Local self-defense class teaches how to fight back in active shooter situation

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By: Katie Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 10, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Natalie Santi was a regular at Hot Yoga in Tallahassee until November 2, when a gunman opened fire during a Friday afternoon class. Two people were killed and five others were injured.

"For a while there, I was like, 'Am I safe to go anywhere?'" Santi said. "Ever since then, I just thought to myself, 'What would I do?'"

Now, she finds herself in a different type of studio, one that teaches not meditation, but self defense. With the key belief that, the more you train, the less you have to fear.

"We want to give people a plan of action on what to do if it happens, so they will go into reaction mode instead of shock mode if an event like that happens," said Chad Wilbur, the owner of the Martial Arts Fitness Academy.

Wilbur has been conducting active shooter training since 2010. His studio teaches situational awareness, first aid and, if needed, how to take matters into your own hands.

"I think what makes us stand out a little more is our fighting back procedures," Wilbur explained.

He incorporates techniques from an Israeli military self-defense and fighting system called Krav Maga. Wilbur's class teaches students how to take a gun away and shows how to fight violence with violence under very stressful circumstances.

Wilbur says he was relieved to hear one of the Hot Yoga patrons had fought back against the shooter.

"I think everybody's eyes are a little bit wider open and they understand they need to have a plan, they need to get trained," he said.

For people like Santi, the classes provide more than just knowledge, but peace of mind.

"He's always told me, it's not fighting muscle-on-muscle. It's technique and skill and, I think, knowing where to go when and outsmarting your opponent," she explained.

Wilbur recommends people train at least six months to turn the lessons learned into muscle memory.

In 2018, there were 340 mass shootings in the United States, nearly one every day, according to Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit organization that tracks gun violence.

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