British Self Defence Governing Body
the Centre for Physical Interventions
incorporated under authority of Statutory Instrument 1685
British Self Defence Governing Body > Information > Safety Guidelines

Safety Guidelines

INSTRUCTOR SAFETY GUIDELINES

The term "self defence" is used in these guidelines to include all forms of physical intervention training.

1.         Self defence involves close contact. It is important to ensure that students pay close attention to their personal hygiene. Finger and toe nails should be kept short and in good condition.

2.         Appropriate clothing must be worn during training. It is your responsibility to advise your students what clothing to wear. Martial arts clothing should be discouraged. Socks, tights or stockings present a slipping hazard and should not be worn without suitable footwear.

3.         The chewing of gum or the consuming of any food or drink during training is prohibited. Sips of water are permitted.

4.         Remind all students that it is essential that clothing contains no buckles, buttons or any other sharp or hard objects which may cause injury either to themselves or to their partner. Remind them also to empty their pockets.

5.         Spectacles must not be worn whilst practising exercises. However, if a student is unable to see a demonstration without them, they may be permitted for the duration of the demonstration only. After the demonstration, they must remove their spectacles and place them in a safe place, away from the training area. Hard contact lenses must be removed prior to participating in exercises.

6.         Remind all students that it is forbidden to wear rings, watches or jewellery of any kind whilst practising. Any rings that cannot be removed must be securely covered with strong, thick adhesive plaster.

7.         Any cuts or abrasions, no matter how minor, must be adequately covered.

8.         You must ask at the beginning of every training session whether any student has any injury, illness or other problem which might cause difficulties with the session. Remember, you are not expected to make a medical diagnosis, and you must, therefore, act on the side of caution. If you are in any doubt about the fitness of a student, you must not allow them to participate in the session until they can provide medical certification of their fitness.

9.         Thorough warming-up and cooling-down exercises must be carried out relevant to the training undertaken.

10.       Remind all students to inform you immediately if they receive any injury, no matter how slight, during the session and you should act upon it exercising caution as to whether or not to allow them to continue training.

11.       At the end of each training session, you must enquire whether any student has received any injury, no matter how minor, during the session. Any reports of injuries must be entered into the accident book.

12.       Remind students that they must follow instructions carefully and execute moves smoothly and without excessive force. Remind them that the object of the training session is to control their partner and not to inflict injury. It is incumbent on you to ensure that your students follow your instructions exactly and do not use excessive force when practising.

13.       De-escalation and communication skills should be taught and emphasised throughout the training as a preference to any physical intervention. Even where a physical intervention proves necessary dialogue with the subject should be maintained with the aim of calming and diffusing the situation so that the physical intervention can be reduced or terminated at the earliest possible opportunity.

14.       The dangers associated with conditions such as restraint asphyxia and excited delirium should be thoroughly explained to students. Given the risk of serious injury and death arising from these conditions it is recommended that they are included in the safety briefings given to students and sufficient emphasis placed on explaining the issues in respect of all techniques and exercises which may give rise to these conditions. Appropriate guidance should be provided which should include tactics to prevent these conditions from arising.

15.       Restraining a person on their front (prone position) is especially dangerous although there may be occasions when this cannot initially be avoided. In such circumstances, the person should be moved to a different position as rapidly as possible so that they are not being restrained in the prone position for longer than is absolutely necessary and never for more than three minutes.

16.       Although students will benefit greatly from practising techniques repeatedly, care must be exercised with all joint-locking techniques since repeated application (even with minimal force) can cause injury. It is recommended, therefore, that not more than twenty applications of a joint-locking technique are applied to a joint during any eight hour period.

17.       Remind all students at the beginning of every session how to indicate submission and that they must immediately cease applying the technique when their partner indicates submission or is in discomfort. It is incumbent on you to supervise the class closely to ensure that no techniques are continued after submission has been indicated or anyone is in discomfort.

18.       Appropriate safety mats must always be used whenever any throwing or take-down exercises are being practised or where there is a risk of students falling to the floor. Ensure that mats are in good condition and are kept clean. Ensure that they do not drift apart during training.

19.       A students-to-instructor ratio of 12 to 1 should not ordinarily be exceeded. In all cases it is incumbent on you to ensure that you are able satisfactorily to supervise all students in your class. In many situations it is likely to be more appropriate to have a minimum of 2 instructors present at all times.

20.       Ensure that the mat or floor area is of sufficient size for the number of students practising. As a general guideline only, you should allow a minimum of 6.5 square metres per pair of practising adult students. This is only a minimum guideline and the type of training being undertaken must be considered. If there is a risk of students knocking into each other then it would appear that there are too many students for the area.

21.       Where relevant, ensure that students know how to breakfall and/or fall safely before they are permitted to practise throwing or take-down techniques, and that the appropriate falling skills are practised at the beginning of every session where they may be needed. In all cases, students must be cautioned against reaching out with a straight arm in the event of falling, stumbling or being thrown to the floor.

22.       There should be rapid availability of a first-aid kit and emergency medical treatment.

23.       If you are in any doubt about a reported injury, seek medical assistance immediately.