Defensive tactics come of age

Defensive tactics training is the most sophisticated it has ever been. But at the same time, defensive tactics training hasn’t kept up with the times. How could these two contradictory statements be accurate? Well, the state of defensive tactics...


Realistic situations force officers to react instinctively, and the follow up and review is as important as the situations themselves. “Force option simulations are becoming more popular, because it makes officers think, and the debrief is critical,” says Wartac’s Nance. “If someone is trying to kick your ass, the situation is easier—you know what you have to do…you have to kick his ass. In other situations, it’s not so clear cut, deciding at what point to use force. From a technology standpoint, we are spoiled. Even with RedMan and other protective gear, officers get injured. There’s nothing worse than telling the boss that someone got hurt in training.”

Defensive tactics training has gotten more realistic, but it’s still not where it needs to be to be truly effective. “Over the years, training has become more realistic, but not nearly to the degree that it needs to,” says Blauer. “People still don’t understand some of the essential components of scenario design, to stress-inoculate the students. I have been teaching for twenty years, and I don’t know how it is that I am still talking about this. There will be guys at the conference this week who are still presenting a Kung Fu class, and people will flock to that class. My scenario training is the most realistic fake stuff in the world,” Blauer continues. “The only real fight is the one you haven’t gotten into yet. You want your training to support you in the fight. The answers are out there. You can teach people just about anything by doing more realistic scenarios.”

The future

Defensive tactics will continue to develop, and become more and more suited to application in law enforcement.

“I do think that defensive tactics in general is becoming more progressive," says Nance. "It’s not as stagnant as it was when I first became a cop. Now, forward thinking agencies are combining their firearms training and defensive tactics. In days gone by, they were separate. Now, it’s much more integrated.”

If there is going to be a sea change in defensive tactics training, however, the demand is going to have to come from the workforce, not administrators.

"As the world gets more and more violent, I believe the officers who put themselves in harm’s way are going to seek out and demand more realistic training,” concludes Blauer. “They will understand that ‘control tactics’ only work on a specific type of opponent, and conventional defensive tactics doesn't work against real predators. Law enforcement doesn't need more control tactics, they need ‘out-of-control’ tactics—systems that work when the fight is real.”