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Tau's picture
Occupation-Specific Self Protection (care, in this case)

Iain's most recent Podcast featured one question that resonated with me as it was on my mind anyway. The question was about tayloring self protection training for females. I'm not a great believer in "ladies self defence" personally as I think it panders to too many assumptions. I've trained with "ladies" who could beat the living cr@p out of me and some very weedy men. I take the point about statistical likelihood of attack for different age group, sex, location and attacker. I digress.

The background to this post, which I hope stimulates some discussion is

- I'm a chap

- I'm a Nurse

- Suprisingly enough I study Martial Arts which includes pragmatism

- I start  a new job in a Nurse-lead emergency department (specifically a very busy Minor Injuries Unit) in three weeks

My new manager has stated that a large part of the reason for her employing me is the variety of skills that I bring that they don't have. Chief among these is computer competence (I trained in Computer Studies prior to becoming a Nurse and I remain a computer hobbyist.) However on meeting some of the other staff they've already been talking about me teaching them self defence (my Martial Arts are a big part of my CV) I have no problem with teaching occupation self protection specifically for the setting in which I work. Indeed I've been asking my current manager for years if I can do this, for free. I just want the go-ahead from the Trust and assurances that appropriate insurance is in place for me. I've made it clear to my new colleagues that my concept of care-based self defence would NOT be technique-based.

As part of my induction I will obviously learn about the department geography, security doors and staffing levels.

If I were to put together a formal package for teaching, what should I include or what should I teach? The first thing that springs to mind is law but in combination with consideration of our professional regulation and obligation to patients and upholding our professional image. I would also include warning signs of imminent aggression and the LEAPS model.

JWT's picture

Hi Tau

What I'm about to say may come across as offensive, but I'm not saying it to deliberately offend.  

If you are asking questions like this I think you should seriously consider whether you are qualified to run training in this field for yourself and your colleagues.  There is a big difference between being a knowledgeable and skilled martial artist and being a high quality trainer that can deliver the appropriate conflict management skills that would benefit your workplace.  It seems to me that your colleagues have confused the two, like many laymen and indeed many martial artists.  This is an area where Iain's martial map comes into play, but further to that within the 'self protection' category of the martial map there is a mass of material that varies considerably depending on for whom (and for what purpose) you are providing training.

From another perspective it looks to me as if someone in management thinks that by getting you to offer training they might meet their health and safety obligations at a lower cost, unless they've offered to pay you for your professional knowledge, training needs analysis, risk assessments and training delivery at a different rate to your normal salary.  

My personal and professional advice would be to decline to run the training, but offer (as someone with a good understanding of the working environment and with a background in teaching physical combative skills) to help them with their selection of a training group that will meet the needs of the department.  I'm happy to send you a 'check sheet' of questions that could form part of the selection process if you like?

Good luck.

John Titchen

Tau's picture


I appreciate your response and your candour.

I am aware (I hope) of my knowledge limitations as a self protection trainer which is largely why I come on this forum. I also strongly agree with the notion that Martial Arts and self protection are NOT the same thing. I'm increasingly moving toward a pragmatic approach to my teaching and looking to incorporate everything that that entails, hence also my membership to the WCA.

I think them using me and my skills doesn't fall so much what you're suggesting in terms of box ticking and financial saving, more just utilising me and everything I bring. My way of thinking is that even small-scale things such as considering room layout so as to promote escape, recognising the potential for aggression and so on is all beneficial. I am not selling myself as something that I'm not. However, that will hopefully become something that I am.

Any material that you have that you'd like to send me is gratefully received.

Mr P
Mr P's picture

Hi Tau and greetings from a fellow nurse. I work in intensive care, a far less scary place than the emergency dept.

Earlier this week staff asked me about self defence at work. My advice to the staff was simply to create some distance, move away and call for help if you feel threatened at work by a patient or visitor. We have a panic button at work that calls security directly.  On occasions I have demonstrated simple escapes from a wrist grab which is the most likely action from one of our confused patients. However, I am afraid that in today's NHS, health and safety culture, litigious society in general and demands of professionalism,  teaching self defence at work would best be left to the hospital security team or other invited and paid for appropriate body.

I do invite staff to come along to the club I train. 

JWT's picture

Hi Tau

I'm not sure if we're allowed to post web addresses here, but you can get in touch via email by finding my website. I can then send you a tick list of things related to the training to consider.


Dale Elsdon
Dale Elsdon's picture

Hello Tau,

I have developed and delivered a course for ED staff at the hospital in which I used to work, similar to the type of course you are describing, and would be happy to help you in any way I can.

Actually I think I can help you right away by issuing the following advice: DON'T GIVE AWAY YOUR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FOR FREE. If you intend to do this properly then it requires considerable time and effort on your part, not to mention the time and expense you have invested in acquiring the requisite skills to deliver this training.

Let me know if I can advise you in any way... but not if you are giving it away for nix. If you don't value your own expertise then why would anyone else?

You have nothing to gain from doing it for free, other than a gentle ego stroke, but that won't seem particularly satisfying after you have gone to considerable effort to deliver a course to a group of semi-interested nurses who are being forced to attend yet another OH&S mandatory.

Dale Elsdon