Black Belt

Q&A: Kajukenbo in the LEO Handbook

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Black Belt: When you teach defensive tactics to law-enforcemen­t officers, how much kajukenbo do they get?

Damon Gilbert: I would say it’s around 50 percent of the curriculum. Because kajukenbo is such a dirty street-fighting martial art, half the stuff I know I could never bring to law enforcemen­t. For example, I can’t teach eye gouges, groin kicks, strikes to the spine or stomps to the head.

qhe things f can bring include some of the takedownsI the joint manipulati­onsI the come-alongsI the blocksI the distractio­n strikes and the baton techniques we get from arnis and doce pares. The people who go through the academy don’t know they’re all yellow belts in kajukenboI but they are.

Black Belt: How good does the average police officer get at the academy?

Damon Gilbert: They get good very quickly because of the intensity of the training. The state of California says you need 65 hours of self-defense training to become a police officer. At Oakland, we do 235 hours. A lot of their days include four-hour classes, and they might get that three times a week. qhey do that for six months.

My message to all of them is, ´After you graduate, what will you do?” They’ve trained like a pro fighter for six months, which is amazing. But if they go the next year without doing anything, all that is null and void. Yes, they get good training at the academy, but it’s the consistenc­y of the ongoing training that matters in the long run. f always encourage them to train on their own at a reputable martial arts school.

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