Police Training Reimagined

The average police officer in America receives less than four (4) hours of hands-on defensive tactics training per year, and it’s not enough. We have long hypothesized that regular off-duty jiu-jitsu training (at least 1 hour per week) for law enforcement officers would increase officer safety, lower department liability, and reduce the likelihood of injuries to suspects, but the evidence supporting this hypothesis has been mostly anecdotal, until now!

Mandatory BJJ Training for Police (Case Study)

On April 1, 2019, Marietta Police Department (MPD) instituted a training program that made weekly Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) training mandatory for all new hires during the five months they were in the police academy. The training took place at a carefully vetted civilian owned/operated BJJ academy within the community. The program was so successful that on July 1, 2020, Marietta PD extended the department-sponsored BJJ training opportunity to all in-service officers.

Marietta Police Department BJJ Program Data
To date, 95 of the 145 sworn MPD officers have opted in to the BJJ program and 50 officers have not. The officers who averaged at least (1) BJJ class per week, are referred to as “BJJ officers.” Here is a summary of the data collected thus far:

Training Injuries

  • MPD has had 95 officers attend over 2,600 civilian-operated BJJ classes with one (1) reported training injury.

Taser Deployments

  • Since the inception of the program, non-BJJ officers used their Taser in 77% of Use of Force (UOF) incidents.
  • BJJ officers used their Taser in 54% of UOF incidents (85% of which were used to stop a foot pursuit – not to end the physical altercation)
  • 23% reduction in Taser deployments in the BJJ officer group.

UOF Injuries to Officers

  • In the 18 months prior to instituting mandatory BJJ training, 29 officers were injured while carrying out arrests.
  • In the 18 months after instituting mandatory BJJ training for new hires, 15 officers were injured while carrying out arrests.
  • 48% reduction in officer injuries department wide.
  • None of the injured officers were BJJ officers.

UOF Injuries to Suspects

  • In 2020, there were 33 UOF incidents involving Marietta PD officers: 20 incidents involving non-BJJ officers, and 13 incidents involving BJJ officers.
  • In the 20 incidents involving non-BJJ officers, the suspect sustained injuries requiring hospitalization 65% of the time (13 incidents of suspect hospitalization).
  • In the 13 incidents involving BJJ officers, the suspect sustained injuries requiring hospitalization 31% of the time (4 incidents of suspect hospitalization).
  • Serious injuries to a suspect are 53% less likely when interacting with BJJ officers.
  • BJJ officers are 59% less likely to engage in UOF than non-BJJ officers.

Financial Implications

  • Based on an average workers’ comp claim of $4,768, the total estimated savings from the reduction in officers’ injuries is estimated at $66,752.
  • Training Investment: $26,000 (2600 department-sponsored classes charged at $10 per class).
  • Net Savings for MPD: $40,752

For any agency interested in instituting a department-backed BJJ program comparable to that in Marietta, we recommend the following three steps:

Step 1: Get GST Certified (Optional)

Marietta Police Department has been sending its in-house defensive tactics instructors to the Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) Instructor Certification Courses since 2009. If you are interested in transforming your department with jiu-jitsu, there are benefits to doing it from the inside out. By sending your agency’s defensive tactics instructors to get GST certified, not only will you ensure that they learn the most important non-violent control tactics in jiu-jitsu, but you will also ensure that they understand the unique adaptations that are necessary to make Brazilian Jiu-jitsu effective in law enforcement applications.

An additional benefit is that the GST Instructor Certification Course is POST Certified in California, making Gracie University the first civilian-owned BJJ organization to earn this distinct honor. Having successfully met California POSTs historically demanding requirements, we are aiming to achieve POST Certification in all remaining states in America.

GST Instructor Certification can be achieved by attending one of many live 5-day GST Live Instructor Certification Courses throughout the year, or remotely by using our 60-day GST Online Instructor Certification Program.

Once your department has incorporated the fundamentals of jiu-jitsu into its existing defensive tactics program, then you’ll be ready to partner with a civilian-operated BJJ school in your community so that every officer can get the benefit of regular BJJ practice.

Step 2: Find the Right BJJ School

Partnering with the right BJJ school is the most important decisions your agency will have to make. Although the BJJ industry as a whole remains totally unregulated, Gracie University (GU) is a standalone global jiu-jitsu organization with hundreds of Certified Training Centers (CTCs) located throughout the world. Instructors at each CTC undergo a rigorous certification process to ensure the highest quality standard, making them the optimal jiu-jitsu schools to partner with law enforcement agencies.

Here are the some of the most important considerations when partnering with a civilian operated BJJ school as well as some of the benefits offered exclusively at Gracie University Certified Training Centers:

  • Structure: Most BJJ schools have no curriculum, making the learning experience confusing and overwhelming – particularly for beginners. Conversely, every CTC is required to adhere to the specific curriculum and teaching methodologies prescribed by Gracie University headquarters to ensure each officer is provided the optimal learning experience regardless of gender, age, or athletic ability.
  • Safety: Unlike regular BJJ Schools where beginners are sparring from day one, all Gracie University instructors are required to adhere to specific safety protocols (such as no sparring for beginners), that will ensure a safe and encouraging learning experience for every student.
  • Self-Defense: Most BJJ schools only teach the sportive aspect of jiu-jitsu, much of which has little or no applicability in law enforcement scenarios. Gracie University CTCs, on the other hand, are 100% focused on street self-defense. As a result, every technique an officer learns can be immediately applied in the field.
  • Full Schedule: With a full schedule of weekly jiu-jitsu classes for students of all skill levels, officers will have maximum flexibility to attend classes at times that are convenient for them.
  • GST Advantage: Gracie University’s GST course is the leading jiu-jitsu based defensive tactics instructor course in America. In addition to a full schedule of regular jiu-jitsu classes, law enforcement students at CTCs are periodically given special "law enforcement only" classes in which the GST techniques are the primary focus. This will provide all the officers the necessary LEO adaptations that will make their newly acquired jiu-jitsu skills useful under stressful circumstances they face in the field.
  • UOF Policy Considerations: Since CTC instructors are well-versed in the GST program, they can ensure that extra consideration is given to your agency’s UOF policy each time your officers learn a new technique.
  • GST Online Video Access: One of the unique benefits of Gracie University CTCs is that every officer gets online video access to the Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) law enforcement curriculum (retail value $795), so they can log on from any computer or mobile device to sharpen their skills at any time.
  • Satellite Training Privileges: Every officer who joins a CTC is authorized to train at every CTC on the planet for free. So if they are ever traveling for business or pleasure, they can drop in at any CTC for no charge, and any classes taken at the destination CTC will count towards their official belt promotion at their home base CTC.

Step 3: Formalize the Partnership & Get Started

One of the main benefits of partnering with Gracie University to reform the training practices at your agency is that all Certified Training Centers in the United States utilize the same pricing model for law enforcement partnerships.

  • $10 Drop-in Fee Per Class
    Most BJJ schools will require a long-term contract commitment for each officer in the department. For our agency-backed law enforcement partnerships, we utilize a highly-discounted drop-in fee per class with no long-term contract requirement. This ensures that the agency only pays for officers who actually take advantage of this unique training opportunity so that the benefits/savings to the agency will always outweigh the cost.
  • $60 Annual Fee Per Active Student
    Every officer from your agency who joins the department-backed training program at the CTC will get Gracie University online video access to the Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) law enforcement curriculum (retail value $795) so they can log on and study their course material at any time. Additionally, every officer will be authorized to drop-in at any other CTC in the world (170+ locations) and train for free for up to one month when traveling for work or pleasure.
  • Discounted Wholesale Uniform Pricing
    On average, jiu-jitsu uniforms (gis) cost anywhere from $90-$150. Upon partnering with Gracie University, the agency will be authorized to purchase official Gracie Jiu-Jitsu uniforms at a steeply discounted wholesale price, so the agency saves money on every uniform.

Once the details and benefits above have received preliminary approval from all members of the command staff at your agency, click here to set up a meeting with the Gracie University leadership team to discuss next steps in formalizing the partnership.

If there is an existing CTC in the region, we can establish the partnership with your agency immediately. If there is not a CTC in the region, we will work expeditiously to identify the most qualified school in the region, conduct background checks on all the instructors, and then put them through the Gracie University Instructor Certification Program which will equip them to serve your agency with all the benefits listed above while adhering to the highest quality standards established and maintained by Gracie University.

Connect With Major Jake King

Having orchestrated the incredibly successful BJJ program for Marietta Police Department, Major Jake King is eager to help other agencies achieve the same success. Whether there is a CTC in your community or not, click on the button below to connect with Major King so that he can answer any questions you might have and help walk you through the next steps.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Marietta Police Department uses federal asset forfeiture money. In cases, where asset forfeiture money isn’t available, agencies have relied on funds in their Training Budget to pay for the supplementary BJJ training. Regardless of where the money comes from, the workers’ comp savings alone are expected to exceed any investment made into the program. In Marietta PD’s case, the 48% reduction in officer injuries (department wide) resulted in an estimated $66,752 in workers’ comp savings. Even after you deduct the full cost of training (approximately $26,000), the net savings for the agency exceeds $40,000.

Not likely. In Marietta PD''s case, all 95 officers have completed just over 2,600 civilian operated jiu-jitsu classes in nearly two years. The total investment made by the department was approximately $26,000 ($10 per class), and this gave the officers access to a full schedule or daytime/evening/weekend classes every week. In order for the department to maintain an equally robust weekly schedule of jiu-jitsu classes to accommodate every officer''s work schedule and off-duty availability, they would need to have at least two full-time jiu-jitsu instructors on staff. It''s fair to say that the annual salary to support even a one full-time in-department instructor would be more than double the total dollar amount that Marietta PD has invested into their BJJ program to date. In additional to the substantial cost savings, there are several additional benefits to having officers attend civilian operated jiu-jitsu classes: 1) Officers get to interact with public in a fun, collaborative training environment, 2) Officers get the physical benefit of regular full-body exercise and the mental benefit of taking a break from the high-stress aspects of police work, and 3) Officers get to learn in an environment that isn''t affected by the "cop culture" that so often plagues law enforcement training.

Yes, it can be. In Marietta PD’s case, they were successful in getting the civilian BJJ instructor certified as a subject matter expert under Georgia POST. As a result, every class a Marietta PD officer attends at the BJJ school counts as an hour of POST credited defensive tactics training for the officer.

No. Although we strongly recommend you get your in-house defensive tactics instructors certified in GST prior to instituting a supplementary off-duty BJJ program for your officers, it is not required.

Once an agency begins to see the financial benefits of this supplementary jiu-jitsu training program (reduction in: workers’ comp claims, reduction in suspect injuries and results lawsuits, etc), it will become clear that its most important task will be to incentivize all its sworn officers to opted in to the program. Obviously a major factor in this will be to make sure that the jiu-jitsu school is extremely well run (professional, safe, proven law enforcement friendly curriculum, etc), but even at the most qualified jiu-jitsu school, some officers will be reluctant to try something new. To ensure the most enthusiastic participation from all sworn officers in the agency, when you partner with a Certified Training Center, Gracie University will work directly with your command staff to create a customized incentive program tied to each officer''s individual jiu-jitsu progress utilizing any, or all, of the following: bonus pay, uniform pins, PTO, career path promotion points, etc.

CTCs are the ideal partners for law enforcement agencies for all the reasons listed above. But if there is not a Gracie University CTC in your community, we can assist you in vetting the local BJJ schools, and then select the best candidate to undergo the Gracie University Instructor Certification Program (ICP). Once the head instructors at the school successfully complete the process, the school will be recognized as a Certified Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Training Center and will be equipped to serve your agency according to the quality standards, safety protocols, and law enforcement curriculums established and maintained by Gracie University.

When your agency partners with a CTC, your officers will be attending regular beginner jiu-jitsu classes, along with civilian students, in a program called Gracie Combatives® where they will learn the 36 fundamental techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. The classes are specifically designed to minimize the possibility of injury while providing each student with a solid foundation. Once a student graduates from the Gracie Combatives program, they will transition into the Master Cycle® advanced jiu-jitsu program. In addition to the regular BJJ classes, the CTC will host periodic GST seminars exclusively for the officers from the partnered agency. These special seminars will give each officer the invaluable technical modifications that are needed for successful application of BJJ in law enforcement such as weapon retention strategies, handcuffing transitions, and multiple-officer arrest strategies.

Download the Gracie University Law Enforcement Partnership Program Handbook to learn more: