Course Content
H-CUFF® (Hands-On Control Using Functional Force)
About Lesson

Prone Handcuffing

a) Concepts

The arrestee can be coerced into remaining in place, not because of your body weight being applied to his back, rather it is the pain from the wristlock (and shoulder posting) that compels him to do so (kneeling on the arrestee’s back is tantamount to being in a bat catcher’s stance, hence less than half of his bodyweight can be pressed into his back without going top-heavy and therefore unsteady).

If you feel the need to stand up before handcuffing has been done, keep the wristlock in place before deciding whether to disengage or not.

So, from the standing armlock position retain your capture of his arm into the prone handcuffing position by kneeling on his back (stay off his neck!) and by continuing to seize his arm with your knees.

Tell your arrestee: “Place your arm out to your sides like an airplane, palm up” (to show his hands are clear) and “Cross your ankles” (all to make his trying to get up very noticeable).

Note that the positioning of the limbs is most unlike that required to stand up, so any movements may serve as early warning signals that he is about to do so.

“Look away from me” is optional, but not really necessary.

PRO TIP: from this kneeling position, hold your handcuffs up at arm’s length in front of your face with a pistol grip so that at least the bottom single strand of the cuffs is facing away from you while you are at least appearing to be scanning your environment for threats.

Apply the first (bottom) cuff to the back (top) of the arrestee’s wrist, simultaneously pushing the cuff into the wrist and pulling the wrist up into the cuff, ideally without looking at it (be heads up as possible so you can peripherally scan for threats!).

This application of the first handcuff can be done in a number of ways, but it is common for the head-side hand to grasp the cuffs in a pistol grip and reach around to the far top side of the seized wrist, such that the chain “grows” from the top of this wrist.

If the cuffs do not snap on fully, do not relinquish the bent wristlock; rather, release the chain while maintaining hand contact with the cuff, adjusting it with this now-free hand.

Re-acquire the handcuff with the pistol grip to top load it and use the cufflink lock to effect a very powerful bent wristlock (bottom-loading the cuff will suffice but the handcuff may fail to close on its own, as it would with the help of gravity when using the top-loading method).

  • the cufflink lock can replace the hand maintaining the bent wristlock, meaning that one hand can both retain the cuffs and apply the bent wrist lock simultaneously
  • to apply this unique (Police Judo) technique, retain grip of the handcuff chain of the freshly applied handcuff and slide that ulnar portion of the wrist on top of the cuffed wrist so that the hand maintaining the bent wrist lock can be taken away with no loss of control
  • a tremendous amount of pressure can be easily applied to the top of his wrist should it be needed
  • maintaining this cufflink lock, bend the arm (create some space between your knees to do so) to allow you to apply the second cuff
  • shake his hand in a normal fashion no fingers on the wrist) and apply the second handcuff to the top of the second wrist, such that the backs of the hands are together, rendering their tandem use of limited application, even if the cuffs are slipped to the front

Adjust the tightness of the handcuffs (only one finger thickness is needed at the mid-section of the single strand) to complete the handcuff closing process.

Hands facing each other are far more functional in cuff lock picking, opening doors, handling weapons, accessing contraband, etc.

Applying handcuffs back-to-back also deters the arrestee from grabbing your hand or the second cuff when it is being applied.

This technique is a bit difficult to learn, but this is a one-size-fits-all technique.

Some use the head-side hand to grasp the cuffs, passing it between the seized arm and the officer’s belly, which can easily be done with smaller, more flexible arrestees, especially if the officer is trim himself (i.e., lacking an obstructive belly).

Otherwise, there may not be any room to make such a manoeuvre, and if the situation is stressful, an alternative method of handcuffing may not be quickly forthcoming.

Also, handcuffing using the butt-side hand (using the thumb-side of the clenched fist, holding the cuffs to direct the cuff towards yourself) is more direct, but the wristlock and handcuff grip must be changed, thus it is somewhat weaker.

Further, this method of handcuffing confounds the easy application of the cufflink (chain-link) lock when transitioning between the bent wristlock and re-gripping of the handcuff chain.

PRO TIP: stay on his back only for the duration of the handcuffing process given the sensitivities of the “I can’t breathe!” crowd); “Cuffs on, knees off” is the cuffing mantra.

Search his waistband immediately (unless a Chater and Warning is deemed necessary by law).

Those trying to keep your prying hands away from their stash will press their hands against their back as if they are inflexible.

Be sure to get under this “hand shield” no matter how much he complains.

Pulling up his shirt or jacket from under his handcuffs will expose this prime area for hiding contraband and weapons.

PRO TIP: you can search the rest of his person at your leisure (as a separate step), but this initial search is essential as you are putting his hands where contraband and weapons are commonly hidden.

There are many ways to apply pain to his wrist/fingers if he begins to offer resistance at this point, like trying to thwart being searched or when being stood up.

Since twistlocking is being highlighted here, re-acquire a double twistlock to help keep him in place.

Use a hobble (or tie his shoelaces together) and keep him proned out or seated on the ground if he is a flight risk.

Wear rubber gloves if blood is present and wash your hands often (always keep Band-Aids on hand for small cuts).