Passing Up Opportunities

By | June 27, 2020

Given the state that wrestling is in with coronavirus, and our leadership being all too happy with status quo remaining quo; plus, athletic administrators who regard non-revenue sports as, well, philanthropic endeavors; to say we need help would be understating the issue.

Somehow, you, me, we, need to find ways to energize the sports leadership to do the uncomfortable, so we can all achieve what has always seemed to be the impossible.

How about, with all the unrest that we’re seeing in the news, with special focus on America’s police departments; I’m reminded of something Rahm Emanuel said when he was President Obama’s Chief of Staff. You should never let a serious crisis go to waste.

With that in mind, why shouldn’t wrestling offer our experiences to America’s police departments, and in the process, hopefully, garnish enough political points to ensure that our sport has a continued place in America’s intercollegiate and interscholastic programs?

It seems the most critical issue society has with the men in blue, which by the way they’re currently in a losing battle to defend, is the perception that they’re being poorly prepared for the inevitable confrontations they have with those who at times are, and at times aren’t, on the wrong side of the law.

Here’s my thought. I’m not so sure the police need more training, although that’s never a bad thing, instead, they need different training.

Why shouldn’t we begin to make the case that at the centerpiece of their current training system, lateral vascular neck restraints, should be replaced by empty hand restraint options; aka wrestling techniques?  The sole objective of what we do in our sport is exactly what the words imply, gaining and maintaining control without injury; and by the very nature of what the sport accomplishes, assures compliance.

Think about wrestling for a moment. We have book after book, and video after video of restraint techniques that are safe, effective, and most importantly, defensible with the public.

Maybe it would be a good idea for our leadership to start thinking about creating a commission of advisors that could develop a new and improved “control your detainee” section for America’s instructional police manuals? The job of this commission would be to come up with technical variants to what’s currently being taught. Utilize the skills of our most accomplished athletes, and then ask the people we already know who are in positions of power to help us get our foot in the door.

Then, with those manuals in place, and instructors sharing the technique, maybe we should insist on an hour a week of live fire positional resistance training, something similar to actual wrestling practice. It doesn’t do anyone any good to be able to answer questions on how to handle a situation, and then demonstrate how the technique should be applied. They need to be able to execute the techniques against resistive partners. 

It wouldn’t take long doing these things for society to notice that our non-deadly force techniques are, in many cases, more effective, and more efficient than what’s currently being taught by police academy instructors.

Isn’t it the goal, or shouldn’t it be the goal of every police department to have outcomes that society will cheer, rather than protest?

Some general suggestions that wrestling might want to consider for this operational manual;

  1. The various ways wrestler’s use to get their opponent off his feet. Front trip, back trip, lift and clear. It’s really embarrassing to watch two, and sometimes three grown men in blue, struggling to get someone off their feet who has decided to resist arrest. Several of those I’ve watched on television look like a pack of wolves trying to take down a caribou. One chewing on a leg, another mounted on the person’s back while a third officer is picking himself up after being swatted away. That’s not a way to win a tournament, or in this example, immobilize your detainee. You shouldn’t need, under most circumstances, to stun, shoot or choke someone out to get them under control.
  2. Maybe introduce the officers to four or five ways they could control the person in the down position? It shouldn’t take more than one person to hold another person down, unless you’re on top of a retired NFL lineman, or he has previous wrestling experience himself. If that latter’s the case, my experience tells me that both men would immediately realize that the other was a wrestler, start laughing, ask each other where they wrestled, and then offer to buy the other a drink. Such is the strength of the fraternity we call wrestling.
  3. Maybe demonstrate how a simple side roll can take an officer’s bad position and turn it into a winning position? Is there anyone in our sport who doesn’t remember how everyone of their classmates in school wouldn’t dare pick a fight with a wrestler, regardless of the size differential? They knew, things don’t end well when you’re up against a wrestler. 
  4. How about introducing the police departments to the multiple forms of arm drags that we’ve been perfecting for centuries? From chopping an arm, or clearing your wrist, to working with a controlled wrist? Why would any policeman want to be in a shoving match with a detainee when being behind them is safer, and certainly more appealing?

Wrestling has so many applications for police departments that are being overlooked; ways of applying non-lethal holds that create the outcomes even the most ardent of protestors want to see.

All this could be huge for wrestling. When you instruct every member of the police force to use proportionate force to safely resolve potentially violent situations, everyone wins.

Oh, and by the way, besides the political points the sport would enjoy, while we’re doing something truly remarkable for society and with our skill sets, just think of all the employment opportunities this would provide for many of our elite brethren?


Before I uploaded this, I sent it to a dear friend of color for review. I thought his reply was on point. 

One of the biggest issues the country is facing today is that police training is so inadequate, relative to containing individuals, that officers are forced to panic.

There is no other profession where panic is part of success. No pitcher can deliver a winning pitch or a quarterback survive in the pocket if they’re panicking. There isn’t a basketball player either who can sink a three-pointer while he’s in panic mode.

Composure is the key to success.

Being skilled and properly prepared heightens that composure.

By contrast, a lack of skills and training heightens panic.

If four officers have to struggle to contain one person, that alone tells me the training is inept.

2 thoughts on “Passing Up Opportunities

  1. Rick S.

    The idea of police learning wrestling techniques isn’t new.

    Following is a video of a person comparing Swedish and U. S. police.

    Listening to the video, do the decentralized police departments with the decentralized training and training budgets play a role in increasing the chances a situation may escalate out of control?

    How do we mitigate the concern the police have when approaching an individual that the individual may be armed?

    How do we deal with bullies in the police force? I would argue bullies give the entire police force a bad reputation.


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