California Highway Patrol Officers begin martial arts training

26 Oct 2009 | Cpl. Brian A. Gabriel Jr.

Police officers from the Oceanside office of the California Highway Patrol completed their first day of martial arts training here Oct 26.

Throughout the past year, CHP officers have become familiar faces on Camp Pendleton by assisting the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group with safety briefs and motorcycle safety guidance for the Marines.

 The safety training given by the Oceanside CHP is completely volunteer-based and driven purely by a desire to help Marines, said Capt. Adam K. Kessel, I MHG Comptroller.

“They see the accidents involving Marines in the local area and do anything they can do to help out and raise awareness,” said Kessel. 

“We asked them to help us, and they definitely went above and beyond what we requested,” said Kessel, a Pittsburgh, Pa., native.  “In addition to multiple safety briefs, they’ve actually participated in safety rides and provided us with some documentation from their motorcycle training.”

In return for their hard work, I MHG has provided the officers with a fully-equipped, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program facility to kick off their martial arts program here.

The CHP currently teaches martial arts to its ranks, familiarizing police officers with hand-to-hand forms of self-defense, but lack a proper training facility like the I MHG MCMAP room which is stocked with mats, punching bags, protective gear and weights.

Kessel, the I MHG Motorcycle Safety Club President, worked with Officer Jimmy Gaffney to help the policemen and women of Oceanside CHP find a place to train.  Kessel and Gaffney worked together previously during I MHG motorcycle safety training.

“Officer Gaffney asked us if we had any areas where they could do their self-defense tactics because what they would do is pull out a mat in the parking lot of their office.  They had nowhere where they could do their training,” said Kessel.

 “Just like the Marine Corps, we’ve actually kind of adopted our own [mixed martial arts] style program, incorporating martial arts like Muay Thai and Krav Maga, said Officer Jimmy Gaffney, one of the martial arts program instructors.  “We’re getting all the training to go hands on with people,” said Gaffney.

Also similar to the Marine Corps, having martial arts experience is a valuable skill to have in an operating environment where use of weapons or deadly force is often not the first line of defense.

“If someone doesn’t have a lethal weapon with them, like a knife or a gun and you’re not in fear for your life, you might have to go hands-on with them,” said Gaffney.  “You might not have the time to use other methods, like a taser or [Oleoresin Capsicum] spray,” the Salem, Ore., native added.

Although a lot of emphasis is placed on hand-to-hand fighting, the focus of the martial arts training is not solely becoming a proficient fighter. 

“We teach the students how to get away from a person, create time and distance, so we can go to a different force option or call for backup and stay in the fight,” said Gaffney.

The program is not limited to only new police officers, but a wide spectrum of CHP personnel.

“We have all ranges of people,” said Gaffney.  “We have guys with only five or six years on here today—we have guys with 25 to 28 years on.  Everybody came out today, and I am glad they are all taking it seriously.”