Finding an Edge

In a previous article, I wrote about how your initial reaction to some of the increasing types of very bad situations will be fear. Whether this fear is one to result in paralysis or a hiccup of action where you need a moment to decide what to do is going to be based on how resilient you are and what your unique life experiences are. Here I will be looking at the moments after the fear rush, and how we can find an edge to use to our advantage.

Your training needs to have a solid base in understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. You have to play to your strengths whenever it is possible to do so. It is my sincere hope that your strengths include the following:

  1. Training
  2. Awareness
  3. Psychological Advantage

I will take a look at each of these and explain why I feel that they give you an edge in a situation of unforeseen violence.


For training to be of any use, it must be based on at least some realism. The betrayal of martial arts in the 20th century was a turning away from reality and a rush to financial gain. The cash cow of having five-year-old black belt programs and such was too much for some instructors to reject.

But if you have a training that is real-world based, with an understanding taken into consideration of the actions which are legal for you to take, as well as an understanding of the actions likely to be taken by the aggressor, you have a good base.

Training should also be based more on gross body movements because of the way adrenaline plays with fine motor skills. The gross body movement skills will (possibly) still be  available to you in a time of crisis.


In this instance, of course, I am including situational awareness, but I am more concerned with your own awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.

If you are a manager or in a position of leadership in a  building that is involved in an active shooter situation, you need to lead, because people will be looking to you. It is human nature. Some people are leaders, others are followers. The responses of; escape if you can, hide if you cannot escape, and fight if you must are standard advice because not everyone is a fighter. The facts are really pretty simple. You cannot help anyone at all if you are dead. There is no cowardice in running out of a building where a person is murdering everyone they see at random. Get out and call Law Enforcement.

If leadership is your strength, get others to escape as well. Especially if you are a manager or person with authority in the organization, people will follow a leader. But even if you are a peon, but you know what to do and where to go to escape, tell others what to do. In a crisis, followers will simply follow. This is how terrorists get people to do what they are told to do. If you are a leader, be a leader.

If you have an easy escape, and you tell others to follow, but they refuse – leave them. You can only do what you can do, and you have to make your decision and follow you best instincts.

Know your strengths and play to them.

Psychological Advantage

Although it is commonly taught that adrenaline works against us in a crisis, the active shooter or the terrorist is under the influence as well. If we are trained, and if we are not strangers to the adrenaline dump, we can use that to our advantage.

One of the basic pieces of advice in active shooter training is the value of having a plan. When was the last time you heard of a child dying in a school fire? There isn’t one in recent memory because schools practice what to do. When the real thing happens the kids and teachers do what they have practiced.

The active shooter does not always have a detailed plan. These actions are random. Their plan consisted of selecting the where. The what and who are made up as they go along.

If you have a plan, you have a psychological advantage, if you are trained and practiced enough to use it.

Having a plan does not mean becoming the paranoid hyper-ninja. Take a look around your office or place of business. Ask yourself how you would escape the room if you needed to. Find at least two avenues of escape. Next, imagine that those escapes were unavailable (the exact why is irrelevant to this exercise). Where could you hide? Is there a way to barricade yourself inside of the room, or a room nearby? Lastly, figure out what nearby objects can be used for weapons. Having a plan is a good step. Actually practicing that plan is an advantage.

Those are some thoughts on the subject. If you haven’t visited my training page, please do so. Even if I am too far to help you, I am certain I know someone who can provide the training you want or need. If you are ready to get started use this form: