Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Plea to the Martial Arts Community about Active Shooter Training

I'm not going to debate the larger issues involved in active shooter situations (such as the tragedy in Las Vegas, Orlando or other places), so please, let's not even go there here.  I find that such arguments convince nobody on any side and frankly, that's not what this blog is all about.

Instead, I want to talk about the few instances I have seen of martial arts schools, in the wake of tragedies like mass shootings or active shooter situations, advertising that studying at their martial arts school can prevent becoming a victim of a mass or active shooter.

99% of us do not have the experience or training in this subject matter.  I certainly don't, and will never claim that I do (unless and until I get that very specialized training).  I do know, personally, people who do, and I can count them on the fingers of a single hand.

So for the rest of us...

Please stop.

Please stop riding on the coattails of tragedy with the claims that your tae kwon do or BJJ or whatever-martial-art we teach will prepare anybody for these situations.

Active shooter situations are basically a very special kind of self defense situation.

Martial arts training in general is not the same as self defense training.  And if our self defense training isn't working very hard to train awareness of your surroundings and escaping from bad situations... we're not really training in self defense.  There is nothing wrong with that, but we shouldn't claim to be teaching what we aren't teaching.

I have seen "self defense" seminars in which the majority of the training was basically kick boxing OR techniques requiring a lot more skill than one can learn in a single-day self defense seminar OR students are being taught to stay engaged with a bad guy, versus getting out as fast as they possibly can.

Staying engaged in order to try to "win" a fight is fighting.  Not self defense.  Staying engaged with an active shooter, especially if you aren't armed (and trained to use that firearm in this situation) strikes me as very, very risky.  It's definitely something I'd be wary of teaching the general public to do in a "self defense seminar" setting.

This doesn't change no matter what rank we hold in our martial art.  Speaking of which...

Our Asian martial arts training has diddly squat to do with active shooter situations.  We've learned punching and kicking and grappling and so forth.  Dealing with, and surviving, an active shooter situation is specialized training.  We don't get that from kata or kumite or by sparring or by rolling every day.

My martial art, which is a little more modern than most Asian arts and is (non-firearms) weapons based, doesn't deal with this either, and I'm not going to pretend it does.

Yes, that includes those schools where instructor did time in the Army, or has been a police officer. It is a VERY specialized kind of training that every person who wears a badge or his country's uniform doesn't get.  Additionally, what an average citizen needs to do is different than what law enforcement officers and soldiers are trained to do and are asked to do.

In any case...

We cannot punch, kick, or grapple our way out of a madman deciding to shoot up our local shopping mall.  

Oh, and while I'm on this subject...

If you aren't certified in firearms instruction, and/or trained in more than just plinking for accuracy at the range, stop offering that training in your dojo.  There are videos out there floating around the martial arts community of dojos engaging in "tactical" training with Airsoft pistols that are, quite frankly, awful and dangerous.

And finally, if we want to offer such training - we have to seek out and get qualified and train it.  This training is out there to be had, but just like our martial art, we have to pay for it, practice it, and work hard to get expertise in it.

It won't just come because we wear a gi.