Self Defense Instructor Training and Certification

Self Defense Instructor Course

male instructors in training 2016

We invite qualified candidates to join our team teaching full-force martial science using a heavily padded mock assailant.

We want to work with dedicated men and women committed to helping others find empowerment through teaching self defense and personal safety. Teaching the Model Mugging Self Defense® system is challenging, educational, fun, and rewarding.

Founder of Model Mugging, Matt Thomas:
I analyzed attack patterns against women in the United States. Then I synthesized the military science of asymmetrical warfare strategies and tactics with the Western learning theories and martial arts to defeat these types of attacks committed against women. Women are at risk from sexual assault, stalkers and domestic violence, I wanted to teach them effective self defense in the shortest amount of time possible.

My first fighting system was “orphanage fu” in Japan, no rules, no mercy. Later I fought bullies on the streets of the United States. When I was 13, I won a fight against 3 racist bullies at school but was suspended for two weeks. I won a battle but lost a war.

Fortunately my English teacher, Beverly Kleinjan, inspired me to prove myself better than the bullies through academics and sports instead of violence. I was also introduced to the martial arts so I would spar in the dojo instead of fight on the streets. After I earned my lack belt by 16, suddenly my street fighting stopped because bullies were afraid to pick on me. I found peace by having power. This is the peace I taught my students.

In my 52 years studying various martial arts, I have been blessed with some amazing sensei, and I learned from thousands of students and hundreds of co-instructors. Before I go, like many of my sensei have gone, I must pass on our wisdom to the next generation of courageous instructors. We also need to teach them the principles of applying martial science and how to avoid making some of the mistakes I’ve made. When on the cutting edge of training, one can get cut. For example, I got knocked out 22 times before we figured out how to make a better protective helmet, so now, wearing the equipment no one gets knocked out.

We seek skilled instructors willing to “lose” to their students so they can win on the street. We seek co-instructors willing to share the same path on the Hero’s Journey described by Joseph Campbell. All of the students who come to us are at various stages of their own hero’s journeys. As instructors we are heroes will to assist others to show them the way toward empowerment. 

Matt Thomas created numerous revolutionary concepts in personal safety and life changing experiences for students and instructors. Most notably, Model Mugging Self-Defense courses have reduced victimization by providing research-based training in crime prevention and self defense. The most common statement from Model Mugging Self-Defense graduates is “This course changed my life!”

As the original full-force scenario based self defense program begun in 1971, Model Mugging seeks to pass on the highest quality in research based Adrenaline Stress Training to other dedicated instructors. We share over four decades of scientifically proven instruction methods and strategies.

women self-defense instructor certification training

Female Model Mugging Instructor demonstrates techniques.

Model Mugging is martial science and not a martial art. Model Mugging involves much more than using a padded assailant. While at Stanford University, the founder of Model Mugging, Matt Thomas, applied Albert Bandura’s Role Model Mastery of how to overcome fear of snakes and flying into how to overcome the fear of combat. He integrated Dan Millman’s Peaceful Warrior humane coaching style of teaching with inspiration, joy and laughter. He used Colin Pittenridge’s Effective Animal Communication with Karl Pribram’s Neurophysiology of Learning and Ernst Hilgard’s State Conditioned learning with the application of adrenaline stress training. Then he incorporated Phillip Zimbardo’s Cognitive Dissonance between how to be a peaceful human and a fierce warrior when appropriate. Klaus Bensch’s taught him rigorous applications of the Scientific Method for real world applications. He structured the course after Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.

Later, while attending Harvard Medical School, he implemented the process of David Shapiro’s Biofeedback in learning into the training. Building upon Matt Thomas’ initial research, Model Mugging provides integrated criminal analysis into personal protection with the Five Principles of Self-defense©.

Candidates will safely train in how to properly and safely teach using martial science methodologies. Although each candidate training team consists of one female instructor and one to two male instructors, do not be discouraged if you do not have a partner at this time.

Instructional testimonial from the Director of Model Mugging:
“Beginning in the 1980’s there were numerous copycat programs and break away groups that formed where realism was diluted, safety suffered, and content became distorted. I was one of these by default where I had learned from someone, who taught someone, who taught someone, etc. When Founder Matt Thomas invited me to assist him in one of his women’s classes for the first time, I had been teaching Model Mugging for about seven years. Usually this is the time period where expertise is achieved, but it was humbling to learn that I did not know very much about the system I was teaching.

After learning from Matt Thomas, we have made additional martial science improvements to the program based on extensive research. Even after teaching for over for the past 25 years, it is rewarding to have helped thousands of people become safer. The greatest reward for instructors is hearing graduates tell us years later how the program positively changed their lives by helping them find their inner power!”


Instructor Certification

self-defense instructor certification training

Male instructor candidate fighting back against the padded assailant.


We work at subsidizing the costs of Instructor Training through donations, grants, and volunteer support. In addition, participants will be required to complete their training under supervision of a certified instructor trainer. Personalized instructor training may be an option based on a case-by-case basis.

Model Mugging is the most developed self defense and crime prevention program available. Instructor Training is not a diluted curriculum to “crank out instructors” covering a few martial arts techniques, nor the accumulation of copied ideas, but rather, we provide a dynamic program based on first source research. As the original developers of the padded assailant, we show you how to wear the equipment properly and safely. Each exercise and topic in the course is explained and instructors are shown the pieces fit together.

The first step is the application process.Instructor Candidates are required to fill out an application and provide references. Instructor Training Board will invite those selected to the next Instructor Certification Training.

There is a special feeling of accomplishment when concluding each basic course as you can literally see the transformation in your students from starting the class fearfully and nervous to leaving with smiles as empowered graduates.


SARAH – “I went into instructor training expecting to train in Model Mugging.  Little did I know that I would also be renovating my perception of life, healing wounds I didn’t know I had and meeting some of the most genuine people.  Instructor training was a life changing journey for me.  I am honored to be a part of this self defense organization and working to teach others how to protect themselves.” 

TRACEE – “My husband and I attended the Basic Course and Instructor Training in January 2018. Based on my own seven years of research, I found Model Mugging to be the only women’s self-defense program that covers Physical and Psychological requirements everyone needs for successful self-defense training (standing, ground and verbal attacks).
          Model Mugging provides a one of a kind adrenaline rush and 25 hours plus instruction with hand on fighting and muscle memory training.  I overcame fears I didn’t know I had until I was put into specific positions of (personal) vulnerability.  I welcome the challenge for personal growth and the instructors were so supportive.
          Instructor training was very intense.  My husband and I are military and trained in other defensive programs, but nothing compares to the depth and breadth of Model Mugging for its target audience.  I can’t wait to fulfill my dream/calling to help empower men, women and children.
          I was excited and curious to see the program content and operations.  The lead instructor trainers are a globally diverse team who continue to operate this program for a very reasonable cost.  Initially, I was concerned about the costs to attend instructor training, but I had to compare it to the $100 plus I would spend for a few minutes in the wind tunnel; the $25 an hour for an escape room; $80 plus for two hours of zip lining per person; and the many yoga classes I have paid $15.00 per hour.
          This program provides so much more on many levels of personal growth and safety.”

Instructor Certification Process

  1. Application: Application for Instructor Certification Training
  2. Level 1 Basic Instructor Training Course involves (1) completing the application, (2) and then take the Basic Self-Defense Course for mutual assessment. Third, background check, (4) and then complete the Level 1 Instructor Training Course.

Contact us for the next instructor training dates.