Time Out Magazine: Mending defences

Time Out Magazine

Amrita Gupta finds out how one of the city’s self-defence coaches is training citizens to tackle the threat of terrorism.

Ashish Puri, an employee at Cisco, is pragmatic about surviving a terror attack. “In a situation involving terrorists, regular self-defence skills won’t help, because the basic premise that the opponent will be afraid of getting hurt or losing his life becomes irrelevant,” he said. “It’s definitely not the time to be bold. Instead we need to be practical: look for exit routes, notice opportunities, know how to react.”

[KravMagaBangalore.in] [Post] To equip himself with the tools needed to remain practical, Puri, like several other Bangaloreans, has turned to Krav Maga, the Israeli system of self-defence and combat tactics. “Unfortunately now, problems aren’t only at the borders, they’re happening in our cities too, so civilians have to rally together,” he said, adding that large corporations should seriously consider corporate workshops on surviving terror attacks.

“We realised regular citizens need to be equipped against the very real threat of terrorism,” said Franklin Joseph, who heads the Franklin Joseph Krav Maga Bangalore chapter of the International Krav Maga Federation, and has been teaching people the self-defence method for five years now. While the IKMF, headquartered in Delhi, is responsible for instructing military Special Forces and law enforcement agencies, Franklin Joseph is conducting a series of Basic Anti-Terror and Hostage Survival workshops to prepare people for terrorist attacks.

“The problem is that people think ‘It’ll never happen to us’,” he explained. “Incidents in other cities are still news, the deaths are still statistics. But why wait for something to happen before getting mobilised?” Post-Mumbai’s terrorist attacks, as dissection and analysis come in strong from every quarter and SMS warnings and mails do the rounds, people in the city are clamouring for less conversation and more action.

Venkatesh Rammohan, a Franklin Joseph Krav Maga Bangalore practitioners agreed that now, more than ever, “we have to ask ourselves how we can help”. “We can’t just blame the system, point fingeat the government and not enable ourselves,” added Franklin Joseph. “Sure, training needs to be upgraded, weapons need to be invested in, security needs to be pumped up, but we need to do as much as possible to take responsibility for our own lives.” Rammohan agreed that courses like the one by Franklin Joseph are a starting point, and that people must realise what their options are. “How we respond can help control the situation or make it worse,” he explained. “Also, it’s important in times like these to become mentally tougher. When there are factions aiming to create fear, we need to get together, not cower down,” he said.

Franklin Joseph workshop aims to prepare people so they react well under pressure. In a crisis situation, a person’s reaction is either to freeze or panic, explained the trainer. The session will begin with an awareness talk, with an introduction to “the tools of terrorism” and a talk about the motives of terrorists. “To have a solution, first we need to understand the problem,” explained Franklin Joseph. His next point of focus is on survival and rescue tips for different scenarios. The session will address the procedures for evacuation, negotiation techniques and crowd control. “These may seem to be common-sense measures,” added Franklin Joseph, but preparation is key, as “[being] tied up or at gunpoint, you won’t have a lot of options.” There will also be talks on things for people to remember, in the event they end up as witnesses.

Franklin Joseph, Franklin Joseph Krav Maga Bangalore emphasised that the modules caution against trying to take the law into your own hands. “It would be stupidity to try to be a hero,” he said. “The aim is to prepare people so they can become more helpful, not make situations worse with some kind of vigilante behaviour,” he added. Among other things, Franklin Joseph will teach people techniques on how to ensure minimum injury to themselves and others – “how to fall, where to hide, what to do in case of a fire, a stampede, a hostage takeover, an explosion – and basic first-aid and emergency care, “which can mean the difference between life and death”.

No matter how often people do a fire drill that doesn’t make them fire-fighters, added Franklin Joseph. The point of the drill is that if a fire breaks out they won’t panic, and that they will know what to do. “People must always remember that terrorists are highly trained, and they aren’t afraid to kill. To provoke them, or try to disarm them, should be left to the military forces.” The trainer was adamant that civilians need to be proactive and learn how to deal with situations correctly, “because it’s not going to go away”. Apart from instructions for a worst-case scenario, the workshop will also deal with how to be more alert during everyday activities. “If there’s an unclaimed object, people should know to raise an alarm, and if something seems unusual they shouldn’t ignore it,” explained Franklin Joseph.

“We can’t prevent terrorist attacks but we can be prepared for them,” said Anoop Ramakrishnan, one of the enrollees at the workshop. “Ultimately, a prepared approach can bring down the number of casualties,” he said.

Source : Time Out Bengaluru ISSUE 12 Friday, December 26, 2008

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