Seminole County teachers learn moves designed to take down a gunman

Expert: Self defense moves can be combined with ordinary classroom items


LAKE MARY, Fla. – Before the Sandy Hook massacre, teachers taught. Now, they must be trained to fight.

But many teachers are probably still wondering, "What would I do if a gunman burst in?"

Local 6 cameras went inside a Seminole County classroom to see how some teachers are actually learning to battle back.

It used to be that teachers would hide, possibly placing their students in a closet.  They were taught to hunker down, turn the lights off and hope the gunman would pass right by.

After Adam Lanza went on his rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in December, the rules have changed.

In the first moments of training, Local 6 cameras caught Lake Mary police Officer Zach Hudson yelling to his teacher trainees, "Alright ladies, we have an active shooter in the building.  I need a weapon now.  Go go go! Get a weapon, quick! You got 5 seconds!"

That's because seconds count, and in this classroom dozens of little lives are on the line.

Within seconds of the "gunman" bursting into the classroom, the teachers are taught to storm him.  All the while, Hudson is yelling commands to remind them of what they're supposed to do.

"Hit ‘em.  Strike, hit ‘em, hit ‘em, gun gun gun, there we go!, Dump 'em!" he says.

They are teachers who would do anything for our children, and they're learning how to do anything it takes.

As Hudson trains them, he yells, "The alternative is to die. This is your alternative:  You fight. You survive."

Hudson invented the training program and he developed the techniques alongside 5th-degree black belt Mike Schneider, who owns Lake Mary Champion Karate School.

"I hope that I can act and not react. I think it is teaching me to do that, to do more with my body than I thought I could," said Stacy Alston, an elementary school teacher's aide.

"I would give my life for my students, not just my kids. I care that much about the kids I'm teaching," said Sarah Sego, a preschool teacher. "I would throw myself in the line of fire for them. I would. They're 4 and 5. They're so vulnerable. If someone comes into the building with a weapon, I'm it."

Hudson says besides this training, teachers have other advantages against a gunman they may not realize.

"The teachers have something to their advantage -- numbers," Hudson said.

"You're going to have teachers in multiple rooms. You've got to use those loud verbal commands like, 'Gun, gun, gun.  I have his gun help me!'  You've got to be loud, aggressive, and get those teachers on the same page as you and stop that threat," Hudson tells his trainees.

Hudson says fighting back is usually taught to be a last resort,  but if you have to fight, there's always a way, even in a classroom.

He shows the teachers how to spill marbles on the floor so that a gunman would fall to the floor when he slips. Or a pair of scissor,s which makes a "phenomenal weapon," according to Hudson.

"The truth of the matter is that the bad guy, he's already decided that he's probably going to die that day. He's already accepted that. Hunkering down and hiding doesn't work. It hasn't worked since Columbine," said Hudson.

In the past, elementary school teacher Shelley Thompson, an elementary school teacher, told WKMG-TV she thinks she "would have been so fearful gone into shock."

"I don't look at it like it's doing Karate on anyone.  I look like it's defending their children and my students," she said.

These tactics are not district policy in Seminole County and no known schools are  considering adopting the techniques, but Hudson said that two schools in Seminole County, individually, are reaching out to him, to train teachers.

There will be another training next month at Lake Mary Champion Karate.