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Verbal Judo

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Dr. George Thompson

Protecting Professionalism


Verbal Judo, or Tactical Communication, enables officers to further preserve law and order  while maintaining their own and the public's safety by using Appropriate Presence and Words as force options.

Verbal Judo is the principle of Judo itself: using the energy of others to master situations. It contains a set of communication principles and tactics that enable the user to generate cooperation and gain voluntary compliance in others under stressful conditions, such as hostile suspects, upset or frightened victims, or any action which places the officer and the community at odds with each other.

Verbal Judo teaches a philosophy of how to look creatively at conflict, offering specific, powerful, and usable strategies to resolve tense situations. The presentation is geared primarily but not exclusively, to law enforcement situations. You will learn to respond to situations, rather than react to personal feelings, understanding how to deal with difficult people using conflict management tactics to defuse confrontational encounters.

The course has precisely defined training goals that address concerns of importance, both to administration and to individual street officers:

SAFETY: Officers use words to prevent confrontations from becoming violent situations, reducing the potential injury to officers and citizens.

ENHANCED PROFESSIONALISM: Officers recognize the impact their words have on the public and use language appropriate to each encounter. Officers perform well before the audiences they encounter, thus creating a positive community attitude.

REDUCED VICARIOUS LIABILITY: Officers who handle citizen encounters skillfully and professionally are less likely to generate complaints and lawsuits. Officers trained in Verbal Judo will be able to describe their reasoning and explain their actions according to professional principles.

This two-day program is designed for officers whose duties require them to resolve tense confrontations peacefully and safely. Verbal Judo is the top rated law enforcement communication course in the country with over 600,000 graduates.


Verbal Judo teaches a philosophy of how to look creatively at conflict and use specific strategies and tactics to find peaceful resolutions. These skills are beneficial to officers in their duties because dealing with the public is often difficult and trying emotionally. Maintaining a "Professional Face" is crucial if officers are to remain under emotional control and be able to effectively find solutions to potentially violent encounters without escalating to physical force options. Further, where there are times that such physical force options are indeed necessary to protect both citizens and officers, such force must always be part of the professional process so officers are protected within the four arenas: with our peers, on the streets, in the courtroom, and with the media.

Departments can expect that once its officers are trained in Verbal Judo, they will know the following things:

  • How to use Words to achieve professional purposes and how to resist using language to express personal feelings.

  • How to control themselves inside so they can exert control on the outside.

  • How to employ empathy and "The Art Of Representation" to become Contact Professionals, maintaining self-control and staying in contact with the needs of the department and their audience - the public.

  • How to effectively deliver words that are on target by first understanding the receiver's point of view. This includes two distinct tactical approaches for dealing with difficult people: the "Eight Step Traffic/People Stop" and the "Five Step Hard Style".

  • "The Art Of Translation", to ensure that what we say is actually what we intend, and "The Art Of Mediation", delivering words in the form of a personal appeal, to achieve voluntary compliance from people who are under temporary emotional influences, ranging from despair and fear to anger and prejudice.

  • How to read others and diagnose a verbal encounter.

  • How to use the four appeals of persuasion and the twenty-four principles of street work.

  • The five conditions where words demonstratively fail and officers must move beyond words to physical force options.


Every year local government spends millions of dollars on defensive tactics and weapons training for law enforcement officers. In some cities the bill for ammunition alone reaches six and seven figures. Every year millions more are spent by local governments defending themselves in lawsuits brought against their officers for unnecessary use of force. Officers are often injured or killed in confrontations that escalated beyond the power of control holds, sticks, or guns to control the situation.

 Of the six "force options" available to police officers - Presence, Words, Empty- Hand Control, Chemicals, Batons or PR-24, and Firearms - only Presence and Words can promise a non-violent resolution to street encounters.

In addition, only these two have the power to reduce vicarious liability suits, improve citizen relations, and increase officer safety.

Officers to date have received little or no specific training in the use of Appropriate Presence and Words as force options. Daily, officers must attempt to GENERATE VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE from difficult people, and we should train our officers in this most difficult and important art.

The cost of neglecting such training will be measured in blood, money, and public opinion. Our officers must be as competent with words as they are with firearms.

Verbal Judo

Tactical Communications


Law Enforcement & Public Safety Personnel


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