Frequently Asked Questions

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Hopefully this page will answer any questions you may have, if not then do feel free to get in touch and we’ll try to help however we can. In fact you’ll be doing us a favour because if you have a question that’s not answered here, then the chances are someone else has got the same question.

Just click a question to jump to its answer, or scroll down to read them all:

  1. What should I wear?
  2. Do I have to participate in the drills?
  3. What happens in a typical PDR Course?
  4. What’s the difference between the SPEAR System and Personal Defense Readiness (PDR)?
  5. Why should I attend a PDR Course, over some other martial arts course?
  6. I’ve never been very good at physical things, what if I get it all wrong and mess up?
  7. I’m shy, I’m not sure I could cope with a big group. What should I do?
  8. I’m a sedentary office worker / house wife and not very active, will I be able to cope physically?
  9. I’m 50+, but am worried about keeping my grandchildren safe, is this for me?
  10. I’m pregnant and can’t do anything physical. Can I still come?
  11. Can my children attend or do you run a kids’ self defence class?
  12. Will it hurt?
  13. I’ve already learnt what technique to do in any situation I might find myself, why do I need to go on a PDR course?
  14. I’m an accomplished marital artist, is your course going to tell me I’ve been doing it wrong?
  15. There’s been a lot in the news recently about self defence law. How is your system compliant with self defence legislation?
  16. Why do you keep spelling Defence with an s: Defense? Didn’t you go to school?
  17. Will PDR make me more aggressive?

Q: What should I wear?

Lose comfortable clothing with sensible shoes is fine. We don’t use martial arts gi’s or practice in a padded dojo, the reason is simply that’s not the environment you’ll find yourself in in a real street attack. As Tony says: “Be careful what you practice, you may get really good at the wrong thing!” Long sleeve and long trousers are preferable. Ideal clothing would be what you wear to the gym: a tracksuit, or shorts and sweat top or t-shirt, with trainers.

Q: Do I have to participate in the drills?

“The drills we were taught were always fun and enjoyable to participate in.” – Siobhan Campbell

This is something that really sets us apart from other self defence courses, as a huge part of real practical self defence is psychology and mind-set, so even if you just attend and listen to what’s said, you’ll leave a safer person. Having said that, it’s an amazingly liberating and thrilling experience to discover that your body has a very well developed and natural self defence system that you can access right now and easily learn to convert into a physiologically strong position, making it simple to fend off a stronger and more powerful attacker. Getting to practice this in a safe and nurturing environment is pretty cool!

Q: What happens in a typical PDR Course?

It’s a combination of talking about the psychology of self defence, watching some videos, and doing practical exercises (we call them drills, rather than techniques). It’s a very informal and fun experience.

Q: What’s the difference between the SPEAR System and Personal Defense Readiness (PDR)?

You can find a longer answer on this page, but the short answer is: PDR is the general public arm of the SPEAR System and so is a subset of the SPEAR System. The SPEAR System is taught to police officers, law enforcement agencies and the military the world over. Everything that you will learn on a PDR course is part of the SPEAR System but PDR excludes the elements on guns, handcuffs, capture sprays etc.

Q: Why should I attend a PDR Course, over some other martial arts course?

We believe that Personal Defence Readiness is the quickest, most effective way of getting to the point where you feel safe and confident enough to go about your daily life, without fear or concern. Any course that improves your skills is worth doing, but we’d rather not wait the 3-5 years required to get a black belt before you felt your skills were sufficient to the task. Ask yourself this: How would your life be different if you felt safe everywhere you went?

Q: I’ve never been very good at physical things, what if I get it all wrong and mess up?

One very important point that makes PDR unique is that nothing you do is wrong! Sure there are things that that are less desirable, and we can help you make more desirable choices, but don’t let anyone tell you that what you are doing is wrong. This kind of negativity has no place in our classes; there is no wrong, only desirable and less desirable. Just by stepping through the front door, you’ll have already show you are on the right road to a safer and happier life, and that’s something that’s to be celebrated.

“Very easy to understand. Really worth attending.” – David Owen

Q: I’m shy, I’m not sure I could cope with a big group. What should I do?

Opening your eyes to a world of safety and security, with a similar group of like minded people, is a fun and liberating experience which you will never forget. If a group session really isn’t for you though, we still want to help you. You are welcome to come to a 1 to 1 session on your own, or arrange a private group session with a few friends, family or colleagues. Click here for more details.

Q: I’m a sedentary office worker / house wife and not very active, will I be able to cope physically?

That’s great news as you are exactly the sort of person that will benefit most from a PDR course! There are some drills to do, but most of them are either not energetic or are very short (measured in seconds). There’ll be plenty of breaks and rest too. PDR is a very open and inclusive self defence system that’s designed for everyone. If there’s anything you are not happy to do, then you are completely at liberty to say you want to sit out one of the drills, that’s completely fine. What’s important is that you are there and participating in whatever capacity you feel able.

Q: I’m 50+, but am worried about keeping my grandchildren safe, is this for me?

You are definitely in the right place. Age is no barrier to attending a PDR Seminar. The SPEAR System is designed to tap into your natural protective instincts, to access an emotional and psychological mindset that’s critical to the protection of yourself and your loved ones. Combined with an instinctive physical skill set, the little people in your life will have never been in safer hands. That and the peace of mind you’ll have knowing that you can and will be able to protect them, is priceless.

Q: I’m pregnant and can’t do anything physical. Can I still come?

This question is best answered by one of our students, 6 months pregnant Jennie Gladwin, who attended a full day PDR seminar. This is what she had to say:

jennie-gladwinI attended the Personal Defence Readiness Seminar in December 2011 when I was six months pregnant. I was a little anxious beforehand at how physical it would be, but the instructors were very clear that I didn’t have to take part in any of the practical drills that I felt uncomfortable doing.

The instructors kept a close eye on me throughout the course, and some drills that were not suitable for me to try were adapted so that I could at least have some idea of what I could do in any given situation. Even though I didn’t carry out some of the practical parts of the day, all the drills that were demonstrated were clearly explained so I feel confident that I didn’t miss out on any key information. Overall, it was a really enjoyable course and I would recommend it to anyone – pregnant or not!

Nearly every exercise can be adapted to cater for whatever physical condition you happen to find yourself in, whether that be pregnancy or otherwise. Even if you are in a wheel chair, you will still derive considerable benefit from just attending, listening and watching, and even then, we can adapt some of the drills so you can still experience them.

Q: Can my children attend or do you run a kids’ self defence class?

Our material is equally applicable whether you’re 8 or 80. Unless otherwise stated, public courses are generally for grown ups only, this is primarily for the benefit of the group as a whole, so there are not the distractions of having children running about. Just to be clear, “grown up” doesn’t mean 18+, it means mentally grown up; a mature teen would be fine in an adult class.

Some of the material we present is not suited for a younger audience however, so if you have younger children in mind, we can accommodate a specific kids self defence class, so please get in touch and let us know what you require.

Q: Will it hurt?

The short answer is: that’s up to you.

Here’s the long answer: On any self defence course that’s worth a damn, you are training to fight for your very life; potentially kill or be killed. If that sounds over the top, imagine how you’d react if you caught a stranger trying to wrestle your child into his car…

Think of a PDR seminar as a self defence vaccination, you get a little shot of violence to build up a ready defence, so that if you ever encounter it for real, your body knows what to do to survive. But as with all vaccinations, whilst every effort is made to make them as safe as possible, they can sting a little and you might feel their effects for a day or 2. This is a small price that we’re willing to pay for the peace of mind that comes with knowing we’re better protected for the future.

“It hurts less than you’d think and you learn more than you can imagine.” – Andy Talbot Smith

Hopefully without sounding facetious, in reality it’s typically the bad guy who gets hurt in the physical drills we do, although the bad guy is in complete control of any discomfort they feel and can stop at any time. We encourage you to participate in the drills as both the good guy and bad guy, as this enhances your overall experience and improves your safety.

All drills start off SLOW and any level of intensity is carefully increased only to a level that is safe for all involved. However you can’t learn to swim, or even about buoyancy, without getting wet; nor can you learn to ride without eventually deciding it’s time to sit on a horse! Rest assured that nothing is compulsory and if there is any drill you are not completely happy with, you simply don’t have to do it; that’s absolutely fine.

Q: I’ve already learnt what technique to do in any situation I might find myself, why do I need to go on a PDR course?

Most self defence systems teach a simple “If the bad guy does that, you do this.” approach, which sadly has no basis in the realities of life. Ever heard the phrase Stun and Run? That’s a pretty harsh technique to do if you’re out with your 5 year old child or grandchild who can’t keep up isn’t it?!? In the SPEAR system, we teach that the scenario dictates what you can and can’t do, not the techniques of your style.

Q: I’m an accomplished marital artist, is your course going to tell me I’ve been doing it wrong?

No, absolutely not! All our coaches have the utmost respect for the dedication and artistry of traditional martial artists and the skills you have learnt. However we do realise that what you learn in the dojo and your katas, doesn’t necessarily translate well to the street. It is often cited that “The SPEAR is a bridge to your next move” and as such is an enabler that allows you to access your martial arts toolkit. We will teach you to survive the ambush long enough to get yourself into the game and bring your martial arts to bear. You will gain a lot from coming on a PDR course. Learning good information does not replace good information you already know.

Q: There’s been a lot in the news recently about self defence law. How is your system compliant with self defence legislation?

“Understand the importance of being able to protect yourself from physical attacks.” – Siobhan Campbell

The SPEAR System is very law friendly but, and it’s a big BUT, without compromising your own personal safety. In fact the non violent postures we’ll teach you, not only look non-threatening and show the all important “willingness not to fight” that’s required by UK law, but unlike many other systems, actually enhance your safety! Without going into a lot of legalese, the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 states (paraphrased below) that self defence is a valid legal defence for the use of force if you:

  1. acted instinctively,
  2. feared for your safety or the safety of those around you,
  3. were enacting a lawful arrest,
  4. used a level of force that was not excessive, as you viewed it at the time.

For example, there have been a lot of widely publicised cases recently of people stabbing and killing intruders in their own homes or shops. If you check out the articles in the blog, you’ll see more detailed write ups of these cases and what happened from a self defence perspective. We are very aware of the law and its implications and teach you how to stay within it.

Q: Why do you keep spelling Defence with an s: Defense? Didn’t you go to school?

Don’t worry, my spell checker isn’t set to US English, I do know how to spell Defence! Tony Blauer is the creator of the SPEAR System and Personal Defense Readiness and he’s Canadian. Personal Defense Readiness is a trademark (as is the SPEAR System and many of the other terms used on the site) and so technically it’s correct to use the American spelling when referring to the brand.

Q: Will PDR make me more aggressive?

This question requires a bigger answer than will fit here, so here’s a whole post about it: http://www.pdrmanchester.com/796/will-pdr-make-me-more-aggressive/

What Next?

Any other questions, just get in contact and we’d be happy to answer them. If you’ve made up your mind and decided to take the next step to a safer, more confident, happier life, then you can book on a PDR self defence course here.