For a long time, self-defense was seen merely as one part of the process of training security professionals, in either the public or private sector. However, with the passage of time, in view of the evolution of crime and its perpetrators, we now find ourselves faced with a growing need for technical improvement in the area of self-defense.
Better nutrition and the great popularity of weightlifting and dietary supplements are creating troublemakers and criminals who are much stronger and better prepared to “mix it up” with the forces of authority. At the same time, an increase in the number of martial arts academies and a variety of insufficiently-monitored social projects favor the diffusion of highly lethal techniques to poorly guided, violent, emotionally unstable students, and even to members of criminal factions.
The truth is that if criminals improve their skills, there is no way for the security forces to remain at a standstill or steps behind their adversaries. It was under these circumstances, on the basis of practical experience, that some public-safety professionals started to develop the defense method named “Operational Defense Resource” (RDO, for its Portuguese acronym). For this purpose, they sought out two of the most appropriate “laboratories” for self-defense applications, places where the need to utilize defense, immobilization, and control techniques was imperative, the Municipal Guard and the Special Police Operations Battalion of the Military Police (BOPE), both from the State of Rio de Janeiro.
Working jointly, Military police officers, civilian instructors, and Municipal Guard officers completely modified the physical and self-defense training of police elite troops. While the characteristic training needs of a BOPE police officer certainly need no further explanation with regard to proficiency in unarmed combat techniques, that requirement in the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Guard has even more significant aspects.
Unlike their counterparts in various other federal states, the Rio Guard resumed their activities in 1992 outside the civil-service regime, and even after acquiring civil-service status, they still face a strong lobby opposed to arming them with firearms. Even though we are talking about operating in a large city where police cars are not ready to go out on the streets if they are without an agent carrying a rifle, carbine, or shotgun, the lack of firearms is not a justification for the Guard to fail to act effectively in regard to public safety. In an entirely unenviable position, the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Guard is perhaps the largest public-safety force operating without firearms in the public-safety arena in the whole world!
Just to give an idea of the situation, in November 2010, when criminals attacked different parts of the city and police personnel from different battalions and police stations in the capital and inland were redeployed to join operations in the Penha and Alemão complexes, the Municipal Guards continued fulfilling their security mission in the streets, even though they were armed only with batons and sometimes pepper spray and a few non-lethal taser guns.
RDO was developed by public-safety professionals who are also professional MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters, with the objective of building a solid bridge between knowledge of a martial art and the professional applicability of that knowledge. With the new popularity of mixed martial arts fights, security professionals (public and private) could observe a resurgence of adversarial resistance in their own security actions, and they often found themselves outmatched by offenders.
The confidence of young troublemakers, fighters, or toughs, sometimes reinforced by the use of narcotic substances that prevent them from feeling pain, is often strengthened by techniques learned from simple videos posted on the internet. Hence the need to integrate these two professional areas – martial arts and security – providing agents with a defense resource against new attacks that can protect them from the use of improved techniques by aggressors. The security professional cannot lose!
More than other security institutions, the units of the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Guard have an obvious need for training for security professionals, for their own protection. The agents’ daily experiences and their specific characteristics require that professionals be familiar with extremely practical and effective techniques of unarmed combat.
RDO was developed with the aim of assisting security agents in the exercise of their functions, where the need for an agent to intervene determines the immobilization or control of an aggressor. Interventions should always observe three principles: priority, need, and responsibility. With regard to the first, the agent evaluates the reason why he will be executing the action and takes note of the characteristics of the tactical scenario in which he is acting and which guidelines apply to the incident. With regard to the second, the agent seeks to use the necessary and appropriate techniques and means to ensure his own safety and the performance of his functions. With regard to the third, the agent draws on all his professionalism, employing only strictly necessary force, controlling his emotions, seeking better execution of techniques, and guaranteeing and respecting the rights of all involved in the situation.
It is a matter of the highly scrupulous application of good technique, ensuring above all the maintenance of a positive image of the institution and its members. If all persuasive options fail, it is indispensable that security agents have the ability to enforce the authority they represent, with the intelligent use of physical force and good technique.
RDO contributes to agents’ professional development through its interdisciplinarity, and by using a technical methodology applied to the personnel’s daily activities and real situations, it enables students to understand and grasp the message easily and quickly, even if they do not have previous knowledge of a martial art or institutional defense technique.
Living in an ever-changing society, security agents, in addition to having technical knowledge of self-defense, need to know the local culture and the laws that rule their actions and be able to analyze the social and political situation of the moment in order to decide what course of action will be most appropriate. In RDO, instructors and students interact about questions of the application of force and the law almost the entire time. This knowledge is of the highest importance, contributing directly to a mission’s success or failure.
Defensive combat techniques cannot be summarized in simple “cake recipes.” One action cannot be standardized and applied to all situations. The place where the techniques will be used, the type of audience, their motivations, and a variety of other factors and variables are what is going to determine the best approach and the most appropriate steps to be taken toward the solution of a problem, so as to minimize the risks to all involved.
* Luiz Alexandre Santos is a self-defense and operational techniques instructor, with a degree in public-safety management