Grays Harbor Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Partners with National Law Enforcement Program


When your job is to keep the public safe amid the ever-increasing pressure to be perfect 100% of the time, any skill that can help achieve that goal is welcome.

As state and national law enforcement agencies come under increasing pressure to adapt and reform, whether through public or political pressure, many agents seek to add whatever they want. they can down their skills in the hopes of increasing the chances that they and those they meet on a day shift will get home safely at night.

Although martial arts training is not new to the world of law enforcement, many officers are now training in the most fashionable discipline of martial arts, best known for its propensity to produce professional fighters. only patrollers: Brazilian jiu jitsu.

This trend is also prevalent locally, as Grays Harbor Jiu Jitsu recently partnered with the non-profit organization Adopt A Cop BJJ to offer classes to the best in the port.

Adopt A Cop BJJ is a 501 (c) 3 organization that “allows active duty police officers to patrol across the country to train at any academy affiliated with Adopt A Cop BJJ and will pay 100% of the membership. of the officer until he reaches the rank of blue belt. . “

According to Joe Marchie, owner of Grays Harbor BJJ, that’s about one to two years of training and a value of $ 1,200.

Marchie said he is currently training several local law enforcement and corrections officers, but was not aware of the program until one of his students brought it to his Warning.

“The program started (locally) just under two months ago,” he said. “Hoquiam Police Department officer Rob Verboomen trains with me, and he’s been very insistent that his guys come to train.”

Verboomen said he heard about the program on a podcast from its founder – a former Navy SEAL and current MMA fighter – and brought the idea to Marchie.

“I knew (Adopt A Cop) of Mitch Aguilar, he was the one who started the BJJ training program for law enforcement officers because it is a great tool for self-defense,” said Verboomen, who started his training at Aberdeen Academy in October 2020. “I mentioned it to Joe and he literally signed up the next day.”

Marchie’s BJJ Studio quickly gained acceptance as one of hundreds of Adopt A Cop affiliated gyms across the country, but is the only such academy west of Tacoma.

According to Marchie, the two main obstacles preventing law enforcement from attending jiu jitsu classes are the same reasons that prevent most civilians from engaging in extracurricular activities: money and time.

By becoming an Adopt A Cop gym, Marchie tries to suppress both of these excuses.

“A lot of officers say they don’t have the time or the money. These are the two main reasons I hear from civilians and officers. So I try to remove these barriers, ”he said, adding that his gym is open seven days a week and runs BJJ classes at 5:30 am, noon and 6:30 pm.

“They pay for everything, administrative fees, they pay your tuition, they pay everything up to the blue belt grade,” Verboomen said. “So that takes away the financial aspect and just trains the officers. “

Marchie, a BJJ black belt who has been training for 13 years, said that BJJ is “the failures of the martial arts world,” meaning it is a slow progressing art that takes on average 12 to 18 months to reach the rank. blue belt.

He added that BJJ’s lessons are just as mental as they are physical and are geared towards what law enforcement officers need to deal with in their day-to-day duties.

“There are a lot of things in there. It is not so much two people who are fighting for dominance or a hold of submission, but it teaches not only these officers, but anyone who practices jiu jitsu, to be comfortable while being uncomfortable. feel comfortable, ”he said.

“They will be able to make the right decisions when they are in a difficult situation, because in jiu jitsu someone is above you and trying to choke you or possibly break your arm. … It’s difficult and a lot of people panic. They don’t know how to escape. For some people, it’s a life-changing experience when they first step on the mat and can’t get rid of another human, no matter what they try to do. If this happens to an officer, it is life or death for him and possibly for many other people. So we give them the tools so that if they find themselves on their backs with someone on them, they know what to do in that position and stay calm and act accordingly.

While most equate Brazilian jiu-jitsu with arm bars, triangle chokes, and various submission finishers seen in the UFC and Bellator MMA promotions, Grays Harbor BJJ officers use the skill in a more convenient application for their needs. .

“You don’t get arm bars or leg locks,” said Verboomen, who is Hoquiam PD’s defensive tactics officer. “If it comes down to this situation where you’re on your back, I’m going to use the skills I have to get out of those situations.”

Verboomen added that using the non-striking martial art is more about control and trust in a law enforcement scenario.

“In situations where you have to use force, you don’t try to step up or use force when you’re trying to hurt someone or hurt yourself,” he said. “With jiu-jitsu, you feel confident in yourself and confident that if you are in a situation where if you are tackled or thrown to the ground you will be able to take distance or in a situation where you could go out, take self-care on the street.

“It’s a great confidence factor and I think every officer should have that confidence. It is a mindset of training and continuing to hone your craft because complacency is not a good thing in this profession, so you should always try to do your best and improve yourself. This is something that Adopt A Cop tries to do, to make every agent better. “

Although data on the subject is scarce, there is evidence that there are multiple benefits of having agents trained in JJB.

According to an article posted on the website, the Marietta, Georgia Police Department has started sponsoring its officers for after-hours jiu-jitsu training after facing backlash following an after-hours jiu-jitsu training. use of force video that went viral over two years ago. The ministry reported that since it began training officers in JJB, it has seen a 23% reduction in the use of tasers by its JJB-trained officers, a 48% decrease in officer injuries in across the ministry, a 53% reduction in civilian injuries and an overall 59% decrease in the use of force by JJB-trained officers.

“I know that (the use of) force is a polarizing topic in law enforcement, so we want to be able to arrest people with as little force as possible,” said David Tarrence, a veteran patrol officer from 10 years with the Aberdeen Police Department and one of two Adopt A Cop students at Grays Harbor BJJ. “So if you have developed a skill by coming to classes like this, you will be able to use less force when you stop someone. “

Tarrence, who has attended about 30 BJJ classes in two months, said the martial art “helps you not to panic” and “stay calm in unfamiliar territory,” two skills useful for a law enforcement officer. ‘order.

“You find that as you go through this you can still talk to people,” he said. “You can be in one of these different positions and give them orders, trying to verbally calm yourself down while you’re in the middle of something so stressful. People who don’t have that kind of training wouldn’t think of having this conversation. … I think the ultimate goal is to be able to help people as effectively as possible. I think jiu jitsu prepares you better for these serious incidents.

For more information on the Adopt A Cop BJJ program, visit

For more information on Grays Harbor Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, call 360-310-3023, visit or email [email protected]

RYAN SPARKS | THE EVERYDAY WORLD Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and Grays Harbor BJJ Academy owner / operator Joe Marchie, above, demonstrates BJJ techniques to his class on Friday in Aberdeen. The academy recently became a gymnasium affiliated with the national Adopt A Cop program, which reimburses the costs of BJJ classes for patrollers on active duty.

RYAN SPARKS |  THE DAILY WORLD Joe Marchie, owner / operator of Grays Harbor BJJ, above, demonstrates techniques to student Rob Verboomen, right, during a Friday night class in Aberdeen.

RYAN SPARKS | THE DAILY WORLD Joe Marchie, owner / operator of Grays Harbor BJJ, above, demonstrates techniques to student Rob Verboomen, right, during a Friday night class in Aberdeen.

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