Aikido in the Law Enforcement Community by Jesse Lee, dojo-cho and fuko-shidoin, Aikido of Maryland, Tenzankai
Aikido has always been a popular martial art within the law enforcement community, and with
good reason. The practical aspects are legion -- learning various techniques to absorb an
attack and turn that into a pin or come-along; handling multiple attackers; dealing with emptyhand
as well as weapon attacks. Controlling an attacker while leaving no lasting injury and
no marks on the attacker. Keeping on one's feet during all the above, as opposed to relying
on ground control techniques to achieve control. All of these are practical and essential
components to martial arts training in a law enforcement context.
One of our newer students is a law enforcement officer and had a couple opportunities to apply
Aikido while on the job and achieve some positive outcomes. Officer First Class Shay Nelson is
a member of the Fairfax County, VA Police Department. For the last six months he has trained
at Aikido of Maryland, Tenzankai, run by Jesse Lee, dojo-cho
As of the events below, Officer Nelson had not tested for a kyu rank. He has an intermittent
training routine due to his work schedule and distance from the dojo. Nevertheless he is getting
practical results pretty quickly, as illustrated below.
In mid-November 2011, Officer Nelson responded to a call for an individual that was leaving a
nightclub and was apparently intoxicated to a degree. The individual began resisting with other
officers and becoming belligerent and verbally abusive. The situation escalated and Officer
Nelson started effectuating an arrest, near the front fender of his cruiser. Upon putting a hand
on the individual and beginning the cuffing procedure, the individual started to thrash around
and try to break free. Officer Nelson slid his grip down a bit and acquired sankyo, with his
second hand grabbing the fingers per his training. He relates:
"When he tried to twist out, I saw he was set up for sankyo... So I put on the sankyo qrip...
Then I 'cast for fish' and extended through his arm, through the spot where his head was...
Whereupon he slammed face down on the hood of the cruiser and gave up, realizing he wasn't
going anywhere." Arrest completed.
About a month later, in mid-December 2011,Officer Nelson responded with two other officers
to a call re. drunk and disorderly conduct outside of a bar. Officer Nelson and a second
officer attempted to get the woman under control, and when that did not go anywhere, she
was arrested and placed in the back of a second police officer's cruiser. At this point she was
yelling a lot but not physically resisting arrest. At this point her boyfriend showed up, threw his
weight around, and promptly got himself arrested and placed in the back of a Officer Nelson's
cruiser. When the woman saw that, she went berserk and worked to break out of the cruiser.
She slipped out of her cuffs, laid down on the back seat, and focused all her effort on kicking
out a back window of the cruiser. The second officer opened the cruiser door and was violently
kicked by female subject as he tried to restrain her in the back of his cruiser.
Officer Nelson opened the door by her head, opposite the other officer, and tried immediately
restrain her. She responded by starting to flip upright and swinging at him. Officer Nelson
blocked and absorbed her first swing, and relates:
"I blocked her swing and laid my free hand over her hand, which was pretty much a nikkyo grip
staring me in the face. I kept my hand there and grabbed her wrist in nikkyo. Knowing how
nikkyo comes on strong when you drop and lean in to the center, I leaned right in on her, right
into the back seat. That ended the fight real quick! She went from calling me every insult she
could think of, to 'OK-OK-OK-I'll-stop-I'll-stop-I'll-stop,' in about two seconds." Officer Nelson
re-cuffed her and the situation was resolved.
It is always good to hear about Aikido getting applied in the field by law enforcement personnel
doing their jobs and working for the benefit of our community. Great work Shay, you are an
inspiration to us all!