The Myth of Pain Compliance

A good use of force can be brutal to watch, while at the same time saving lives and preventing injury

By H.K. Slade | Oct 2, 2018

Almost 20 years ago, I attended a conference and listened to law enforcement trainer Phil Messina talk about the problems of using pain compliance to stop a violent attacker. This was well before I went into law enforcement myself, and, at the time, I scratched my head and wondered why he was spending so much of the limited class time to make an argument that seemed self-evident. After all, the act of attacking someone is inherently painful. If someone is angry enough, drunk enough, or scared enough to swing a fist at something as hard as my head, he probably isn’t going to mind me pinching that little meaty tab between the thumb and forefinger.

After I became a police officer, and later when I became an LEO instructor, I finally understood what Phil was talking about. Almost all of the training I received depends on causing an attacker so much discomfort that he or she quits doing what the officer is telling them to stop doing. Pressure points, pepper spray, strikes, even to a lesser extent ECD—they all attack the nervous system (i.e., they do little more than cause pain).

Pain will not stop a motivated attacker.

Like It or Not, It’s Demonstrably True

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The Myth of Pain Compliance