJ? Brazilian Jiu-Jitu is a ground based martial art which focuses on utilizing submissions to subdue your opponent. It has gained popularity over the last few decades in the United States, and can be found all over the world. Practitioners utilize a variety of locks and holds such as arm bars, shoulder locks and joint manipulations to subdue their opponent. 

BJJ In the Gym

Is jiu jitsu a good workout? Definitely. Typically, in the gym, there are two different styles of clothing BJJ practitioners wear. The first style is in “gi” or “kimono”. In this style, both individuals wear a heavy uniform (gi). Both individuals will fight for grips on the gi or body to reach a submission . The other style is “no gi” in which both practitioners will wear typical work out gear like rash guards, spats and shorts. Since there is no excess fabric to grab, this style utilizes grips on the body such as wrists, arms, or legs. When it comes to real world applicability, many practitioners believe that no gi is the more applicable style, as one does not have to rely on clothing to submit the opponent and can instead grip the arms, wrists etc. 

There are a few substantial differences between the jiu-jitsu at the gym compared to what can be utilized on the street in full gear. For example, some of the moves learned in the gym are more “sport Jiu-Jitu” as opposed to self-defense, meaning these moves may be applicable in competition, but not in a real-world setting. Additionally, there are the practical differences, such as being able to choose partners, lack of striking, only one adversary (as opposed to the possibility of multiple coming at you at once) and the baseline knowledge that the other individual is not actively trying to hurt you (it’s a controlled environment.) However, many of the things a practitioner learns at the gym are based in real world applicability and are rooted in self-defense, meaning that what you are learning will apply in a fight scenario. 

BJJ In Law Enforcement Gear 

Jamie, a 23 year Border Patrol veteran, believes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is “absolutely applicable” while wearing law enforcement gear. “It is different.” Jamie said “There are some things you can’t do in gear that you can in the gym. However, I feel like it is still incredibly beneficial for any law enforcement officer”. 

According to Jamie, one of the most substantial moves that is inhibited while wearing full gear is shrimping, (the action of moving your body out from underneath or away from your opponent). This is incredibly hard to do while wearing a gun belt as there are limited possibilities to move around without the belt getting in the way. “You’re basically limited to trap and roll,” Jamie said. 

However, Jamie believes that it is still incredibly useful training for any law enforcement officer. “I was exposed to BJJ through use of force training when I was 36 years old, already 11 years into my career. At first I was skeptical as I wasn’t sure if it was a viable means of defense. I realized that after being put into a situation where I was on the ground and was incredibly uncomfortable. I thought “Wow this is really cool, I don’t know how to do this and I want to learn”.

One of the reasons why Jamie believes BJJ is so important for law enforcement officers is that it teaches officers how to control a person. “It’s very difficult for someone who’s never done it to put handcuffs on someone who doesn’t want you to do it. Prior to using jiu-jitsu, you basically had the choice of just beating them into submission. Now, with the ability to safely control somebody, not only is it better for the subject, it’s better for you legally and it lowers the chance of you getting injured.”

There are a multitude of other benefits for officers as well. For example, utilizing BJJ gives you an upper hand when it comes to how you appear in the public eye. “While striking has its place, using joint submission to compliance is scalable. You can give them instructions until they comply and then you can back off as opposed to a knock down drag out brawl. The more options you have and the more things you have in your tool box, the better off you are and the better you look.” said Jamie.

So is BJJ Training worth it for law enforcers?


For Jamie, and to many others, the answer is a resounding yes. “It’s another force multiplier, it’s another thing that can absolutely give you an edge. It’s a valuable skill. You’re in the public safety business and the more competent you are at doing your job effectively and safely, the better you are at it.” said Jamie. 

Something that’s becoming more and more commonplace is police departments requiring all officers to receive a blue belt within the first three years of employment. Currently, there are many departments which are partnering with ADOPT A COP BJJ, an organization which will cover the tuition of law enforcement officers until they reach their blue belt. BJJ is not only great for keeping up a healthy lifestyle, it is absolutely applicable on the street and in full uniform. 



Select options