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Departments : Officer Survival

Gaining the Upper Hand on Combative Subjects

Control resistive subjects with an innovative bent arm-lock technique.

September 01, 1996  |  by Joseph Truncale

Great strides have been made in police technology over the last 25 years. Advances are evident in almost every area of police work from the collection of evidence to the use of computers in squad cars. But when it comes to training, one law enforce­ment team has drawn from the past to develop a method for controlling vio­lent subjects.

Although electronic devices and pep­per sprays are useful in controlling resis­tive subjects, they have not proved to be wonder tools in solving physical con­frontation problems. In the end, it usual­ly comes down to a grappling situation to control a noncompli­ant subject. And with video cameras rolling, the public often sees several officers trying to contain one resistive subject. To an unin­formed observer, such action looks like excessive force.

Through televi­sion and movies, the media have influenced public perception regard­ing how police offi­cers should react to violent suspects. Fight scenes often depict officers con­taining a resisting person with one punch or baton strike. No matter how ski lied an officer is in defensive tactics and control, subduing a violent person is never as easy as it looks in the movies or a training environment. But there are techniques available to help officers on the street.

The CLAMP Control Technique

Larry and Chris Lein, a father and son team, have drawn from the past to come up with a highly effective method for controlling resistive subjects. A jujitsu/judo bent arm-lock technique, called Ude Garami, was refined and developed into the CLAMP Control Technique. "CLAMP" stands for the "Chris Lein Arm Management Program."

Both Larry and Chris have police backgrounds and are judo experts. Larry is a retired FBI special agent, and his son is a member of the Kansas City (Mo.) Police Department. Chris has used the CLAMP Control Tech­nique numerous times while working as a police officer, offering proof that the method works during actual physi­cal confrontations.

For five years, the two men worked together in a variety of situations to perfect their method. One basic tech­nique can be employed in a wide vari­ety of police arrest and control inci­dents. The method is based upon proper application of body mechanics and leverage to control subjects, rather than just cause them pain. It is simple to learn and apply, making it ideal for police officers to employ on the street. It can also be easily modified to adjust to the standard cooperative and uncoop­erative control techniques officers have already learned.

The CLAMP employs the very same principles used with the PR-24 police baton and the straight baton to control resistive subjects. The body mechanics used with this arm control technique are the same with or without a baton. Therefore, officers who understand the basic principles of the CLAMP can use the same method with a police baton. The technique also employs a basic grip that can be mastered and retained with little practice.

Controlling Subjects

Larry emphasizes that they "are not in competition with any other defensive tactics system because (their) method can be incorporated into other systems of arrest and con­trol." The CLAMP is designed to control uncooperative subjects and can work for officers of every size. The method can be employed on a resistive subject who is standing, kneeling, or lying on his back or on top of an officer. It can also be used to remove a subject from a cell or vehicle, and to subdue someone who attempts to grab an officer from behind.

Officers often feel that the techniques they learned at the academy do not work during real-life street confrontations. But the CLAMP has been used countless times in actual fight scenar­ios. Once officers practice this tech­nique during street simulation training, they often immediate­ly gain confidence. I have personally used the bent arm-lock method successfully in various free­style practice sessions with another subject who is an experienced grappler.

Using the CLAMP

No article or book on any motor skill can fully explain how a technique is performed. Without instruction from a qualified self-defense instructor, you cannot learn the vital nuances that make a technique more effective. The photographs in this article are demon­strated by an officer who has been trained to use the CLAMP technique. Chris Lein is the resisting subject in these pictures.

To practice the CLAMP technique from an interview stance in front of a subject:

  • Photo 1-Grasp the left wrist of the subject with your right hand as you step forward.
  • Photo 2-Place your left mm out­side and over the subject's left arm. Slip your left hand under the subject's arm and grasp your own right wrist.
  • Photo 3-Move behind the sub­ject while applying downward pressure with your left arm and move your right hand upward.
  • Photo 4-Use your body weight to sit down. This will force the subject on his stomach for handcuffing.

Practice slowly at first and use the pat-out method to let your partner know when you feel enough pressure.

Note: There are other variations to complete this hold on a subject who is on the ground.

A Final Note

Although there is no single solution to every use-of-force situation, the key to dealing with resis­tive subjects is to use a multifaceted approach. The more control options offi­cers have, the better they will be at sub­duing a combative subject, using only enough force to contain the situation. Remember, the secret to competency in anything is regular practice and reinforcement. •

Joseph Truncale is a professional police trainer, free-lance writer and retired police officer.

For more information on the CLAMP, contact Larry and Chris Lein at: 9757 N. Indiana, Kansas City, MO 64156. Telephone: (816) 734-9141

The contents of this article are for information purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional training under a quali­fied instructor. POLICE, the author, and Larry and Chris Lein accept no liability whatsoever for injuries to persons or property resulting from the information presented or implied in this article.


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