Feedback from the 2011 BTEC Self-Defence Instructors Program


As posted by our UK-based affiliate, Ger O’Dea of Dynamis Training & Insight

“Our Dynamis Self Defence Instructor Certification 2011, in partnership with NFPS Ltd, was completed on the 29th July with a new cadre of Self-Defence Instructors graduating from the programme.

The instructor candidates came from the areas of Community Safety, Prison Services, Health Services, Mental Health Services, Victim Support and the self-defence community.
Each candidate had to complete an extensive programme of online learning about the Law, Managing Training and the Science and Psychology of high-stress encounters before attending the 3-day course. All this online learning and course content was provided by the National Federation for Personal Safety (NFPS Ltd.) as part of the BTEC certification requirements.

Once on-site, the candidates submitted their completed course workbook and engaged in classroom discussions of the pre-learned materials, which culminated on the second day with a written knowledge-check and on the third day with peer feedback on their presentations.

Meanwhile, world-class self-protection coach Tony Torres spent hours and hours with the group, imparting his highly effective and practical approach to breakaway, disengagement and self-defence. For many, his ‘behavioural’ approach to self-protection, based on the natural behaviours and attitudes of humans in conflict, opened up many new perspectives on how they could enable and empower their learners to be safer.

At various points in the training, to increase comfort and safety for the candidates, the lead trainers incorporated the use of impact-reduction training equipment from Spartan Training Gear, most notably the Hoplite Vest torso protector. Using this equipment allowed the training to become more dynamic and was instrumental in pointing out how intensity could be incrementally added to a training programme safely.

The training venue itself was selected to give the candidates a visceral experience of training in self-defence, as the physical skill development sessions were carried out in a full scenario-area designed to replicate a typical Scottish street scene. This level of ‘training fidelity’ with the real world was a central theme of the course.

Lead Trainer Gerard O’Dea prompted discussions in the classroom about the relevance of this behavioural method for instructors, providing commentary from the point of view of programme design and development with an eye to the legal and liability issues which may arise where behavioural issues are not incorporated into modern training.

The mix of theory, practice and high-level discussion was a great success and candidates remarked on many occasions that the course carried a very positive energy throughout.


The candidates offered their feedback in formal reflective submissions at the end of the course.  A selection of their comments follows:

“Thoroughly enjoyed the course. It gave me numerous ideas and drills I can start to use with my students. Teaching standard was excellent and I’m very keen to attend future courses”
– Martial Arts Instructor, Edinburgh University

“Course provided me with knowledge, tools and skills I will take away and use. By the end I felt confident that I was going to be able to structure, design and give a class. The presentation to peers was actually very helpful in pulling it all together”
– Self-Defence Course Leader, HM Treasury

“A greatly presented course with a high standard throughout. Thoroughly enjoyed training with Gerard O’Dea and Tony Torres”.
– Martial Arts Instructor, London

“Found both Tony & Gerard to be very professional and highly competent. Behavioural Self-Protection concepts were new to me – enjoyed learning them and training them. Very impressed by these 3 days. Thanks”
– Martial Arts Instructor, Glasgow

“Tony and Gerard were very helpful. Would attend again!”
– Team Member, Community Safety Team

“The course was very well run, pitched at the right level for the candidates. I found the whole course interesting – the easy way in which the techniques move into one another was particularly interesting. The coaches were helpful and very professional.”
– Physical Intervention and Breakaway Instructor, NHS

“All parts fitted well together with the video/online presentations supporting the physical skills aspect. Both trainers were very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and related well to the delegates. Course is excellent in this format.”
– Martial Arts Instructor, Stirling

“The course was run very professionally and both instructors were able to answer all questions. The physical skills part was most interesting – thank you very much for spending the time to help us.”
– Prevention and Management of Violence and Aggression Lead, NHS

“The course was well structured and full of information and practical practice. It has been one of the most beneficial courses for self-defence for me”
– Senior Control & Restraint Instructor, Prison Service

“Thank you both very much! I found the course really stimulating and empowering!
– Conflict Management Trainer, Private Company

“I would like to thank Gerard and Tony on the excellent delivery of the most knowledgeable and interesting course I have attended”
– Team Member, Community Safety Team

“Fantastic course, engagingly delivered – many thanks!”
– Mental Health Nurse and Violence & Aggression Management Lead

Dynamis, in association with NFPS Ltd., will be offering future Instructor Qualification courses in Physical Intervention, Restraint, Breakaway and Self-Defence.

If you are interested to gain a BTEC vocational qualification and all of the knowledge which is incorporated on these courses, make sure to register your interest by e-mailing to be notified of future training and certification opportunities.”

Stress Exposure Training – Part 1

This is the first of a three-part series on Stress Exposure Training written by Ger O’Dea of Dynamis Training & Insight

Training people to deal with the stress of a violent confrontation can benefit from the methods used in some psychotherapy.

This article deals with the use of Stress Inoculation Training to guide Self-Protection and Physical Intervention trainers in the development of robust training programmes which will be resilient in the face of intense confrontations.

Stress is a process whereby environmental demands evoke an appraisal process in which perceived demand exceeds resources, and that results in undesirable physiological, psychological, behavioural or social outcomes.”
– Salas, Driskell and Hughes, 1996

Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) emerged out of an attempt to integrate the research on the role of cognitive and affective factors in coping processes with the emerging technology of cognitive behavior modification (Meichenbaum, 1977).   SIT has been employed to help individuals cope with the aftermath of exposure to stressful events and sometimes it has even been used on a preventative basis to “inoculate” individuals to future and ongoing stressors.

In order to enhance individuals’ coping repertoires and to empower them to use already existing coping skills, the SIT model uses a three-phase approach.  

SIT Phase One – Breaking Down the Problem
Regardless of the particular stressor which we are trying to prepare them to deal with, trainees are encouraged to view perceived threats and provocations as ‘problems-to-be-solved’ and to identify those aspects of some situations and their own reactions that are under their internal control and those aspects that are not under their control or influence.

This is the first step in breaking-down a stressor which at first seems overwhelming.

The clients are taught how to breakdown these ‘global stressors’ into specific short-term, intermediate and long-term coping goals.  The trainees’ response to the stressor is re-packaged as being made-up of different components that have been identified and examined in detail.   The trainee builds an understanding of each thing that needs to happen for the stressor to become overwhelming.

High-stress situations tend to go through predictable phases and so the trainee who will be successful should go through a process of preparing, building up, confronting, and reflecting upon their reactions to stressors also.

SIT Phase Two – Developing Skills to Deal with the Problem
The second phase of SIT requires focus on skills acquisition and rehearsal  and it follows naturally from the initial conceptualization phase which came before it.   The coping or confronting skills that are taught and practiced in the training setting are then gradually rehearsed ‘in vivo’ and are tailored to the specific stressors trainees may have to deal with.

SIT Phase Three – Exposure to the Problem
The final phase of training and preparation provides opportunities for the clients to apply the variety of skills they have learned to deal with the problem across increasing levels of intensity.    This is where the inoculation concept – as used in medical immunization – becomes evident.  Techniques such as imagery and behavioral rehearsal, modeling, role playing, and  graded in vivo exposure in the form of “personal experiments”  are used during this phase to increase the trainees competence.

Part 2 to follow…

The Functional Edge System & Spartan Training Gear in Edinburgh, Scotland

Spartan Training Gear‘s corporate allies, Dynamis Training and The Functional Edge System are teaming up for the first time to offer a BTEC Level 3 Advanced Award in Self Defence Instruction Program in Edinburgh, Scotland on July 27-29, 2011

Not only is this class the first of its kind, but this will also be the first UK-based advanced instructor program to prominently feature Spartan’s Hoplite Training Armour during scenario evolutions and drills.

For complete details on this class including venue, cost and registration please follow the link below.

For more info on The Functional Edge System:

This course is suitable for:

  1. Physical Intervention, Restraint and Breakaway Instructors from NHS & Health Care
  2. Officer Safety Instructors from Police & Prison Services
  3. Control and Restraint & Self-Defence Instructors
  4. Prevention and Management of Aggression & Violence Tutors
  5. Risk Managers & Health and Safety Advisers

Self Defence Instructor Award
To successfully pass this course you will need to complete the following five learning outcomes. To assist you, you will be provided with and signposted to all of the resource material you require. These will include: Fact-sheets, e-books and online video resources.
1. The Law in Relation to Self Defence and Personal Protection
UK common and statute law that relate to the use of physical force for the purpose of self-defence. The meaning of ‘Reasonable Force’ with reference to Section 3(1) of The Criminal Law Act 1967, Section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

2. Health & Safety Legislation for running Self-Defence Training Courses
The various elements of Health and Safety statute and associated Health and Safety regulations that relate to the use of running physical skills training courses and instructing physical technique, including the ‘common-law duty of care’ and ‘Tort’ with regard to Negligence, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, sections 2, 3, 7, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, Regulation 3.

3. The Workings of the Primitive Stress Response
Understand the effect of the primitive fight and flight response and associated fear response mechanisms on physical, emotional and behavioural state, including what is meant by ‘hyper-vigilance’ and understanding what physical changes take place when the primitive flight and fight response is triggered.

4. The Science and Psychology of Combat
Definition of skill, the relationship between arousal, stress and performance and the relationship between heart rate and performance. References to: Hick’s Law, Guthrie’s Law, Yerkes-Dobson’s Law, Heart-Rate and Performance, Stress and Performance, Decision Making and Anxiety and Arousal and Reaction Time and Decision Making.

5. Self-Defence / Unarmed Defensive Tactics
Demonstrate physical skills techniques consistent with the rights of defence and self-defence consistent with Reasonable Force and Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998, and which will be designed to work in situations of high emotional distress consistent with an understanding of the Primitive Stress Response and the Science & Psychology of Personal Combat.

Don’t miss this opportunity.