Why Judo Should Be Compulsory Training For All Police Officers

police Judo

It seems that every day social media has a new video showing police officers struggling to detain a suspect.

Often we see 3 or more officers struggling with just one person.

This is not a critique of the officers; they are not fighting machines.

They are professional police officers who have to deal with a wide range of situations that requires emotional and intellectual intelligence.

However, a large part of police work requires physical skills.

The ability to detain people who do not want to be arrested.

And in this article, we will discuss why every police officer should undertake compulsory Judo training.

You will hear from a former police officer and also discover the result of our poll on the subject too.

Judo Is About Much More Than Grappling

I have many friends who are police officers and who are also Judoka.

And they always tell me just how powerful an impact their Judo has had on their professional careers.

They have found the ability to detain offenders far easier, but in addition, Judo allowed them to enjoy increased levels of strength and fitness and a decreased level of stress.

This comes as no surprise to me.

Jigoro Kano created Judo as a method of education.

It is a system of physical education that has far-ranging implications.

Yes, you will increase your strength, and your fitness will improve.

However, there is also the other benefits that people rarely talk about. Such as the ability to think tactically, ability to adapt to quick-moving, high-pressure situations effectively, the mental stimulation of learning complex techniques and of course the intrinsic qualities such as determination and the ability to overcome adversity, all of which are enhanced through Judo training.

This is why Judo is one of the most practised sports in the world and enjoys Olympic status.

However, despite these incredible benefits, the self-defence aspects make it ideal for police officers.

The Use Of Judo For Self-Defence

Police officers have to put their hands on people.

And those people are often clothed, which makes the skills of Judo even more practical for the police due to the use of the Judo Gi in training.

Quite rightly officers are taught how to punch and given tools such as Tasers, Pepper spray and of course the baton.

Yet those tools are methods of destructive physical compliance.

The baton is used to hit people until they either back away or give up.

The spray is used to achieve compliance, however, not all suspects, especially those under the influence of drink, drugs and suffering mental health issues will stop when sprayed.

And then we have punching people.

The least effective use of force for police officers.


Because a punch only really works if again it gains compliance through pain, or it knocks the attacker out.

And by the very nature of a knockout, you risk damaging the brain.

It also looks terrible when viewed by others, especially on camera.

In all of these situations, you have another issue, when someone complies they can cease to comply.

For example, the officer batons someone and then they give up. When the officer approaches the suspect and applies handcuffs, well they can then start fighting again.

No physical tactic really removes the need for the ability to grapple the suspect. It is a core skill required in police arrest.

Judo supplies this skill, in abundance.

Judo Is A Sport And Some Techniques Won't Work

The argument against Judo as a compulsory activity for the police is that some of the techniques of Judo don't work and are too risky or damaging for self-defence.

So let us address that here.

Right now the police receive a minimal amount of training that covers a wide area.

Compulsory Judo training is not all about self-defence.

We started this discussion by looking at all of the other benefits first.

That being said, what can Judo techniques offer for the police officer dealing with violence?

The answer is...it depends.

Judo has such a vast arsenal of techniques that it really is up to the police officer which ones they choose to use for the situation.

It might be that a simple foot sweep or Kouchi Gari might suffice, or if the attacker swings a punch and a Seoi Nage or O Goshi will send them to the floor.

Because Judo allows training partners to train at full speed and power during Randori, the physical senses are heightened, you understand balance and weight distribution far better, it is this that allows you to use the principles of Judo against the attacker.

Yes, not all Judo techniques are going to be right for all situations, but as we have stated, not every technique already taught by the police is correct for every situation.

Maximum Efficiency Will Help All Police Officers

At the core of Judo is the use of maximum efficiency to throw your opponent.

They push you pull, they pull, and you push.

It is this process that allows you to take attackers to the floor with minimum effort.

Judo is not about brute force, but should highly skilled police officers be relying on brute force?

Police officers are required to have high standards of intellectual and emotional intelligence.

Shouldn't their physical skills also be of a high standard?

I think you will agree that they should.

Judo is a route to this.

A systematic and proven way of ensuring the physical skill of officers is as high as possible.

Judo Is Accessible

Another reason Judo is such an excellent activity for police officers and why it should be compulsory is that there are Judo clubs located throughout the planet.

As one of the most practised sports around the world, officers will be able to find locations to train at within a short distance of their homes or police stations.

This means that Judo is accessible and at low cost.

Judo is not an expensive activity.

Officers Don't Have Time To Train In Judo

This is perhaps where our look at police officers doing Judo becomes critical of other fitness and training options.

Right now in the UK police officers must pass a physical fitness test.

This test has been devised to ensure officers are fit enough for their roles and often is a simple bleep test.

But fitness is subjective; you can always be fit, but fit for what?

The bleep test is a progressive cardiovascular test that assesses the aerobic fitness of the officers but fails to look at the fitness they have when dealing with an aggressive member of the public.

This type of 'grappling' fitness could be the difference between serious harm to the officer, one of their colleagues or the public.

As such Judo makes an ideal fitness solution and a testing basis for officers.

We know that there are not many police officers at this time due to cuts. However, officers do not get time in their duty hours to work out in the gym.

Judo should be the same.

It should be expected that officers undertake Judo in their own time, not in works time.

I feel that Judo should be considered part of an officers professional development and certainly compulsory for the first 2 years of their service and a set number of hours must be completed.

But Judo Throws Could Injure People

Yes, there is no doubt being thrown on the floor with force and control, comes with the risk of injury.

Police officers must use reasonable force. However, the injury risk is comparable to someone being tasered.

After being tasered the suspect falls in an uncontrolled manner to the floor.

A Judo throw uses control, but as stated there is an abundance of techniques for a wide range of situations, from trips and sweeps to more powerful throws.

Judo is about using the attacker's force against them which goes a long way to the justification of Judo techniques as reasonable force.

And as stated punching and baton techniques carry a great deal of risk as well.

The risk of broken bones and of course brain injury.

So on analysis Judo is neither less or more dangerous than current training and techniques used by the police.

The Long-Term Benefits Of Judo For The Police

Rome wasn't built in a day, and the effects of compulsory Judo training for police officers will take time to appear.

However, it is reasonable that you will start to see a reduction in officers injured as a result of assaults.

You will see considerable increases in the officer's fitness where it counts, in the heat of conflict.

Officers will discover that they will be able to take suspects down more easily.

Those videos we keep seeing on social media of officers struggling will reduce and soon after be replaced by videos of officers using their new skills in action.

When the protectors of the public look confident and competent in what they are doing, the public is bound to feel safer.

Besides, word will no doubt spread about the increased capability of officers and this could reduce the desire of offenders to attack officers.

What Do Police Officers Think?

I have shared my view but what about an experienced police officer.

We reached out to Andy Moss. A retired Police officer and Judo player who is one of the leading figures behind UK Police Judo.

Here is what Andy had to say:

“Hi Andy, why did you start Judo?”When I was at primary school, my best mate invited me and I enjoyed it as a kid, I was reasonably good and progressed to 8th Mon after a few gradings.

I left judo then until I was about 21, shortly after I joined the police.

When I joined Cheshire Constabulary I was 6 feet 2 and 11 and a half stones and liked the fact despite looking tall and skinny I could use Judo techniques to surprise a few people.“In 31 year-long police career did you ever use your Judo skills in self-defence or to arrest a suspect?”Judo was my "go to" for all conflict resolution.

I used my communication skills as much as possible, but when it was obvious there was going to be physicality, I used my judo in conjunction with the regular home office approved training we received.

When I was faced with more than one person to arrest, a large fight, weapons or where there was danger to innocent members of the public, I would usually use throwing or tripping techniques to give me the advantage.

I usually found that if you subdued the biggest most aggressive member of the group in a speedy and effective manner, the others didn't want to know.

In fact, after a while, you build a bit of a reputation with the regular offenders, and often they accepted they were going to end up on their backside so often they just came quietly saying, "It's that judo one."

Once I reached inspector rank and above I didn't tend to do much "arresting" but did use judo on a number of occasions whilst off duty, once assisting a young uniform PC who had got himself way out of his depth in an incident outside a pub in my local town.“Do you think police officers would benefit from compulsory Judo training?”

I think they definitely would, although like anything a little knowledge can be dangerous and I think (like they do in Japan, where you have to be at least a 1st dan black belt before you can even apply to be a police officer) they should achieve a minimum level before officers were considered competent.

Any techniques used outside home office guidelines would leave officers liable for their actions and they would have to justify.

That said police shoot and kill people lawfully when there is justification!

What Does The Larger Judo Community Think?

To see what the Judo community thinks about the use of Judo for Police Officers we went to the Judo community on The Neil Adams Effective Fighting Facebook Page and conducted a poll.

Out of 1500 votes, a staggering 89% believe that Judo would benefit police officers.


Judo is an incredible sport and Martial Art.

One with a long history and a great deal of practical self-defence use.

It would make the ideal activity for all police officers, but life is full of choices, and unless an activity is compulsory it is not likely to be done.

However, there is a good chance that Judo as a compulsory activity for police officers would make not only the officers safer but the streets as well.

Thanks for reading.

Neil Adams MBE

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