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By John Smith posted July 20, 2016

How can I become a PDAA Instructor?

The first step in becoming a PDAA Instructor is to take PDAA training, starting with the Defensive Module. That will introduce you to the training and the exercises. and will help you understand the nature of PDAA training.

If you find that you enjoy the Defensive Module and would like to get trained as an instructor, the next best step is to assist a current PDAA Instructor with his or her classes. This "apprenticeship" allows you to become familiar with the training from an Instructor's perspective.

If you find that you enjoy helping out with PDAA sessions and would like to become trained and certified as an instructor, the next step is to enroll in a PDAA Instructor Training Seminar. We recently completed an Instructor Seminar in Marquette, MI and currently have on-going training in Savannah, GA, but will also be offering Instructor Training in other cities through the course of the year. If you would like to try to arrange a PDAA Instructor Seminar in your area, please contact us for more information.

PDAA Instructor training and certification is "by module". In other words, an instructor can become certified to teach the first Defensive Module without completing all other modules. You don't have to have "mastered" the entire system to teach the Defensive module.

This is possible because the Defensive Module does not include complex physical skills.  Instead, the Defensive Module develops awareness, de-escalation, some very simple skills and techniques, and the basic defensive response. By design, the Defensive Module does not include any comp[ex physical skills that require years of practice or continual training. And since it doesn't include complex physical skills, instructors can focus on teaching--use of the activities and drills to develop the skills of their students.

After successful completion of the Instructor Seminar, you will be certified to teach the PDAA Defensive Module.

As a certified PDAA Instructor:

1. You will be authorized to use the PDAA curriculum in your classes.

2. Will be authorized to use and display the PDAA logo.

3. Will be given access to the PDAA Instructor support site.

4. Will be eligible to participate in instructor training for additional modules.

5. Will be eligible for special Instructor pricing on training equipment.

6. Will be eligible for instructor support, including assistance with marketing of your classes and support materials such as banners, fliers, waiver forms, business cards, and post cards.

7. May receive student leads and referalls for business and corporate training if you have appropriate certification.

The Instructor Seminar for the Defensive Module can be offered as part of a full weekend, with public/open training in the Defensive Module on Saturday, followed by Instructor training on Sunday. This gives prospective instructors an opportunity to experience the training in an actual class, followed by specific training on teaching the module.

The Instructor training can also be offered over a longer period of time or in a "camp" setting designed to train/certify instructors in a number of modules.

Aside from instructor training, what else to I need to teach PDAA classes?

Aside from training and certification, five things are needed to teach PDAA classes:

1. A room for teaching

This can be most any room with sufficient space for the number of students participating in the class. Since participants wear light tennis shoes, the floor can be wood, tile, carpet, or even concrete. More room is always nice, but ideally the room would allow three steps or approximately 10' x 10' for each participant. So a room that is 30' x 20' would work for two rows of 3 or 4 students or between 6 and 8 students overall. It is possible to fit more students in that space, but is somewhat less efficient as some students may need to move to the side to allow sufficient room for some activities and drills.

2. Students/participants

Since almost all exercises require a partner, the minimum class size is two students plus one instructor. However, students learn better and the classes become more fun with more students, so we recommend between 8 and 20 students per class. For larger classes, it is best to have one or more assistant instructors to help with the class.

3. Equipment/Training Aids

PDAA training requires specific training equipment. It is not really possible, or recommended, to attempt the training without the appropriate gear as the gear is essential for many of the most important activities and drills.

Teaching the Defensive Module requires:

a. One double blocking stick for each pair of students.

b. One kicking shield for each pair of students.

c. One foam knife for each pair of students.

d. One Nerf gun for each pair of students.

e. Assorted shoulder bags, cross-body messenger bags, and backpacks--ideally one bag of some type for each pair of students.

f. Several pair of padded sparring gloves, ideally one pair for each pair of students, which equips 1/2 of your students with gloves at a time.

The equipment needed to teach the Defensive Module is "mobile", meaing an instructor can carry all equipment for a class in a car or SUV. This is very important as it allows instructors to teach classes anyplace within driving distance.

How much does the equipment cost?

If we have an established school or instructor in your area, we may be able to arrange loaner equipment for you to use in your classes. This keeps your initial investment as low as possible, so you can focus on teaching your classes.

If loaner equipment is not available in your area, or if your class schedule gets to the point where you need your own equipment, you can purchase your own equipment package. Please note that you can use that equipment in your own classes, or you can arrange to share it with other instructors to reduce the cost.

The equipment package to train a class of ten students includes:

5 Kicking shields Retail $59.99 x 5      =   $299.95

5 Dual blocker kits Retail $69.99 x 5   =   $349.95

5 Breakable boards Retail $46.99 x 5 =   $234.75


Total Retail                                                 $884.85

PDAA Instructor Package Price            $600.00

NOTE: This package includes a total of 10 blocking sticks. This is ideal for teaching up to 10 students, but it could be used to train up 20 students if needed--for example if an unexpected number of students showed up for the first few classes.

If you find yourself teaching larger classes, you should purchase a second gear package, which would work very nicely for up to 20 students, but could be used with 30-40 students if needed.

You will also need some additional smaller items such as foam knives, Nerf guns, and assorted shoulder bags, cross-body bags, and backpacks. You can probably find these items or purchase them locally for a very modest price. You should also have several pair of padded sparring gloves, which cost approximately $29.99 per pair.

To teach later modules, one should have:

a. The equipment used in the Defensive Module, including one double blocking stick for each pair of students.

b. Hand pads, such as the small pads with handles used for kick training.

c. A larger bag such as a hanging bag or stand-up bag is extremely helpful, but may not be feasible for "mobile" classes.

d. Mats for falling and ground work are extremely useful, but may not be feasible if teaching "mobile" classes.

For intermediate classes, you should also have:

5 Hand targets        $34.99 x 5 = $174.95

In addition, you'll need some assorted items which you can purchase locally at very low cost.

4. Insurance

If you teach through many organizations such as fitness centers or community schools, you may be covered under their existing instructor insurance policy. But, if you are not covered by such as policy, you will need to obtain liabilty insurance to protect yourself in case someone gets injured during one of your classes. 

There are two types of insurance for martial arts/self-defense instructors. Some insurance is based on the facility, protecting all instructors and students who train at that specified location. This is appropriate if you are teaching at a specific location. Other insurance protects a specific instructor teaching at any loction. This is more appropriate if you are teaching classes at a variety of locations.

PDAA does not currently offer its own insurance to instructors. We currently recommend K&K Insurance as they -provide good insurance for martial arts/self-defense instructors for approximately $564/year.

NOTE: We recommend that you purchase the coverage for self-defense instruction. It's not clear why this costs more than coverage for martial arts instruction, but with insurance it is always best to play it safe.

5. PDAA Instructor Membership Fee

The first year of PDAA Instructor Membership is included with PDAA Instructor training. After that first year, PDAA Instructors must pay a yearly membership fee of $120.00 for continued access to the Web site and other resource materials.

Total Cost

PDAA is rather unique in that it is possible for an instructor to set up his or her own "micro-business" at an exceptionally low cost.

  • If you can use loaner equipment and if you are teaching at a facility that provides insurance, your up-front cost is basically $0.00, with a yearly cost of $120 for the PDAA Instructor membership after the first year.
  • If you can use loaner equipment, but need to purchase your own insurance, your cost would be approximately $684/year or some $57/month, including your monthly insurance ($47/month) and PDAA Instructor membership ($10/month).
  • If you need to purchase your own equipment, your upfront cost would be $600, with an additional $57/month for instructor insurance and PDAA Instructor Membership.

Please note that the equipment should last for years, so the only continuing expenses will be the insurance and Instructor Membership fee.

All of the equipment fits in a  car, so you don't need to rent your own facility and can provide training in any room or facility within driving distance.

What other modules does PDAA include?

The "core" PDAA curriculum currently consists of five modules:

Module 1: Basic Defense

This is the shortest, simplest,  yet most important module, focusing on basic, personal defense. In this module participants learn to avoid physical confrontations through situational awareness, when and how to run, and learn how to use de-escalation techniques to try to keep verbal confrontations from becoming physical confrontations. We also work on responses to common crimes including purse/bag snatching, mugging, and home invasion. For situations where a physical confrontation can not be avoided, we work on minimizing the damage from hits, defensive response to sudden and surprise attacks, and basic releases. By the end of this module, participants should be much better at avoiding and de-escalating situations. If a physical confrontation can not be avoided, they should be able to respond effectively to greatly reduce their chances of being killed or injured.

Module 2: Basic Strikes

This module continues to develop defensive skills, but begins development of counter attack combinations for use against a persistent attacker. The focus in this module is on what happens after you survive an initial attack, with counter-attacks utilizing distracting punches and power swings. We also work on basic front kicks and back kicks, to utilize the power and reach of the legs. By the end of this module, participants will be able to defend from sudden, combonation attacks from most any direction and will be able to counter-attack with a combination of hits to overwhelm and incapacitate an attacker. Participants will also be able to launch combination attacks in any direction, using empty hands or using a small flashlight, pen, or stick.

Module 3: Elbows and Crescent Kicks

In this module, participants continue to develop their defensive capabilities and counter-attacks. A primary focus in this module is development of powerful elbow strikes and elbow combinations, which are extremely effective at close distances. We also work on crescent kicks, which can be used as both attacks and defensive motions. By the end of this module, participants will be able to utilize powerful elbow combinations to strike in any direction.

Module 4: Punches and Side Kicks

This module focuses on development of powerful thrusts with hands and feet. By the end of this module, participants will be able to strike with powerful thrusts or strikes at any angle and at almost any distance, from quite close to several steps away.

Module 5: Turning and Spinning Kicks

This module completes the "core" PDAA training. By the end of this module, the student can defend from sudden, combination attacks from any direction and can counter-attack with a variety of powerful thrusts or strikes as needed. Participants should be able to respond very quickly to most any situation, including sudden or surprise attacks from most any angle, with empty hands or with common weapons.

How long would it take complete the "core" curriculum?

The length of time required to complete the "core" curriculum will vary significantly depending on the student, the number of classes, the length of each class, time spent practicing at home, etc. Generally speaking, for a student with little or no prior martial arts experience should be able to complete the "core" curriculum in something between a year and a half to two years of training. People with prior martial arts training who train regularly, may be able to complete the "core" curriculum in less time, perhaps in as little as a year.

What happens after a student completes the "core" curriculum?

PDAA is an "open system". We have a "core" curriculum for basic training, but the system can expand to include a very wide range of activities and skills beyond that core system. PDAA is not a "fixed", unchanging system. It is a system designed to encourage continual improvement, expansion, and growth.

Once a student completes the core curriculum, we enourage them to work with their instructor or mentor to identify the areas that are most interesting to them. We look at this much like a student identifying a topic for a Phd dissertation or other advanced study.

The topics for such study could include things like staff defense, specialty training like using a bike for defense, impromptu weapons, home defense, grappling, throwing and falling, aerobic training, self-defense, training for special populations, or whatever that student finds most interesitng. The student, working with his or her instructor and mentors, will then set goals and strategies for their advancement to the next level. The student will then work on those areas, staying in contact with their instructor or mentor. When they believe they have reached their goal, they will arrange for a test in which they can demonstrate the new skills they have acquired.

We encourage students to share what they have learned with PDAA and other PDAA instructors. This would typically include development of  training drills and activities that others can use if they choose to explore the same areas. Some of those drills and activities may be added as optional activities for the "core" curriculum, with credit given to the person who developed them. Those that are appropriate may even be added to the "core" curriculum, again with credit give to the person who developed those drills. Those who develop particularly useful skills may be invited to share their knowledge with other instructors via training sessions or seminars.

Custom Curriculums and Specialty Courses

In addition to the five "core" modules, PDAA offers a growing variety of custom curriculums and speciality courses such as mother/daughter classes, training for senior citizens including basic cane defense, and custom classes for businesses and organizations. Interested instructors can assist with such classes or participate in training to become certified instructors for these specialty classes.

What should PDAA instructors wear for training?

The current recommended PDAA Instructor uniform consists of light tennis shoes, loose pants (gi pants or loose training pants), and the official green PDAA t-shirt with PDAA logo. The green PDAA shirt is currently only available to those who have successfully completed PDAA Instructor training.

In the future, the green shirt with PDAA logo may be made available to students.

At that point, we will release a separate version of the green shirt for instructors, which will probably include the word "Instructor" below the logo on the chest.

Members of the PDAA Advisory Board can wear either the green PDAA Instructor shirt or one of the prototype black PDAA shirts. 

In the near future, we will also release official black PDAA shirts, to be worn by those who have completed all five PDAA modules. 

We assume that all people who complete the five core modules will also quality as instructors, so we aren't currently planning a separate instructor version of the black PDAA shirt.

We have not finalized plans for advanced ranks, but may provide black t-shirts with stripes or some other mark to indicate those who have successfully completed additional/specialized training beyond the "core" modules. These would be roughly equivalent to advanced black belts in traditional martial arts.