Padded Assailant

Protective Body Armor

male instructors in training 2016


The “padded assailant” and the evolution of marital science was developed by Matt Thomas and is used by Model Mugging® programs throughout the world. It is the most advanced, agile, and safest self defense body armor manufactured.

padded assailant self-defense

Model Mugging Self Defense developed the original protective body armor described as the “padded assailant”.

The equipment allows for fluidity and mobility while maintaining protection for both the instructor and students.

The “padded assailant” is the most revolutionary development in self defense, second to studying what and how criminals commit their crimes. The “padded assailant” is a term used to describe the transformation of the male instructor into a mugger who dons protective body armor and then models various types of criminals attacking each student in a realistic but safe manner.

Developed in the early 1970’s, the Model Mugging padded assailant or martial protective body armor has been copied by numerous other self defense groups and self defense equipment manufacturers. Model Mugging protective equipment was formally featured in Human Behavior Magazine in 1978. The body armor was a confirmation of the teaching methodologies and research performed prior to teaching the first full force Model Mugging class. Matt also sacrificed his personal safety for others by wearing body armor as students would practice their fighting skills with full force. In the early days of protective armor development his protective suit did not fully protect him from injury or being knocked unconscious. Almost 50 years later, new suits offer the most agility and protection to order to assist students improve their skills.

The male instructor wears 40 to 60 pounds of padded protective equipment protecting him from incapacitating strikes, such as eye strikes, knees strikes to the groin, and kicks to the head while fighting on the ground. Students learn to strike the “padded assailant” with full power and without limitations or rules needed in combative sports. The fights in class become just like on the “streets”, or if attacked in another location.

Not All Self Defense Protective Suits Are Equal

There are numerous suit designs and variations out on the market used by other self defense programs and police departments. However, no other body armor equipment will stand up to the patented protection Model Mugging equipment offers. The wearers of other products would be injured in the first fight of the first Model Mugging class. Consequently, limitations in other protective suits is restrictive to reality based self defense training (RBSD) and limit the ability of the wearer to portray a mock attacker.

If the protective suit is used rashly equipment of this nature is not only physically dangerous to an inexperienced wearer, but if used rashly the padded assailant application can be emotionally and physically dangerous to students. This is the reason it has never been sold in mass production. During the development of the protective armor, founder Matt Thomas was injured over 40 times and knocked unconscious 22 times. Significant advances in protective armor development were made in the early 1980’s as depicted in Black Belt Magazine in 1986. We have NOT had any injuries to any of our male instructors wearing the current Model Mugging protective body armor.

How to Wear Protective Equipment Is as Important as What Is Worn

How to wear the equipment effectively and becoming aware of the various dangers requires training and respect in its application. The protective suit is a tool; lack of training in the padded assailant’s use can be injurious to students as well as the instructor wearing the equipment. One popular self defense program attempt to copy the padded assailant concept, could not protect against a simple elbow to the face that split the wearers nose wide open.

self-defense technique knee to groin

Full force knee strike to the groin to the Model Mugging groin protector.

Most protective suits cannot withstand the blunt force trauma strikes to the head such as kicks and knee strikes that the Model Mugging protective suit was designed. Additionally, all “padded assailant” training should be used in coordination with a trained co-instructor.

Learning how to wear the protective body armor is just as important as what instructors put on. Male instructors are NOT a moving punching bag. While wearing the armor, male instructors are teaching and supporting their students how to fight during the fighting scenarios. Female instructors also support and guide students to maximize their power and options.

During instructor training, we teach male instructors how to dance with the students; a “dance of empowerment.” Understanding predator typologies is another dynamic factor of this dance. Male instructors teach while wearing the suit providing immediate feedback to students and moving in a manner that imitates a real assailant and adds to realism for more effective adrenaline stress conditioning.

Longevity in Self Defense Body Armor

Model Mugging protective suites should last well over 15 years with only minor wear repairs and maintenance needed. Top of the line materials are purchased when building the padded assailant equipment, not only for the wearer’s safety, but also for equipment longevity.

protective self-defense body armor

Model Mugging protective armor withstands knees and full force kicks to the head and groin. Here, a Model Mugging student successfully fights off the padded assailant finishing the fight with repeated kicks to his head.

Most protective suits on the market start showing signs of deterioration after 6 months to a year. One reality based martial arts instructor was on his 7th suit in almost 20 years at about $1500 each. The question becomes which suit is less expensive? His seven separate purchases of suits compared to one Model Mugging protective suit. Model Mugging self defense suits are also built to be aesthetically appealing and intimidating while lasting for years in safe service.

If you would like to certify as a Model Mugging Self Defense Instructor and learn the dynamics of teaching with the padded assailant, apply for the instructor training course.


Additional links that describe what makes the Model Mugging Self Defense program different:

Supportive Designed Self Defense Program

Padded Assailant

Female Co-Instructors

Muscle Memory / Operant Conditioning

Emotions and Self-Confidence

PTSD and Self Defense

Progressive Training & Controlled Stress

Gentle Art of Conflict De-Escalation

Personal Defense & Crime Prevention