A bill is being introduced in Michigan that will require all law enforcement to be trained in grappling arts. If passed, this bill could save the lives of both police and suspects.
As BJJ practitioners, we all know that what makes the gentle art unique is the ability to subdue and control your opponent without hurting them. Done right, House Bill 4525 could be a game-changer when it comes to law enforcement.
What Michigan House Bill 4525 Actually Says
Under the bill, beginning January 2023, all law enforcement officers will be required to hold a blue belt in BJJ or higher given to them by a certified instructor. If they cannot achieve a blue belt in BJJ, they may receive equivalent training no later than January 2025.
The bill provides suggestions for equivalent training such as MMA and Judo experience but allows any grappling art to replace the BJJ requirement.
Great Potential with Some Needed Changes
This bill can go a long way in helping to solve police violence while also giving police the tools needed to protect themselves. A great example of the potential of this bill can be seen in the city of Marietta, Ga. The police force in Marietta has seen a notable reduction in injuries since they began training their officers in BJJ.
Anyone versed in ground fighting can control a potentially deadly situation and end it without harm. So why not train police?
The ability to subdue and control an opponent is especially effective in BJJ, although arts like Judo and Wrestling achieve the same goal. Wrestlers takedown and pin their opponents while Judo involves throws, pins, and some ground fighting.
Michigan’s bill specifies that a certified instructor can be a BJJ blackbelt or an instructor certified by the IBJJF, which is excellent. However, there are some additions within the bill that need clarification, mainly the equivalent training option.
According to the bill, equivalent training means any grappling training. Although there are some suggestions, such as two years in wrestling, MMA, or Judo, many different arts fall under the grappling category.
Aikido, Sumo, and Shuai Chiao are also considered grappling arts. Aikio focuses on throws and joint locks, Sumo involves takedowns, throws, and any move that will push your opponent out of a circle, and Shuai Chiao includes takedowns, throws, and joint locks.
The issue is that none of these other arts involve ground fighting, where most fights end up. That’s not to say that you can’t control a situation with a takedown or a joint lock, but it is crucial to have ground training for the violent situations in which law enforcement must be involved.
There’s another issue with this bill: beginning January 2025, each officer must participate in a minimum of 4 hours of grappling training each year. That’s equivalent to taking four classes a year, which is not enough to maintain training.
All in all, House Bill 4525 has great potential. But I feel that a program such as the Gracie Survival Tactics course with continued weekly or monthly BJJ training would be a much better way to go. This approach would provide officers with safe and effective techniques to use on the job and provide consistent training for the entire police force.
Next Steps: Contacting Your Representative
House Bill 4525 has not yet passed. Therefore, there is time to reach out to your local rep (if in Michigan) about any concerns you may have or to show support for the bill.
If you don’t live in Michigan and feel that a bill like this can help in your area, you can still take action and contact your local representative. Let them know how important BJJ training could be to everyone.
The introduction of House Bill 4525 is a fantastic step forward for law enforcement. Though it has the potential to help tremendously by requiring safe, efficient, and effective grappling training for police officers, some areas of the bill could be improved. Regardless, this is a great start, and improvements can be made down the road.
Kimberly is a Jiu Jitsu purple belt who also holds a black belt in Siljun Dobup Korean Sword Arts. When she’s not on the mats, she enjoys immersing herself in nature or a good book. She trains in New Jersey with her 9-year-old son.