Defensive Tactics Training with the Lancashire Constabulary

In June this year, UC was hosted by the Lancashire Constabulary in Preston for a Defensive Tactics workshop. Alan McKinven organised this seminar for a group of Police Defensive Tactics trainers at their main facility in Preston, where Canadian Instructor Tony Blauer was teaching just one week earlier.

These guys were more than willing to look outside of their own specific curriculum by bringing instructors from outside of the police community; others before me include Rick Young, Peter Consterdine, Trevor Roberts, Tony Blauer and now myself. This gave me the opportunity to present a Combatives program specific to the needs and rules of engagement, required for an active police officer on the street. Here the objective is to arrest, transport and interview.

We started things off with a look at some of the obvious constraints that police officers face as well as some of the options available. This is based around the Level of Force Continuum or Conflict Resolution Model as it is referred to in the UK. This basically starts with the officer’s uniformed presence and progresses through to verbal commands, passive control and on into active control according to the shift in terms of force to threat parallel. Of course it is not for a review such as this to get into the specifics of such things, so here we will just cover the dynamics of some of the drills and training methods looked at.

The Conflict Management Model provides a template for both action taken and how it is reported afterwards. All training is geared toward fitting that model. All drills practiced reflected good situational control, verbal communication skills, as well as working in pairs and teams via the concept of contact and cover as and when resources allowed. In the physical sense we quickly got into the dynamics of getting the subject into position for handcuffing. This was done via some kind of gross-motor distraction followed by arm-barring the subject into position for restraint. Once this was drilled into competence, compliancy was thrown away and the whole dynamic was taken into team tactics and scenario role-play.

Barring the arm into position for handcuffing - preceded by...

...Gross-motor distraction...

...Then into a position of restraint

The transition went from partner practice, to three-man contact and cover, where now as soon as one officer moves into position to restrain, the second officer will immediately assist from the opposite side. From here we added Red-Man impact kit, theme, dialogue-role play and complete resistance, into a dynamic moving, non-compliant struggle. This would often end up on the ground bringing about the need and opportunity to branch skills, adapt and improvise.

We continued with a second scenario working off the premise that the contact officer is now assaulted with a multiple punching attack (using pads) and now has to default cover; now the cover officer has to employ the same skill-set via intervention, then both officers continue the drill until the struggling subject is handcuffed and brought back up on his feet for transport.

Observation and debrief revealed several things, namely: sticking to the principles of gross-motor distraction on entry to restrain, followed by immediate assistance from contact and cover along with the ability to adapt and branch skills, led to the same result...subject handcuffed and brought up into position ready to transport.

Here everyone was encouraged to wear their kit belt and employ actual stiff cuff technique under non-compliant conditions...

Another interesting observation was just how exhausting each of these ten to thirty second scenarios actually were. This was due to the addition of adrenal stress that accompanies training in emotional state under complete non-compliant conditions, thereby taking our training a little closer to the conditions actually faced on the street.

Training regularly in this way encourages team students to flow and adapt easily in order to meet the same objective. These scenarios were really where the training was geared from the beginning; we drilled the basics first such as soft skills, threat recognition cues and non-physical options followed by subject control to handcuffing, basic hard-skill strikes, default cover, takedowns and methods of intervention.

The scenario training allowed everyone to put all we had learned into a practical experience under stress, with immediate demonstrable results. This gives the student one key element - an experience. In other words, we install the big piece then refine the details, then repeat the experience based on our observations of the event. Such training - whether it's for law enforcement, security or civilians - will cultivate one key ingredient to controlling confrontational emotion - confidence.

Practicing good basic Hard skills on impact pads, shields and training dummies...

We followed this with a transition into padded-up partner practice for a more dynamic feel


...and ground control for third party intervention

Wall drills to practice the default startle cover

Red-man kit allowed for some reasonably contact during the scenarios

The final module for day looked at the transition from unarmed skills to weapons, namely less-than-lethal alternatives along with the re-emphasis on branching when a skill fails, then onto weapon retention skills; when an aggressive subject suddenly makes a grab for your chemical spray or baton for example.

This example shows the use of a spiked elbow to halt aggressive encroachment and gain space to access the chemical irritant spray...

From here we worked off the premise that the spray fails to stop the subject and he rushes the officer. Now we branch skills making the transition to impact by striking with the hand-held can as we move off line, assess and branch again to a strike, a takedown or method of restraint.

Again this was taken into the dynamic of non-compliant scenario training in order to test the principles and see what comes out.

Some scenario pictures...

The very last drill looked as weapon retention. Here the subject grabs my spray; my immediate response is to check his hand and spike elbow his centre chest to take his attention, from here hammer-fist or Axe hand his radial bone to release his grip...

Now back up, moving off line to assess and present weapon...

Here I just sprayed him, seeing as it was just water in the training weapon and this was probably my one chance to get away with it...well it had to be done (:

Well this brought an excellent training day to an end, all that remains is for me to thank everyone who took part and thank Al for his hospitality - it was great fun. Peace LM