Business of Well-being

How To Implement a Successful Employee Self Defense Training Program

In previous articles, I covered:

The next step in the process is to formally and professionally implement an employee self defense training program. In order to accomplish this, there are three prerequisites a corporation must accomplish:

  • Determine the perceived needs of their specific, unique group of employees,
  • Identify potential training resources, and
  • Review and evaluate the training service options offered by each training resource to ensure that the services match their perceived needs.

It is a good idea for a company to discuss their perceived needs with the self defense training service provider. An ethical and professional trainer will help a potential corporate client more accurately identify and determine their actual needs related to this kind of training. Because of the trainer's experience, he or she may be able to reveal potential scenarios and situations that the client may not think of (due to the lack of experience in this type of training).

When giving program structure and content guidance, the self defense training service must be able to provide adequate justification for all aspects of any training program proposal. So, it is a great idea for an organization to review what they perceive to be their needs with the training service provider, as long as the trainer can properly justify any modifications to those needs.

Once an organization's needs are agreed upon and documented, implementation of the program can begin. This needs to be done in such a way that the potentially negative perception and possible intimidation that some people may have or feel about self defense training is eliminated or at the very least, minimized. The implementation of a corporate self defense training program should be carried out in stages.

The best way to start a program is to initially minimize the amount of time and effort the potential participants are required to invest. Then, as each implementation step is performed, people become more informed about the program and may be more cooperative in participating in the full program (the final implementation stage). Here is an example of an implementation plan that has been very successful for my program:

Stage 1 - Lunch and Learn Presentation

This activity is typically 60 to 75 minutes in length. Often times, this is held during employees lunch time. I begin by listing and describing the curriculum content (physical skills, awareness information, liability issues, etc.) of the program, followed by interactively demonstrating some of the physical skills taught. I briefly touch on the importance of the awareness concept with short interactive "tests".

The presentation concludes with a short 6 minute video that shows a progression of the physical skills training the group could possibly experience and a Q & A session. After the presentation, a survey (pre-approved by the sponsoring corporation) is handed out to the attendees to complete. The purpose of this survey is to gather feedback from the attendees that would indicate whether there is any interest in proceeding to the next stage of the program.

The surveys are given back to the department (typically Human Resources) sponsoring the training program, for evaluation and determination of how to proceed. This step is very important in order to get buy-in and participation from employees.

The key is to provide potential participants with the opportunity to learn about the training program and meet the trainer(s) under circumstances that are the most accommodating and non-"threatening" for the potential participants. In other words, provide an introduction to the program and trainer that:

  • Happens during actual work hours (convenient),
  • Lasts for no more than about 75 minutes (short duration - minimal time taken up),
  • Provides clear and comprehensive samples of the actual training curriculum through documented outlines and physical demonstrations (fear comes from the unknown - this removes the unknown), and
  • Are interactive with the potential participants (nothing is more boring than making people sit through an hour or so of someone talking at them!).

Stage 2 - Introduction to Self Defense Training

This stage of the program should occur fairly soon after the Lunch and Learn session. I recommend that Stage 2 occurs within 2 weeks of completing Stage 1, while interest levels are still high! This activity could be anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours in duration. Again, this amount of time is not a huge commitment by potential participants - so it won't be too scary for them.

However, it may be tough to schedule this type of activity during regular working hours, making it somewhat inconvenient. So, if Stage 2 of the implementation can be performed during regular working hours, there is a better chance for higher levels of participation. During this stage of program implementation, the trainer should begin teaching some of the basics of the physical skills that will be part of the full program.

There is very little time for actual practice, but participants should briefly experience how movement and technique skills will be taught, learned and practiced using the principle of progressive overload. This is important to show them that the risk of injury during the training program is minimized (nobody wants to get beat up), yet the physical skills will be simple to learn, easy to master.

Participants become convinced during this stage of the training program that they will learn realistic, practical and effective skills AND that they can handle the physical training. After this stage of the program, participants need to be convinced that they can and will be successful in such a program.

In my experience, I have found one other very important benefit to offering this stage of the training program - participants become less intimidated by a longer duration time investment in such training. When people complete this 2 hour introductory training, they cannot believe how quickly the time passed.

Because of this, a commitment to the next stage of the training program, which could be anywhere from 3 hours to whatever the sponsoring corporation determines necessary (I have taught a corporate program that lasted as long as 25 hours for the initial training, with an annual re-training event of 8 hours), is much easier to do.

Again, at the end of this training stage, I provide the participants with a survey that is intended:

  • Provide feedback that helps us determine the level of interest in a full training program,
  • Provide specific information about what the participants would like to experience in a full program, and
  • Give us information about "what" participants are willing to commit to. The "What" information includes:
  • When the training should be held,
  • Where the training should be held,

  • How much time would a participant be willing to commit to training, and
  • How many sessions should the full training be divided into.

The questions on the survey should be simple, allowing for quick answers (make it so the participants can simply choose an answer that is already provided on the form. That way, the survey response rate should be greater. At this point, if the survey information suggests that offering a full training program is worthwhile, you move to Stage 3!

Stage 3 Self Defense Training Program Before the actual program is offered, the trainer and the sponsoring organization should review and analyze the feedback information provided on the surveys from Stage 2. This information will be helpful in designing the full program to meet the needs and expectations of the people who will actually participate in the training.

This is important if the goal is to create a program that will have high levels of participation and will create a demand for future training programs. The duration of a full training program is dependent upon the actual content of the program. Participants must be provided with enough time to practice the physical skills under the progressive overload principle, to a point where each person feels realistically confident about their new found skills and knowledge.

An activity like this can be a great Team Building exercise in the corporate setting, as well. In the next article I will explain, in greater detail, the progressive overload principle of training and how and why this concept should be applied to a corporate self defense training program. I will also describe how this kind of activity can provide a Team Building environment, too. Until then, remember, "One Body, One Life, One Choice..Get Smart & Be Safe!"

About the Author

"One Body, One Life. . . One Choice."

Tim Rochford, founder and owner of Empower Training Systems, Inc., has been a martial arts and fitness professional for nearly 30 years. During this time, he has displayed his passion for helping others by sharing his expertise in Self Defense, Martial Arts and Kickboxing Fitness through his training workshops and programs, and his writings.

Tim has a 6th degree Black Belt in Kajukenbo Karate and has successfully competed in sport karate and amateur kickboxing since 1978. Tim also possesses numerous personal fitness trainer certifications (A.C.E., The Cooper Institute, etc). Tim has developed and teaches a multi-leveled self defense program, known as Proactive Personal Security (also known as Empower Self Defense).

This program has been taught nationally and internationally. His self defense training participants run the gamut from employees of international airlines (American Airlines, Southwest Airlines) to high school students, from major corporations to universities, and from realtor and police groups to athletic clubs. Tim also offers a "train the trainer" program to develop and educate those who want to become self defense instructors.

Tim provides guidance and recommendations but ultimately custom designs each training program according to parameters specified by his clients. It is this customization that makes his training program unique and successful for corporations and organizations.

Tim is also an accomplished writer whose achievements include authoring and co-authoring numerous training manuals in self defense and kickboxing fitness. Tim's workshops and authored articles have been highlighted in numerous prestigious martial arts and fitness magazines and newspapers including IDEA Source, IDEA Health & Fitness Source, IDEA Management, Fitness Management, MA Success, and The Washington Post.Tim can be reached by e-mail at or by phone (888)627-8348. Get more information at or .

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