I have been following the spirited debate over the Seattle Police confrontation video. While at first I believed it might turn several blog authors against each other, it appears that there is a good amount of respect out there for different opinions.
I have followed Dojo Rat and Martial development and Sensei Strange's comments with great interest. In the end, I think they have each at least considered varying perspectives on the matter. I also really enjoyed J.C.'s post at Bujutsu: the path
About the video and the debate:
No one seems to dispute that the pedestrians should not have resisted.
No one seems to dispute that police officers should be able to defend themselves.
For most, it seems the issue is the type and the amount of force used by the officer.
It is important to note that no one except the officer knew what he was thinking and feeling at the time. It is always easier to be a Monday morning quarterback.
One of the bigger challenges in law enforcement is the effective and appropriate use of force. Equally important is how that use of force is viewed by the public.
I am the first to admit that a punch is not always the ideal choice, and often it doesn't look very good to onlookers. Sometimes a joint lock or restraint might be viewed as more acceptable even if it caused the same amount or more injury to a person. To some the punch appears to be a technique used when one loses control.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of the punch. It often looks bad and it has a high rate of injury for the puncher. One of the many reasons that I chose Jiu Jitsu (or it chose me) is that it provides options.
Police officers, in general, are well trained in areas of true combat. Most are quite proficient in a gun battle or any fight for survival. The area that is often lacking is in-between a peaceful encounter and a truly violent one.
For me, Jiu Jitsu has provided the area to explore these areas. The techniques contained are progressive and adaptable. I am provided the opportunity to explore situational simulations to test out various options. I will often work with my Sensei and J.C. to figure out options for dealing with various amounts of resistance.
Nothing tests control techniques better than trying them on a resisting opponent. Actually, nothing tests any techniques better. I thing we can all learn from this type of work.
When we train consistently, we strive to achieve that state of Mushin, or empty mind. In this state, we can react instinctively to situations, without thought or hesitation.
I know many may feel I may be siding with the Seattle officer, but perhaps the only technique available to him was the punch. Or perhaps not. I don't know him.
The point? I train to have instinctive options available to me. I practice realistic situations to prepare myself for various types of situations. If I had been in the same situation, would I have thrown a punch? I'd like to think I would have had other options at hand, but who knows? Maybe I would have. Maybe I wouldn't. Then again, that's one of the many reasons I continue to train.
To all those out there, let's continue to share opinions and feel free to debate issues with an open and respectful mind.