Jeff Mount of Krav Maga Maryland said the key to survival in an active shooting scenario is decisiveness in the moment.
"To freeze is the most dangerous option," said Mount, 30, the director of operations and lead instructor at Krav Maga Maryland, a self defense school in Columbia. "It creates an extreme sense of helplessness that pervades the circumstance."
After following news of recent tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting, Mount said his business wanted to do something. As a result, Krav Maga Maryland is offering local teachers the opportunity to learn self defense techniques to ward off an active shooter for free at a seminar on Jan. 12.
Mount described Krav Maga, pronounced like Krahv Mah-gah, as a self defense system designed to give its students confidence and decisiveness in life-threatening situations.
As Mount pointed out, the self defense system was created by Jews during the Holocaust who were searching for ways to defeat a significantly better armed German military. Designed under dire circumstances, the self-defense system was created to quickly train novices how to survive reality-based attack situations, according to the Krav Maga Maryland website.
Krav Maga Maryland isn't the only Krav Maga center that has offered a free class to teachers. In Durham, NC, teachers inundated a free concealed carry handgun course offered by Triangle Krav Maga, which combined firearm training with hand-to-hand combat skills, according to ABC 11 in Raleigh, NC.
Mount said the Columbia location is staffed with instructors who are mostly active duty law enforcement. The company trains more than 2,000 people on a weekly basis, including police officers, military personnel and civilians, he said.
Mount himself is listed as one of a handful of Krav Maga black belts on the East Coast who has trained law enforcement officers for the Baltimore City Police Department, Howard County Police, Maryland State Police and the FBI, according to his biography on the Krav Maga Maryland website.
Krav Maga Maryland has been open since 2005 at locations in Columbia and Owings Mills.
Mount said if a gunman enters your surroundings you have three choices: run, hide or fight.
"Fighting back is a very weighty decision," said Mount, "that should only be made as a last resort. If running and hiding are not an option, then fighting is the next best thing to do."
He said during the four-hour seminar, teachers will be placed in high stress simulations to figure out what the best option to take would be. Teachers will learn how to disarm someone armed with an assault rifle, how to use verbal distractions to create time and basic self defense techniques.
"The No. 1 rule is to get home safe," said Mount. "If they get home safe, then they have won. What we teach, is if it's time to fight, then you fight with everything you have."
"Often times once one person takes action, others will too," said Mount about the incident. "It's a domino effect in a good way."
Mount used the example of bystanders who engaged Jared Lee Loughner, the Arizona man who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others at an Arizona supermarket. One bystander, Bill Badger, was able to trip Loughner while he attempted to reload, then a woman knocked the magazine away from him and Joe Zamudio, a 24-year-old who had heard the shots from a nearby Walgreens, ran over and jumped on top of Loughner, ending the shooting.
When asked if fighting back against an armed gunman while unarmed might be a losing battle, Mount said, "A losing battle comes when people wait it out and hope someone else will do something to stop it."
Mount said he has been contacted by several schools in Maryland who are interested in trainings on their grounds, but was not authorized to say which ones.
The seminar in Columbia is scheduled for Jan. 12 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Krav Maga Maryland, located at 8865 Stanford Blvd, Suite 141.
The seminar is free for all teachers, school staff, administrators and school volunteers. Individuals from the public interested in participating can do so with a $39 donation, which wil benefit the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, according to a statement.