Active Shooter Defense Seminar




In light of all the recent tragic events, I seek to create an active shooter seminar: one that is safe, effective, informative, promotes awareness, and provides people with a realistic picture of what will happen and steps they should take to defend themselves and loved ones.


There are many techniques taught in Krav Maga class for disarming someone with a weapon, but these are taught for individuals to disarm an attacker at close range, they require extensive repetitive drilling and practice of technique under pressure, they all involve a concept called bursting (which takes away the distance element that gives someone with a weapon an advantage), as well as developing “explosivity” and power. None of these techniques are ideal for teaching the population at large, especially children, to realistically defend against an active shooter



My Krav Maga and martial arts background included extensive training in active shooter defense.  This, however, was done in a specialized training location, using “simunitions” (similar to paintball gun ammo and sometimes even more painful), the participants in the exercises were usually security/military types or people who had some prior martial arts background.

A basic description for a school scenario would be: an assailant enters a room, begins shooting. Participants in the exercise begin throwing books/desks/cellphones anything they can to prevent and distract the shooter.  While specific techniques used to disarm an active shooter isn’t the purpose, practice methods of getting a gun to the ground or out of the shooters hands and secured elsewhere should be included.


This is not something taught to young students, or even people without martial arts backgrounds for that matter, yet logistically the odds for survival increase when individuals employ proactive, aggressive patterns of response.

To illustrate: in last year’s train attack in France, a few military reservists stood up to a very aggressive terrorist.  They had no Krav Maga training, but had a combat mindset.  In taking decisive action, people on the train realized what was happening, and came to their aid. It only takes a few leaders to sway a group and change an outcome.

It is understood that if someone is at a remote distance, has no chance of distracting a shooter and is cognizant of exits, the best option is to escape.  That must be discussed, however what needs re-thinking (and teaching!) is a set of simple survival tactics that minimize casualties when escape/evacuate is not the immediate choice.

When an assailant enters a private residence with the intent of harming a family, individuals are willing risk their lives attempting to save a spouse or child.  In a school, cinema, train, or nightclub, people are relative strangers to each other.  Social niceties aside, we don’t care enough to risk our lives and equally important, WE NEVER CONSIDER training in group format for such a tragic situation.
Distracting an active shooter in close distance with aggression, wrestling control of a weapon to the ground has NEVER been promoted as a possibility and instinctively most individuals freeze in place or hide in fear.  What needs to be taught and ingrained is that the best possibility for saving life is risking it.




It is a fact that precious, life-saving minutes are lost while waiting for authorities to arrive.  Gun control advocates will never propose the arming of teachers and hiring additional security is a costly, time expensive process.  The legitimacy of teaching unarmed, proactive group-think as an effective method of preventing/minimizing casualties needs to be promoted.

Since Krav Maga systems previously in place for teaching the active shooter defense have not been popular (they require extensive training, firearms, or unsafe environments) the following is a detailed proposal for an effective/safe system of training.




Level One:

This is the first seminar where concepts previously discussed are introduced, and everything is done using soft equipment: Nerf guns, rolled up t-shirts, etc…


Nerf guns replace simunitions and rolled up t-shirts replace hard objects that have been used in prior training (book bags, books, cell phones, and chairs) to be thrown at the shooter.


A basic two-man take-down is introduced, with one person grabbing control of the gun and another grabbing the shooters legs, getting the gun to the ground and wrestling away a weapon.


Each person has a turn being the “active shooter” so they experience the effectiveness of distraction.  The “active shooter” leaves the room, while the group inside plans for a different defense every time; the designated shooter does not know what to expect.  Each person learns several scenarios from the perspective of both attack and defense.

Conclusion of Level One – Debrief/discuss


Level Two:


Air-soft guns, paintball masks, groin protection


The take-down is taught in greater detail, the concept of high/low is introduced (one person grabbing the gun high and one or more people tackling from below).


The concept of group mass is introduced and demonstrated so individuals internalize the following: the greater the number of people who participate in distraction and attack, the more effective the take down. E.g: 3 people – one grabs gun, one grabs a leg, another grabs the other leg… 4 people – one grabs gun, two grab legs, one grabs the shooter in a headlock. etc… the more people added the more effective the defense.


The difference between this and level one: airsoft guns are used in place of Nerf guns, which can sting.  Level one is lecture and light teamwork drills without contact while level two is more hands on.  As before, everyone had the opportunity to be the shooter and defender multiple times and various scenarios are rehearsed.

Conclusion of Level Two – Debrief/discuss


Level Three:


This is the final level in the program.  The group has internalized the principles, in this level paintball guns replace air-soft weapons, real objects may be used with discretion (book bags filled with books but padded on the outside), padded cellphones, etc…
Full take-downs are done to completion of disarming and pinning the shooter while another person in the group secures the weapon, props are added to the scenarios.


In this level single take-downs are taught from the perspective of one individual against the shooter, in order to prepare the group for the reality of worst case scenario (defending against a shooter without assistance). Running elbow and head-butt strike is taught if an unassisted individual needs to cause damage in order to force a weapon out of the shooters hands.


This level also includes drills from Krav Maga curriculum and introduces the concept of striking under pressure and bursting.

Conclusion of Level Three – Debrief/discuss


Key Terms:

Swarm mentality
Soft to hard training