“Your options are run, hide or fight,” DC Police Chief Lanier said on the nationally broadcast show [60 minutes]. “I always say if you can get out, getting out’s your first option, your best option. If you’re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there.” ~Lanier, others urge civilians to sometimes confront active shooters, Washington Post, Nov. 23, 2015
You won’t learn how to defend yourself against a gun attack by reading this blog post.
Let me put that another way.
This post won’t teach you how to defend yourself against a gun attack.
Heck, I was in the room where the gun defense workshop was being held, standing less than six feet from the instructor throughout, and I didn’t learn how to defend myself against a gun attack.
Because I was taking a boatload of pictures and videos to share with you fine people. (You’re welcome.)
Sure, in between roaming the room and trying to make myself small against the wall or in a corner, I saw some things. Heard some things. Good things. Useful things. Things that blew my hair back when it dawned on me that, held at gunpoint, I could actually do more than just stand there like a deer in headlights and pee my pants.
But because I had an iPhone in one hand and a Nikon D5300 in the other, as opposed to a fake yellow gun, tombstone pad and sparring partner like the other students in the room, I didn’t LEARN what they did.
THEY were practicing and reinforcing with drills. I stood on the sidelines taking videos and photos of them practicing and reinforcing with drills.
There’s a big difference.
The learning is in the doing. By flexing and developing muscle memory on the spot for more than three hours, those on the floor who were actively working with their “mock assailant” soaked up plenty. While I can do my best to summarize key takeaways with words, these learnings are no more ingrained in my muscle memory than they are in yours. Regardless, we need to have this conversation.
Why learn gun defense?
Recent headlines suggest that we are living in increasingly dangerous times. That doesn’t mean we walk around in a state of constant dread, afraid to live our lives. Increasing your level of safety awareness and preparedness is just good common sense, and goes a long way towards helping you feel more confident in a crisis situation. Just try to remember the bigger picture. When you look at the overall numbers released by the U.S. Department of Justice on 2014 rates of violent victimization in the U.S., your personal odds are still statistically low.
Until it’s not. And it’s just you and a lone gunman. On the street, near your car or at your home or workplace.
So for safety awareness points alone, I can say it was the best three hours I’ve spent on a Saturday since…well, I don’t know when. And if this blog post accomplishes nothing more than moving you to seek out gun defense training that someday saves lives, then my work here is done. Naturally I’m biased because Derek “DJ” Stephens is my Krav Maga instructor and after training with him at his suburban Maryland facility (right across the DC line near the Friendship Heights metro) I believe he’s among the best at what he does.
What is Krav Maga? DJ Stephens breaks it down here.
Even if you don’t live in or near the greater Washington DC area, you can likely find other local gun defense and Krav Maga training just as effective.
DJ covers all of the following and more in his gun training workshop:
- About gun defense and why you should learn it
- General defense moves including fighting stance, groin kick, knees, straight punches, elbows and a quick demo preview of gun defenses from all angles
- The RCAT method used in Krav Maga Force Training Division for military/law enforcement: Redirect (Line of fire), Control (the weapon), Attack (the gunman) and Takeaway (the weapon).
- How to defend against a gun from the front
- How to defend against a gun pointing to the head
- The cupping defense
- How to defend against a gun pointing to the side
- How to defend against a gun from the rear
- The Verbal Advantage
- The Active Shooter scenario
(Not covered: how to aim or fire a weapon. That’s a whole different training.)
Things got taken up a notch during the mock holdups. That’s when the ‘gunmen’ were instructed to make it more realistic by verbally assaulting their “victim.” The room erupted in a barrage of threats and threatening motion. Suddenly, two loud pops rang out. Most of the students froze. Mock gunfire? Yet another tool used by the instructor to inspire confidence during chaos. Because in a real world situation, you need to be able to execute in the midst of confusion.
Thrown in the mix are drills, drills and more drills. Partner drills. Calisthenic drills. “Vocalization” drills. If he thinks the class is moving too slow or lethargic (or just to get the joints loosened up), he’ll tell you to drop down and give him 20 push-ups. Or 40 jumping jacks. His demos and instruction are well-paced, and he’s patient with all his students, especially beginners. While DJ is a firm taskmaster who believes in discipline and protocol, he’s not an ass about it. It’s never personal, and there’s no ego involved. That’s part of the appeal of his classes. When he’s not barking out commands, he’s the most good-natured guy you’ll ever want to meet. The irony was not lost on me.
When you really are a badass who can take somebody out in 0 to 0.2 seconds, you don’t need to act like it.
Let’s go to video.
If you’re in the DC area and want to know when DJ’s next gun defense workshop opens for registration, call 240-394-5728 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be put on the waiting list. You can also visit DJ’s website for more general class information. I highly recommend it. The 3-hour workshop will cost you around $95 (non-student rate).
Ninety-five dollars! That’s a lot of money! you exclaim.
Yes. It is.
Until it’s not. And it’s just you and a lone gunman. On the street, near your car or at your home or workplace. At that point, $95 will seem like a ridiculous bargain for the chance to get out alive.
Look, I’m not here to convince you that your life is worth more than $31.50 an hour. Your cash, your rules. I just present the facts for you to consider.
I know I plan to be there. And this time, somebody else will be holding the camera, because I’ve got to get my drills in!
Special thanks to my instructor DJ Stephens and his team at Krav Maga CDK in Chevy Chase, Maryland. You guys are the best!