Non-lethal Techniques
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5 Non-lethal Techniques Every Police Officer Should Know

First Responders
First Responders
October 1, 2023
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For most law enforcement officers, the statistical likelihood of firing their weapon in the line of duty is low. Many officers in the NYPD, the largest police department in America, only 27% of all officers report having ever fired their weapons on the job. That being said, the probability of getting into a few scrapes is much, much higher, so what is an officer to do? Brush up on these five techniques from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and you can build that toolbox.

Double-leg Takedown

Statistically, most fights will end in one of two places — a clinch or on the ground. However it starts, one or both of you is going to the ground. Take the lead, and put the aggressor on the floor before they have a chance to connect. 

To perform the double-leg takedown, the police officer needs to change levels and move towards the opponent swiftly. While you rapidly close the distance, drop your center as you approach. Shoot forward and grab behind the opponents knees, then drive through. The result will be the opponent on the ground and the officer on top. Because the ground will likely be concrete, the knee doesn’t need to come into contact with the ground during the shoot. For street application, the double-leg takedown will be similar to a tackle, but with an emphasis on locking the hands, and pulling the opponent’s knees together.


Often referred to as “the clinch” or “the tie-up,”  this is a fundamental aspect of grappling. An officer can utilize clinch techniques as valuable tools in various law enforcement situations, emphasizing control and minimizing the use of excessive force. When appropriately applied, the clinch can aid officers in subduing uncooperative or resistant suspects while reducing the risk of injury to both parties.

To clinch safely, close the distance by grabbing one wrist and the back of the assailant’s head. While grabbing the back of the head, the forearm of the grabbing arm needs to be against the assailant’s chest.

Once in control, the officer can safely escort the suspect to the ground, where they can apply handcuffs or other restraints as needed. The clinch provides a non-lethal means of control that minimizes strikes and enhances the officer’s ability to manage volatile situations with minimal harm.

Waistlock Takedown

If the suspect attempts to become aggressive or violently non compliant during the application of restraints, the waistlock takedown can be very useful. 

From back control, (essentially a clinch from behind) all the officer needs to do is place one foot behind the opponent’s heel. Once that contact is established, just take a seat. The aggressor will go with you, and you can choose to either take the back, or maintain your control for follow on maneuvers. 

Side Mount

Considered one of the most useful techniques for law enforcement, the Side Mount allows the officer an excellent position for controlling or pacifying an assailant. Additionally if the technique is executed correctly the assailant will find it difficult or impossible to shrimp out of. 

The trick to setting up a side mount an aggressor cannot shrimp out of is to maintain the top position to ensure that the waist touches the ground. If the waist of the officer is above the ground, the officer’s weight shifts. When this happens, the aggressor can sweep the officer.

Controlling the arms can be tricky, but the fifth move has you covered.

Key Lock / Americana

The key lock, or Americana, is typically used for submissions. For law enforcement, it can be used to disarm, control, or immobilize an opponent.

The officer performs the Americana by removing the hand that’s underneath the opponent’s head. The hand should control the wrist of the opponent. Whichever side the officer is facing in the side mount, that is the hand they need to control. 

While bending the arm at a 90-degree angle, the officer needs to trace his or her other hand under the opponent’s tricep. From here, the officer locks the hold by grabbing their wrist.

Then comes something the Marine Corps calls ‘enhanced pain compliance’. By pushing the controlling hand down, while raising the opposite shoulder, you can elicit a pain response which CAN cause the aggressor to comply.

WARNING: This technique, performed with too much force or speed can break the aggressor’s shoulder. Take caution to ensure only the minimum necessary force is applied. 

In total, these are only five techniques, and with only a few exceptions people do not generally perfect the use of martial arts techniques from an article on the internet. As with all things, this missive is designed to spark interest and display efficacy. If you feel like these techniques would make excellent tools for your utility belt, (which you should, because they are) then sign up for some BJJ classes locally. Any class that makes you stronger, faster, and a better officer… why not?

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