The recent shocking and violent attack in Armley prison on a prison officer tells me that the officers are still very vulnerable in what is still a very dangerous job. He was reportedly looking after 71 inmates on his own at the time. These people have to deal with the most violent people in society and the attack in Armley wasn’t simply a one-off it happens a lot in our prison system, I remember there was a recent case in Durham prison. The Times reported:

One female officer was stabbed in the back and two male colleagues suffered arm and face injuries in the attack at Frankland Prison, Co Durham, on Saturday.

The Category A prison has seen a number of assaults on staff in recent years and in 2008, HM Inspectorate of Prisons raised concerns over levels of violence.

The most recent attack took place just after 9am when the officers, who are all in their early thirties, opened the door to a cell.

One of the officers was thought to have been slashed in the face after rugby-tackling the inmate, while another was said to have suffered a potentially life-threatening arterial bleed.

The key information here is that the officer rugby tackled the inmate, as this shows that people still use this when fighting or restraining people. The best fighting system for dealing with rugby tackles is the Spear system. Both the Gracie and Spear systems have very similar defences against rugby tackles this called sprawling.

If the sprawl hasn’t worked you will be usually be dragged to the floor and you use a technique called The Gracie Guard, which is where you bear hug with your hands, and grab the attacker between your legs and pull them in them tight. If you use this technique you are not going to let the attacker get any power in their punches. When your body is under extreme pressure or stressed (when your heart beat goes above 220 bpm) you can’t use your minor motor skills because you are shaking and your fight or flight kicks in. However, the techniques I have just described work whether you are stressed or not because you are using your legs.

NHS staff that work in prisons are the responsibility of the NHS – which results in their training to be very mixed. The training for these brave team members has to be realistic and practical.

I believe that the people doing these types of jobs should be trained in the latest techniques including how to get out of tackles and locks etc. Although these officers do receive adequate training I personally feel that self defence training in our prisons could be vastly improved. If I was recommending training for them, I would suggest a six-week Gracie or Spear program at the very minimum – not just having a few short lectures on self defence because it’s simply not enough. These are people’s lives we are dealing with here.

I was at an event recently with experts in the UK and not one instructor mentioned the relevance of dealing with a Rugby Tackle but I have seen it happen in attacks.

I have included a video which shows a prison attacker getting attacked and it is pretty shocking. Training can save lives – watch the video and judge for yourself.

The enclosed video clearly shows me the significance of the Gracie system because in that they pull the attacker into the body which stops them having the leverage to punch you. The Gracie defence for this was clearly shown in the post that I did earlier in the year on police training.

Both this post and my previous one clearly demonstrate the importance of good quality training, it should never be a tick box exercise as it could save their lives.

In my opinion, this training needs to be something that is regular and intensive that shares the latest self defence techniques, fear psychology, anti-ambush methods and looking at how to analyse and deal with attack rituals.