Class teaches split-second survival techniques

What would you do if you were walking to your car and someone grabbed you from behind and tried to drag you into the bushes? What would you do if a person held a gun to you and ordered you to get in his car?

Alan Shaw, chief instructor and owner of a Tang Soo Do studio, a Korean martial art style that dates to 57 B.C., says he can help provide one of the tools to get out of the situation.

He is offering a class called Split Second Survival, planned from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 25 at the City Athletic Club, 7980 W. Sahara Ave. The session is set to be taught by Larry Wick, who has a studio in Fairbanks, Alaska, and developed the Split Second Survival course.

The course teaches skills that can help a victim from being taken to a second location and to get away from the assailant when he has a weapon. There is no fighting or sparring involved, and no prior training is necessary.

“Some things don’t necessarily work in (self-defense),” Shaw said. “If I have a female student, and I say, ‘OK, you’re going to get me in an arm lock,’ well, she can do it to somebody her own size, but if she tries to do it to someone with 50 or 100 pounds on her, even if you’re an expert, you’re going to struggle (to do that). … With Split Second Survival, it’s real-life scenarios. We’re going to be using this when we’re attacked at an ATM or getting into our cars.”

Participants learn to use surprise as a tactic, along areas to strike the assailant where he will be affected most. Shaw said women are more often the victim because they’re seen as weak and are more apt to be submissive. He said if the bad guys want only their purse, they should let him have it.

“It’s just stuff,” he said. “It can be replaced.”

It’s when the bad guy wants to take his victim behind a dumpster or put her into his car that it’s time to fight back.

Shaw used props such as metal “knives” and a plastic gun to demonstrate how to de-escalate a situation involving a weapon. He demonstrated with someone holding a gun on him. An instant later, he held the gun instead.

When Shaw demonstrated the move, he stepped toward the assailant before sidestepping them.

“What you’re doing is getting through somebody before they have a chance to, what we call ‘wake up,’ before they realize what’s going on,” he said. “… Once you figure out something is happening, that’s the point where you start reacting.”

Part of it uses the brain’s way of processing to buy time.

“It takes her brain 700 milliseconds to figure out she’s not in control,” he said, “and by the time she realizes that, guess what’s happened? The gun’s out of her hand.”

Part of the class teaches attendees how not to broadcast their intention, as that would give the advantage to the assailant.

“It just flows,” Shaw said. “It’s a real simple concept. He (Wick) takes all sorts of weapons — guns, bats, knives, grabbing, whatever — and shows how to defend yourself. … After that clinic, you won’t be able to watch an action movie again because you’ll go, ‘Oh, really?’ Because that’s not how this stuff works. You’re not going to to be in a five-minute battle scene.”

Erik Hansen, a massage therapist, learned some of the Split-Second class moves after he joined Shaw’s studio.

“You don’t need brute strength or to use force,” he said. “ … Instead of lunging for the gun, you softly step to the side and take it away.”

Helena Garcia has been taking karate lessons from Shaw since last fall and has earned her orange belt. She signed up for the Split Second Survival class.

“I think the Split Second class will empower me even more … This day and age, living alone, you need to be able to defend yourself,” she said.

The Rape Crisis Center responded to nearly 600 victims of sexual assault in 2012. Daniele Dreitzer, executive director, said the numbers were likely similar for 2013.

While she could not speak to how much a class such as Split Second Survival could prevent participants from being victims, Dreitzer did say, “While there’s a lot of discussion about those types of assaults and, not that they don’t happen, they definitely do, the much larger majority of sexual assault is by somebody that the person knows or at least is acquainted with … so anything that empowers women and helps them be safer, we certainly encourage.”

The cost of the Split Second Survival course is $199. Registration is required at

For more information, call 702-677-1257.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.

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