Video: Tactical Handcuffing Made Simple

by Matt on May 21, 2009

In the police academy, I was taught how to place handcuffs on a suspect. First, I had to direct the suspect to turn away from me and turn his head, so he could not see me. Then, I would order him to spread his feet apart while bending forward at the waist. He should then put both hands behind his back with his palms facing outward and his thumbs pointing up. His hands should be elevated away from his body while I quickly approached from the rear on a 45 degree angle. My timing had to be flawless so I could perform a perfect “touch-push”, thereby applying the first cuff at the exact moment that I touched the suspect with my opposite hand. With the first cuff on, I simply had to grab his other hand with my non-cuff hand while turning my handcuffs into anĀ unnatural position so I could apply the bottom cuff.

In over 15 years of arresting people, I have never applied handcuffs the way I was trained. I am willing to bet that if you were trained like me, then you abandoned your handcuff training the moment that you walked out of the police academy, too. I have often wondered why I was trained in such an unrealistic technique. The reason is actually pretty simple. Once the first officer was trained in this technique, it quickly became protected under the “we do it this way because we have always done it this way” blanket.

There could be tactical situations where the old handcuffing technique is useful, but we typically order dangerous suspects onto the ground to be handcuffed. Anyone who would follow all of the instructions required for the old technique to work on them would probably be willing to handcuff themselves for you.

In this video, I will show you a simple handcuffing technique that has worked quite well for me over the years. As with any new technique, you need to practice it before attempting it on the street.

If you have a handcuffing technique that works well for you, please feel free to share it with us.

Handcuffing from Spartan Cops on Vimeo.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom May 23, 2009 at 2:35 am

Nicely done.

Phil May 23, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Any tips on flex-cuffs?

Matt May 24, 2009 at 3:44 am

Thanks, Tom!


Flex-cuffs offer a bit of a challenge because it generally takes two hands to secure them (one hand holding the cuffs and one hand pulling the slack out). You still need to control their arms, and this is where the circus starts. If they cooperate, you can accomplish this with relative ease. If they fight, you are going to have to secure them on the ground and then apply the cuffs.

If anyone has a particular technique for flex-cuffs, please share it.


Matt May 24, 2009 at 1:03 pm


I have another video article coming soon that addresses a technique which will help you secure a suspect so you could apply flex-cuffs. It is specifically about pinning a suspect on the ground. Although I use it to apply standard handcuffs, you could use it for flex-cuffing. Let me know what you think when you see it.

Phil May 25, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Awesome. Looking forward to it.

Mike September 9, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Nice, I was looking for a video on cuffing. Even though I was taught otherwise, cuffing the right hand first seems to make more sense, especially if your firearm is on your right side.

Matt September 10, 2009 at 4:27 pm


I’m glad you enjoyed the video.


A.DeLaRosa July 23, 2010 at 3:15 pm


I enjoyed the video on handcuffing. I am confident it meets the principals of “kiss” in that most average size officers would be able to apply these techniques. I don’t believe the second technique would work with IBOs’ or smaller officers, due to size disparity. I would recommend on the moment resistance is felt, the officer could back step in a circular motion while appling torque on the handcuff rotating the arm and moving into a straight armbar takedown. Agian this is just a recommendation and it could be another solution to a common problem. Keep up the good work.

Inv. a DeLaRosa #120

Tim July 25, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Very nice technique. I learned this early in my career. It is nice to see how great minds think alike. Take care and stay safe.

Alain Seguin June 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Montreal june 23 2011

Good afternoon I would like to know if you have any handcuffing DVD for sale and if so what is the price of the DVD.

yours sincerely Aalain Seguin SS

Dave August 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Great video. The only thing I would add is the “one hand, one job” principle my agency teaches. Joking aside, this means that as you cuff the right hand with the bottom cuff, if it fails to “click” into the “teeth” you would use your right hand to give the cuff the extra “push” to allow the teeth to catch. The same one the left hand. You would keep your left hand free and use your right hand to “assist” the cuff to catch. I noticed in the video that when you cuffed both hands you used your left hand to assist with closing both cuffs. This technique, we’re instructed, keeps your left hand free during cuffing and doesn’t tie up both hands. Just food for thought. Good video!

Lewis Kelly October 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Would you ever be posting videos for handcuffing techniques of rigid handcuffs? The ones with no chain or folding capabilities. I always see in all video tutorials either chain or folding handcuffs.

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