Active Shooter Workshop at Krav Maga Experts: Student’s Review

It’s becoming an all too familiar scene with the major media outlets reporting an active shooter incident that it’s either taking place as “Breaking News” or has already happened. In any case, there are multiple injuries, fatalities and another family mourning the senseless death of a loved one. As soon as the shooting takes place, all the law enforcement agencies gather to collect evidence and investigate from different angles. Was it an act of terrorism? Domestic politics? A crazed gunman? Did drugs play a role in the shooter’s behavior? Will more gun control solve the issue? All these questions always emerge after a shooting and all the different experts give their opinions.

Halfway across the world, in the Middle East there is a small country called Israel, and it’s one of the world’s leaders in technological innovation. Israel has more start up companies than any other nation in the world, but it’s also surrounded by hostile neighbors since it’s independence in 1948. Way before mass shootings become common in Europe or the U.S. Israel was already confronting terrorists from the Munich Olympics to the Sabena Airlines hijacking, both in 1972.  Within a relatively short time, Israel developed measures to combat terrorism. Part of this anti terrorist training included learning Krav Maga, Hebrew for close combat. Krav Maga is a very practical, ruthless and effective self-defense system developed by the Israelis that has been enhanced over time. At first, it was training for military personnel only, but by the late 80s, it started to find its way in the United States. It’s not until the present, however, that is has exploded in the martial arts scene and the world of fighting. It’s increasing popularity comes from the fact that anyone can start learning and seeing results if they are consistent in their training. Consistency is the key word, for without it there is no way to obtain the necessary results that could make a difference in a life and death scenario.

Krav Maga Experts or KME was created here in New York City by former, now reserved, members of the Israeli Defense Forces, better known as the IDF. It brings this form of effective self-defense to the civilian population and adapts it to an urban setting. Not only can you defend yourself from everyday random thugs, but also against assailants with knives or guns whether they are planned attacks or crimes of opportunity.

Last Sunday, KME conducted a 2-hour long special workshop designed to prepare anyone against the possibility of an Active Shooter scenario. Alon Dagan and Raz Chen instructed the class in different scenarios just as they have done numerous times before in the IDF or in the civilian world. The purpose is not for you to become an expert anti-terrorist commando in just 2 hours, but to gain knowledge and awareness of a unique situation, like a shooting, where life and death hang in the balance. You learn a lot about yourself and your own reactions to such an event. You learn not to freeze, and to use your voice effectively to communicate as a warning to others that there is someone either with a knife or gun threatening their lives. None of this comes naturally because we’re generally absorbed with our own lives and problems and perhaps not paying too much attention to our surroundings. As children we are taught not to make noise; not to disturb the peace. Naturally, you don’t want to be shouting and causing a commotion so when there is someone threatening with a knife or gun we tend to just try to run away without bringing attention to ourselves. In a way, you have to unlearn certain politeness in order to survive.

Alon and Raz teach and emphasize the importance of group work in combatting an Active Shooter. The class works and fights together and everyone comes to each other’s aid if necessary. Skills like dragging a fellow co-worker out of danger are taught as is protecting a loved one from a threat by fighting an aggressor, and when the perpetrator is neutralized grabbing your loved one to take them to safety. Their instructions were very clear, precise and empowering. Neither instructor hesitated at any point or give the impression of not being completely sure of what they were doing. Every action they wanted the class to perform was done with confidence that the participants could do it. They exuded confidence and in turn, the KME practitioners responded in kind. As you perform the drills your self-confidence rises and you push yourself to the limit wanting to do your very best as if this was a real scenario and not just a drill.

In the end, you hope you don’t have to be involved in such a dreadful, frightening and completely unpredictable scenario, but at the same time while going home you do feel safer and more in control than the average person busy listening to music with their head buds or texting, blissfully unaware of their surroundings. Thanks to KME and instructors like Alon and Raz, the city is a bit safer than the day before.