Business of Well-being

Why Include Self Defense Training Into Corporate Wellness Programs

Proactive, forward-thinking companies do what is necessary to ensure that employees are mentally, emotionally and physically healthy. These companies understand that by providing employees with benefits like wellness programs, insurance, training/education, and more, they are investing in their own future as a company.

When the term "wellness program" is used, most people think of fitness training, stress relief, smoking cessation, etc. Very few people relate personal safety/self defense training with "wellness" training or education. Self defense certainly falls within the scope of wellness. Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed (1943) the Hierarchy of Human Needs pyramid ( - reference).

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels: the lowest (but most important) level is associated with physiological needs, while the uppermost level is associated with self-actualization needs, particularly those related to identity and purpose. The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus when the lower needs of the pyramid are met.

Once an individual has moved upwards to the next pyramid level, needs in the lower level are no longer prioritized. However, if a lower set of needs is suddenly not being met, the individual temporarily re-focuses attention on those unfulfilled needs. An example would be an injured professional athlete. The injury threatens the athlete's security of employment.

So, the athlete temporarily spends a great deal of time concentrating on his healing the injury (physiological needs), but continues to value his athletic performance (esteem needs) and returns to "work" as soon as the injury is healed. If you look at Maslow's pyramid, you see the most basic fundamental needs for human beings are physiological - food, water, air. These "needs" form the base of the pyramid meaning they are of the highest priority.

The next level on the pyramid, ranking second in importance behind physiological needs, is "Security"! Security is divided into different types: safety of the body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health and property. According to Maslow, we need to feel safe in each of these areas in order to enjoy a healthy, fulfilling life.

When you think about it, this makes great sense. If we don't feel secure, our levels of negative stress are increased. The physiological and psychological effects of stress have been shown to have negative consequences on a person's health and well being. So, why not proactively do something to enhance your feelings of personal security?

Our society tends to be REACTIVE - people wait until something bad happens before attempting to change or improve their situations. However, once something bad happens, it may be too late. The damage or negative impact (short-term and/or long-term) is already done. What benefits may be experienced if a person or company is PROACTIVELY in trying to avoid such situations?

Some companies recognize the many potential benefits of providing personal safety/self defense training for their employees - prior to a harmful incident. This training can range anywhere from brief lectures/seminars on enhancing awareness with no physical training at all to full-blown programs that include awareness training along with comprehensive training in specific and necessary physical self defense skills.

Companies need to see the short-term and long-term value in providing important life-saving skills for their employees. Other than the primary benefit of teaching employees how to avoid, deal with and/or physically defend themselves against a physical attack - there are very significant reasons why a company might want to offer such a program. Here are some great reasons to include personal protection training:Self Defense training can prevent workplace violence before it even happens.

Workplace violence is growing at an alarming rate. However, it has been proven that in a situation where an aggressor might sustain an injury himself by initiating a violent attack, he avoids such actions altogether!Imagine the costs a company could incur after dealing with the aftermath of an act of violence in the workplace. A small investment of time and money in quality self defense training today can prevent catastrophic losses in the future - losses that can literally cripple a company.

Employees who are capable of protecting themselves are more confident, which directly affects their level of performance and their leadership potential. Untrained individuals tend to avoid situations where they are required to be open to new situations and people. Self defense training helps to build confidence, increase self-esteem, and a greater sense of leadership presence. Confident people tend to be more able to overcome obstacles and get the job done.

People who feel safer are less prone to the debilitating effects of stress, which is the number one factor in many illnesses and a leading cause of on-the-job accidents. The increased confidence, coupled with an increased sense of calm, can mean a long-term cost savings for an employer. Less stress means less stress-related illnesses, less lost time due to illness, fewer accidents, and higher productivity. Without the burden of stress-related paralysis, employees are more energetic, quick-thinking, and relaxed - making them more productive members of your organization.

Martial Arts-based self-defense training has been shown to improve employee discipline, morale and enhance teamwork. Feelings of weakness, social anxiety, and concern for one's safety, by any one individual, can cause stress on an entire employee group. Many employees live in fear of making the wrong decisions, some care little for their job - expecting to be paid for time rather than productivity - and others suffer from poor interpersonal skills.

The difference between a company with a workforce made up of positive, powerful, and productive people and one that is not, is quite obvious. Emotional and psychological barriers to personal achievement can prevent a team from functioning productively. A properly structured program allows team members to come together in a supportive environment to learn important skills. With the help of co-workers, individuals with weaker skill sets learn to overcome obstacles and fears that may be holding them back, and safely become leaders in their own right within their groups.

Self-defense training improves creative problem solving skills. Self defense training can help employees learn to creatively overcome obstacles to success. This type of training can develop and/or improve problem-solving abilities, creativity, and "outside the box" thinking. Employees learn to think "strategically", providing their company with the ability to identify symptoms and root causes of problems and determine both corrective and preventive actions, leading to less wasted time, money, and other resources in having to repeatedly "replace band-aids."

Employees may experience a greater sense of happiness and peace of mind. Happier employees provide many benefits for their company. Individuals who have a confident, positive outlook on life are less likely to be threatened by change, become defensive with others, or lash out at others verbally, physically, or emotionally when things don't go smoothly. Martial arts-based self defense training is known to be a source of personal empowerment and confidence, providing a person with the ability to be in control of him or herself. It is this type of person that tends to attract and affect others in a positive way, making them a valuable asset to any company.

Some Other Benefits of Self Defense TrainingBesides the obvious enhancement of personal safety, this type of training, if properly structured and implemented, offers many benefits that can elevate the quality of life on both a personal and professional level. Here is a partial list of obvious benefits:

  • Help families to get closer through physical and emotional interaction required in learning to deal with conflict
  • Develops a greater sense of balance and fine motor skills
  • Increased self confidence and self-control
  • Creates a new level of respect for others
  • Teaches goal-setting and improves organizational & leadership skills
  • Provides an energy outlet (stress relief) which promotes a non-aggressive attitude
  • Develops assertiveness while reducing aggressiveness
  • Increase awareness of the benefits of a healthy and fit lifestyle
  • Promotes a higher level of mental (what is happening around you), emotional (what state are your emotions in, in what state of emotion are those with whom you are interacting), environmental (aware of your surroundings) and physical awareness in everyday work and social lives & interactions
  • Teaches the concept of progression
  • Enhances patience
  • Provides a "teamwork" experience
  • Take control of your emotional well-being
  • Learn to recognize, handle and manage fear in all aspects of life
  • Develop the most powerful weapon available - your intelligence!
  • Teaches quick decision-making
  • Overcome complacency and bad habits that can make you a prime target for victimization
  • Learn to apply prevention and avoidance strategies that are consistent with your individual lifestyle
  • Learn to "check" your ego and let go of your pride
  • Learn training methods and strategies that can be practiced after completing the program that will enable you to maintain higher levels of personal safety, health and fitness
  • Teach you to evaluate a self defense training resource for practicality and realistic effectiveness
  • Learn to have grace under pressure
  • Develop greater concentration abilities
  • Become a role model
  • Make new friends and have lots of fun!!!!!!!

Now that the benefits (the answers to the question, "why?") of self defense training have been identified, the next important subject area is "what to look for in a self defense training program", which is the subject of the next article in this personal safety training series.

About the Author

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.

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