Why Learn About Joint Locking?

Why Learn About Joint Locking?

I first began to write about Police Judo in 2010, when my beat partner (now retired) Sgt. Toby Hinton and I formally started this new martial art; he was my long-time partner (and later my Sergeant on the Skid Road beat centered in our infamous Downtown Eastside).

The Downtown Eastside (DTES) is a neighborhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, the DTES is the site of a complex set of social issues, including just disproportionately high levels of drug use, homelessness, poverty, crime, mental illness and sex work. (as per Wikipedia and my own personal experience)

After years of writing about this topic in many foreign countries (I use travel to escape the myriad of distractions of living in Port Moody – near Vancouver), I realized that there are volumes of material that needed to be covered to put Police Judo into a proper perspective—this would be far to big a book to publish in a single tome. I decided to publish on joint locking for law enforcement first, given its importance in using force that does not shock the public conscience like striking, kicking, and weapons use does. Although I was trained to 3rd-degree black belt in Karate by the mid-8os, hitting arrestees by any means just looks bad, especially now that the omnipotent eye of the media is constantly scrutinizing an officer’s every action in frame-by-frame detail!

When it comes to making a physical arrest on an unwilling arrestee, its all about controlling his arm(s), bringing the person to the ground (while you remain on your feet!), “owning” him through pain compliance, so that you are able to put him into handcuffs. Yes, a miscreant can kick, headbutt, bite, spit, scratch, get help from friends, use weapons, hip check you, but if you can quickly start your physical ownership of him using the subtle and strategic application of pain, then many of these problems can be nullified (or you can disengage quickly if you are not rolling on the pavement with him). It is also very important to maintain that control throughout the entire handcuffing process (and until he is out of your custody). By staying off the ground, standing arm control allows you to disengage when multiple opponents magically appear. Surprisingly, this simple fact appears to be lost on those following the jiu jitsu methods of making arrests. Some jiu jitsu techniques are very valuable (as are some striking techniques), but in my humble opinion, officers should stay on their feet while putting arrestees facedown! The ground is certainly not the officers’ friend.

Please understand the difference between sport and street uses of force, and that of holding and controlling! I gave up a strong background in striking to acquiesce to utilizing judo basics for control and arrest purposes. I gave up my passion for Karate to learn Judo, only to partially abandon the sporting applications of that martial art too because that is what the job demanded of me—safely taking people into custody without breaking them or putting myself at risk by rolling around with them. I am a fan of using practical martial arts techniques that are safe, easy to learn, tactically smart, practical, efficient, and ethical in nature.

With this tome on Comprehensive Joint-Locking Techniques of Law Enforcement I welcome all of you who are compelled to deal with criminals in the course of you duties, be it in policing, sheriffs, security, corrections, as park wardens and resource officers, immigration officers, loss prevention personnel, and even aircraft pilots (all of whom in Canada are deemed to be “public officers”), hence they are all authorized to use as much force as is necessary to effect their legal purpose. Even private citizens are allowed to make arrests to protect themselves, others, their property, and even to come to the aid of requesting police officers. These techniques will aid you in making effective physical detentions when needed.

Currently with the ubiquitous presence of cellphone surveillance cameras (not to mention body-worn cameras), the act of law enforcement officers striking civilians will often be captured and shown on many social media platforms (and repeatedly) as well as on the evening news. There is a time and place for such blunt uses for force, but it should not be the starting point of an arrest when joint-locking techniques could be done. If, as a public officer, you don’t know any of these techniques, then good luck explaining why you do not. In its most primal form, grabbing an arm (just above the elbow) from an offender’s blind spot is the most simplistic and expedient thing you can you. This could keep you from being struck while you hold onto an arrestee. Add some pain using a joint lock and you start the process of controlling him. The more joint locks you know, the better you are at modifying his behaviour and compelling him to comply with your lawful commands. Those who will not willingly obey your commands can be compelled to do so through pain compliance. Those who feel no pain can be taken to the ground using the arm as a tether (in combination with a trip, foot sweep, or a throw). The real magic of manipulating such people lies in the ability of gaining and maintaining continuous control over them. Resistance should be painfully, or otherwise, just plain futile.

The bottom line of making arrests lies not with takedowns, ground fighting, quick and slick handcuffing applications, or using (yet-to-be-invented) words meant to magically calm and induce cooperation, rather it is from joint-lock manipulations leading to handcuffing that makes a law enforcement professional reasonably effective. “De-escalation” is not a verb, that is to say that you cannot de-escalate someone. You can keep yourself in check and choose some tactical options that might give an arrestee some time to cool down or give you time to strategize and attain additional resources that could lead to a less violent outcome. Failing this lack of discretionary time, professional and measured (proportionate) physical coercion may be required.

That is why I chose to write this initial book on joint locking for your benefit—to give you some great tools to use when words fail. Joint-locking techniques effectively modify arrestee behaviour through the silent, but universally understood, language of pain—it is a satisfying use of force that requires no translation. It is the power of negotiation, using joint health, as painfully coercive bargaining chips. They can make to pain go away simply through their cooperation with you.

As an aside, if you find that this comprehensive approach is too much for you, given your lack of time and energy to train in something that could save your life (or keep you out of Court as a defendant), then watch for my book Essential Joint-Locking Techniques for Law Enforcement to come next year. This will essentially be Joint Locking for Dummies. Rather than a systematic look at how joint locks can be applied to the human body, this sequel will be a process-driven book on how to use joint locks, in their most basic forms, to get a person in and out of handcuffs. Rather than dealing with multiple techniques to achieve the same results, I will walk readers through the steps of taking arrestees into custody while offering but a single means of dealing with each of  the eight common forms of resistance that can be levelled at you. If you have limited training time or desire to make arrests as safely as possible, then this book is for you. You will be thrilled to know that a companion book on the H-CUFF Method of Handcuffing (Hands-on Control using Functional Force) will also be published soon as well.

If you look at most of the arrests gone bad, move past the “final-frame analysis”, to look at where things went downhill for the officer (and possibly for the offender). Walk the video backwards and you will likely discover inabilities to gain control or a lack of maintenance of that initial control. Before the cuffs come out, the offender should be owned by you, that is to say, he cannot escape from you or assault you. You show me a video of an officer with his cuffs in hand who approaches a non-compliant arrestee, and I’ll show you an arrest gone bad, unless the arrestee decides not to fight back. Most officers’ default reaction to losing control of their arrestee is to lash out in fear of being injured (or being made to look weak and spotty amongst their peers). He may go full “caveman” on him (hitting him over his “Stone Age bone cage” with a baton or a flashlight. What happens after that usually entails a lot of paperwork and creative writing, no?

Next time: World’s Best Joint Lock

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