Reality Based Self-Defense Training

Padded Assailant Courses Are NOT All Alike

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (Colton), but imitating the padded assailant concept misses a significant portion of the context behind the Five Principles of Self Defense © and the training potential of reality based self-defense. Padded assailant courses are also called scenario based training (SBT), reality based self-defense (RBSD), or reality based martial arts (RBMA).

Reality Based Self-Defense Training Equipment

women self defense eye gouge

Protective body armor allows for full force strikes keeping both student and role model mugger instructor safe during self-defense classes.

Self-defense instructors have good intentions when deciding to provide training in personal protection and understand the benefit of offering reality based self-defense training to their students. However, when someone purchases a suit of protective body armor it does not mean they are qualified to train in it as a padded assailant or safely conduct reality based training. Not only will equipment vary with imitation suits but also the capabilities of what activities can be practices and subsequently the realism varies.

Most protective suits will not protect the instructor in the first fight of a Model Mugging course. Consequently, the equipment prevents realism and limits the self-defense techniques students are able practice. Therefore diluting the reality basis of self-defense training.

Since the late 1980s’, numerous padded assailant programs began popping up around the world. They sought to copy the Model Mugging concepts which started gaining popularity from publicity beginning in 1978 with an article published by Human Behavior Magazine .

Model Mugging Self-Defense has also been written about in many other popular magazines with self-defense related articles, books, news segments, and television talk shows including the Oprah Winfrey Show.

More to Reality Based Self Defense Training than a Protective Suit

Unlike most courses that have copied the use of protective equipment in self-defense training, Model Mugging evolved from researching crime and then applying scientific teaching methodologies. From the applied research the evolution of the Model Mugging program occurred, which then emerged applying the padded assailant as a derivative of practical training.

self-defense kick padded attacker

Padded assailant failed to pin Model Mugging self-defense student.

There are many facets needed that make up a good mock attacker or “model mugger”. Being an excellent martial artist does not necessarily translate into a good teacher, or portraying a good padded assailant. The best self-defense instructors understand the dynamics of crime, criminal typologies, and many elements involved in adrenaline stress training. The more realism instructors can make the training they provide the better prepared their students will be when confronted with violent crime. However instructors must also keep everyone safe.

Padded assailant training should be used in coordination with trained co-instructors who are able to coach students over various training hurdles for preparation in adrenalized scenarios. Not only is there a martial science behind teaching reality based self-defense but it is also an art to wearing the equipment safely and realistically. Much has been learned over the decades about adrenaline stress training. Instructors should be properly trained to wear the protective suit, both for their own protection but especially for each student’s safety. The dynamics required for teaching women is different than applying the padded assailant concept with martial artists training for mixed martial arts competitions.

Teaching without a trained co-instructor who is familiar with the equipment, can be emotionally and physically dangerous to students and also physically dangerous to the instructor wearing the suit. Trained instructors should be able to wear the protective armor and simultaneously teach students while being hit and kicked. Too often, students are “mauled”, resulting in reduced self-efficacy and counterproductive training. The chance of injuries during class also increases.

Teaching with Protective Body Armor is an Art with Scientific Foundation

Martial arts training, alone, does not provide the needed skills to be an effective model mugger or mock assailant. Even being taught how to wear the armor does not carry over to teaching specialized groups, especially women. Being a “model mugger” is both a science and an art. Understanding teaching methodology and criminal behavior provides a more realistic background that develops into providing a more realistic learning environment for students. When performed correctly and in a supportive environment, instructors can quickly empower their students to do more than they believed otherwise.

self-defense eye gouge

Padded assailant traps Model Mugging Students legs while she eye gouges him.

Instructors should learn how to imitate different types of criminals and rapists, so that they are able to realistically train women how to negotiate better, and then how to verbally de-escalate a confrontation or fight off a real criminal. Instructors must be able to combine the ugliness of crime with developing each student’s personal growth and increasing their self-confidence.

Additionally, in order to create realistic scenarios, good instructors should have a thorough understanding of required martial skills, gender strategies, physiology, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a criminal’s perspective of crime. Instructors should understand advanced training methodologies, know how to apply progressive stress as students’ abilities improve, and be able to assist each student based upon their unique capabilities students.

A good padded assailant instructor “dances” with his students. He transposes the “dance of violence” into the “dance of empowerment.


Return to Choices in Self Defense for more suggestions.