BCIT News: Police Judo emphasizes development, not competition

Police Judo emphasizes development, not competition

Police Judo believe judo is the martial arts style best suited for police work because of its philosophy to take care of one’s partner. (Aaron Schulze/BCIT News).

Police Judo opened the doors to one of its black belt graduation ceremonies at the Vancouver Police Department Tactical Training Centre.

Police Judo is a group of instructors and police officers who teach people how to use judo in policing situations. It was established 25 years ago at Simon Fraser University (SFU) by a group of core martial artists practicing traditional judo. It was eventually moved to the Vancouver Police Department, where everyone began to practice judo competitively.

Sgt. Toby Hinton is one of the original members of Police Judo. Hilton says the competitive resulted in a rough start, as the group only had around half a dozen big, strong guys who were all police officers just hammering away at one another.

Sgt. Hinton and the rest of the members of Police Judo decided to change their model. They stripped the competitive aspect from their group and set new entry requirements. In order for someone to be accepted into Police Judo, they must pass a criminal record check, a security clearance, and get a police officer to sponsor them.

“Mixed martial arts isn’t about helping someone, it’s about trying to damage someone until they submit. That’s not what we’re about. We’re about having fun, enjoying workouts, and safe practice places. We don’t care about competition, we couldn’t care less; it doesn’t matter. We’re equipping people with something that is far more important than competition, we’re equipping them for life.” – Sgt. Toby Hinton, Vancouver PD/Police Judo

The change from competitiveness to developing helped Police Judo expand. Police Judo opened up at SFU in 2010, the Justice Institute in 2012, Kamloops in 2014, and now has 300 official members and has trained thousands of people.

Along with personal development, Police Judo wants to train people who are planning to become police officers before they go to an academy, so they’re prepared to deal with the pressure of dealing with the human body.

“If you want to become a massage therapist in British Columbia you’re probably going to do 2200 hours of practice before you get certified to lay hands on some on. Chances are it’s not a life or death situation. I don’t think we’re providing enough training time for people in the world of policing and law enforcement because they have difficult problems to solve sometimes in seconds, and they have to keep themselves safe and they have to keep other people safe.” – Sgt. Toby Hinton, Vancouver PD/Police Judo.

Hinton believes judo is the best martial art for police work because of its philosophy to take care of one’s partner and focus of physical body control rather than strikes. Hinton says police officers in countries such as Taipei are competent in body control because they spend 200 hours practicing judo and another 200 learning defense techniques.

“If you’re not competent in physical control it can create problems for you and other people, so what we want to try to do is to help people, especially younger people when they’re starting out in the field to get a better proficiency. Not everybody’s going to be cooperative, easy to deal with, or rational, but we have to figure out the most ethical way to deal with that given we have a job to do.” – Sgt. Toby Hinton, Vancouver PD/Police Judo.

Police Judo doesn’t expect its students to just understand the physical aspect, but also the mentality of being a good person. Hinton says Police Judo has a requirement that students won’t be able to grade up with doing community service and helping other people.

Officers in training, community peace keepers, students, seniors, everyone is welcome to learn judo safely. (Aaron Schulze/BCIT News).

Police Judo’s belief is that the most educated person is the one who knows the world around them. Hinton says Police Judo is all about giving people physical and mental skills they’ll need going forward in life, even if they don’t plan on going into law enforcement.


New Police Judo logo by Ali Lambert

Alexandra LAMBERT
LAMBERT, Alexandra (Ali)

Ali Lambert was working with Police Judo and using her artistic skills to help create additional logos for Police Judo. She had done some training in Police Judo at the Tactical Training Centre Police Judo Club and had an interest in the martial arts. Here is one of the mock-ups she was working on for a minimalist Police Judo logo:

And here is the shirt design created from this logo and using words that we think would represent her personality, as well as our Police Judo philosophy:

LAMBERT, Alexandra Beverly
July 29, 1994 - January 21, 2017


Ali Lambert was taken from us while travelling in Thailand at the age of 22. Beloved daughter of Douglas and Nicole. Sister to Gabrielle and Zachary. Granddaughter of Douglas and Beverly Lambert and Ray and Niki Bergen. Survived by aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends too numerous to mention. Ali was an award-winning photographer, a talented graphic designer, and an artistic, creative force. She reveled in the early morning light, and sought reflection in still water. She found inspiration travelling up the coast on the family boat, loved to go paddle-boarding with her Dad, and enjoyed herself with family and friends at Qualicum Beach. She had fun riding her bike all over town, whether that was Vancouver, Victoria or Paris. We are grateful for the memory of her brilliant smile and infectious laugh, her abundant beauty, her sense of adventure and joie de vivre. Courageous and spirited, Ali was busy exploring the world and embracing the experience, and four months into a global adventure, she was loving her life. We will hold her forever in our hearts.

Police Judo Charity Sports Camp (Tecate, Mexico, July 2016)

The Police Judo Association is joining Cst. Al Kussat (VPD Force Options Training Unit - with years of experience and charity work in Tecate, Mexico) and embarking on a one week sports camp for youth in the Baja Mexico city of Tecate (across from San Diego) from July 3rd to the 10th, 2016.

Police Judo members attending are paying all of their own travel and expense costs. All fundraising done for this event will be a direct benefit to underprivileged youth in Tecate. Police Judo will be holding morning and afternoon judo and sports camps, and drug education presentations in the evening at multiple communities around the Tecate area.

This goodwill visit is the opposite of a luxury holiday and will be involve a fair amount of work for those volunteering. Police Judo members will be preparing meals for the community (pancake breakfast) and will be expected to host approximately 150 youth every sport training session. Volunteers will also be delivering donated sports equipment and food (bought with fundraising dollars) to homes around Tecate.

A special thanks to Cst. Al Kussat who has generously provided all transportation and accommodation for Police Judo members attending. This is one of many volunteer undertakings that Police Judo sponsors.

Fundraising Goals:

To raise $1500 to be donated to food for youth and the community. To collect as much sports equipment as possible for the youth of Tecate.

Police Judo Water Bottles:

Police Judo has two hundred water bottles for sale. These are BPA approved, dishwasher safe water bottles with the Police Judo Logo on the bottle. These water bottles cost $10 - all proceeds directly benefit the youth of Tecate, Mexico.

How you can help?

Buy a water bottle!


Any used sports equipment (except clothing and winter sports) will be gladly accepted. There is a truck and trailer going down in advance bringing soccer balls, bikes, baseball equipment and other sports items.

SFU Police Judo contact: Chin-I Hsiang
JIBC Police Judo contact: Al Arsenault
TTC Police Judo contact: Zan Tsang

Thank you!

Donors to date:
Rom Ranallo, Ingrid Chen, Mi Hee Choi, Whitecaps, Al Kuniss, Al Kussat. 

Donated Sports Equipment:
So far, we have 80 soccer balls, 500 Police Judo sports balls, bikes and other sports equipment donated.

Police Judo Volunteers Tecate Mexico 2016:

Al Arsenault
Toby Hinton
Chin-I Hsiang
Tobin Hinton
Amy Kelly
Patrick Chan
Steven Huang
Steven Kim
William Poon
Aiden Keyes
Dan Lisk
Al Kussat
Andrea Gee
Josh Jewett
Mike Mercado

With several others working on making the trip...

Anyone interested in joining the group, please email Chin-I Hsiang at chinihsiang@gmail.com

Blue Line Article - Police Judo - Part 4

Police Judo - Part 4   
"Training for effect - Going to the ground"  
by Toby Hinton and Al Arsenault

(this article was published on Blue Line Magazine in May 2016)

download original

Although we do like to ground fight in Police Judo, that kind of training is placed within the context of being taken off your feet as opposed to willfully going to the ground with your subject. The goal is not to ‘win’ on the ground, it is to stay on your feet at all costs. If taken to the ground, the goal is not to look for a submission but to fight to get up as soon as possible. We have seldom been taken off our feet or slipped, however we concede that in this day of ‘mixed martial arts’ (MMA) popularity officers may end up on the ground during an arrest situation. There are MMA clubs which cater to anyone regardless of their personal backgrounds or intentions.

People of dubious character will use their skills for nefarious purposes because they have low moral standards. Police Judo does not accept those who are involved in or associated with crime, gangs or drugs. ‘Thug life’ can train elsewhere.

We do not teach leg and ankle locks unless they are used in the context of team arrests. They can be injurious (even in training), due to the likelihood of partners failing to realize their knee joint has been fully extended or twisted beyond its normal range of motion before pain begins.

Also, the ground is simply not a safe place for a police officer due to the possibilities of eye gouging, biting, head butting, multiple assailants, etc. Why teach someone to stay on the ground rather than to get up as soon and as safely as possible when other assailants could be looming?

If suspects ‘tap out’ when you’re not in a position to handcuff them, they don’t ‘promise’ to cooperate if you release your hold. Solo officer applying a leg lock don’t get any closer to handcuffing an individual. The benefits of practicing leg locks do not outweigh the risk of injuring students.

That’s why we refrain from teaching them other than to recognize that the technique is unfolding and showing how to escape.

Keeping it savagely simple

Police Judo is relatively easy to learn and use; it just takes practice. Under stress, fine and complex motors skills begin to decline when the heart rate exceeds 115 and 145 beats per minute respectively. In regards to the stressed brain, Bruce Siddle and David Grossman found that the 115-145 BPM range to be the optimal heart rate for survival and combat performance (code ‘red’).

To counter this negative physiological effect, environmental inoculation training (simulations and scenarios designed to stress the trainee, as utilized in Ken Murray’s Reality Based Training) is needed. This allows the least complex techniques to be performed under stress for lasting and meaningful training effects. Handcuffing alone while under realistic stress can pinpoint preventable control inadequacies and prevent many undesirable outcomes from occurring.

The adrenalin rush

The knowledge of how the human brain operates under adrenalin-dumping stress separates Police Judo training from that of most martial arts, especially those steeped in rules of sport. We drill our students to respond in the safest manner possible while keeping focused, not just on the target, but on their surroundings. We place them under some stress; breath control is very important in calming the mind so that rational thought can occur and peak performances can be achieved.

Having a winning mindset is also an important aspect of our training, since it enhances environmental awareness. Proper training to handle stress prevents freezing up and reduces tunnel vision.

Which schools and martial arts styles train to preserve, or at worst, accommodate the loss of fine and complex motor skills by at least keeping their skills savagely simple? Will the drills that are practiced allow the ‘reptilian brain’ to react in a safe manner? Are the nasty things like eye gouging and biting woven into the fight training, or are these harsh lessons left aside as afterthoughts and nice-to-know information only to be sadly learned on the street?

The street can be a cruel teacher

The ‘fight or flight’ brain, which kicks in upon the onset of adrenalin rush (heart rates above 175 beats per minute), is incapable of rational thought. Officers will default to their training, regardless if it is ‘safe.’ Tales of officers stripping a gun from a suspect and subsequently handing it back or doing unneeded gun malfunction drills in a battle instead of returning fire result from unsafe training practices and/or improper mindsets.

Police Judo regularly incorporates environmental inoculation into very basic and common scenarios, making our training more meaningful and effective. We put our students in some degree of stress in the most likely situations, such as arresting a non-compliant drunk outside of a bar while bellicose belligerents and vociferous, antipolice, cell-phone toting paparazzi are leaving. Such external stressful influences can make an officer act inappropriately.

Self-defence in context

While Judo is the foundational basis for Police Judo, many of our techniques have originated from an eclectic blend of martial art styles; all techniques, regardless of origin, have been placed within a context outside the realm of sport, or ‘self-defence’ for that matter. ‘Defensive tactics’ for policing also includes a good offence, as police do not get paid to be victimized. Police officers should not be attacking people as if it were some kind of ‘contest,’ nor should they do so for the sole purpose of penalizing or harming them. Offenders must be controlled and taken into custody; deadly threats must be neutralized, using lethal force if necessary.

All police officers have as their main goal going home to their loved ones after each shift. There are some anti-police dimwits who feel that officers, when they don their uniforms, somehow trade their right to defend themselves with deadly force. They are so wrong. The focus of this series has not been to downplay the right of police to stop deadly threats, but rather to offer a multitude of great arrest and control tactic tools you can use to arrest resistive and assaultive parties as safely as possible (for both the officer and the arrestee).

If people die, it is usually the consequence of suspects’ refusal to co-operate and their willingness to use lethal force; by their own violent actions those forms of resistance can quickly ramp up necessary use of force to reasonably justifiable deadly levels.

Force with ethical vigour

As modern warriors and society’s guardians, learn what you can (and need) and toss the rest away. Be prepared to use force judiciously and with minimal risk to all involved – serve it up with ethical vigour. If you absolutely must, then stop the threat your opponent poses by whatever means is needed. Lend your even and compassionate hand to those who struggle through life but be ready to take on the predators who would harm the flock. Walk softly but carry a big stick; wear a velvet glove over an iron fist. Let your sense of profound professionalism be your warrior code; let each stroke of your dispassionately forceful but judicious hand be the public’s protective shield.

You carry a badge that you can choose to honour or dishonour; you can either polish or tarnish it through your actions and deeds. The force is with you. Will the public stand by and respect your actions? What will they look like on the six o’clock news or YouTube? What will your friends and family think?

Let your sense of ethics temper your blows; do not let the fury of your temper drive your actions. It is easy to be ethical when you are in control.

Learning the essence of Police Judo is a huge step in the right direction of seizing and controlling a person rather than beating them into submission. Its philosophical and ethical underpinnings, coupled with numerous streetsmart techniques and tactics, aim to put you in solid control over those who resist your policing mandate and would do us all harm.

Al Arsenault is a former Vancouver police officer and a co-founded Odd Squad Productions. He currently specializes in teaching police combatives through his co-founding of Police Judo in 2010, is writing a book on Police Judo and teaching the essentials of this new martial art to police across North America. He can be contacted at oddsquadder@gmail.com

Al Arsenault is a former Vancouver police officer and a co-founded Odd Squad Productions. He currently specializes in teaching police combatives through his co-founding of Police Judo in 2010, is writing a book on Police Judo and teaching the essentials of this new martial art to police across North America. He can be contacted at oddsquadder@gmail.com

Toby Hinton A 23-year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department, Sergeant Toby Hinton heads up Squad 5 of the Beat Enforcement Team. Patrolling the streets of the Downtown Eastside on foot, Toby keeps close ties with a community that is not always easy to serve and protect. He can be contacted at oddsquadder@gmail.com

Thank you letter from Yo Bro/Yo Girl Youth Initiative

Dear Police Judo Team, 

On behalf of Yo Bro/Yo Girl Youth Initiative I would like to thank you for your generous gift. Your commitment to helping support youth in our community is sincerely appreciated.

Each year Yo Bro/Yo Girl Youth Initiative continues to advance its purpose to create a community where every youth feels valued, respected, successful, and resilient. Through our programs, we have seen many lives changed for the better.

The goal of the Yo Bro/Yo Girl Youth Initiative is to continue to make a difference in the lives of youth. With the help of donations from supporters such as yourselves we will continue to see increases in the number of students who are able to participate fully in our programs.

Thanks again for your generous support of our efforts to provide much need programming for our most vulnerable youth and their families.

Best wishes,

Joe Calendino
Executive Director
Yo Bro/Yo Girl Youth Initiative

“For vulnerable youth, resiliency is the ability to overcome adverse circumstances in order to live full, rewarding lives.  A key to doing so is the support provided by at least one caring and committed adult. Joe Calendino and the Yo Bro/Yo Girl program ensure that each student in their care, regardless of circumstances, receives unconditional support needed for success -- today, tomorrow and for years to come.”  Educator – Downtown Lower Eastside

Blue Line Article: Police Judo - Part 3

Police Judo - Part 3   
"Where Realism Meets the Road"  
by Toby Hinton and Al Arsenault

(this article was published on Blue Line Magazine in May 2016)

download original

Judo founder Jigoro Kano took the unsafe and destructive techniques meant for the battlefield from the plethora of jujutsu styles that existed in 1882. He added mats on which to practice, thereby making judo training safe for everyone.

Kano would likely applaud our removing the non-sporting and potentially injurious elements of judo and adapting them for police use in the no referees or mats venue of the street, especially in light of his precept of “mutual welfare and benefit.”

With Police Judo we have effectively transferred a level of care out of the training hall and onto the street. After all, no one deserves to be needlessly or roughly manhandled by police, especially the drugged, drunk, enraged or mentally ill, who are more often fighting themselves. The more dispassionate an officer can be when applying force, the better the outcome at all levels. That said, police are not paid to be punching bags or sacrificial lambs. Using force is clearly required. There has never been a greater need for accountability in police use of force, which is so often captured on video. There was no harsher testing grounds for using force than in the relatively violent and lawless streets of Vancouver’s Skid Road.

The goal of Police Judo is to train our students on how to safely take into custody those who have little regard for themselves or the officers lawfully depriving them of their liberty. As with any difficult job, you can get it done in a more efficient and professional manner if you have the right tools. We credit our well-stocked tactical tool box for having maximal effect while using minimal effort and destructiveness to affect our purpose. No officer is beyond the touch of evil but if one follows good tactics, has great technique and stays focused, the job can be a relatively low-risk profession (at least in Canada, where there is far less gun play!).

Street smarts

There is ‘dojo smart’ and ‘street smart’ private training available for police before and after they graduate. Realistic (non-sport) training is rather uncommon. Many non-police martial arts instructors haven’t had to deal with the tough and crazy people who routinely confront officers.

As police, we have all experienced hairy situations and many of us are still alive — and even sport all of our teeth! We have all had our share of lucky breaks but the rest comes from using superior tactics and techniques. Sadly, some of our brothers and sisters never live to tell their tales. There’s not much you can do if a bullet has your name on it. You can, and we say must, deal with the ones marked “To whom it may concern.” This is accomplished through diligent, long-term and realistic training. We began shunning traditional clubs as we grew in experience as beat cops, preferring to look for critical innovations and practical applications within the various martial arts we were involved in. Police Judo is not a martial art that requires the student to adapt classical dojo technique for use in the midst of a street brawl.

We have made the modifications for you. We found ourselves tripping over traditionalism, convention and impracticality, much inbred by the rules of sport and taught by instructors who hadn’t regularly dealt with violent offenders within the guidelines of the National Use of Force Framework. They could surmise or extrapolate about the nature of street violence but few had ever tested their skills and techniques on sweaty, bloody, dirty, infectious, chemically-crazed, mentally ill, street-wise, hardened criminals — or even angry drunks, for that matter.

Few have had to deal with drug-addicted people who had little to lose by biting off a piece of flesh, pushing you down stairs or knifing or shooting you just because you were doing your job. Fewer still have had to justify their use of force later in a court of law.

Realism vs idealism

So how does that single one-shot, one-kill, punch to the head work again after you’ve broken a tooth with your now-busted knuckles, possibly rendering your hand incapable of manipulating your desperately needed gun out of its level-three security holster?

How painful is that infectious bite to your forearm when you have a suspect in a head lock? How debilitating is it when an unseen buddy bottles your head from behind while in that dark and unfriendly laneway? How badly do you “blow a chip” when you get spat on while loading a drunk into the wagon? How does it feel to be shot through a door, swarmed by assailants or get run over by a car because some criminals had outstanding warrants or were doing something illegal that would see them jailed?

Maybe you lose teeth from a head butt that you never saw coming or break a leg when pushed in front of a moving car by a person in handcuffs. Over and above surviving, for those engaging in physical training, how does your current martial arts schooling or fitness regimen get you closer to putting handcuffs on a tough guy?

More questions worth pondering should include how ‘dojo smarts’ (and the consequences of ‘losing’) stack up against the ugly realities encountered on the street. How has your training prepared you to deal with the adrenaline rush, get you back into the fight when injured or stare down and handle the ugly face of unfettered (and at times, unimaginable) violence? What drill is the ‘reptilian brain’ screaming at you to do under high stress? What happened to your fine and complex motors skills when you needed them the most — to save your own life or that of a hapless victim?

The world of sport is a fantastic pursuit for those not putting themselves in harm’s way on the street. We are advising trainers to consider preparing police recruits and officers for the projected and guaranteed violent eventualities. Functional and tactically sound techniques and drills, not ‘art’ and ‘sport’ forms of fighting, are the much-needed remedies for violence.

Teaching ‘sport fighting’ and then insisting that students somehow make the requisite adaptations to gain physical control over criminal suspects may leave them a little unprepared to enter the law enforcement arena. In reality, hard arrests are often done under extreme stress and hopefully within the bounds, or legal parameters, of the Criminal Code.

Police need street-proven combative and controlling forms of pugilism steeped in practicality and legal reasonableness. Tools forged from the fires of reality-based practical training allow officers the best chance of ethically handling the situations that they will likely encounter on the street. It’s easy to be ethical when you are in control.

No ref, no rules

The difference between sport and street is huge. Some say that the Ultimate Fight Championship (UFC) is tantamount to a street fight. Although the players are extremely fit and often talented individuals, these modern gladiators rely on rules and referees to enforce them for their ‘survival’ in the ring. There are currently 31 rules and faults in UFC matches prohibiting eye gouging, biting, head butting and fish-hooking, not to mention requiring the wearing of protective gloves, adhering to weight classes and only permitting one-onone contests.

None of these rules apply to a true street fight, where an offender’s objective may very well be to kill or grievously injure an officer or civilian. Deadly force may be used in these cases to stop such a lethal threat. If there were no enforceable rules in the UFC then few would want to enter what could essentially be a death match.

Street fights are not determined by those who accumulate the most ‘points’ or on decisions by referees (or judges).

The outcome is the result of one party conceding defeat (which may not guarantee the fight ends) or both parties withdrawing (which still may not ensure the fight is done if others wish to get involved). Often a fight ends when one party cannot defend through injury, incompetence or intervention by other parties (friends, concerned citizens or persons in authority like the police). Some fights end because one or both parties are killed, especially when weapons are introduced into the fracas.

Every single day police officers collectively enter a ruthless arena where opponents may respect no rules of morality nor adhere to any kind of ethical use-of-force guidelines. Police (and some criminals) wear body armour to help minimize the deadly threats posed to their vital organs by knives and firearms.

Police officers must carry weapons and use back-up officers, if available, to help control extremely violent offenders. They must use reasonable force under very stressful do-ordie conditions requiring split-second critical analyses and action.

Physical altercations are subject to long microscopic dissections in criminal and civil courts and internal reviews and seemingly endless one-sided media hype. What type of force was used and was it done in good faith? Is the amount of force used objectively reasonable, subjectively justifiable and obviously necessary? Officers can be sent to jail for their actions so articulating how and why force was used is extremely important.

Role of sport

We know that functional fitness and physical literacy is critical to develop basic movements. A foundation in traditional judo basics and movement (or sport and athleticism in general) will assist with the layering of Police Judo tactics and techniques.

However, it is important to recognize that the purpose of a sport-based model (often focused on competition) is different than a training-based model like Police Judo (focused on preparing students to use force as a part of their job).

However, these are not mutually exclusive domains, and the law enforcement officer with a classical background in traditional judo can easily adopt and implement a recreational Police Judo program for training.

We find it helpful when teaching to distinguish between a sport and a law enforcement technique. If we are to believe that an individual will perform under pressure as they train, we want to ensure that we provide students with blueprinting available and accessible under stress. Techniques, drills and the training program need to be regularly reviewed to ensure the correct balance between developing basic movement and judo skills. The added ability to fuse force options techniques and carry the training through to an arrest and control conclusion is a major strength of our style.

Without the requisite non-competitive judo skill development, breakfall competency and basic movement proficiency, one runs the risk of creating a “fight club” environment where injuries will probably occur and membership will likely shrink. A regular canvassing of students involved with Police Judo training finds that fitness is one of the top priorities, and as a result, the workouts need to be physically challenging while keeping the training environment at low-risk for injury. Developing a strong judo base will reduce injuries in training and on the street.

Mutual welfare and benefit

Police Judo emphasizes Kano’s philosophy of “mutual welfare and benefit” (respect) by caring for one’s partner in training. As the student’s judo skills develop, respective tactical skills will be more surely acquired and reasonably applied.

A strong foundation in judo also helps provide a template for belt grading and promotion within the style. This kind of extrinsic motivator helps retain students over and above reaping the obvious benefits of developing a functional form of fitness.

Indeed, establishing a healthy martial artsbased lifestyle is very desirable for the law enforcement officer for a multitude of reasons, including keeping fighting fit.

One can assume that there are no rules when training in Police Judo but we do respect the obvious limitations of not hurting your training partner. For an extra dose of realism, you can stick your fingers into your training partner’s eyes but don’t push them in too far and be extra careful with those wearing contacts! Pull that pony tail! Watch out for biters!

The streets can be too unforgiving to be careless about how you ‘do the drill’ even with something as simple as standing up in a tactical manner. Focus on developing training which will allow you to take the least risky, most effective and ethically correct actions that can be done under dire circumstances. Showing each other’s failures on the mat will pay off when techniques are executed effectively on the street. Complacency in training, or a lack of street-proofing, could cost you or someone else their life.

Functional fitness

It has been said that the best educated person is the one who knows the most about the world in which they live. Many post-secondary institutions are churning out graduate after graduate in Criminology and Police Studies programs with little to no emphasis on developing basic physical literacy relating to use of force. Functional fitness and developing skills one can draw on during the adrenalin rush in the heat of battle demands proper training.

Police Judo should not be regarded only as a certification course but rather a lifestyle. By introducing training early, developing it as a low risk and life-long recreational training program, our hope is to expand the reach of Kano’s philosophy of mutual benefit and welfare into the world of law enforcement, pre-career, on the job and even into retirement.

Blue Line Article: Police Judo - Part 2

Police Judo - Part 2  
"The Art of Ownership"  
by Al Arsenault

(this article was published on Blue Line Magazine in April 2016)

Some of the techniques in police Judo have been altered to give the officer maximal advantage while enhancing the safety of the suspect being apprehended. Some techniques are great for sport use but horribly useless and even dangerous for the realities faced on the street. 

Police officers are duty-bound to follow a moral code of conduct — criminals are not. Our Canadian Criminal Code offers guidelines on reasonable use of force. It must be articulated as being both reasonable in the totality of the circumstances at hand and proportionate in its application. 

The courts take note of the relative interpersonal and environmental factors between officer and offender. Simply put, police officers have a duty to care, even for those who are trying to hurt them. Their assailants are not bound by any ethical or moral constraints in trying to harm an officer or the public. 

Predators are mainly accountable, if apprehended, to the criminal courts for their actions; it is the job of police to capture them in a humane way, without being punitive, and see that they face the requisite justice. 

A primary goal of Police Judo is to strive for immediate, continuous and effective control over an arrestee. This process is commonly referred to as ‘taking ownership’ over a person — to handcuff a resistive person, for example, you first must ‘own’ them. This is easier said than done. 

It has been said that an officer cannot handcuff someone who refuses to be shackled — but suspects who fight the handcuffing process are not set free, of course. Multiple officers can work together to achieve this difficult task. 

Owning a person is the initial but critical step in making a physical arrest. Officers who unwittingly give up a controlling hand by brandishing the handcuffs before making physical contact make the process much more difficult. They hope the cuffs will somehow find their way to the suspects’ wrists, and that the mere placement of a handcuff on one wrist will take away their fight. It seldom works this way. 

After the altercation is over, the handcuffs are usually not where they should be for easy access –— on the belt — but rather inadvertently cast aside when both hands were needed to take control over the violently struggling (if not attacking) arrestee. It is very difficult to close the gap and own someone with only a single hand. 

Unlike drawing in preparation for an anticipated shooting some officers erroneously conclude they are actually one step ahead if they pull out their handcuffs prior to taking ownership of a violent party. In reality, they have only handicapped themselves. 

It is not enough to use Police Judo just to defend yourself. Violent people must still be taken into custody using a reasonable amount of force after an assault has been initiated, thwarted or repelled. Nor do the rules of sport apply, as the crook doesn’t have to follow any rules. 

Still, the officer must adhere to a code of conduct on the criminal, civil and agency levels of accountability. Even the media holds some sway, as many officers have been unfairly vilified in the press by anyone with a mouth big enough to capture the attention of sensation-seeking media during the predictable, but often necessary, pre-trial period of ‘no comment’ silence. 


 There is no perfect martial art for policing and no one good way of taking custody over a person. How this delicate dance is done depends on the actions and skills of your arrestee and your own physical traits, skills and street experience. 

 All we can do as trainers is to strip martial arts styles, such as Judo, of their sport-driven, less-effective, non-street-worthy techniques and blend them together with solid arrest and control tactics for full effect. It is important to have a functionally effective box of tools. 

 The goal of the arrest process should be to take control over non-compliant arrestees in an ethical manner to safely handcuff them. 

 Many police tactics books show some neat-looking arrest techniques but simply gloss over the part where the suspect has to be handcuffed. This is because the transition to cuffing is awkward, inefficient or just plain difficult (and even unsafe) to attempt. Police Judo meets this challenge by dealing with the ‘most likely’ of street arrest scenarios while leading officers directly into safe handcuffing practices. The training is very practical and directly relevant to policing. 

 Few practicing Judo players will ever make the Olympic team; fewer still will be in a high-violence vocation which requires them to refine their techniques on the street, and only a handful of these martial artists will ever join a police department. Police Judo has made those refinements for police. It is ripe for further development and wide dissemination. 

 We can change the police training culture or climate by focusing on younger people who want to, or recently have, entered law enforcement. Judo as a base martial art provides a strong foundation for the more complex arrest and control skills that will be layered in and practiced recreationally as a safe training program with little to no risk of injury. 

 The throws and trips that we practice are not to acquire tournament points or to be used for punitive purposes. Rather, they are executed to put resistive or combative arrestees into the prone handcuffing position or otherwise control them by placing them into the standing compliant handcuffing position. Punching and kicking too are part of the Police Judo arsenal. Other techniques are used to initially capture disorderly parties and escort them to a safe environment for handcuffing. 

 Holding vs Controlling 

 There is an important distinction between ‘holding’ and ‘controlling’ a person. Holding is just that — grabbing without any regards to immobilizing them, as with a painful joint lock. It does not effectively reduce escapes or attacks on you or others nearby. 

 In the most basic untrained police sense, ‘making a collar’ (grabbing offenders by the scruff of the neck) is merely attempting to keep them from running away. If they choose to punch or kick you, you could affect their balance and possibly push them to the ground (or even disengage) but it is a relatively ineffective, riskier and more inefficient means to lay hands on someone. 

 The best place to grab, if you have only one hand free and want to have a good chance of avoiding an assault, is the sleeve just above the back of the elbow. You may actually grab the arm at this same place with one or both hands (especially if the suspect is shirtless). 

 You may also grab using the well-known side-by-side escort grip, using your nearhand at the elbow and other hand at the wrist. Whatever the perp does to attack you, you ‘punch’ (strongly push) their elbow in the direction against their launching attack to nullify its power. 

 Sweeping suspects off their feet, taking them down, launching your own striking attack, placing them in an arm lock or disengaging are all available options while you occupy the pugilistic ‘blind spot’ (beside and slightly behind the front plane of the body). 

 Continuous control is stressed because perps will sense a lapse of control, even if it’s momentarily, realize they’re about to lose their liberty and act in their own best interests. Once the pain train has begun, it must be maintained through a seamless series of techniques applied as to give a perp no opportunity to gain the upper hand. Easing up on joint pressure could give them room to escape or attack you, leading to more violence on both sides of the arrest process. 

 Poor techniques and tactics lead to what is essentially police-precipitated violence — the parent causes of many unnecessary and excessive use-of-force complaints. Certainly the loss of control over a suspect will lengthen a physical altercation; the longer it takes to own someone, the greater the chance of an injury occurring on both sides of the fence. 

 Arrestees will more readily listen to your commands to co-operate, not with their ears, but rather through the application of a pain-inducing joint lock or pressure point. Indeed, for those capable of feeling, the strategic and controlled application of pain is universally understood. 

Al Arsenault is a former Vancouver police officer and a co-founded Odd Squad Productions. He currently specializes in teaching police combatives through his co-founding of Police Judo in 2010, is writing a book on Police Judo and teaching the essentials of this new martial art to police across North America.
Al Arsenault will be leading a session during the Blue Line Conference in April. Visit www.blueline.ca for more details or to register.

 Coming up in next issues:

 PART THREE — Where Realism Meets the Road

• Accountability
• Street Smarts
• Realism vs Idealism
• No Ref, No Rules

PART FOUR — Training For Effect

• Going to the Ground
• Keeping it Savagely Simple
• The Adrenaline Rush

Blue Line Article: Police Judo - Part 1

Police Judo - Part 1  
"A new martial art is born"  
by Al Arsenault

(this article was published on Blue Line Magazine in March 2016)

Police Judo is a new martial art created by and for police. The police careers of the authors have spanned more than half a century, much of it spent patrolling "skid road," and we spent more than 70 years studying various martial arts. 
Our training hall was located at the old police station gym by Main and Hastings ('Pain and Wastings') squarely within this festering and squalid neighbourhood. Our police gym was a sterile and clinical setting amidst a cesspool of crime, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, poverty and general depravity that almost defies human imagination. 
With personal arrest rates topping 1,100 per year (not including picking up drunks), this physically tough beat proved at times to be a highly volatile crucible of carnage and chaos. Superior control tactics were a necessity in this horribly depressed neighbourhood, a shark-infested gutter of atrocities and antipolice activism. The decent and downtrodden constantly fight to exist and police help them to do so under very trying and challenging circumstances. 
Police judo was not created as a type of fighting per se but as a means to take resistive and combative people into custody using as little brute force as possible. The practical and innovative assimilation and fusion of ancient Judo techniques (grabbing, unbalancing, throwing/tripping, etc.) with modern police arrest and control tactics (joint locks, takedowns and throws) assists the handcuffing process. 
Some of the techniques are new but most have been altered and modified from existing martial arts specifically for police use. Students do not learn a martial art that must be adapted for use on the street. We strive to keep all vestiges of sporting applications, convention and traditionalism out of our training, as ' street' and ' sport' do not safely mix. Police Judo is a street-proofed martial art designed to ethically control those being arrested with minimal risk to all parties involved. 

The need for Police Judo

According to StatsCan (2008), 70 per cent of assaults against peace officers typically involved other offences like obstruction of a peace officer (36 per cent), level one assault (21 per cent), uttering threats (18 per cent), mischief (14 per cent), failure to comply with a disposition (11 per cent) and breach of probation (nine per cent). Only 14 per cent of these assaults involved a weapon and only one per cent of all assaults resulted in the officer needing medical attention. 
There were about 3,600 cases of assault against peace officers in adult court in 2006/2007, so impactful assaults are not rare events. 
We introduced all Washington state police use-of-force trainers to Police Judo in May 2014. A US border agent laughed when we explained the purpose of our trip, noting that that's why they carry guns and pepper spray; he essentially felt that hands-on training was redundant. Perhaps from his caged perch he could see no real reason for developing such skills. Try policing our skids with that kind of attitude, we thought- he wouldn't last a week. 
It seems that 'gadget reliance' is outstripping the perceived need to cultivate solid arrest and control tactics. We are offering, in many cases, best-practice techniques and tactics for use in the field. Our way is not the only way but our arrest and control tactics have been adapted and altered through the trials and errors of extensive 'field testing.' 
The techniques have often been executed under extreme and harsh conditions that the criminal-minded, drug and alcohol induced, psychotic or mentally ill have laid out at our feet like physical and emotional land mines - or thrown into our faces like virtual vats of acid. The hard-won and sage experience offered in this training is coming from those who have dealt with high volume arrest rates over many collective decades of beat policing. 
Police Judo was not merely born out of the creative juices of seasoned martial artists sitting around the edges of a mat pontificating about what violence is like; rather it was forged from the fires of violence and even fear itself. The crime rates are off the CompStat charts in this besotted neighbourhood; the high rate of violence in particular typifies the nature of policing such a ghettoized neighbourhood. 
This is not weekend warrior or sleepy hollow, speculative stuff- this is top-notch use-offorce training coming from battle-hardened veterans of the meanest streets of Vancouver. 
Police Judo aims to fulfill a basic need which today's street policing demands: 'peace officers' taking people safely into custody to prevent crime and restore peace to society. With the unprecedented degree of social media oversight coupled with anti-police activism (blue lives matter!), society at large is crying for the ethical use of force.   


Our goal in creating Police Judo is to give officers great tools to keep everyone involved as safe as possible during and even after the handcuffing process. It uses finesse and superior tactics over brawn and brute force. There is no need for unfettered, unethical violence merely because you can do so, legitimately or not. 
Fortunately, the vast majority of police officers conduct themselves in a highly professional manner. Those who do 'go caveman' on a person resisting their control are not necessarily 'bad' officers, rather their 'bag of tricks ' is sadly lacking or they are unable to deal with the adrenaline rush that comes with the rough stuff. 
They lash out with batons, boots, and bare fists because their arrest and control repertoire is severely limited in scope and largely driven by fear; they flounder because their toolboxes are tragically devoid of useful and effective tools, ones which could put them emotionally and physically in control of potentially violent situations. 
It is easy to be ethical when you are in control of a situation. An officer needs skills far beyond firearms training (and even those involving other belt tools) to take people into custody. Using force is all about the context where it is used; it must be reasonable, not merely minimal, to be justified. The days of the dark back alley are over; they're now well lit and likely to have video cameras. 

Ethical use of force

The philosophical base for Police Judo is unlike that of most striking martial arts in that our goal is not to destroy but to control the opponent; grappling arts accentuate limb control but with the goal of getting an opponent to submit as an end in itself. We concentrate on techniques that are 'low-risk' and ' high-yield' in nature, thereby providing a strong ethical base for our use-of-force options. 
The opponent drives the level of force used in any physical altercation; the type and duration of the resistance offered dictates how long and strong such requisite force is applied. The altercation ends when: 1. offenders choose to comply and submit to the officer 's attempts to gain control and handcuff them as part of a lawful arrest or, 2. they are forced into handcuffs. 
In some cases officers are defending against an outright attack; otherwise they are using force to thwart physical resistance by those being handcuffed. Such a demanding task requires great tactics, considerable skill (both solely and as a partnership/team) and a finesse that may not be totally appreciated by the viewing public nor trumped by cute dojo tactics. 
We do not enter into (rule-bound) competitions, do patterns (kata or forms), nor are we too interested in 'art form' techniques that are merely pretty to look at or fanciful and complex in application. Most martial arts clubs do not encourage using their skills on the street except for self-defence. We expect our students to make good use of their skills, primarily if they are acting in a law enforcement role. 

Training is key

Police officers, corrections staff, security personnel, loss prevention officers, doormen and others have all related how well the ethical application of Police Judo techniques have served them. They understand that under stress, officers will perform as they are trained; the building of a sound tactical base, while incorporating effective techniques into realistic training, is an essential skill to have in the real world of law enforcement. 
Performing detailed scenario-based training is ideal but if time and resources do not permit, then emphasizing 'best practice' and practicing 'most-likely' effective aspects of arrest and control tactics can be done on the cheap. Indeed, simulation-based training tries to replicate situations likely to be encountered on the street - this is an effective way to train. 
Any takedowns on the mats can be turned into mini-scenarios through the creativity of the instructor. For example, assailant(s) can be sent in to test the tactics of students performing mock arrests and subsequent handcuffing. If students choose to disengage, do they continue watching the assailant? How do they deal with multiple assailants? Do they watch their partner's back? Do they speak effectively and show a strong command (force) presence? 
Injury rates tend to climb if students are allowed to train full-on combatively in a competitive manner; realism includes, and incurs, injuries. Special care must be taken to protect trainees whose future and current careers depend on being injury free. That said, we have no rules except to care for your partner. 
Care and concern extends onto the street with people that we are duty-bound to deal with. 

Al Arsenault is a former Vancouver police officer and a co-founded Odd Squad Productions. He currently specializes in teaching police combatives through his co-founding of Police Judo in 2010, is writing a book on Police Judo and teaching the essentials of this new martial art to police across North America. 

Al Arsenault will be conducting a lecture and training session at the Blue Line Conference in April. Visit www.blueline.ca for more details or to register.

Coming up soon: 


• Police Judo - Continuous Control
• The Art of Ownership
• Handcuffing
• Holding vs Controlling


• Police Judo - Where Realism Meets the Road
• Accountability
• Street Smarts
• Realism vs Idealism
• No Ref, No Rules


• Police Judo - Training For Effect
• Going to the Ground
• Keeping it Savagely Simple
• The Adrenaline Rush


BCCLA article about Police Judo

In praise of police judo

Police Judo


During law school, I contemplated going on to do a Master’s Degree in Criminology at Oxford. I even pitched the head of the department with a thesis proposal: Police Judo. My thesis would be about how judo is effective in reducing violence in police encounters. The Criminology degree was a road not taken, but I remained convinced that ‘ju-do’ (‘the gentle way’) should play an important role in police use-of-force.

Turns out, some members of the Vancouver Police Department had exactly the same idea 20-some years ago. The evolution of their work and thinking has created a judo-based program that incorporates elements of other marital arts, and is designed specifically as a practical toolkit for police use-of-force encounters.

And how is this a civil liberties issue? Simply put, police accountability for their use of force is central to the mission of civil liberties. Of course we want oversight and review of reports of excessive use of force by police. But even more critically, we want police to use appropriate force in the first place. The BCCLA is deeply interested in how police are trained in use-of-force and prepared to advocate for any program that we think ‘gets it right’. I’ve had a look at one of the three Police Judo clubs in the Lower Mainland. And I think they really get it right.


I went to observe an introductory class held at SFU. Some of the differences between traditional judo and Police Judo were immediately evident, starting from no bowing and no Japanese words. But one of the key differences is that Police Judo is non-competitive. Anyone who registers can attend (you don’t have to be a member of the police) and it’s a great workout and way to learn self-defence. But Police Judo is not a sport you can compete in. You can achieve higher ranks based on your knowledge and skill, but there are no tournaments. The focus is on learning the techniques and taking care of the person you are working with, not beating them.

Police Judo session at SFU

Police Judo introductory class held at SFU. BCCLA Policy Director Micheal Vonn in front row in black.

After a big group warm-up and series of exercises, the class I attended broke into two groups. One group did more traditional judo, learning how to do breakfalls and throws. The other group did more policing-specific exercises and concentrated on control skills, like joint manipulation techniques, to safely take someone to the ground during an altercation. After, the groups came together for a final session, which involved a policing scenario, so the participants could try using the techniques in a closer-to-real-life context.

While ending a fight/attack is undoubtedly something that police are called upon to do, the essence of effective and ethical use of force is to avoid the fight in the first place. The Police Judo website notes that the process of trying to bring a person into custody is generally the time of highest risk for violence in police encounters. So the instructors were constantly pointing out how, for example, holding a person’s arm one way gives them enough room to swing around with a kick, but changing the hold can prevent that happening. Everyone’s safer when the fight is avoided.


Policy Director, Micheal Vonn, with her judo club, back in the feathered bangs era.

Policy Director, Micheal Vonn, with her judo club, back in the feathered bangs era.

But don’t police learn these critically important techniques in basic policing training? Well, some, but not all, and maybe not effectively. It’s one thing to be shown some techniques and another to have them so engrained that you can and will actually use them. Police Judo recognizes that this learning needs to be on-going. Regular practice is what’s required to have the techniques effectively available in real-life, chaotic, high-stress encounters. Reacting appropriately in an instant is almost impossible if you have to think through the steps, as opposed to responding in a way that is practically automatic because the movement pattern is so well established. Practice doesn’t make perfect, necessarily. But practice makes possible what otherwise gets overridden by stress and fear responses. The establishment of Police Judo clubs allows for this practice to be developed early, by recruits and applicants, and refined over years of police service.


One retired police officer was telling me that there is now so much gear/weapons that go on the standard officer tool belt that his daughter, who is now in the police force, hasn’t got a big enough waist to hold up the belt. As the National Use of Force Framework makes clear, there are times when use of a weapon is the appropriate police response. Police Judo is not about those times. It is about the infinitely more common, daily police encounters, often involving extremely vulnerable individuals, for which weapons are entirely the wrong answer and a vastly different toolkit is needed.

We congratulate the Law Enforcement Judo Association in making this innovative and important training available and we hope to see the Police Judo approach expand and become an acknowledged best practice in Canadian policing.

Original article on: bccla.org/2016/01/in-praise-of-police-judo

Police Judo Junior Program Overview 2015

Police Judo Junior Program Overview 2015

We hope you had a great Fall semester in 2015 with Police Judo.  It is hard to believe that we are fast approaching the start of 2016!

Starting in January 2016 the Police Judo Junior program will be a sanctioned Judo BC club. Students will have to be registered with Judo BC and belong to the Judo BC Association. This will allow for the opportunity to compete in tournaments, special camps and clinics, and will provide the insurance coverage for the programming. 

Over 20 years ago, our current Police Judo Association President Tim Laidler and the Tactical Training Centre Police Judo Head Instructor Brian Shipper were running Police Judo practices to a handful of committed police officers out of the old VPD gym at 312 Main St. In 2003 the Police Judo Junior Program started at the 312 Main St. Police Station gym, holding practices every Sunday morning. Now we are in our 12th consecutive year of running Junior Judo Programs (started with VPD Kids Judo, including Pleasantside Elementary Police Judo Juniors, Moody Middle Police Judo Juniors, Ray Cam Judo, and currently the SFU Police Judo Junior program now offered 3 times a week).

The Junior program was developed through the instruction of Sgt. Toby Hinton, Chin-I Hsiang, Sgt. Mark Steinkampf (also helping deliver drug education and judo workshops in high schools) and later Sergei Zamjitski and Yoon Choi (currently running Ray Cam Community Centre judo). A new addition to the Police Judo Junior program is instructor Tak Izumi from Ishikawa Judo Club. He is now joined up with Police Judo and is helping instruct both seniors and juniors. Together with dedicated volunteers from the senior Police Judo program and in partnership with other agencies such as Yo Bro Youth Initiative (under the direction of Joe Calendino) the program has grown significantly. The volunteers assist with mat preparation, extra oversight for the Junior Judo classes in a fun and safe environment. 

In the summer of 2016 we will be entering into our fifth consecutive summer camp at SFU!

The Police Judo Summer camp highlights a variety of sports including track and field, soccer, wrestling, rugby, as well as linking judo to self defence training. The program is a whirlwind of sport activity on top of all the judo drills! The summer camp receives incredible support from our Police Judo senior belts and volunteer coaches. Police Judo black belt Paul Blundel is one of our key instructors for this program, taking annual leave every summer to help deliver the camp. Past guest instructors have included Naoko Mori (former silver medalist - Canadian Nationals), and Sandra Hewson from Kensington Judo Club.

In addition to the established Police Junior Judo programs, our instructors and volunteer coaches have delivered Police Judo training clinics at school presentations throughout BC and the N.W.T.The Police Judo Junior program is a recreationally-based program designed to help youth develop physical literacy, athletic ability, judo basics, and provides an introduction to the basic philosophy of judo: learning how to take care of one's partner. Students are introduced to partner drills, break falls, throws and groundwork.

The youth who grow and develop can progress into working out and training with the adult Police Judo classes, and for those interested there is the opportunity to practice competitive judo in a tournament setting (this is the focus of the Monday Advanced Police Junior Judo class, instructed by Tak Izumi and Chin-I Hsiang, along with some seniors and black belts from from Ishikawa Family Club). 

One of the new coaches for the Junior Judo Program is Dante St. Prix from Ishikawa Judo Club, a former national champion in judo. Please find attached a few photos highlighting the Police Judo Junior program over the years. It should be noted that some of the kids have grown up now – Launa Hinton started with VPD Kids Judo when she was 3 ½ years old. She is now a carded athlete on the Provincial Team for Judo and finished with a silver medal in the Nationals in 2015 in Quebec. She is pictured below with Migs Mercado who has been training and competing as well (with Abbotsford Judo) and is doing very well with Police Judo. Both Launa and Migs have qualified for the BC Winter Games for 2016. 

We are also pleased to see many of the former Police Judo members have progressed on to a law enforcement career. We hope to see the members not only enjoy our training, but also gain experience in skill development, fitness, volunteerism, leadership and friendship.



An Odd X-mas Party

On December 1st, 2015 a large contingent of Police Judo volunteers were out in full force to help support the Odd Squad's annual Odd X-mas party. The evening was hosted by local author and musician Aaron Chapman and featured the legendary Jim Byrnes on guitar. Central City Brewery provided the comfortable space for the 200+ guests. Odd Squad Productions is a charitable organization founded almost twenty years ago by many of the same principals who founded Police Judo. Below is an article from Blush Magazine highlighting the night:


The “Odd Christmas Party” an evening with Jim Byrnes


Whether you have heard of them yet or not, Odd Squad members have been making a difference in our city’s most troubled area since 1997.  A group of concerned Down Town East Side (DTES) beat cops decided to “take something out of that sordid mess that we were tasked with policing and make it positive” was how founding member and new Executive Director, Tobin Hinton, described the beginning. Operating as a charitable entity, the group does not receive any funding or financial support from the Vancouver Police Department and the contributors are made up of police officers, retired officers, and volunteers. This year’s annual Christmas fundraiser was held at Central City on Beatty Street and it was packed.

The Legendary Jim Byrnes at the Odd X-mas party

The Legendary Jim Byrnes at the Odd X-mas party

The original team created a “reality type” drug education presentation for youth and the community. They began filming documentaries through Odd Squad Productions, which are now presented across the country.  The goal is to educate youth about the realities of life on the street and the devastation caused by drug use and gang life. Tobin, who served 24 years in the DTES as a street cop, explained how the devastation on the street is a real shock when it is presented from a reality point of view. “A lot of the film subjects we were friends with from the street, many are no longer with us. Serena Abbotsway was one of the first victims identified on Pickton’s farm…April Reoch, Tears for April, she was murdered in 2000. We have strong personal connections and the need will always be there.”

Di Zoppa - OSP President and Toby Hinton OSP Executive Director

Di Zoppa - OSP President and Toby Hinton OSP Executive Director

Juno award winner and Entertainment Hall of Famer, Jim Byrnes, sits on the board of directors for Odd Squad and also gives of his time to perform at the fundraising events.  Between sets I caught up with Jim to find out why he was so passionate about supporting this cause. “I’ve got some real good friends who were the guys who started this.  Myself, I was on that street at one time in my life, I know what life on the street is like and I know how things can go. A couple bad decisions and things can go wrong.  I was lucky to have people that loved me and I was able to walk away from that street.” Jim went on to share, “I think that the work that we do with the Odd Squad to show what can happen and to show young people how to make better decisions is so important…I will support it to the bitter end.”

Diana Zoppa, the new president, got her start with Odd Squad back in 1998 when she organized their first fundraiser at the Commodore. “I’ve been with them ever since.” Diana shared some thoughts as the successful event came to a close. “Our goal was about $40,000 and I am sure we met it.” The next event for Odd Squad Productions? “We have an event that we do in May called Jewels and Jeans which we have always done at Birks.” Plans for 2016? “We are going to educate as many kids as we can with Peer2Peer programs, give more presentations all over the lower mainland and produce 3 big films. We are also really focused on gang awareness.”

The Odd Squad and the Police Judo Volunteers after a hard night of work!

The Odd Squad and the Police Judo Volunteers after a hard night of work!

A great cause and a really great group of people giving a tremendous amount back to the community. If you would like more information, please go to www.oddsquad.com


Lead story on Blue Line magazine - October 2015

Original article on Blue Line: www.blueline.ca/articles/tactical_repositioning

Tactical Repositioning

Moving out of the Spotlight
by Al Arsenault

There has been significant lop-sided media coverage on recent shootings of ‘unarmed’ subjects, especially those armed with non-firearm weapons. Apart from the howls of racism, much of the focus, particularly stateside, has been on distance between combatants and the ensuing time (and number of shots) needed to stop the unfolding threat. 

The Las Vegas Police Department has decided to include de-escalation techniques in use-of-force training. 

There are two major issues with deadly threat situations: a basic deficiency in the public understanding of the use of lethal force (and possibly) a lack of training in how to make critical decisions in deadly force calls. 

The great social divide between the community and police is magnified when police are forced to save their own lives by using deadly force as per their training. Some blacks and all police haters see the outcome as mentally ill black men or innocent ‘unarmed’ teens being “gunned down by trigger-happy cops.” 

This article’s purpose is threefold: 

  1. To help police review the situationally underutilized tactic of using cover when facing a non-firearm weapon or even bodily force; 
  2. To allow officers to escape much of the unwanted post-shooting aftermath by using such cover as an (apparent) attempt to spare the aggressor’s life; and
  3. To help save the lives of people who are in essence committing ‘suicide by cop’ by buying time for the use of additional tactical options. 

The racial fence appears to be growing higher by the day. The Michael Brown shooting and, to a lesser degree, the proximal St. Louis shooting of Kajieme Powell, (which unlike the Brown shooting, was caught in its entirety on video) has brought the issue of police use of deadly force to the forefront for discussion. 

Police in the latter case were quick to report the facts rather than provide the usual conspiracy-inspiring “No comment.” Powell charged at officers with a knife and, according to standard training protocol, they neutralized the deadly threat he presented. That protocol is largely based upon three factors: 

  1. Does the assailant have a weapon capable of causing grievous bodily harm or death to the officer or others? 
  2. Was the assailant ordered to drop the weapon and did they do so? 
  3. Did the offender keep advancing? This simple check list does not account for all situations encountered on the street. 

Could more be done to spare a life? When shootings have an appearance of being deserving and post-shooting actions reflect lifesaving care, not disdain for the offender, public trust and confidence in the police can be maintained despite the tough circumstances for both the police agency and community. 

The family of the ‘victim’ seldom back deadly police actions. Body cameras are a technological advancement that will do much to show the stark realities of deadly threats that officers must face. In time, and with public education about the handling of potentially deadly threats, the divide between police and the public may shrink. 

Whether so stated or not, some people are hell-bent on killing themselves by attacking police and often there’s little that can be done to prevent those sorry outcomes. 

There is always the possibility of using less-lethal options, but only if they are actually available at that moment, using them does not jeopardized officer lives and lethal over-watch is in place. 

Even the appearance of trying to spare an attacker’s life can go a long way to quell the notion that police are murderous, racist, uncaring thugs, because nothing could be further from the truth. 

Furthermore, attempting to save the offender’s life after the threat has been neutralized can go a long way in appeasing the critical eye of the public. 

Making every effort to provide swift medical attention, ensuring that ambulance assistance is a priority (and radio traffic shows this was the case), even if all these efforts are done in the face of a grim prognosis, is much better for the officer, the critical public and, most importantly, ensuing legal proceedings. 

Time is of the essence  

To be clear, I strongly advocate using lethal force to stop deadly threats and do not favour seeing police officers hung out to dry (“thrown under the bus”) merely for protecting themselves and the public. 

If a ‘man with a knife’ can get close enough to an officer, he certainly has the potential to injure or kill, regardless of whether he is bleeding from gunshot wounds, mentally ill, an upstanding, church-going family man or what have you. 

Officers cannot merely take a single shot and then assess the damage, if any, to the person charging headlong at them. It’s very difficult to hit a moving target anywhere with a handgun under extreme stress and there’s no guarantee the shot will drop a person instantaneously. 

Taking cover is therefore a prudent tactic even when confronting an inferior weapon. Officers should move to find cover, if possible, to stay safe. 

Once the survival process of pulling the trigger to stop the threat has begun, it is impossible to instantly stop shooting. Making the decision to shoot, to actively pull the trigger, to assess the results, to decide to stop shooting and to physically stop pulling the trigger all take precious fractions of seconds to unfold. This adds up to the possibility of ‘extra’ rounds being fired by an often adrenalized officer in fear for their life. 

These brave public servants deserve to go home to their families and to be supported by the public. Some of the ignorant or misinformed members of society say police should risk a close quarter combat lethal encounter, use a lesser weapon, shoot the knife out of the attacker’s hand or otherwise stop them with a well-aimed leg shot. They must be educated about the huge difference between what is done by fictional characters portrayed in television and movies and what is actually possible in real life (and death) on the street. 

Taking cover 

When responding to ‘man with knife’ calls officers should consider pulling up well short of the subject to automatically build up a functional reactionary gap (buffer zone), seek immediate cover (their patrol car is an obvious choice) or consider a tactical retreat, if possible, for protection from the obvious threat. First responders arriving on foot should immediately look for cover to negotiate from. 

This is not to say officers should shy away from their duty of protecting the public if there is a risk to safety that would likely preclude disengagement. 

However, if the situation permits, using a barrier to ‘hide’ behind should not be viewed as an act of cowardice but as a tactically savvy strategy when discretionary time is available. 

Seeking and using an obstacle places a physical barrier directly in the charging offender’s path, buying the officer more time. The assailant must now deal with that barrier. The additional time creates opportunities to: 

  • Assess the situation and decide what to do about it as dispassionately and expeditiously as possible. 
  • Negotiate with the possibly suicidal (by cop) party. 
  • Deploy less-lethal response options (if available) over the top of, or around, the adopted barrier. 
  • Create precious time for additional resources (including less-lethal response options) to be brought to the scene by nearby back-up officers (if available). 
  • Choose a safer backdrop for discharging a firearm while the surroundings are physically panned. 
  • Think more clearly from behind the safety of solid cover. 

Some officers may tend to stand out in the open because they believe their superior weapon can effectively deal with the threat posed. They may feel reluctant to back away and are essentially using their firearm as a form of ‘cover.’ Some police are trained to look for cover when dealing with edged weapon threats; shooting knife wielders upon first contact is less likely to happen. 

Many officers wait in the open until it’s almost too late to defend themselves. Indeed police often underutilize force even when legally authorized to use it. They would likely be even more reluctant to do so in this hypercritical climate of the current witch hunt against police who use force and the omnipotent gaze of the iPhone paparazzi. 

Let them video away. The perp usually drives the need to use force and can make it stop at any time simply by complying with commands. Take cover or not, the end result may be that the knife-wielder is shot but this deadly game has more far-reaching ramifications than a person dying, as tragic as that is. Think of an officer’s career and personal problems stemming from the stress levels and concomitant years of investigations, inquiries and other legal proceedings. 

What about the social, financial, emotional, reputational and community struggles the officer and agency have to deal with long after the gun smoke clears? On the other side of the fence, what about the ramifications for the deceased person’s family? How does the video (often now arising far more often, even from police-worn body cams) appear to the community? A person brandishing a blade and stalking police is not thinking clearly. Can the outcome of “bringing a knife to a gun fight,” and the optics of the subsequent shooting, be influenced in a more positive way? 

Options and optics 

Have you ever tried chasing someone around a full-size car? In 2007, shortly after I retired, I intervened to assist in ejecting an individual from a 7-11 store. He pulled a knife and attempted to chase me down. I kept him on the other side of a parked vehicle and immediately called 911. My would-be assailant soon realized that he couldn’t catch me as we each had an equal ability to run around the vehicle. 

Informal testing seems to indicate that running around a tight perimeter of a vehicle evens out a chase in a manner a straight-line foot pursuit would not. His foot pursuit was truly futile as I had 22 feet of perimeter distance between us as I maintained an antipodal position to him. I had time on my side to call police and if I had carried pepper spray, I could have safely tried it in this particular situation. (Yes, you can use pepper spray against a knife holder if the situation is right.) 

I acknowledge that some officers work alone in rural settings, totally isolated, standing on frozen ground on highly uneven terrain, without nearby back up, etc. The consequences of tripping and falling could be far more serious than merely losing a stable platform from which to defend yourself. There are certainly many situations in which allowing yourself to be actively stalked by a knife wielder (for the sake of exhausting every possibility) rather than immediately shooting would not be tactically prudent. 

Roll back the surveillance video to determine if taking safe cover was possible but not utilized against a relatively drunk man with a knife who was unsteady on his feet. 

Which scenario would have resulted in fewer repercussions for the officer, the community and in court: the officer openly standing in front of nearby cover and shooting after commands to drop the knife failed, or the officer taking cover and trying to talk him down, calling for less lethal options and otherwise delaying direct lethal engagement of the threat? 

Several problems would have been resolved in the St. Louis shooting had officers taken a position of cover behind their police car rather than driving right up to and openly facing the deadly threat that Mr. Powell presented. It’s all about options and optics; creating more time allows for more options to be considered, making the optics of any shooting less painful to view and easier to support by a concerned and often highly-critical public, the courts and use-of-force oversight boards. 

How much less justification would officers have had to do to the judgmental public and overzealous scrutinizers had they challenged him to drop the knife from behind physical cover? 

Directing Mr. Powell to drop his weapon from behind the ‘cover’ of their sidearms looks far different than doing so from behind a vehicle. Police do not have a duty to retreat (unless they choose to do so for tactical reasons) but standing out in the open in front of a mentally ill, drug-impaired or enraged person is not a tactically sound position to take when cover is available. 

If attempts to communicate fail, that exposed position would likely eliminate any other possible option BUT to shoot. Is it ‘justified’? Probably. Is it absolutely necessary? Maybe, maybe not. Taking cover, a basic police tactic used against individuals armed with a firearm, is a strategy worth considering in dealing with armed offenders who don’t have guns. 

Cause the subject to do more than just approach you. By trying to resolve the situation without the initial (and slightly delayed, if safe) use of a firearm against someone chasing you around a car (or other useful barrier) looks far better than shooting an armed subject who crosses an imaginary 21’ line. 

Police-precipitated homicide 

‘Police-precipitated homicide’ (violence) encompasses the use of poor tactics, like failing to take available cover or getting unnecessarily or prematurely too close to a threat. This ultimately leads to a shooting because a fear of loss of life becomes an imminent reality. Using poor tactics can indeed lead to excessive or unnecessary force. 

The lack of situational awareness in not taking cover where feasible places an officer squarely in the ‘threatened for their life’ zone. The subject’s poor decision-making is compounded, not mitigated, hence the inevitability of a shooting. Sometimes when circumstances allow it, the job can be done in a slightly smarter and more ethical way, notwithstanding the offender may still end up being shot. It will just look better. 

As we know, ‘homicide’ is actually a neutral term meaning a death caused by a fellow human being. I was inspired to coin the term ‘police-precipitated homicide’ after watching several American police shootings of people with knives on freeways or city streets, where a line of officers with a multitude of firearms stood in front of a row of police cars used to block traffic. 

Invariably the emotionally disturbed, shirtless person runs or lunges at police and dies in an intense barrage of gunfire (often only seen on the firing line at the shooting range). Why didn’t these officers think to angle their line of fire off to the side of the highway and have an officer try to hit the subject with a squad car? 

Canadian police are trained to improvise and adapt to challenging situations and not be so reliant on firearms (we see far less gun play), but all police sometimes need reminding to think outside the box in order to: 

  1. Protect themselves from injury or death (and post-shooting liabilities and negative aftermath). 
  2. Possibly save lives. 
  3. More ably justify their actions (to the courts and the community). 

The time to address these issues occurs at the very front end of policing. It requires a collective effort by trainers to provide context and options for making better decisions in using deadly force and to build these skills into officer in-service training. Providing immediate medical assistance to the injured arrestee is also prudent considering that a video record of the encounter will likely exist. 

Whether it is regarded as covering bases or covering butts, ethically and tactically, making a tactical retreat while taking cover is simply the right and smart thing to do in these racially divided times. We need to tear down that problematic fence and put up a tactical barrier. 

Al Arsenault developed expertise in non-firearm weaponry, drugs and beat policing during 27 years in Canada’s most dangerous and challenging beat – Vancouver’s Skid Row. He co-founded the famed Odd Squad in 1997 and published Chin Na in Ground Fighting in 2006. He currently specializes in teaching police combatives through his co-founding of Police Judo in 2010, is writing a book on Police Judo and teaching the essentials of this new martial art to police across North America.  

Kamloops Police Judo starting on September 23, 2015

The Law Enforcement Judo Association is pleased to announce the introduction of a Kamloops Police Judo program, commencing Sept 23rd, 2015. This program will run out of the Aberdeen Judo Academy training facility and will be managed by Police Judo Instructor Brad Endean.

Brad has worked in law enforcement (Sheriffs) for over a decade. He has a long history with the martial arts, and started out studying various styles of karate over 25 years ago. Brad transitioned over to judo training several years ago under Sensei John Huntley and the Aberdeen Judo Academy. Brad is an assistant instructor at the Aberdeen Judo Jr. Program and he has two daughters involved in competitive judo under Sensei John Huntley. He has worked with the Police Judo Association for the past year in attending clinics, studying the training principles, working with the instructors and leading practices and clinics.

Brad will be bringing a challenging, innovative and fun program of Police Judo to Kamloops. This program will be open for anyone interested in law enforcement, fitness, and self defence. The program is a recreational judo-based training program and will serve the community well in terms of offering reality-based training program that emphasizes the some of the same key principles Jigoro Kano established judo with: take care of your partner, and move forward together. 

Brad will be presented with his Police Judo Instructor black belt by JIBC Police Judo Head Instructor Al Arsenault on the inaugural Kamloops Police Judo class Sept 23, 2015. 

Kamloops Police Judo will be running every Wednesday night from 19:00-21:00 hours at the Aberdeen Judo Academy training facility. Please refer to the police judo website (policejudo.ca) or the registration page at http://policejudo.ca/judo-registration/ for more information.

Feedback from Instructor Seminar - Guest Instructor Sensei Hiroshi Katanishi (August 13-14, 2015)

Police Judo instructors are very pleased with the feedback from the recent seminar with Sensei Hiroshi Katanishi for higher level judokas! 100% of the participants who took the survey expressed interest in joining future seminars.

This event was organized by Police Judo (Law Enforcement Judo Association) and Aberdeen Judo Academy, and sanctioned by Judo BC


For more detail about the event see the news from earlier this month: Instructor Seminar - Guest Instructor Sensei Hiroshi Katanishi, 8th Dan 

Instructor Seminar - Guest Instructor Sensei Hiroshi Katanishi, 8th Dan

Presented by Police Judo and Aberdeen Judo

Register Online

Sensei Hiroshi Katanishi:
After graduating from Tenri University(Japan), Mr Katanishi becomes trainer of France’s National judo team. Mr Katanishi has assumed the technical direction for the last 30 years of the Judo Kwai Lauzanne in Switzerland. Mr Katanishi is also Dan Expert, Youth& Sports Expert for the Switzerland Judo Federation. Since 1999, He acts has technical advisor for the Switzerland National team. In 2003, he became the European Union judo expert.

This seminar is for experienced judo members, blue belt and up and will cover a range of topics designed to improve judo techniques and and introducing new training drills and skills. Participants must be 18+ years old.

Date: August 13 and 14, 2015
Registration: 8 AM - 9AM
Seminar: 9 AM - 5 PM
Location: Tactical Training Centre
2010 Glenn Drive, Vancouver , BC
Lunch Presentations -
August 13th - Use of Force, National Use of Force Framework & the value of Tactical Communication - Sgt. Clive Milligan, VPD Force Options Training Unit
August 14th - Police Judo and Law Enforcement - Sgt. Toby Hinton - SFU Police Judo and Ret. Cst. Al Arsenault - JIBC Police Judo

• Maximum 40 Participants
• Participants will be required to sign a waiver as well as a Par-Q form prior to participating in this seminar.
• There will be lunch presentations on both days. If not having the buffet lunch, please bring lunch!

Further information - tacticalpolicejudo@gmail.com

Police Judo Food Drive for Yo Bro Youth Activities Society

Thanks very much for the generous spirit demonstrated by members from all three Police Judo clubs with the recent food drive for the after-school Yo Bro martial arts training program. This is a regular program that we are proud to be partnered with as reaching out and giving back is a part of the Police Judo martial arts culture. The youth that are involved in Joe Calendino's Yo Bro program have a real need for the donated food: they work-out hard, burn tons of energy and are in the growing stage of life. We will come calling for a bit of help again soon, but for now rest assured that every little contribution you have provided makes a difference. Below are a few photos of the food after Kyle made the deliveries.

Food drive 3.jpg