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Make a Chance: A Well-Thrown Punch to the Head Can Help You Gain Control of a Suspect or Escape a Violent Attack

NCJ Number
Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine Volume: 26 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2002 Pages: 56,58,60,61
Joel A. Johnston
Date Published
July 2002
4 pages
This article describes “making a chance,” creating an opportunity to either control an opponent or escape attack.
“Making a chance” almost always involves striking the opponent using some kind of punch. Punching in law enforcement, particularly in the head, has several drawbacks unrelated to technique. Law enforcement professionals have been made to believe that punching is not socially acceptable or is somehow unfair. When punches are landed to the head, they tend to leave visible injuries. This can lead to accusations of police brutality. The most important concern that a police officer should have when it is necessary to throw a punch at a suspect’s head is his or her own survival. It can endanger the police officer as much as it helps gain an advantage. The hand of the person throwing the punch is likely to suffer damage because the small bones of the hand do not stand up very well against the large cranial bones of the head. It is possible to contract serious infections because of cutting the punching hand on the subject’s teeth or cranial bones. Direct contact can result in the transfer of blood-borne pathogens, including hepatitis and HIV. If the dominant hand is disabled during a confrontation, it may be difficult or impossible to access other force options that may become necessary, such as baton or firearm. Punching to the head can be extremely effective if done correctly. It creates a window of opportunity to gain control of a violent subject or to escape from a violent subject. Punching is effective because it comes easily, naturally, and often instinctively. It is a gross motor skill that requires very little training, is simple to execute, and goes a long way when the body is responding to the stress of a violent confrontation. An effective punch to the head will lead quickly to the end of the confrontation and, for law enforcement professionals, this is an important goal. The purpose of the punch should not be to punish or deliberately injure. Open handed strikes can be extremely effective and much safer for the striker.