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A Dark Night Indeed – The Colorado Movie Shooting

So much has been written about the event. I was called, emailed, asked, what should people have done?  What would you have done?

This isn’t the first time I’ve been in this position. On December 6, 1989, Montreal made international  news when Marc Lepine waltzed into the University of Montreal and shot twenty-eight people before killing himself. I was on the news that very afternoon and had a  panicked & sensationalistic reporter ask me what people should have done? What I would’ve done?  My answer changed the conversation (and my future appearances on that station).  I paused and said calmly, How dare you ask that? How could anyone have a secret move, a technique, a plan for that?  How could you ask me to ‘arm-chair quarterback’ this horror?”  There was an awkward pause and very uncomfortable silence. I proceeded to explain that the only thing ‘we‘ can do is cultivate a relationship with instinct & intuition and to embrace an obvious ‘holy shit’ moment and somehow act decisively on it: engage or dis-engage

“The Cobra seeks to fix the eye of the bird, and in that moment of looking, predator and prey decide their own fate.  The victim creates their destiny.”

Why did Dave Thompson & John Alfred Klang move towards the danger and wrestle the gun from Eric Hainstock in the Weston High School Shooting?  They weren’t Ninjas!  They weren’t the police! What made them risk everything?  What made  gym coach Jon Lane, volunteer as the hostage and take down Barry Dale Loukaitis in the Frontier School shooting?

After the Dark Knight attack, I was fired up, ready to write, I wanted to talk about my favorite emotional fuel: indignation. I wanted to write about & share 30 years of coaching & scenario-based training!  But I was overwhelmed…with my 30 years of coaching :-)

Fact: No one can plan for or predict how they will react in an ‘incongruent ambush‘.

What is an incongruent ambush you ask?  It’s like an non-sequitor in a conversation,  your brain’s reticular cortex is trapped like a deer in the headlights as your intuitive abstraction skills try to connect the dots. The delay is profound & obvious….

A congruent ambush is just that – it makes sense, that’s what smart fighters are supposed to do…you’re in dangerous places looking for dangerous people and you are ‘on point’; you’re a sentry, security guard, police officer, soldier, you’re hunting and your radar is tuned to the ‘what’s wrong with this picture’ channel and when shit happens, you’ve [hopefully] rehearsed the scenario and your pre-contact cue awareness assists in a decreased reaction time and you engage the threat as prescribed [well that’s how it’s explained during courses :-)]

The Colorado scenario was an incongruent ambush.

And the answerers aren’t as simple as so many experts portray.

One of my most experienced coaches wrote a very emotional and personal blog about the Colorado incident. I want to share it with you because it sums up everything I could & would want to write.  It made me proud to read it, in many ways it’s better than anything I could’ve written, it’s a great example of how transferable our message is regardless of one’s background or experience and reading it will change you. Heres the link. Please give it a good read, as if your life might depend on it one day.

Seriously, stay safe,


If you’re a self-defense, DT & combatives coach or  instructor please read this article from Black Belt mag 2005.

Interesting read on improvised interceptions of a spontaneous gun attacks

Training for the Ambush video

Reducing Reaction time Hick’s Law Video


5 Responses to A Dark Night Indeed – The Colorado Movie Shooting

  1. Outstanding comments on this horrific tragedy…and thanks for the link! I’m sharing with as many people as I can. Stay safe brother!

  2. Tony,

    thanks for the insight, this is a really great post – I’ll be sure to pass it along.

  3. Thanks Tony! You are so right, we just can’t know what will happen in a situation like that. I’ve been asked by quite a few too, and posted a short video response the other day on youtube, but still tell people, “I don’t know…” Heck, if I’d been in the theater, completely into the movie (Because from what I’ve heard, who wouldn’t really be into the summer’s blockbuster hit), I could have been the first shot when he started firing, you just don’t know… All we can do is study these situations, train, and try to be prepared for situations we might encounter, and I sure wish no one would ever have to face such a situation again… Thanks for all you do and the knowledge you share!

  4. Jeff Norris says:

    Read the above linked article. Valuable information and insight on the situation. Definitely a few tools to add to your tool box. My two cents: As the author said, it will be hard to actually say what one would do until you are in the situation, however, if you prepare, then most likely you will act, whether instinctively, consciously, or with sheer determination. As Coach Blauer has stated in his Cycle of Behavior and many other discussions of Fear Management, understanding, preparation and acceptance will allow you to act, possibly save lives (including your own), deter and survive. Bottom line….you are there, so you or your family can be a victim, or take it to the coward’s (rear…for political correctness’ sake). For reference, former S.W.A.T. officer, detective, full-contact competitor, protective specialist overseas, and PDR Coach. Followed Tony Blauer for twenty years.

  5. Bruce DD Mac Rae says:

    Right on target—Ryan Kault told me about this site—looking forward to taking your class soon.

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