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Methods Of Attack
By Tracy E. Barnhart
Published: 05/11/2009

Line of scrimmage Tracy Barnhart is a Marine combat veteran of Desert Storm / Desert Shield. In 2000, he joined the Ohio Department of Youth Services at the Marion Juvenile Corrections Facility, a maximum security male correctional facility housing more than 320 offenders. Barnhart works with 16 to 21-year-old, male offenders with violent criminal convictions and aggressive natures.

I am a big advocate of continuing education on job specific areas throughout your career. The type of information I attempt to give my students is what they can use that night or their next shift. When we talk about methods of attack I mean how, or the most probable way that an inmate or criminal will attack you. I talked about the red light green light indicator theory in my article on verbal and non-verbal indicators to assault:. In this article I will attempt to give you the specific ways that you will be attacked or the best way for you to physically respond so that you can anticipate and react properly.

Most departmental defensive techniques or self defense tactics that are taught to officers today are unfortunately based out of the martial art Aikido. I am not knocking the art itself as I have studied it specifically for years. It is flashy and predominantly wrist locking and soft in nature. But the techniques are very difficult to learn, difficult to mentally retain and most difficult to accomplish in a stressful situation unless you have studied the art for many years. This is because they require a lot of fine motor skills to perform the techniques and studies having shown that when you have an adrenaline dump due to stress the first thing to diminish is your fine motor skills.

Next take into consideration the amount of practice that you do involving your agency response to resistance techniques. If your agency is like mine, that would be about eight hours per year during recertification, at slow speeds, with your partner acting a specific way. That would be like asking a martial arts instructor to give you a black belt worth of knowledge but yet he could only train you eight hours per year. Most instructors that I know would laugh at you and walk away. But yet your administration, community and court systems expect that level of expertise from you as it relates to your use of force incidents. You are expected to win, not get hurt, and not hurt the inmate. Not one of us would bet $5 on a football game in which we knew that the quarterback only had practiced with the ball only one time in the past year.

Remember those terms in my previous article, Reasonable, Excessive and liability? Are you confident in your ability to be reasonable? How about your ability restraining an inmate while you are being video taped and not being excessive? Will you use the techniques properly and as instructed or will you write in your reports that you Attempted the proper technique only to have to abandon the maneuver during the restraint and do something else that actually works?

“If we must resort to violence, then we have already lost the battle.”

Chinese Proverb

Experience in real world combative situations as well as MMA competitions have shown the frequency with which real fights end with the combatants wrestling each other on the ground, even if that was not their overall intentions. This in itself is an integral part of restraining individuals to bring them under control during use of force incidents within your institutions. I have been a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for over five years now and I have realized that it is easy for trained fighters to take a fight to the ground. A good BJJ fighter will be so confident in their skills that you will often see them sit down into the guard position {on their backs} and start the fight from there.

Any departmental self defense techniques need to have a two pronged approach;
  1. Having techniques that allow an officer to enact the strategy of advancing from one position into a more dominating one {positional moves.}
  2. Those techniques that allow an officer to finish a fight quickly and efficiently {submission moves.}

We run into problem with administrations attempting to water down martial arts techniques in order to alleviate the pain aspect of their maneuvers. All techniques are by their nature Pain Compliance or Submission Techniques. If you take away the motivation or pain to comply, then there will be no compliance with your commands in the mind of a criminal. They must be shown that if they comply, the pain will stop, thereby giving them the motivation to obey your commands.

We have to understand that men fight men differently than men who fight with women. When attacking a woman the inmate will attempt to show them that they are stronger and more dominate in the scenario. They will often utilize grabs and arm turning tactics. They will punch and push as well but they will primarily want to show them that they are bigger, more muscular and stronger than the female officer is. When male inmates fight with male officers they will most generally use two different strategies,
  • the rapid firing of punches at the head in an attempt to overwhelm the officer and land as many punches as they can.
  • they will attempt get the officer into a head lock and rain down punches on the officers head itself.
Now with this fighting knowledge in account why are we teaching our staff to get wrist turns and arm lock defenses?

We in a sense are teaching our staff to fail. We are giving them a false sense of security and sending them into battle unprepared for the combat that they are about to engage in. We need to give our officers two strategies for their self defense,
  • an overall strategies that keeps the restraint in a phase where they have a set of skills and advantage over the inmates.
  • A tactical strategies that works for positional dominance, which continually strives to place them in a position where they can control the inmate more easily and limits the ability of the inmate to fight back.

With this in mind you have to understand the three phases of combat.
  1. Free Movement Phase: This phase is where most all restraints start. Both the officer and inmate on their feet, with no grip on each other mostly circling each other in a ritualistic dance so to speak. The lack of grip allows each to move about freely. Such freedom of movement allows for fast footwork, shooting, kicking and striking.
  2. Standing Clinch Phase: Once a restraint begins it almost always goes into a clinch. In the clinch phase either will instinctively engage in grabbing, shoving and holding each other once the free movement space has been closed. A distinct set of skills is required to do well in the standing clinch position and these skills are different than those in the free movement phase. Such skills include obtaining and breaking a grip, off balancing the inmate but yet keeping your own balance. Takedowns appropriate to clinch fighting as well as standing submissions are necessary skills to obtain.
  3. Ground Fighting: Almost no restraint begins in this phase; however, they almost always end up there. Going to the ground totally changes the nature of the restraint. Movement in a supine position is very different from the movement in a standing position and it requires extensive training before it becomes natural. Fighting from your back is not a natural instinct as most all will strive to get back to their feet where they feel more dominate. Great control is possible on the ground because of your bodyweight and the ground itself can be used to pin the inmate and confine his movements.

Knowing that individuals instinctively do not want to be on the ground will allow you to take a restraint into a phase where the inmate does not want to be and is out of their element. This greatly increases the probability of victory for the officers.

Graham v. Connor and Tennessee v. Garner clearly state that one must act reasonably. As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court uses the word reasonable 22 times in these rulings. Therefore how do we know how a reasonable officer would respond to resistance unless we ask or survey other reasonable officers? Sam Faulkner, CEO of Response to Resistance, has spent 20 years surveying police and corrections officers as to how they would respond to every level of resistance. Shawn Chitwood is known by law enforcement officers and agencies across the state of Ohio for developing the ground fighting and all defensive tactics for the State of Ohio and is a lead law enforcement defensive tactics instructor. By asking reasonable officers how they would respond and we get agreement and variance of agreement. These numbers establish a guideline. This guideline is known as the Action - Resistance Continuum and is used in many states and quickly becoming a national standard.

In our litigious society and with administrations that are hamstrung by litigation, we cannot guarantee that you will not be sued or investigated; however if you follow these guidelines established by www.responsetoresistance.com research, you will in fact be acting as other reasonable officers would have. This is exactly what Graham v. Connor states and what the Supreme Court expects.

When it comes to litigation, the prosecution’s force expert will offer up his or her resume as the only backing to their opinion. If your defense team uses Sam Faulkner and Response to Resistance, rather than just RTR’s opinion versus the defense expert’s opinion, RTR brings 20 years of research and nearly 60,000 reasonable responses to the court room.

Your jury will not be made up of other officers, but citizens of your county. Therefore, RTR has surveyed tens of thousands of civilians and their survey answers match our research. Citizens often approve more force than reasonable officers! The fact of the matter is that no officer can do his job without these fears unless he knows the true “rules of engagement”. Sam Faulkner has spent 20 years defining these rules of engagement for the benefit of us all. Don’t work a day on the job without knowing the Action – Response Continuum.

Visit the Tracy Barnhart page


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