• Jackie Bradbury

A Plea to the Martial Arts Community About Active Shooter Training

I'm not going to debate the political and cultural issues involved in active shooter situations, 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 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.  There are people who have done the research and gotten the specialized training required to understand and deal with active shooter situations.


I haven't received that training or done that research. I'm willing to bet most of us haven't as well.


So if you're in the vast majority of us...


Is this sign big enough for you to read? Image by CopyrightFreePictures from Pixabay

Please stop riding on the coattails of tragedy with the claims that your tae kwon do or BJJ or whatever-martial-art you teach will prepare anybody for dealing with an active shooter. IT WON'T. Not only is it distasteful when you do this, it's outright DANGEROUS.


Active shooter and mass shooter situations require a very special kind of self defense situation.


Look, all martial arts training in general is not the same as self defense training.  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.


Our 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 training from kata or kumite or by sparring or by rolling every day.


We also don't get it from wearing t-shirts with soldier images or mottoes on them and camo tactical pants when we train, and yeah, I know your art is based on military hand-to-hand training, Combative Martial Arts guy, but the key word here is HAND-TO-HAND training. Not mass shooting or active shooter situations.


Wearing all black and sneaking around your local park or shopping mall doesn't teach it either.

*cough* Image by Chauncey Haworth from Pixabay

My martial art style, which is combat tested and more modern than most Asian arts, doesn't deal with this either. 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.


What training they get that'd be applicable in an active shooter situation is a VERY specialized kind 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, grapple, or especially ninja 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.


If we want to offer such training - we have to seek out qualified teachers 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.

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