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The Police College and athletics
Posted on Sat, Oct 2, 2010 at 7:08 am
by IDMA Editor

Extensive studying and military training at the Police College make an ideal atmosphere for practicing martial arts, a huge stress reliever and self-defense skill important to all law enforcement officers.

Since the foundation of Erbil's Police College dating back to 1997 at Salahaddin University, sports has been one of the main subjects taught to recruits by instructors. Applicants of the police academy have to pass intensive physical tests before they are recruited to join the study sections. Those who have athletic backgrounds constitute a huge number of the recruits, realizing they would be able to study and practice sports simultaneously. Annually, students take part in many sports activities at the university level inside and outside of Erbil city.

Photo by GLOBE PHOTO of students at the Erbil's police college practicing Kung Fu.

The academy has produced outstanding athletes who play for several well-known sports clubs in Kurdistan. Many officers, including lieutenants, captains, majors, and even generals spend their down time in sports clubs. Some directly play and practice a specific game, while others manage crucial sports offices.

Capt. Suhail Najm is known as one of the most active policemen in Kurdistan Region. Despite being busy with his administrative job, he works as a manager and trainer in the academy's sports section. "Sports is a main subject practiced in our academy. The students have to train and practice sports for almost two hours every day, and most of the training sessions are conducted after theoretical classes," said Najm.

Najm said that the recruits are not required to be masters of Kung Fu, for example, but they need to know at least the basics of martial arts before graduation. "Police officers are always expected to face attacks from perpetrators. So that they can defend and save their lives and others, they must master self-defense techniques. They need to be powerful enough to arrest and handcuff because guns are not necessarily utilized in their careers."

Though football and basketball are two of the students' favorite sports, martial arts remains the most popular and necessary sports due to the nature of police work not only in the Kurdish community, but in most of the progressive countries where officers have to deal with difficult cases. "I have been in many countries for martial arts training. In Japan, for example, every single officer has to have at least a black belt in either Judo or Kendo. Those are believed to be the two most important sports for officers to practice. That shows how important martial arts are in police work," said Najm.

Najm is known as the jack of all trades since he knows a little bit about every sport. Before joining the Police College in 1997, he graduated from Sports Junior College in Erbil. He started practicing Kung Fu and Judo together in 1991 at the youth centers. His skills were good enough to try other sports such as high jump, the discus, basketball, football, and even handball. His participation in school activities when he was in high school and junior college resulted in medals and cups. Najm said he still practices most of the games, but not as much because martial arts are his main concern.

Najm was appointed martial arts trainer after he became the top graduate at the police academy in 2000. Over the last 10 years, he has remained a dedicated trainer to those seeking bachelor's degrees in law enforcement.

Concerning the martial arts program taught at the academy, Najm said: "We use different methods and programs of training. Depending on several sources like the international police training program, the old Iraqi curriculum, and American advisory team instructions, now we have a mixed program. Kung Fu and Judo are highly concentrated and constitute a big percentage of the program. We also use some other new martial arts methods I learned from a two-year training course on Tao Lu techniques in Japan." He is a certified Tao Lu trainer and referee. He was asked to become Iraqi national team trainer, but he was too busy with the Police College.

Wisam Muhammed, a third-year student at the academy, prefers martial arts techniques over everything. "Kung Fu gives us power, patience, and good health." To overcome problems, Muhammed believes every single student before graduation should learn at least defensive tactics. "Police officers have to be strong mentally and bodily."

Many females study at the Police College, unlike in the past. Khabat Rasul, according to Capt. Najm, is one of the best Kung Fu fighters at the academy. She performs most of the techniques and is expected to become one of the top female Kung Fu fighters. "I love martial arts. We as women need to work harder in order to be professional police officers in the future," said 22-year-old Rasul.

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