Corporate Wellness - How To Implement a Successful Employee Self Defense Training Program
Written by Timothy Rochford for Corporate Wellness Magazine
In the two previous articles, I covered: Why a corporate wellness program should include self defense training and the benefits that such a program can provide to your organization, and
What a corporate self defense training program should include (the range of content that could be included in a potential program).
The next step in the process is to professionally implement an employee self defense training program., There are three prerequisites a corporation must meet to do this: 1. Determine the perceived needs of their specific and unique group of employees, 2. Identify potential training resources, and 3. Review and evaluate the training options offered by a training resource to ensure that the services match the perceived needs.
A company should 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 training. Because of the trainer’s experience, he or she may be able to reveal potential scenarios and situations that the client may not be aware 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 a training program proposal. So, it is important for an organization to review their perceived training needs with the service provider. And, it is also important for the training service provider to be able to properly justify any suggested modifications to those needs.

Once an organization’s needs are agreed upon and documented, the program design process can begin. A program design and implementation process needs to consider and address the potentially negative perception and possible intimidation that some people may have about self defense training. 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 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 employee’s 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 for the attendees to complete. The purpose of this survey is to gather feedback that would indicate the level of interest in additional training. The surveys are given back to the sponsoring department (typically Human Resources) for evaluation and determination of how to proceed.
This step is important to get employee buy-in and participation. 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”. 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 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. However, it may be tough to schedule this type of activity during regular working hours, making it somewhat inconvenient. 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 are part of a complete program. There is 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) - 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 will be successful.

In my experience, I have found one other important benefit to offering this stage of the training program - participants become less intimidated by a longer duration time investment in such training. It has been my experience that 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 would typically be 3 or more hours, is much easier to do.

Again, at the end of this training stage, provide participants with a survey that is intended to provide:
  • Feedback that helps determine the level of interest for a complete training program, 
  • ​Specific information about what participants want to experience, and
  • ​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
  • ​Should the training be completed in a single or multiple sessions.
The questions on the survey should be simple – no essays. Provide answers that the respondents can select from – that should increase the number of completed surveys. 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 participants. This is important if the goal is to create a program that 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 skills and knowledge.

An activity like this can be a great Team Building exercise in the corporate setting. If you have any questions or have any interest in offering this kind of training for your most important assets (your employees), please contact Empower Training Systems – we are here to help! And, remember, “One Body, One Life, One Choice……..Get Smart & Be Safe!”

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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. 
Corporate Self Defense Blogs
  • Corporate Wellness Training  - What Should Be Included?  
  • Corporate Wellness - How To Implement a Successful Employee Self Defense Training Program
  • Corporate Wellness - Why Include Self Defense Training?
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