EmpowerUSA
Corporate Wellness - Why Include Self Defense Training?
Written by Timothy Rochford for Corporate Wellness Magazine
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 future. 
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. However, personal safety/self defense training DOES fall within the scope of wellness.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed (1943) the Hierarchy of Human Needs pyramid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs#Safety_needs - reference). Maslow's hierarchy of needs is depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels:
  • The lowest (but most important) level is associated with human physiological needs,
  • ​The uppermost level is associated with self-actualization needs, particularly those related to identity and purpose. 
  • ​The higher needs of the hierarchy pyramid can only be achieved when the lower needs 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.
When reviewing 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. This definitely makes sense. Feeling insecure or unsafe will cause the levels of negative stress to increase. The physiological and psychological effects of stress will have negative consequences on a person’s health and well being. So, why not proactively do something to enhance your feelings of personal security?

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. Some companies recognize the many potential benefits of providing personal safety/self defense training for their employees, proactively - prior to a harmful incident. Training can range anywhere from brief lectures/seminars on enhancing awareness with no physical skills training to a comprehensive program that includes awareness training combined with specific and necessary physical self defense skills. Companies need to recognize both the short-term and long-term value in providing important life-saving skills for 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 may avoid 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 impacts their performance and leadership potential. Untrained individuals tend to avoid 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 safe 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 health care 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 team members.

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.

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 employers. 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. Self defense training is known to be a source of personal empowerment and confidence, providing people 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 a company.

Some Additional Self Defense Training Benefits
Besides 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 those benefits:
  • Help families learn to positively deal with conflict through physical and emotional interaction required in the training.
  • Develops a greater sense of physical 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, emotional, environmental and physical awareness
  • ​Teaches the concept of progression
  • ​Enhances patience
  • ​Provides a “teamwork” experience
  • ​Learn to recognize, handle and manage fear in all aspects of life
  • ​Develop the most powerful weapon available – 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 that will enable you to maintain 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 a greater ability to concentrate
  • ​Become a role model
  • ​Make new friends and have fun!!!!!!!
Now that we have answered the question, “why self defense training?”, the next important area to discuss is “what to look for in a self defense training program” - this is the subject of the next article in this personal safety training series.
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About EmpowerUSA
Empower USA, Inc. strives to create and provide a positive experience of personal and professional growth and improvement by empowering our students, clients, employees and associates to take and maintain control of the mental, emotional, environmental and physical aspects of their lives, through participation in our martial arts-based and fitness-based programs.

Empower Training Systems’ goals include enhancement of the body, the mind and the soul, creating a condition of total wellness. Creating strong, healthy, confident people!

Our mantra is “One Body, One Life, One Choice!”

About Author

Timothy Rochford

Tim Rochford, is a 7th degree black belt in Kajukenbo Karate, has a Master’s degree in Exercise Science and has been providing corporate and general public self defense training on a national and international basis since 1984. He developed a kickboxing fitness instructor training program called Martial Fitness Kickboxing and a self defense instructor training program called Empower Self Defense. Both programs are approved for continuing education credits for certified fitness professionals. 
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