Self Defence 1

When is training in physical self defence skills not such a good idea?

Let’s clarify the safety challenge.

Who is the likely or possible aggressor? Perhaps a client, a family member, a friend, a neighbour, a carer or opportunistic street crime. Male or female? Are they acting alone?

What is driving the aggressive behaviour? Perhaps any one, or a combination of, anger, rage, hallucination, delusion, alcohol, drugs, or even desire.

What is the likely nature of the aggressive behaviour?

  • Intimidation or harassment?
  • Verbal abuse?
  • Pushing?
  • Grabbing?
  • Punching?
  • Kicking?
  • Striking with an object eg. a broom?
  • Striking with a weapon eg. a knife?
  • Would it be one or two hits or a protracted assault?
  • Would the unwanted physical contact be of a sexual nature?

Let’s consider self defence as a solution.

Who is the person being assaulted? Young or old? Physically fit or not so fit? Female or male? Someone who has a kind and nurturing nature or a confrontational and aggressive nature?

Will the proposed program of self defence training achieve the intended effect on safety in your work place?

Does the person being assaulted – do your staff – have an interest in learning self defence techniques? If they are attacked, would they have the temperament to respond decisively with an effective physical self defence response?

If an individual does not know appropriate self defence techniques or does not have the decisiveness to apply them in a potentially life threatening situation then they are unlikely to respond effectively.

There is an old martial arts saying:

1,000 repetitions to learn a technique. 10,000 repetitions to master a technique. A lifetime to perfect a technique.

With this in mind, what would be your realistic learning outcomes for a one hour, three hour or six hour program?

What level of competency do you expect your staff to attain at the end of that program? What do you expect the retention of capability to be one week later? How about three months later?

Remember the seriousness of the incidents that have occurred that have brought you to the point of considering self defence training in the first place.

The alternative?

If you are not in the position to allocate the necessary resources of time (and money) to deliver effective self defence training, then consider investing in up-skilling your staff with proactive strategies to identify and manage emerging safety challenges.

When given the skills to assess safety challenges, techniques to manage them where safe to do so, and strategies to exit a situation before a physical response of last resort might be the only option, staff make better decisions about their safety. Importantly, these skills are reinforced through daily contact with clients.

So to self defence or not to self defence?

Ultimately it comes down to what is the best fit for your staff, the nature of the incidents they are exposed to, and your organisation.

For organisations that provide self defence training for their staff, it is crucial that the training is suitably resourced and that both the benefits and limitations of the training are clearly understood.

For other organisations, given that: “self defence requires a lot of training to acquire the skill,” and it is a perishable skill, up skilling staff to proactively prevent the problem will be better than focusing on the niche perishable skills to defend against a physical assault.


Image of Travis Holland presenting

Travis Hol­land
Man­ag­ing Direc­tor
Hol­land Thomas
Travis Holland email address

M.A.B. Staff Safety Training. Find out more.

Should you wish to discuss strategies to improve your staff’s safety in their work environment, please feel welcome to contact Holland Thomas.
Our goal at Holland Thomas is to create safer workplaces that enhance wellbeing for all concerned whilst also delivering improved operational and financial performance.

This blog draws on our years of experience delivering our M.A.B.™ Staff Safety Training (Contextualised Prevention and Management of Aggressive Behaviours) across Australia and the development of My Safety Buddy, our smartphone app and web portal based lone worker safety solution.

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