Gang Officers Fight for Life
Tulsa, Okla.
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This viral video captured in Tulsa, Okla., teaches critical lessons in force

By Tony Blauer  |   Feb 16, 2017


This video is one every first responder should watch. It’s natural for anyone watching CCTV, body- or dashcam, or, in this case, television footage, to reverse engineer what “reality” we see. We look at it, not from the “unconscious bias” point of view, but from a place of analysis/research: What can we learn? What can we do better? How do we enhance survivability?

Here are some of my thoughts.

First off, what were the people recording this thinking?!! These officers were truly in a life-or-death fight, and these bozos kept the cameras rolling rather than lend a hand? For what? Ratings? Shameful. Everyone on that scene is lucky to be alive.

The cop who took his back: Good job. But officers must learn how to quickly transition from a choke into a sleeper. The difference is vital: think time domain vs. pain domain.

The choke hurts and can cause serious damage to the soft tissue, but can take a minute to be effective in neutralizing the subject. A carotid restraint on the other hand can put someone to sleep fairly quickly if both carotids are affected.

Counterintuitive hint: If you have a suspect trying to get something from his pocket, sometimes keeping his hand in there is easier than trying to control it while he pulling it out. This needs to be experimented with and mastered. Pin the arm. Keep it long. Control the elbow and use the wrist. It’s how I teach people how to control the arm during gunfighting drills (use the wrist as a handle and drive the arm long.) Note: This isn’t always an option, but the concept should be in your arsenal and you must experiment with it under realistic conditions.

Now here’s the big epiphany.

This turned out fine. Everyone’s safe. But if we really focus on the critical moment then we should all agree that it was the suspect reaching for the gun that changed the entire scenario.

So let’s not focus on the “hooks in,” grappling/choke. Let’s look carefully instead at what happened when this went from a skirmish on the ground to a potential death match.

Did the tactics change to address the new threat?

Was there an effective disarm? I’m referring to some classic “complex motor skill” from some martial art system?

That is the gold there. Focusing here is what will save your life. This is where we discover capacity vs. potential gaps. In all our weapon defense training we focus on the Three C’s: CLEAR, CONTROL, and COUNTER. (Click here for a video I made on the three Cs.)

All the drills develop awareness and respect of the weapon and how to control its movement. The drills are dynamic, so we always work grip strength and understanding how to intuitively respond to the opposition’s movement.

You want to enhance your survivability? Recreate this  without a backup partner! How would the officer have controlled the armed limb or disarmed him had he been solo? (Question: Could you? Really? If you’re a sentient human you must work on use-of-force transitions–force must parallel danger.)

And, yes, of course Brazilian jiu jitsu will take credit for the victory!
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