How martial arts benefits police tactics

Jeff Baker was working security at the Ultimate Fighting Championship in Charlotte when he fell in love.

It was the 1990s, and the UFC had recently popularized jiujitsu, a martial art and combat sport that focuses on ground fighting and holds.

“This giddy little Brazilian kid dominated,” Baker said. “It truly shows where a small person could beat a much larger opponent.”

Baker, then a Charlotte police officer, began learning jiujitsu in 2000. He took classes from martial arts expert Luis Togno, who was then holding classes in Gaston County. 

It was there that he met Gastonia Police Officer Craig Lowrance. The two shared a passion for jiujitsu.

Inside Gaston Jiu Jitsu Academy on West Main Avenue Saturday afternoon, March 23, 2024.

“Having been a small kid in high school, not so much as bullied but just intimidated, back in the ’80s, you know, I kind of got to the point where I didn’t like feeling that way and wanted to have a little more confidence. I got into martial arts in general,” Lowrance said. “And then in ’93, that’s when the UFC came out, and that’s when people started learning about this new art called jiujitsu.”

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