Integrating Jiu Jitsu into Law Enforcement Training

Posted On February 24

Law Enforcement Jiu Jitsu Training Program

We are incredibly excited to announce a national program we have developed that will train police officers in jiu jitsu techniques designed to de-escalate physical situations. The Syracuse Police Department will lead this PILOT program by offering the curriculum through its Police Academy.

The curriculum emphasizes position and physical control through effective and efficient jiu jitsu techniques. The course will train officers to de-escalate encounters that become physical, resulting in decreased injuries to both officers and the public.

This program should result in a positive public perception of police departments while minimizing liability. Ultimately, we aim to normalize jiu jitsu in police defensive tactics across the country.

Haven’s Role in Developing Jiu Jitsu Law Enforcement Training Program

Before COVID hit, Chief Unger of Liverpool, a long-time friend, approached me about teaching a seminar to all of his officers. He wanted them to have exposure to jiu jitsu. 

At the same time, James Knoll and I had been flirting with an idea. Using Knoll’s psychology background, we wanted to conduct a survey demonstrating how confidence stemming from jiu jitsu training could benefit law enforcement and their command presence.

As we began to make headway on launching the survey, COVID hit and derailed our plan. It destroyed the survey and prevented the seminar from happening.

We were not discouraged, though. Chief Unger and I continued to brainstorm ways of bringing consistent training to law enforcement. 

During this time, the Marietta study by Major King was brought to our attention. The study was the piece we need to finally have a serious conversation about the benefits of jiu jitsu in law enforcement.

Ari Knazan from Invictus put us in touch with Major King, who was nice enough to do several zoom calls in which he provided a blueprint on how to approach departments regarding jiu jitsu training.

We were still missing a peer-reviewed study. A lot of available data is based on internal studies without peer-review. We needed the peer-reviewed study to bring this to a national level. So we began to assemble a team for the pilot program.

We brought in Lt. Don Patti, an expert on defensive tactics and a black belt in jiu jitsu. His knowledge was vital to creating the curriculum. We also recruited Sgt. Shawn Bergman, who has a wealth of knowledge from his extensive military and LEO background. Lastly, we partnered with a Syracuse University researcher who gave us the peer-review we needed to legitimize the program.

Over a two-year period, we spent thousands of hours building this curriculum. We were thrilled when the Syracuse Police Department chose to lead this initiative and change the way we train police officers.

Thank you, Chief Buckner and Chief Shoff, for spearheading this new initiative. Thank you, Joe Driscoll, for pushing the vote when we received some resistance during the common council meeting.

The next goal is to get the rest of Central New York to join this study and change our officers’ entire culture of training. How can people get involved???


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