The effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu can not be ignored, especially when it comes to both defending yourself and controlling an aggressive attacker. Due to the nature of this profession, police officers can often find themselves in dangerous situations on a regular basis. Learning BJJ can be a great way to control situations in a safe manner as well as protect yourself from dangerous events.
In this article, we interview Jiu-Jitsu Five-O's Jason. We discuss the major benefits of BJJ training for both physical safety and mental performance. This is a great read for both police officers and civilians. With instructional BJJ videos included, anyone can gain value from this article.
We also bring back a past Submission Shark community member to join the discussion and provide insight from a different perspective. Join the shark frenzy for more insightful articles and share this with your friends and family, this information may just save someone's life.
Submission Shark Community | Instagram: @jiujitsufive_o
Belt Colour: Brown
Professor: Damian Hirtz, Alliance Jiu-Jitsu
Short Term Goals: I take things day by day and try to be a little better than I was yesterday. I apply this to all aspects of my life. I learn from my mistakes and try to not make that same mistake twice. To me, that's a win.
Jiu-Jitsu Five-O (Jason) Explains Why Police Officers Should Learn BJJ
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?
I started training in May of 2011, about one year after becoming a police officer.
Where do you train out of?
I train out of Alliance Jiu-Jitsu, under black belt Damian Hirtz.
Do you prefer gi or no-gi?
I prefer training in the gi, although as a police officer I think it's important to mix no-gi into your routine. The sad reality of our job is that the people we wrestle with aren't always wearing clothes.
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
Absolutely. I'm fortunate to train under some really great instructors who not only provide guidance on the mats but have become close friends. They've definitely shown me how to take myself less seriously, especially as it pertains to learning new things. They've also kept me motivated to keep training over the years, even when life threw things that made me want to quit.
What are some lessons you learned from Jiu-Jitsu that apply to everyday life?
I think Jiu-Jitsu offers so many life lessons. First and foremost, it kills your ego. To me, this is the most important lesson because when you train, you're forced to confront yourself and find out what you're really made of. It's easy for us to talk about what we would do in certain situations, or how mentally tough we are, but Jiu-Jitsu won't let you continue lying to yourself.
Aside from the physical aspect, training Jiu-Jitsu teaches you how to slow down and think through your problems. When you're stuck in side-control or bottom mount, with a bigger, stronger opponent on top of you, the solution isn't to spaz out and muscle them off of you - mainly because you know that won't work. You learn to take some breaths, calm your mind and formulate a plan. This carries over into a lot of different aspects of your life.
Finally, it has given me more confidence. This is especially important for cops. I know I'm not the toughest man on the planet, but I'm confident in my abilities and as a result, the way I interact with people is a lot different than when I was a newer officer with no training.
Confidence breeds calmness, which usually leads to more positive interactions with argumentative people on the street and ultimately lower chances of a situation escalating to where we need to use force.
Yesterday we worked positional training, where the first point wins (sweep, guard pass, submission, etc). The winner stays and the next guy comes in and starts from whatever position the last two guys/gals left off in. This style of training is great for cops because it reinforces the concept of “position before submission.”
Too often we see officers trying to force handcuffs on an uncooperative subject before establishing a dominant position, which leads to unnecessary force, injuries to the officer and more. Position first.
How often do you train?
I aim for a minimum of three days per week but obviously fit in as many days as my schedule will allow. It can be tough with a full-time job, a family and other outside responsibilities, but I've made it a priority in my life and usually get in at least three days.
For those who don’t train, Jiu-Jitsu can be fairly boring to watch, which is great for cops. We don’t need to make any highlight reels on YouTube or World Star. Here is an arm drag > back take > collar restraint series I like working into my training. It’s camera-friendly, but also very effective for control. Plus you have the option to put them to sleep if the situation calls for it.
What are some of your go-to BJJ techniques? (Let us know in the comments below!)
What made you want to start training?
Becoming a police officer was a big motivating factor, as I knew the job would entail a lot of grappling. I also knew deep down that I sucked at fighting and that most men were bigger and stronger than me and could probably kick my ass. Those were the primary reasons.
In addition to that, I was an athlete most of my life and wanted a fun way to stay in shape as I got older, knowing that most other fitness activities for adult males were lame, like cycling.
Size differential. One of the many reasons cops need Jiu-Jitsu. The guy next to me is one of those giants you’re thankful wears the same uniform as you. But, there are lots of other genetically blessed people like him who aren’t on our side. Strength training is great, but it doesn’t teach you how to fight.
Plus, there is always someone who is bigger and stronger than you. Jiu-Jitsu is a great equalizer. (BTW, the beast in this photo is one of my good friends and Sgt.’s. When he’s not lumberjacking with his blue ox, he’s snorting protein powder and deadlifting all the weights)
Do you plan on training your whole life?
That's definitely the plan! It will pretty much take death to keep me off the mats. At this point, I really can't imagine life without Jiu-Jitsu.
This is Grand Master Pat Worley, a true O.G. He’s a 70-year-old Jiu-Jitsu black belt, active competitor and also a legend in the Karate world, where he holds a 10th-degree black belt. After destroying guys half his age during hour-long training sessions on the mat, he does burpees by himself to improve his cardio. He’s not a cop, but a big supporter of law enforcement.
There are many excuses to not train Jiu-Jitsu, but when you roll with guys like this, you find that almost all of them are invalid. Be like Pat. Go train.
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
I think humans, especially men, have a primal need for grappling. It's built into our DNA. Some guys let it out in drunken bar fights and some get their fix on the mats. Either way, there's definitely something to it. Jiu-Jitsu provides the perfect outlet for this in a fun, controlled (and legal) setting.
I also like the fact that when you train, you're completely present in that moment. When someone's trying to strangle you, there's no time to think about what's for dinner, what you did to upset your wife that morning and any of the other thoughts that usually occupy our brains. When you're done training, you feel incredible, like a giant weight has been lifted off you.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
It's definitely kept me in shape. I'm almost 40 years old and can say with confidence that I'm in as good of shape now as I was in my late teens/ early 20's. I definitely have more aches and pains that come with getting older, but Jiu-Jitsu has been great both for my cardio and for my overall weight management. It helps that I eat fairly clean most of the time, but I've sweat way more on the mats than I ever did running a marathon or lifting weights.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
Without a doubt. Before I started training, I was a lot more anxious and had a shorter fuse with my friends and family. In general, I just felt more on edge.
Now it's been almost 9 years and I for sure have noticed myself thinking more positively and remaining a lot calmer in stressful situations. It may not all be attributed to Jiu-Jitsu, but I definitely credit the art for a lot of it.
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything differently?
As a new white belt, I would focus less on certain techniques and belt colours, and more on enjoying the process. I think it's easy to get caught up in the next belt promotion, or the new fancy technique you saw on the internet. When I was new to the art, I got frustrated with myself a lot, instead of having fun.
My head instructor said something once that really stuck with me; "In Brazil, they train Jiu-Jitsu because it's fun. In America, we always have to have a reason for doing everything. We rarely do things just because they're fun." This resonated with me. I still train hard and want to get better, but if you ever roll with me, I promise we'll have some laughs.
TBT to my spazzy white belt days. At that time, I don’t think I fully understood or appreciated how amazing it was to be able to train with @bernardofariabjj and @gabrielgoulartbjj at the same time, but I get it now. Hopefully, I’ll get to train with them again in the very near future.
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
The first step in any new endeavour is usually the hardest one to take. Force yourself out of your comfort zone and go try a class. You literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
At this stage in my Jiu-Jitsu journey, my only aspirations are to eventually obtain my black belt and more importantly, help spread the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle throughout the law enforcement community.
There are so many physical and mental benefits for cops and I'd love to live in a world where every patrol cop is at least a purple belt. I aspire to be a resource that helps get them there. As you get older, you start contemplating what your life's purpose is. I believe this is what I am supposed to be doing.
What’s your favourite move?
I like to work smarter not harder, so I tend to focus on moves that allow me to be a little lazy. I really like knee on belly and Kimura arm locks. That submission seems to be everywhere and it's also a great one for cops.
Five-O fundamental technique: Kimura set up from side control. If you’ve never heard of a kimura or side control, it’s time to go train.
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
Divorced, with half my pension taken away from me. Kidding, sort of. But for real, I'd probably still be wasting money on creatine and doing bicep curls in the squat rack. Nothing against lifting weights, but I was doing a lot of that before Jiu-Jitsu and found that it wasn't really doing anything for me. I’ve never been bored training Jiu-Jitsu.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
It seems like it's already gaining a lot of popularity, which is great. Where I'd like to see it more mainstream is in the policing world. That's where it could have a significant impact on the world, due to safer use of force incidents and overall officer wellness.
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
Always. It seems that everyone at my gym is tough as nails, men and women. They will always give you their best, which forces you to train hard and push yourself. My head instructors have also done a great job pushing the cops at my gym. They know that we can't just tap out on the street and when they train with us, it's not uncommon for them to hold a dominant position and force you to work out of it. It can be uncomfortable as hell, but they make sure we're always training for real.
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
LOL - All of it. I actually think the idea of seeing Jiu-Jitsu from a conceptual level was the hardest part. When you're new to the art, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and get caught up in the infinite number of techniques available. It wasn't until the purple belt that I really started understanding how to piece things together and that not every technique had to be executed exactly how it was shown in class.
If you could roll with any practitioner, dead or alive, who would it be?
Click the image above to learn about functional training for injury recovery & prevention with Jiu-Jitsu practitioner Gav Clarke
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
I really like sharing knowledge and being a resource. It's fun to take things I've learned and offered that to someone else so they can use it to hopefully improve their life in some way. I think that's part of our job as humans. In the end, what else is there?
The story of Stardust Jiu-Jitsu is one that's filled with hope, love, acceptance, friendship, empathy and inspiration. Click the image above to learn more
Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it? If so, please explain.
What inspired you to promote jiu-jitsu as an art form and self-defence for law enforcement?
Has there ever been a situation where your jiu-jitsu training helped you while you were on the job?
Do you feel more confident in your abilities to defend yourself now that you have training in jiu-jitsu?
Where can people find out more about Jiu-Jitsu Five-O?
What would you like to say to everyone that's supported you on your journey?
When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?
Jason accurately describes the importance of jiu-jitsu training for law enforcement officers but he is also not the only one that feels this way. Here's a snippet of an interview with another BJJ practitioner (Kamilio Olivera) with a different professional background but has also come to the common conclusion, BJJ saves lives.
Please explain what happened to your father and how it has affected your outlook on life?
Do you feel like police officers get unfair hate in the eyes of the general public?
Recently there has been a huge divide in opinion between police brutality and the unfair treatment of civilians.
Do you believe this whole movement was useful in creating discussion or bad in creating a stigma towards law enforcement?
What can people from both sides of the argument do to find common ground and have peace towards each other?
Do you think police officers should get a more significant punishment for using deadly force in non-life-threatening situations?
Could you please explain how martial arts and jiu-jitsu could be beneficial for the men and women in this type of work?
How did you manage to resist having resentment towards police officers after what had happened to your father?
If you could send a message to the police officer that shot your father, what would you say?
What are your thoughts on the topics we discussed above? Let me know what you think in the comments below and make sure to share this article with others!
Looking to learn more about this topic? Check out Craig Hanaumi's BJJ story. He's also a police offer and jiu-jitsu practitioner that has found tremendous benefits from this art form. As a community activist, he is a great addition to the Submission Shark community.
Feel free to check out more School of Sharks articles for more exciting resources about martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.