I have been a police officer for two years now, and patrolling the city streets there is potential for physical confrontation every time I go out. Being able to handle yourself properly is essential and I really don’t think I would feel comfortable without my martial arts training.
I’m only five foot two, and I am still a long way from being a black belt, but I started doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu about six years ago, and I think it’s fair to say that I am properly addicted.
Elaine is a serving police officer
It is a really fun way to keep in shape and to blow off steam – particularly after a tough time at work. But as well as that it gives you skills that could save your life, whether you are a police officer or a member of the public.
Jiu-jitsu is a grappling martial art, where we spend most of our time fighting on the ground. It is good to know how to handle yourself if things do hit the floor. But training is not just about learning to fight – as much as anything, jiu-jitsu teaches you not to panic when you are in a tough spot.
In every situation where there is risk involved, you feel your heart rate increase as your body’s stress responses kick in. In chaotic late-night situations, particularly where excessive alcohol is involved, it is extremely important to stay calm so that you don’t get carried away and make emotional decisions.
In the gym we are constantly put under physical pressure as we learn to defend ourselves from all different kinds of attacks. With repetition you learn to control how your body reacts to stress and how to make rational decisions in potentially life-threatening scenarios, like when somebody is trying to choke you.
This translates very well to pressure situations that we encounter in the line of duty. When things kick off on a night out at work, of course I have a nervous response like anyone else. But I am confident that I can control it and decide the best course of action as calmly as possible.
I would recommend jiu-jitsu to anyone, particularly women. Because you never know what problems you are going to encounter – even if you are not being paid to keep the streets safe.
It’s not about trying to be the toughest person out there. I just want to have enough skill and awareness to contain a situation until back-up arrives.