A baton can be springloaded by simply tucking it under the arm or by holding it back with the free hand, forearm or behind the leg and putting slight forward pressure on the baton before releasing it to block or strike. This concept naturally works much better with lighter batons, such as an expandablebaton, than it would with a heavier baton such as Cocobolo.
The advantage of springloading is that the baton achieves a higher degree of impact in a shorter distance and can be launched in any direction without any wind up or telegraphing motions preceding the actual block, redirection or strike. Also, because springloading is not dependent on a wide stance or hip and shoulder rotation, the officer can theoretically block, kick and use his or her baton in a single motion and in opposite directions, with sudden and unexpected impact at shorter distances (see Figure 1, Page 32).
Stance, in addition to hip and shoulder rotation, are not major factors in springloading, so an expandable baton can also be effectively employed in ground fighting situations against one or more opponents along with the free hand, legs and other natural weapons (see Figures 2 and 3, Pages 32 and 36). This ability will encourage officers to have their expandable in their hand, rather than discarding it when they fall to ground, in favor of employing empty-handed techniques or taking the time to draw their firearm when deadly force may not be appropriate, i.e., due to insufficient information or sensitive environments such as schoolyards, hospitals, etc.
Having the baton accessible makes the officer less susceptible to being disarmed during the upholstering transition. It is because of this increased diversity created through the process of springloading that the developers of the H.E.L.P. system have also added effective grappling tactics into the system (see Figures 4 through 7, Pages 36 to 38).
As with most new systems, especially those that stray from traditional tactics, this baton and less-lethal tactic will likely go through a period of skepticism and controversy within the training community. I believe that with time and the development of high-quality, well-trained master instructors throughout the United States and Canada (where expandable batons are widely in use) law enforcement trainers and administrators will see the advantage of having a non product-specific, highly effective, yet litigation-resistant expandable baton system.
Once the paradigm shift is complete, the H.E.L.P. System will allow officers, administrators and the general public to see batons in a new light. It’s time for the expandable baton to climb out of the backseat and into the front where it belongs.