5 Reasons Every Police Officer Should Train in Martial Arts

Police officers

Martial arts are the arts of fighting. Law enforcement personnel can highly benefit from them, such as police officers. They provide many benefits to consistent trainees. They can reduce stress, lower aggression, and ever increase confidence. So, should police officers learn one? 

Police officers should learn a martial art because- it betters situational awareness, reduced stress and anxiety, and trains them for self-defense situations. As a result, police officers with a martial arts background perform better under high pressure in risky scenarios. (Source)

Yet, there are plenty of other reasons why law enforcement personnel should train in martial artsThe following list is why every police officer should participate in martial arts. (#1 = Most crucial)

  1. self-defense
  2. reduced stress and anxiety
  3. increased self-confidence
  4. better physical shape
  5. better situational awareness

Before jumping into the article, I’ll recommend you buy this punching bag by Everlast (Amazon), combined with these MMA gloves (Amazon). For me, they’ve made a difference and allowed me to progress at home. 

Additionally, I wrote an article that correlates closely to this one. Follow the link to read the eleven reasons to learn a martial art

5. Better situational awareness

Knowing how to react to a dangerous situation is vital for overcoming it. Yet, identifying the pre-signs of such a scenario will provide you with the platform to cease it before it begins. Well, is that even possible? 

Training in martial arts will better your situational awareness because you’ll be repeating the same drills time and time again. As a result, not only will you respond more quickly and non-hesitantly to any situation, but you’ll also be capable of identifying a scenario before it begins. 

Let me give you an example. When I did Krav Maga, we practiced responding to an attacker with a knife. We went over it for two whole sessions, hence 4 hours. I repeated the same drill around 40-60 times. Consequently, I’m more capable of handling these types of self-defense situations. 

Not only that, but I know how to identify such an attack. We went over that, and I developed a sense of these scenarios. Hence when such a case happens, I’ll react- quickly and swiftly. Thus the odds of neutralizing the threat increase. 

Overall, learning how to fight is crucial for law-enforcement personnel. I’ll give you another example from my military service. Whenever I would stumble upon an aggressive individual, I would react automatically. As a result, I was non-hesitant, fierce, and with no stress. 

Additionally, I trusted my capabilities because I went over so many hours of Krav Maga. As a result, I knew I could react appropriately. But that’s another point we’ll go over in one of the following sections. 

To summarize, you’ll be more capable of identifying the threats around you when you repeat the same drill. As a result, your odds of not getting hurt and eventually neutralizing the threat; rise. 

4. Better physical shape

Many people overlook this benefit. Yet, it’s one of the more prominent ones. Getting into shape is highly desirable in today’s world. As a result, if one can achieve that by doing something one loves, it’s a win-win situation. When we talk about martial arts, that’s precisely the case.

Martial arts will better your physical shape after the first session because it uses most muscle groups in the body. As a result, you’ll burn more calories and improve your aerobic and anaerobic shape quickly. For instance, a single Kickboxing session can burn up to 800 calories.

When discussing police officers, they need to be in a top-notch shape. Otherwise, many actions require you to be fit and capable, such as climbing a wall. Thus to be suitable for that, officers must be in good shape. 

“exercisers can expect a moderateto-vigorous intensity workout that teaches self-defense techniques while simultaneously providing a full-body workout.”

A recent study found that Krav Maga is a remarkably intense workout. In an hour session, including warm-up and post-training, the trainees burned 616 calories on average. Additionally, it concluded that Krav Maga meets the ACSM guidelines for a workout that manages body weight. (Source)

That said, not only will you be able to better your physical shape, but you’ll also learn self-defense techniques. Returning to my previous point, you’ll have fun while getting in shape and developing new skills. Doesn’t that sound fantastic? 

From personal experience, I improved my shape post the first session. Some benefits will come later in your training, such as self-esteem. Yet, you’ll feel sore when you wake up the day after your class. 

I wrote an article on whether martial arts will get you in shape. If you’re interested in learning more, follow the link. 

3. Increased self-confidence

The most prominent quality law enforcement personnel should have- is confidence. As a result, one will function more effectively when believing in his capabilities. Here is where training in martial arts can give you an edge over other individuals. 

Training in martial arts increases self-confidence. Because the trainees will overcome new challenges every workout, they’ll better trust themselves as they progress. As a result, martial arts trainees will better their confidence by staying consistent with training.

Picture the following scenario; A police officer stumbles upon a street fight. Now, there are two options for the officer to react. First, he can flee and ensure his safety; Secondly, he can intervene and ensure everyone’s safety. How do you think a capable, confident police officer would respond?

My guess is that most confident officers would intervene immediately to cease the fight. They’re secure in using their skills to discontinue the fighting. As a result, they’ll stop the struggle. Yet, an incompetent one wouldn’t believe he’s capable of handling the situation.

First, confidence correlates with self-esteem. If a person values himself, he’ll be capable of knowing he’s suitable for the job. If a police officer respects himself, he would understand that he can react to any dangerous situation he encounters. 

According to this study, individuals who train in martial arts improve their self-esteem. As a result, not only are they more confident, but they value themselves more. When talking about police officers, such a trait is vital for filling your duty. As a result, training in martial arts is highly beneficial. 

2. Reduced stress and anxiety

Remaining calm under high-stress levels is crucial for law enforcement personnel. Officers encounter such situations frequently. Thus it’s a part of their job to overcome them as smoothly as possible. Because of that, ensuring you’re under control in such scenarios is vital. 

Training in martial arts reduces stress and anxiety because they provide trainees with a non-judgmental outlet to release aggression and anger. As a result, the trainees will be calmer post-training. For instance, hitting a punching bag will release aggression and stress.

While you’re training, you’ll have plenty of adrenaline and tension. As a result, you’ll be more aggressive in the session itself. Yet, after the session, you’ll be calmer because you’ve invested all that fierce in training. Thus you’ll be more peaceful post-workout.  

“Our results indicate that doing an additional martial arts training once a week may lead to better performance under anxiety, although it cannot prevent that performance decreases under high anxiety compared to low anxiety.”


For your information, the study was on police officers in stressful situations. First, they tested whether officers with a martial arts background performed better in arrests. Later, they did the same with officers without one. 

Results showed that a martial arts background performed better under high-stress high/low anxiety environments, such as arrests or various self-defense situations. From that, it’s clear that officers need to train in martial arts, as they’ll accomplish their job better. 

I highly recommend you read more about this study, as it’s fascinating seeing the results. If you’re a law enforcement personnel, I hope you’ll take this to your heart. You’ll do your job better if you train in a fighting style, simple as that. 

I wrote two articles that correlate closely with this section. First, read why martial arts don’t make you violent. Lastly, why do martial arts decrease anger? Both have insights that may change your perspective on fighting. I highly encourage you to read both. 

1. Self-defense

Today, most people want to learn self-defense. For officers- whose job is to protect people, learning how to fight is crucial. Although police officers carry a pistol and other nonlethal weapons, escalating slowly into them will ensure nobody gets unnecessary injuries. 

Learning a martial art will teach you to use self-defense. Because you’ll be repeating similar drills and developing new techniques and movements, you’ll become a better fighter. As a result, you’ll know how to defend yourself and others using the skillset you learn. 

Additionally, you’ll develop muscle memory using the techniques. As a result, you’ll quickly react once you need to use them. That’ll improve your chances of solving the dangerous scenario. Because of that, you’ll see that your fighting capabilities immediately increase. 

From personal experience; Because I was a special forces operator, I needed to be ready at any given moment. As a result, I couldn’t let myself think in dangerous situations. Instead, the number of hours I invested into my training allowed me to react non-hesitantly to any situation. Because of that, I was a much better operator

Police officers have a similar situation to what I had. Police officers don’t have time to think. If they do, they lower their chances of coming out on top. As a result, responding swiftly and effectively is crucial. 

In a situation, you won’t beat your opponent if you’re scared of getting hit. You’ll be hesitant about closing the distance, which is fundamental for many techniques, such as grappling. As a result, not only will you not perform to your best level, but you’ll also most likely lose. 

One of the benefits of martial arts is they increase your pain tolerance. As a result, you’ll be so used to getting punched; it simply wouldn’t bother you. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of martial arts, follow the link to an article of mine. 

Should police officers learn martial arts?

Law enforcement personnel need to know to fight. As a result, they’ll perform at a much higher level. As a result, they’ll be able to come out on top in various self-defense situations. 

Police officers should learn martial arts because it’ll teach them many practical techniques. These movements are valuable to the frequent situation they encounter. As a result, they’ll react more quickly and calmly. Thus they increase their chances of performing well. 

Additionally, it provides many benefits relevant to the officers’ jobs. It’ll reduce stress and promote aggressiveness when they need it. As a result, they’ll perform at a much better level.  

Which martial art should police officers learn?

Today, there’s a variety of martial arts. While some are more practical than others, all of them have value. As a result, learning any fighting style will provide some benefits. 

Police officers should learn either MMA or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Both martial arts are dynamic and will teach you to adapt. All law enforcement personnel need to adapt to any situation. As a result, from both MMA and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu- you’ll learn how to react to many dangerous scenarios. 

Police car
Image by Bao Tseng from Pixabay

Yet, the study showed that a martial arts background assist in performing better in self-defense situations. Whether they learned Krav Maga or Karate, they did better. As a result, if I were deciding, I would force everyone to choose a style of their liking. 

Which martial art do police officers learn?

There isn’t a standard for police officers. While some learn Krav Maga, many police officers don’t participate in martial arts classes. Consequently, there’s a variety of fighting styles amongst law enforcement personnel. 

As a general rule, there isn’t a standard for martial art police officers to learn because there’s nobody in charge. Yet, many police stations focus on a specific fighting style for all the officers. For instance, many stations ensure the officers learn Krav Maga or Jiu-Jitsu. 

Yet, law enforcement personnel must participate in such an activity. It provides the trainees with many valuable benefits, such as increased pain tolerance and confidence. For that, all police officers should learn martial arts. 


Overall, all police personnel should learn martial arts. It delivers many benefits crucial for their work. Yet, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of such an issue. There has been significant evidence on that topic, and I highly encourage every person to train in martial arts.


I've served in the military as a special forces operator for 4-years. In that period, I've trained in many martial arts, including karate, MMA, BJJ, boxing, and even Krav Maga. I want to share my passion with you, so here it is!

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