How To Get a Self-defense Instructor Certification in Four Steps

While certification programs often have their own process and requirements, here are four steps you can take to earn a self-defense instructor certification:
  1. Decide on a certification program. …
  2. Meet certification prerequisites. …
  3. Master training content. …
  4. Pass exam or other requirements.

Nick Drossos Self Defense Instructor Certification Course

Why are self-defense instructor certifications important?

Self-defense instructor certifications are important because they can show potential employers or clients that youve mastered a specific method of self-defense and can teach it to others. They might give you an advantage in the hiring process or allow you to earn a promotion in a current workplace. If you plan to work for a fitness facility, martial arts school or community organization, having multiple certifications can allow you to teach a range of classes, bringing value to a potential employer.

What certifications do self-defense instructors have?

Self-defense instructors might have certifications that verify their skill in teaching specific physical defense methods, including martial arts practices and privately patented techniques. They might also certify the instructors skills in teaching students to use different self-defense devices, like defensive key chains, pepper spray or tasers. Often, self-defense instructors have current certifications in first aid and CPR/AED use to ensure the health and safety of students in their classes. Some self-defense instructors are also personal trainers, so they may hold licenses to practice certain physical therapy techniques or give nutritional advice.

Common self-defense instructor certifications

Self-defense instructor certifications typically involve an application or certification fee, workshops or study modules and an examination or other completion requirement. Here are some popular self-defense instructor certifications:

Rape Aggression Defense Systems certification programs

Rape Aggression Defense Systems (R.A.D.) offers several types of self-defense instructor certification programs with varying requirements and fees. The certification programs follow the R.A.D. method of deescalation and self-defense for men, women and elderly people. These programs are in-person workshops, led by certified instructors in many cities. You can earn a certification in Basic Self-Defense Instruction, Advanced Self-Defense Instruction, Keychain Self-Defense Instruction and other types of programs. Your recertification requirements might depend on the program and on your professional experience.

Combat Objective Battle Ready Applications programs

Combat Objective Battle Ready Applications (C.O.B.R.A.) offers two levels of membership, Gold and Platinum, that include certification as a licensed instructor. These programs focus on helping candidates open their own C.O.B.R.A. franchised location, and the programs feature different business benefits. For both memberships, the certification program is self-paced and involves reading manuals about self-defense for adults and children and specific defense programs for real estate and responding to an active shooter situation. The certification involves passing an online written test and includes a monthly fee to use the licensed tactics.

National Womens Martial Arts Federation Self Defense Instructor Certification

This certification might be ideal for female instructors who are members of the National Womens Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF). It focuses on teaching defensive tactics for women and children and on creating safe and inclusive classroom environments. The NWMAFs certification program also includes teaching non-physical methods of conflict deescalation and on locating resources for survivors of assault. To earn this certification, candidates pay their annual membership fee, attend the organizations Self-Defense Instruction Conference and complete a Model Course taught by a certified instructor.

Family Safety & Self-Defense Institutes Certified Self-Defense Trainer

In this program, self-defense instructors can learn how to train people of all ages to defend themselves. The Family Safety & Self-Defense Institute focuses on teaching different techniques to children and adults as a part of a family self-defense course. This program is digital and self-paced, but candidates can finish it in several days. By completing the eight modules and paying the fee for the class, you become certified as a self-defense trainer.

National Personal Training Association Self Defense Instruction Certificate

The National Personal Training Associations (NPTA) Self Defense Instruction Certificate might be ideal for personal trainers who want to add self-defense classes to their services. This certification program includes several hours of online study modules, followed by a multiple-choice test with no time requirements. The NPTAs certification lasts one year and also includes first aid and CPR training and certification.

Martial arts teaching certifications

Many self-defense instructors also teach one or more martial arts techniques. Certain martial arts techniques, such as krav maga and jiu-jitsu, are popular among self-defense instructors because they can enhance a students ability to protect themselves. Also, if you want to teach self-defense at a school for martial arts, it can help you to have certifications that allow you to teach a variety of classes offered at the school. The requirements for these certifications depend on the type of martial arts and the institution, but may include classes, tests and certification fees.

How to get a self-defense instructor certification

While certification programs often have their own process and requirements, here are four steps you can take to earn a self-defense instructor certification:

1. Decide on a certification program

The certification program you choose might depend on your background and future career goals. If you hope to teach at a facility that specializes in a certain self-defense program, you might pursue certification in that method. Other self-defense programs are appropriate for instructors who want to teach a variety of methods at a fitness center or as an independent consultant. You might also choose a certification program that fits your beliefs and desired students. For example, if you want to focus on womens self-defense, you might choose an R.A.D., National Womens Martial Arts Federation or other female-focused certification.

2. Meet certification prerequisites

Self-defense instructors often begin their certification process by taking classes in their chosen technique as a student. After theyve mastered the skills of the technique, they may become eligible for instructor training. Some certification programs might also require a black belt or other high level in a martial arts practice, such as tae kwon do or jiu-jitsu. They might allow candidates to substitute law enforcement or personal training experience for certain requirements. In addition, certain certification programs might ask candidates to undergo a background check or provide personal information before allowing them to enroll.

3. Master training content

Many certification programs include a series of workshops or self-training modules to help learners gain the skills for the certification exam. You might attend in-person classes at a martial arts school or other training facility, led by a certified instructor. Other programs are virtual and feature live online classes or automated training modules. These courses might include information on anatomy, specific self-defense motions and methods of teaching students.

4. Pass exam or other requirements

Many certifications include a written test, administered in-person or online, with questions about the self-defense methods goals or specific techniques. Others might involve a physical exam, where you show your mastery of the method by subduing a trained instructor using approved movements. Some programs substitute activities like attending a conference or leading a mock class session for a formal exam. Once youve met the certification requirements, you often receive a paper certificate or badge that you can show to clients and potential employers.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


How do I start my own self defense business?

Start a self defense training business by following these 10 steps:
  1. Plan your Self Defense Training Business.
  2. Form your Self Defense Training Business into a Legal Entity.
  3. Register your Self Defense Training Business for Taxes.
  4. Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card.

Are self defense courses worth it?

The Takeaway

They also improve your confidence, helping you develop a fighting instinct. Self-defense classes make you a better person, with a stronger appreciation for life and the need to protect it. Being equipped to defend yourself also allows you to defend others.

How do you use self defense?

  1. 10 Self-Defense Strategies Everyone Needs to Know.
  2. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Too many women enroll in a self-defense class after they’ve been assaulted. …

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