Fight For Your Life

April 7, 2014
The truth is most of us will be involved in more hand-to-hand battles than gun battles. Moreover, some of these fights may lead to the death of one of the combatants, occasionally, the police officer.

What images do you conjure up in your mind when you hear the words, “Fight for your life?” For me, it generally implies a gun battle or sustaining a gunshot wound that causes me to switch to my winning mindset to survive. However, the truth is most of us will be involved in more hand-to-hand battles than gun battles. Moreover, some of these fights may lead to the death of one of the combatants, occasionally, the police officer.

Most cops have an innate sense of fair play. That admirable trait is one of the reasons they’re drawn to law enforcement. The sense of fairness transcends most things cops do, both on the job and off. So when we witness or learn of an incident where one of our fellow warriors is critically injured or killed, we do our best to analyze the actions that led to the outcome. Did they do everything they could to survive?

In the academy and in subsequent in-service training, we hone our defensive tactics skills. We learn about ground fighting, weapon retention, come-alongs, etc. What we rarely learn or discuss is what to do in critical situations such as when someone gets the best of us. What do we do when the bad guy overpowers us and we’re losing the fight?

Let me suggest that the first thing one must remember in these situations is to forget everything you’ve learned about fighting fair. Forget the five-step arm bar, the wrist twist, rear choke, etc. When you’re involved in a fight with someone who is gaining the upper hand, all rules regarding fairness go out the window.

So what are some of the tactics you can employ? First solution: your gun. If you’re losing big time and in fear for your life, try to get to your weapon and use it. Remember, chances are if you don’t, the bad guy probably will. Next, if you can’t get to your gun, use anything available to you—a brick, a lamp, a rock, knife, club—anything to get the thug off of you.

If you’re still able to fight, attack the vulnerable parts of the body: eyes, throat, groin, knees, and temple. Best bet is to attack the head, rather than anyplace else. First target - the eyes. Gouge, rip, and punch at one or both eyes. I guarantee an effective attack to the eyes will change the direction of the fight, instantly. Have you ever seen an MMA fight or an accidental poke in the eye during a basketball game? The fighter or player immediately ceases what they were doing and their hands go to their eyes. It’s a winning strategy.

A punch to the throat, particularly, the Adams Apple, can cause your attacker to gasp for air. A forceful punch to that area can also be lethal, but if you’re on the losing end of the battle, go for it. Still in the head area, a powerful punch to the temple can knock your opponent out. And don’t forget the ears, a solid blow to the ear can have instant results.

A kick or punch to the groin is also very effective and can cause an attacker to have to regroup. The only problem is that the groin is a small target and difficult to strike. If you’re lucky enough to strike the area effectively, continue the attack before your adversary can recover.

The other very vulnerable body part is the knee. If you’re fortunate to be on your feet, a solid kick to the knee, either to the front or side, can dislocate or break the kneecap. The problem is you may be on the ground and that option is not available.

In a March 11th posting from Force Science Institute, conclusions from the Orlando, FL PD  study on batteries experienced by patrol personnel were made public. The Orlando PD has more than 700 officers, and every incident in which force was used was documented. The entire 18-page study, “Battered Police: Risk Factors for Violence Against Law Enforcement Officers,” can be obtained here.

Here are some of the findings:

  • Over half the attacks on officers occurred on weekends, most happening between 2100 and 0300 hours
  • Attackers were heavier than normal, average age 29,  and almost equally distributed between Blacks and Whites
  • 90% of cops battered were male (70% were White)
  • Female offenders were much more likely to batter officers based on the total number of female suspects encountered
  • A lone officer was less likely to be battered than were multiple officers
  • The police uniform seems to ignite the offender(s) anger, thus, when multiple officers are on the scene it accelerates the subject’s discontent
  • The type of incident officers responded to had no correlation to the subject’s inclination to attack

Seemingly innocent incidents can potentially turn deadly in the blink of an eye. We never know a person’s mindset, nor do we know their history. Most times due to the nature of our job we’re in a reactive mode. Thus, we find ourselves behind the power curve more often than not. Just remember, fighting fair is a concept that has no place on the street. There are no rules when your life is at stake. Think about the “What ifs,” before they happen to you. Will you fight fair, or will you fight for your life?”

Stay Safe, Brothers and Sisters!


Force Science Institute, Ltd.

Battered Police: Risk Factors for Violence Against Law Enforcement Officers

About the Author

John Wills

John M. Wills is a former Chicago police officer and retired FBI agent. He is a freelance writer and award-winning author in a variety of genres, including novels, short stories and poetry. John also writes book reviews for the New York Journal of Books, and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. His new book, The Year Without Christmas, is available now. Visit John at:

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