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'It's all about ground fighting now'
Posted on Sun, Apr 10, 2011 at 9:03 am
by IDMA Editor

Law enforcement officials should be concerned about the popularity of mixed martial arts, says the deputy director of the Atlantic Police Academy in Summerside, P.E.I.

Eric Fiander said people are perfecting techniques gleaned from the ultimate fighting craze and using them during confrontations with police.

"It's a real concern," Fiander said in an interview.

Ultimate fighting is considered by some to be the world's fastest growing combat sport.

Mixed martial arts consists of techniques ranging from karate, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai boxing, kickboxing and others.

Fiander, a former inspector with the Fredericton Police Force, said law enforcement officials are finding themselves in situations where they may have a person in a hold during an arrest and the individual suddenly starts tapping out.

Tapping out is a signal indicating surrender in mixed martial arts and consists of tapping the opponent's body or the mat.

"They're watching mixed martial arts and, of course, the police are not going to allow the guy to tap out," Fiander said.

"We find that all the time now - people are trying to tap out by submitting. But, obviously, once we let go of them, they are going to keep back at it."

Suspects are also becoming more sophisticated when it comes to ground fighting.

"What we've found lately - in the last couple of years - is that more tussles between the police and the bad guy are going to the ground," Fiander said.

"When I was a young police officer, very few went to the ground. It's all about ground fighting now."

Fiander said institutions such as his are adjusting their training regimen to deal with the growing trend. That includes sending instructors on courses and information sessions so people can be trained in the latest ground fighting techniques. Expertise and knowledge is then passed on to recruits at the academy.

"I wouldn't call it an element of mixed martial arts," Fiander said. "It's (more of) an awareness of mixed martial arts and how it works, but we are adding ground fighting. Ground fighting is only part of mixed martial arts."

Over the long term, the growth of the sport will mean police officers will have to subject themselves to better conditioning, additional training and re-certification in a more timely fashion, Fiander said.

The deputy director pointed to the new police act in Prince Edward Island. Fiander said police now have to recertify in control tactics, which is hand-to-hand combat, on a yearly basis. Every three years, officers have to attend a five-day session and be recertified.

"Other provinces will have to come up with that as well," Fiander said. "Training and recertification is what it's all about."

Const. Rick Mooney of the Fredericton Police Force said his department follows societal trends closely.

"Information gained from this awareness is incorporated as part of ongoing officer training," Mooney said. "Use-of-force training for officers is not static and it is necessary for us to adapt training on an ongoing basis in order to provide the best possible service to the public."

Societal trends include mixed martial arts, Mooney said.

The priorities of the department when considering use-of-force training are the safety of the public and officers, Mooney said.

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