The athleticism and showmanship of MMA competition is a big draw for many law enforcement personnel. And some local police officers have found a way to take their self-defense skills to the next level by taking it to the mat.

In those instances when warrants are served for criminals, or should a hostage situation develop in the Merrillville and Tri-Town areas, the Northwest Regional SWAT squad is called.

Ongoing training is the name of the game for these tactical experts. So, when MMA fighters and fitness teachers from Corral’s Martial Arts in Schererville floated the idea of offering policemen skills workshops, the SWAT squad jumped on the plan.

“With the popularity of the MMA over the last several years, what we’re coming across more and more is the average citizen training in MMA fighting,” said Jeff Snemis, NR SWAT commander. “You don’t know who you’re coming across on the street. What we try to do is keep up on some of the MMA basics that are being taught for our own safety and protection.”

But what could marksmen take away from athletes who rely on their right hooks and seek to force tap-outs with armbar submission holds? A lot, according to Corral’s Donnell “D” Etienne, personal trainer.

Etienne, who has fought in several MMA bouts as an amateur, explained that the Schererville martial arts academy has already offered self-defense courses for the general public: they would simply retool their teaching to focus on weapon control and maybe throw in some Jujitsu or other techniques.

And Etienne doesn’t have to imagine what an officer might encounter; he simply refers to his 13 years in law enforcement leading up to his current position as a Merrillville police department patrolman and future police academy instructor.

“If you’re just the average civilian, it comes down to defending yourself — not so much trying to fight an attacker, but how do I get away from them,” Etienne said. “Law enforcement goes into the aspect of ‘Hey, I need to protect my weapon. What happens if I go to the ground? How can I gain better positioning so I don’t get hurt?'”

Source: Anthony D. Alonzo for the Post Tribune.

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