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Where Do Bounty Hunters and the Martial Arts Cross Paths?

Many people who write me asking how one should get started in the bail enforcement industry often include their martial arts backgrounds as a lead in to the question at hand. I often chuckle at that but one rent email did pose the question, “How will my martial arts background apply to bounty hunting?”

Bounty Hunters, I prefer Bail Enforcement Agents or Bail Investigators, by definition deal with dangerous situations every day they go to work. We are often sticking our heads into the proverbial lion’s mouth every time we attempt to take a bail-secured defendant into custody by serving a civil bond forfeiture warrant attached to a criminal failure to appear capias. It’s easy to forget that what we do on a daily basis, oftentimes alone and poorly armed, is a MAJOR EVENT requiring highly trained SWAT teams within most law enforcement departments!

In my experience, which is longer and more varied than most in the bail bond recovery business, 1 out of every 100 people I have taken to jail for a bail bondsman will react violently to the apprehension- but the violence ranges widely between simple resistance to someone trying to shoot me with a firearm of some sort. Luckily, 97% of these violent encounters do not require any use of force beyond the simple application of some “pain compliance” methods. Thankfully, I have only had to use an Air-Taser once and point my firearm at a defendant or a co-actor once.

What happens in these violent situations is that we must immediate apply the use of force continuum, which plainly states that bail enforcers shall use only that force which is reasonable and lawful, given the facts and circumstances known at the time of the event to effectively bring an incident under control. “Reasonableness” of the use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable investigator on the scene at the time of the incident. A bail enforcement agent, who is authorized by the surety on a bail piece, who makes or attempts to make an arrest need not retreat or desist from his efforts by reason of resistance or threatened resistance of the person being arrested; nor shall such investigator be deemed an aggressor or lose his right to self-defense by the use of reasonable force to affect the arrest or to prevent escape or to overcome resistance.

Reasonably, I cannot shoot a defendant for resisting the application of handcuffs if he does not pose an imminent threat to my own life. This is where the pain compliance techniques that can be learned via many martial art styles or a system known as CDT® (Compliance, Direction and Take-down) are most appropriately applied. Simply put these techniques consist of low level stunning, activation points, escorts and compliance techniques that can be used to control another person without causing permanent damage; hostility management, anger diffusion and escape should also be applied when applicable.

“Standing Ju Jitsu,” Aikido and Judo are all outstanding martial arts in their real-world application in the typical scenarios one might encounter in most bail enforcement actions. They are my choice of techniques to use but it can take a lifetime to master each art’s own nuances and complexities; this may not be practical for the new or aspiring fugitive recovery investigator. Perhaps the next best choice for most should be CDT®, which is a personal protection system and not a martial art. Its creators claim that it can be learned quickly and effectively no matter what your gender or size. Most importantly, CDT® techniques can be learned and mastered through a properly structured training course in a limited amount of time and are proven to work effectively against any gender and body size. I hear good thing about it from my friends in law enforcement however, when the creators make dubious claims such as “the most effective non-deadly force system in the world” I have to stop and give pause.

Either way, when a bail agent needs to utilize less-than-deadly force by means of empty handed tactics, that person must be able to do so quickly, skillfully, and with reduced risk and liability to all concerned. The longer the investigator has to be engaged with a defendant or those who mean to prevent his arrest, the greater risk of sustaining injury or even death. Furthermore, depending upon a defendant’s actions or the situation, the BEA may have to increase or decrease the amount of force employed. The techniques discussed allow for the escalation and de-escalation of lawful force without causing serious or deadly injury and that’s a big plus in my book when it comes to reducing the liability often involved with going “hands on” with anyone.

This is the nexus between the martial arts, their real world application as combative arts and the modern day bounty hunter.