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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE book on defensive tactics, 8 Sep 2008
This review is from: Defensive Tactics: Modern Arrest and Control Techniques for Today's Police Warrior (Perfect Paperback)
Lethal force is rarely the only appropriate option for controlling a dangerous situation, yet even when it is necessary there is not always sufficient time to deploy a weapon to handle the imminent threat without having to go hands on. Consequently, knowledge, skill, and ability to perform a wide range of defensive tactics under stress is paramount for personal safety. Law enforcement officers who are proficient with firearms yet somewhat less comfortable with hand-to-hand combat rarely find the perfect balance for learning the tactics they need to survive such encounters. The challenge is that neither a completely civilian approach nor a wholly law enforcement-oriented method covers all the bases in most cases.

Civilians have the option, oftentimes the legal imperative, of running away from violence rather than moving towards it as police officers are required to do, hence martial artists tend to have a deficit of combat experience where the goals and constraints are far different than the tournament conditions they are most familiar with. Their approach often contains advanced fighting techniques that are far too complicated for the average officer to pull off on the street, particularly when attempted under the adverse influences of adrenaline. Martial artists rarely align what they teach with departmental Use of Force policies. Even worse, these instructors often advocate applications that work well enough in civilian garments but become grossly impractical for officers encumbered by heavy clothing, ballistic vests, and bulky gear to perform successfully.

Conversely, budget challenges, time limitations, and a shortage of skilled instructors in law enforcement circles can hamper departmental training as well. Competent training officers often lack the martial arts experience necessary to describe all the subtle nuances required to make techniques effective under adverse conditions on the street. When an officer is ambushed or encounters multiple foes, highly skilled adversaries, much larger attackers, and/or crazed opponents they risk disaster without supplemental training.

Thankfully, author Loren Christensen has found the perfect balance and written it all down in a comprehensive, practical, and very well-executed tome. A martial arts instructor with more than 40 years of experience under his ten black belts (7th dan karate, 2nd dan jujitsu, 1st dan arnis), he is also a retired police officer who spent 29 years in the business. He has not only tangled with violent predators on the streets, but also taught defensive tactics, worked gang enforcement, controlled riots, and protected dignitaries as well. And he's written more than 30 books on the fighting arts. This is a guy well worth listening to!

His book begins by covering fundamental building blocks such as adrenal stress, combat breathing, balance, and visualization. It shows the value of repetitions for internalizing techniques and describes a variety of drills that can help readers intelligently practice what they learn. Don't be tempted to skim through this information too quickly; it is critical for making applications work against committed adversaries on the street.

The rest of the text delves deeply into a variety of street-proven arrest and control techniques. Topics include such things as joint manipulation, leverage control, pain compliance, head disorientation, and more. Finger, wrist, elbow, and shoulder manipulations as well as locks, cranks, arm bars, and takedowns for controlling combative criminals are discussed in detail. Readers also learn when, where, and how to hit with their fists, palm-heels, forearms, elbows, feet, and batons. The information on vital areas and pressure points are a bit brief but extremely useful for making techniques effective.

While carotid strangulations can look bad when viewed through the lens of a hostile reporter's camera, hence frequently proscribed by departmental policy, sleeper holds described in this book are perfectly safe and highly effective when applied correctly as described. Even if you never use them on duty, these techniques are great to know if you ever have to control a friend or relative you don't want to hurt.

There is a ton of useful information packed into this 382-page book. While it is mostly geared toward law enforcement personnel seeking to improve their skills, it is also useful for martial artists looking for a street-proven approach as well. While the writing is great, the 700+ photos really make the information accessible to the reader. There is also a section on ground fighting written by officer Mark Mireles, another guy who really knows what he's talking about. Mireles is a MMA coach, police academy trainer, and wrestling champion. Both Christensen and Mireles's advice is solid, practical, and easy to understand.

Lawrence Kane
Author of Surviving Armed Assaults and Martial Arts Instruction; co-author of The Way of Kata, The Way to Black Belt, and The Little Black Book of Violence
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