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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Writing the Fight Scene Part 3 (Understanding the Trained Fighter Part 2)

The first trained fighter we are going to examine is the police officer. Police officers, including federal agents, undergo a level of training in a preferred martial art. The martial art changes from country to country, or even police precinct to precinct. This can also change in time as well. For the purposes of this blog I am going to address the modern United States police system and I am going to use a large paintbrush to describe it. It does not take into account individual training.

Despite being trained, the police officer doesn’t have the extensive training that most gym fighters would have. They have only a short amount of training and it is usually in Aikido or Judo. These two styles of martial arts are focused on arm locks and tying up the opponents body, which is appropriate for bring a suspect into custody. This also defines the strategy that the police officer uses in any fight they are in.

The rest of the training that a police officer undergoes in regards to fighting is with firearms, pepper spray, and police nightsticks. (Again, there are some other weapons they may learn to use, including “street weapons” like a baseball bat.) The nightsticks can take the form of their mag-lite, a baton, side handle batons (that look like and are used the same as the ton-fa), the expandable baton, and the stun baton. Each of these types of batons has strengths, weaknesses, and move differently. To the common person you might not see too much of a difference, but if you get the opportunity you might want to talk to a police instructor to get a better understanding.

One of the things that all these weapons have in common is the target areas the police officer is allowed to strike. I will talk about target areas in another blog entry, but let me give you a quick list for now. While accidents can happen, because usually a suspect that has a baton taken to them is resisting and moving and otherwise being less than cooperative and thus might get hit where they shouldn’t, the police officer is not allowed to hit the skull, sternum, spine, or groin. Most of these targets would take out a suspect immediately—sometimes with deadly effects, thus why they are not allowed. What they are allowed to strike are large muscles and nerve areas. 

My next entry will look at the training and preferred martial art styles of the Armed Forces.
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  1. David, I know a former police officer (out of the game since the early 90s) who once told me that their common practice with anyone who resisted arrest was to break the offenders sternum with their night stick so they would not have to fight them. I don't know if this was fact or just jaw-jacking but it could make for an interesting situation.

    1. Well, hopefully it was jaw-jacking. The sternum is a dangerous area to strike with that kind of weapon. It should not be on any official strike policy.

      Striking it with your hand, with the exception of one method of striking the xiphoid process that would send it upward into the chest cavity, it is not a kill zone. But, if you break it completely with a blunt force weapon it can be a kill shot.

      To do that the blow would either be straight on (like a thrust) or the end of the weapon strikes the sternum--either way with enough force to break it. Otherwise it will break ribs and such.