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Stark County Sheriff's Office unleashes 'The Beast' in grappling training seminar

"Use of force incidents are rare, but much more often than not when they do occur law enforcement will become engaged with a suspect at close range in an attempt to gain a physical advantage and compliance," Stark County Sheriff Corey Lee said.

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Stark County Sheriff’s deputies conducted training with Hall of Fame mixed martial artist, amateur and professional wrestler Dan “The Beast” Severn. The training focused on helping deputies, regardless of size, to effectively escape from positions of disadvantage on the ground and follow through with other force options.
Photo By James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — Law enforcement officers know that despite Hollywood's portrayal of law enforcement officers as being engaged in shootouts, the vast majority of use of force encounters involve physical scuffles.

According to a review of law enforcement use of force incidents, nearly two thirds (62%) ended with the officer and subject on the ground.

"Use of force incidents are rare, but much more often than not, when they do occur law enforcement will become engaged with a suspect at close range in an attempt to gain a physical advantage and compliance," Stark County Sheriff Corey Lee said. "That is why it's important to understand these techniques."

Lee said it was this reality that prompted Stark County Sheriff's Office to seek out the training from a man who knows a thing or two in such situations.
Dan "The Beast" Severn is a legend of combative sports whose list of personal accomplishments in the grappling and martial arts is storied. An Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Hall of Fame member with over 127 professional fights, Severn holds a professional MMA Record of 101 wins, 19 loses and 7 draws — nearly all of which ended on the ground.

Severn is the only man to compete in, hold titles and be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Amateur Wrestling, Mixed Martial Arts and professional wrestling.

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"Law Enforcement, corrections, Air Marshals, Border Patrol and U.S. Military. I work with all of these different sectors and have since around that 1994 time frame where these agencies started watching this crazy thing called the Ultimate Fighting Championships," Severn said. "They saw how many times the matches would end up on the ground and finish on the ground. 99.9% of matches today still end up on the ground. When you are putting yourself in position to have to encounter these realities of a fight, you have to understand and be confident."

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Accomplished grappler and mixed martial arts legend, Dan "The Beast" Severn visited Dickinson to conduct training with Stark County Sheriff's Office deputies.
Photo by James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press
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Dan Severn is considered one of the leading pioneers of mixed martial arts, and has since 1994 has taught his ground defense and escapes program to law enforcement, corrections, military and security communities to wide success.
Photo by James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press

On Wednesday, Severn instructed about 20 law enforcement officers as part of his two-day program, "Ground Defensives and Escapes."

At 63-years-old, The Beast was in his element on the mats showing deputies how to execute various techniques while getting the occasional "tap" from officers much younger.

For some it was a surreal experience.

"I grew up watching Dan when I was in high school, so it's neat to be able to bring him in to help with some training," Lee said. "It is always good to be able to learn something and train in grappling. Who better to learn from than Dan Severn?"

The two-day course featured training on going to the ground and having the ability to escape, how to avoid a position of disadvantage, scenario based segments teaching the concepts and principles of being on the ground.

"It's about neutralizing 90% of an aggressors advantages that could save a life," Severn said. "When you have the vest, duty belt and all the different gear you wear you have to realize that this is going to prevent someone from being as mobile as they would be in shorts and a t-shirt. So we have adapted our training to account for these things and provide these officers with real world techniques that work. It's a long and hard day of training for sure."

James B. Miller, Jr. is the Editor of The Dickinson Press in Dickinson, North Dakota. He strives to bring community-driven, professional and hyper-local focused news coverage of southwest North Dakota.
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