Where is the “Fight” in Active Assailant Response?


Hi All,

In my last post, I shared the valuable experience of going through the Active Killer Defense training workshop at the Fit to Fight training center in Charlotte, NC.  I received several responses to that post.

Some of the responses against this kind of training included:

  1. The skills are perishable and, for normal people who don’t frequently train, a one-time event may not have that much value.
  2. People who are not Protection Professionals lack the skill or mindset to effectively incorporate the “Fight” element of Run-Hide-Fight.
  3. There is possible liability against an organization which teaches its employees to fight.
  4. Related to point # 3, there is more liability associated with regular people in an organization fighting back than with that organization’s designated and trained Protection Professionals (i.e., Law Enforcement or Security).

Let me address each point below, offering a perspective for each.

  1. The skills are indeed perishable.  For me, however, this is not a reason to not expose people to basic, gross-motor combatives.  What comes to mind immediately is something Tony Blauer is quick to point out.  It is that normal people, everywhere, everyday, with absolutely no training whatsoever, successfully defend themselves against attackers.  We don’t hear much about it, as news sources are purveyors of fear, and not facts. Humans have, however, fought each other and non-human animals ever since there have been humans.  Believe it or not, it’s an innate ability, and far more about will, a desire to live, and indignation, than refined technique.
  2. This is part of the blind spot in society.  We have all come to accept that our personal safety should be in the hands of so-called trained professionals or even just other people in general (e.g., the woman who places her personal safety in the hands of her boyfriend or husband).  Trained professionals have a place.  No one is denying that. We should not, however, leave a whole society (through passive dissuading) disempowered and not in control of their own personal safety by making an argument that they should not be taught better ways to stop attackers.
  3. Organizations are indeed worried about liability.  Some are concerned to the point of unreasonableness.  I find it ethically unconscionable, however, that any organization or person would knowingly keep from a person options and skill-sets which can increase his/her and others’ survivability during an act of extreme violence.
  4. See point # 3.  Additionally, and from an operational perspective, we all know that in any city, on any campus, at any university, there are finite resources of Protection Professionals.  There are usually not many.  Seldom are there enough to actually meet well every single need that arises.  Truly, to manage well the security operations for any location (whether it be a city, campus, university, anything), and to bring about a confident, peaceful environment – in any aspect of crime prevention or violence –  you must empower and incorporate ALL the citizens, students, teachers, staff, and people.

As you consider these and other points, ask yourself the question: Are all 3 elements of the Run-Hide-Fight protocol given equal emphasis, encouragement, and training for all members of your organization?  In a very few, the answer might be yes.  If we are honest, however, in almost all organizations, the answer is no.  Emphasis on the “Fight” element is conspicuously missing, minimized, or even openly discouraged, in most organizations and in their interpretation of this FEMA formula.

As Ryan Hoover teaches in his Active Killer Defense training, Run-Hide-Fight is more a tagline than an actual training reality and operational tactic.  It’s nothing more than a much repeated slogan meant for dramatic effect.  He points out that we all grow up knowing how to run and hide.  It’s built into many of our childhood games.  Fighting, however, for the vast majority of people, is not something they do growing up, and most are encouraged not to do it.

The bottom line is that there is a monstrous amount of social conditioning in place which has contributed to what we now have, that is, a population largely characterized by giving away the ownership of their personal safety into the hands of others, the so-called trained professionals.  By doing so, we have, collectively as a society, assumed that, for the most part, all a “normal person” can/should do – when faced with the violence of an active killer – is to run or hide.  We must remember also that there are MANY more “normal” people than there ever will be so-called trained professionals.

All of this social conditioning, mostly subtle but nonetheless powerful, manifests in corporate America through training programs, policies, and widespread assumptions. The collective culture of law enforcement in America is also part of this widespread and shared understanding.  And let’s be clear, it is contributing to active killers receiving carte blanche in terms of victims offering virtually no counter-offense.

It’s time to take off the blinders of social conditioning of how we’ve trained ourselves to think about options to active killers.  When we change our philosophy of how we will respond to active killers, the tactics will then correspondingly change.  As long as we keep going down this relatively unquestioned path, active killers (which includes domestic and foreign terrorists) will continue to know that they can walk into virtually any location in America and be met with absolutely no resistance whatsoever.

The single point of this post is to question the assumptions that exist in our society of how we tolerate and respond to active killer incidents.  On the current path, we are enabling masses of people to remain locked into a mindset of fear wherein they have little protection when faced with an active killer.

In the words of Tony Blauer, it is very much time for everyone to be their own bodyguard.

Please watch this interesting video which speaks to many of the points above.











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