Yelm Police Department Takes on Jiu-Jitsu Training to Improve Defensive Tactics


Officers with the Yelm Police Department are in their second month of jiu-jitsu training in an effort to improve the department’s defensive tactics. 

Yelm’s Chief of Police Rob Carlson, as well as members of the police department, believe the training will pay dividends in the field.

The department began its training at Harai Dojo in October, after Carlson spoke with Rob Larson, who has a brown belt in jiu-jitsu.

“He came up with this as an idea to do our defensive tactics at this dojo and gather all the experience that’s here,” Carlson said. “The training we receive at the dojo really equates to some of the stuff we see in the field.”

Carlson said learning the defensive tactics involved in jiu-jitsu will not only reduce injuries in the field for police officers if they get into a confrontation, but it will also reduce the risk of injury for the individual they’re dealing with. 

From top to bottom, the entirety of the Yelm Police Department participates in the classes, Carlson said. 

“I think this not only teaches us defensive tactics within jiu-jitsu, but it improves our camaraderie as a unit since we’re all in here and working together,” Carlson said. “It’s a great bonding opportunity for the police department.”

Carlson said another bonus of the training is that it improves the overall conditioning levels of officers. Law enforcement members who are nursing injuries are still able to walk through the classes at a less taxing level, while taking away important concepts. 

“We’re going to continue to do this training because I believe it improves our confidence,” Carlson said. “I’ve noticed that different things are already starting to come to me from our first several sessions and I believe this training will be big for us.”

Larson, who is a coach at Harai Dojo, is happy to see Carlson and the Yelm Police Department take initiative to improve their defensive tactics. Like Carlson, Larson believes it will create more confidence for officers within the department. 

“For a police officer, they already have options on their belt and the jiu-jitsu training provides them one more option that isn’t lethal,” Larson said. “I hate to see a cop whose first time in combat is in a situation in the middle of a physical situation where they’re trying to put someone on the ground. This gives them confidence since they’ve already been doing it at the gym.”

Larson said he is encouraged to see the department working to improve as a unit and as individuals. 

“When people were saying defund the police, I couldn’t disagree more. I believe now more than ever that police officers need more training,” Larson said. “I’m from this area and it makes me love this area so much more. This training is going to make a difference in how everything is handled.”


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