T Nation

Training for Police in the UK


Yeah there is another thread on MA for law enforcement, but my questions are slightly different so bear with me. I've finally got an application away to a police force, and although the competition is high (2000 application forms for 80 positions) so I probably won't make it, I want to start adjusting my training now.

The situation in the UK seems very different in the UK to the USA (correct me if I am wrong). There is no emphasis on combatives, I have never heard of a school providing sessions for law enforcement, in fact as far as I know there is no provision of martial arts in UK police forces, and I would guess its almost frowned upon (you might end up hurting a criminal, God forbid). So I can't just track down a school that is geared for this stuff (to be fair, the Krav Maga guys have this stuff covered, but their schools are SERIOUSLY few and far between). Again, any UK guys please correct me if I am wrong.

The other difference, although this is changing, is that knives and unarmed fighting will be far more an issue than dealing with guns. And of course, our cops don't carry guns over here.

So, seeing as I am basically limited to the normal menu of martial arts, what should I be looking at? Would it be worth going to an MMA gym and telling them what I am after, see if they can help me out? After months of BJJ I feel no better equipped for self defence than I did before I started, so I don't think that is the way forward. I honestly reckon that any style that isn't going to teach me how to "endure" isn't going to cut it (that is to say, learn how to get smacked in the head), but I recognise these styles (MT, boxing, MMA) have holes in them when it comes to self defence, so I don't really know where to go.

PS, my shoulder is fucked, please check out this thread and help me out! http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_beginner/long_term_shoulder_pain


You are talking about two very different things here amigo- being a cop and training in MMA (or whatever) are two very different things. Drastically different.

First of all, fuck the UK (no offense) because they've castrated their people. You can't have a gun if you're a cop (yea, that makes sense, but we're not going to teach you any kind of combatives other than hitting the methhead with your bitch hat. Unbelievable.

I strongly suggest that you read the books I mentioned in the other thread, namely "Meditations on Violence" by Sgt. Rory Miller. He works in an American jail as a guard, and his stories illustrate many truths that you will NOT get from a conventional martial arts class.

Now on top of this, BJJ is a very good art to know as a cop. It teaches restraints and submission holds that will not kill or maim your opponent (Which can get you in a bit of trouble if you're a cop and you go around doing that.) It will be the most appropriate for the situations that you will likely face.

Whatever art you learn, realize that it's a fighting art. It's not self defense. The scope of self defense is SO much larger than punches you throw... it's truly one of those things that the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know.

What they will teach you (I hope) is the shit that you NEED to know as a co- recognizing that a crime may take place, how to deal with it, restrictions on the force you're allowed to use (in the UK I think you're allowed to slap lightly), etc.

Every style has holes in it. No style has everything, and no style can teach you to defend against everything. Even if they could, you would still encounter a million situations that you could have never replicated in the dojo, so it's only of so much use.

Boxing is great, like I always say... but will it work against a guy who's so coked up he can't feel his face? Or against the guy on PCP who you could literally shoot three or four times and he still wouldn't drop?

You're dealing with an intensely different element in the law enforcement world than you will EVER see in some ring or cage. Keep that in mind.

Long rambling post. Sorry. But sometimes there's too fucking much to say.


No offence taken Irish, its nuts over here. We're so proud of our gun-free society while every street thug is carrying a knife. "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes", so I hear you. So what would be your advice in terms of training in the here and now?


are police in UK issued billy clubs/nightsticks/batons ?


UK police carry an extending baton (think it is called an ASP or something like that) there are also armed units particularly in Metropolitan areas, more and more police are carrying guns these days.

I used to train with quite a few police at Roger Gracie's place in London. They all said that the combatives training they had to do from time to time was a joke, but equally they explained that using most BJJ type chokes to restrain a perp would get you in trouble.

I would focus on getting in shape and boning up on the law side of things that you will be tested on. Also, try to talk to as many police as you can about their experiences. I know quite a few police that hate it. I also know a few (include a cousin of mine) that absolutely love it.

Here in Mexico we actually help to train the local police force. Part of their Police Academy testing is for us to go down and beat them up, nogi grappling. There are a few cops that now train full time at my gym and a couple that are fighting MMA pretty succesfully.


I've been a police officer in London for almost 10 years. I've worked as a regular first responder, a firearms officer and on the Territorial Support Group (serious disorder and violence). When I joined I received 30 hours Officer Safety Training in recruit school followed by about 40 hours a year when posted as a first responder. This training involved use of force laws, restraint techniques (handcuffs, different kinds of locks and wrestling techniques), striking (palmstrikes, elbows, knees, low kicks, baton strikes, CS spray), cell relocation, fighting ppl with knives etc.

Uk law allows people to defend themselves with reasonable force. We are taught eye gouging, headbutting etc as well. Justifying using these techniques is up to you according to the circumstances. Working on units where you are more likely to encounter violence you get more training and more often. TSG and firearms train multiple times a week both on combatives and fitness. Most fitness training is crossfit in nature.

I can't speak for areas I haven't worked but most of the instructors I've encountered are ex-military and often ex-Special Forces. The training I've had is excellent. I don't feel the need to supplement it with further training.


Thanks for that eclectic1, gives me some hope that the physical aspect of training may not be overlooked after all. The officers I have spoken to have certainly given me the impression that they are.

It turns out there may actually be a couple of Krav schools in the area, but they tend to train once a week and not in dedicated gyms. Worth it alongside some full contact combat training (boxing/MT)?


No harm in it but be mindful of injuries. The more realistic/full contact you go the higher the risk of injury. I'm thinking in terms of recruit school. I'm a decade out of date but when I went through training school we had to pass weekly fitness tests. Nothing that hard but if you are nursing an injury from sparring then even fit ppl can fail.

Also remember if you get called to something violent dont take unnecessary risks, call up your team on the radio and go 'mob handed'.


I would stick to the Krav. When there's 8 out of 10 males that carry a knife (and want to use it) in a country, you need to be able to deal with weapons. If you can find a good teacher, then you'll be in good shape. But, of course, if you go there and it looks like they're just going through the motions, go for something else.

It's not the art that will save your ass if you become a cop- it's your awareness. That being said, any of the arts you've listed would be good. I'm partial to boxing, of course, but whatever.


Whoops. I could see that though.

Hence the importance of knowing "Use of force" laws before using any killer moves.


The krav gym may not be "krav dedicated", but what about the teacher? If they're an experienced kravver, it could be well be worth training with him (or her). At least in the states there's a difference between how civilian & military/police krav are taught, so I'd see which the instructor you have access to teaches. In civilian krav, you wouldn't get to knife/gun defense techniques until you've worked your way up the system a bit, in military/police (we call it "force" training) you get into weapons work immediately. Though they wouldn't allow you to take force training until you were an actual cop (not here, at least), so maybe the distinction is not that helpful. Anyway, many of the principles of weapons defenses are taught as empty hand techniques in the lower levels. I'm rambling...

Give krav a shot. If you watch a class & it just doesn't "feel" real, skip it & go for another style. Boxing has a strong tradition in Britain, no? Either boxing or muay thai would be excellent choices.

Good luck, Roundhead, I hope you get into the force!


Perhaps you can fill me in Miss Parker, this is the website http://www.kravmagaacademies.co.uk/ . They are not affiliated to the IKMF, which is maybe a red flag. The head instructor profile suggests he is the only Israeli Government qualified Krav Maga Instructor in the Midlands and the North of England, for whatever that is worth.

We do have a good tradition of amateur boxing in England, you can usually find somewhere in most towns. If I do something like Krav I would combine it with boxing or muay thai for sure.

Thank you very much! The whole situation has just been made loads more complicated, I have been offered a job lecturing in countryside management and gamekeeping. I thought I had no chance in hell of getting it, so I don't know what to do now!


from my experience as a cop (in the US), i'd suggest learning judo, and maye a little muay thai clinch techniques.

as a cop, you really can't strike too much, but i have done a lot of wrist locks/drags and hip tosses. my only regret is not getting to learn real judo growing up, because those types of techniques wrok really well for me. plus, you learn to fall, and it will build on your previous grappling work.

p.s. most cops over here don't do much beyond what they're taught in the academy/departmental training, but we also have more "tools" available, too.

good luck!


Well, I looked on the site, & the only thing that bugged me was the quality of the performance of the techniques on the videos. I've seen myself teaching on video & I look like they do, and I'm a rank beginner as a teacher. They should have a higher standard for the face they show to the world. Other than that, the techniques were the ones I have learned, so all that looks familiar, all good. Maybe they just don't beat the living shit out of their people like we do. :slightly_smiling: Also, their head guy said they're no longer affiliated with IKMF because of political infighting, which is certainly possible. I've seen the same thing happen in the here in the states, with both sides of a split being populated with very highly skilled martial artists. Another strange thing... they showed copies of training certificates, but the only ones were from '97, and from the short seminar given by Eyal Yanilov. That's an impressive name, but still, is that all their instructor has as far as certs? I don't know what G3 means, as in he is a G3 instructor. Worth asking about. The techniques on the videos were higher level techniques, & performed properly, if not that enthusiastically. So, I'd give them a shot. Especially if other police officers train there- another good thing to ask about.

As far as the other job offer - would you enjoy doing that? It sounds like a great opportunity, especially since you thought it was out of reach. Also, the lecturing position would give you a schedule it would be easy to design a training plan around. Perhaps you should lecture while you pursue your application to the force, as there are so many applicants for so few open police positions. It would be nice to have a choice between two positives, instead of one positive and one maybe. This sounds like an exciting time for you, Roundhead! Lots of options.