Is there a need for physical training and unarmed combat on a CP course?


As most of you already know there is currently no requirement from the SIA for training providers to include any form of physical assessment or unarmed combat/physical intervention training within a Close Protection course.

Omissions such as this are what have led to the lowering of standards amongst Close Protection training providers and therefore the industry as a whole.

Pre 2005 there where a handful of training providers offering CP training to the commercial market, companies such as Phoenix, Excel and Task provided 4-5 week courses that included a high level of training in key areas such as unarmed combat and protective driving skills.

Then along came the SIA with their remit to standardise training and their interpretation of the role we carry out. As soon as they stipulated that a CP course had to contain only 150 guided learning hours, which was around half the hours already being offered by training providers, the number of companies offering this type of training leaped from 4 or 5 to almost 300.

Given the choice between a 2 week course costing £1,000 or a 4 week course costing £4,000 that led to the same licence being offered, many people chose the former leading to the established companies having to shorten their courses and remove content just to stay afloat.

Including subjects such as unarmed combat, physical training and protective driving are expensive, and most training providers don’t bother, choosing to take profit over maintaining high standards. This steady decline in standards has led to some shocking courses being offered and in some cases even being approved by the SIA and military re-settlement officers who don’t know better.

We have all heard stories of poor training standards, here are some of the worst I have come across:

Embus/debus drills taking place in a classroom with 4 chairs placed to represent a car.

Student’s own vehicles being used for exercises, leading to the team having to put the seat forward so the “VIP” can clamber out of a knackered 2 door car at the venue.

A final exercise that consisted of driving the owner of the training company to a garage to get his car serviced.

Courses being taught by a nightclub doorman with zero CP experience.

A course being taught by an individual who was sacked from his only CP job for putting two sofas together in an ops room and going to sleep during his night shift on an RST.

A course that included an evasive driving day that consisted of the students wearing suits standing in a car park watching the owner of the training company doing handbrake turns for hours on end.

When I think about the amount of work, time and effort that goes into designing and planning our courses it makes my blood boil that there are so many companies who’s standards are so shockingly low but who still manage to stay in business.

The reason for this is that most people don’t know what to expect on a CP course, and having only done one they will take the instructors word as gospel that theirs was to a good standard. This is usually followed by the shocking realisation that contrary to what they have been told on their £1000 CP course there aren’t hundreds of top level celebrities waiting to employ them in glamorous locations around the world.

Training for an SIA licence is easy, I could get anyone up to that standard, and indeed many companies will pass anyone. However I take my job seriously and understand the responsibility that training providers have.

We are training men and women to go out and be entrusted with protecting peoples lives and the lives of their loved ones. That is a huge responsibility, probably one of the greatest there is and it should only fall to those individuals who have proved themselves capable through quality training and experience.

Therefore we will never put profit over standards, whatever is needed on a course will be supplied, whether that is vehicles, personnel or time devoted to subjects that are essential to our role if not to gain an SIA licence.

So back to the original question, should physical training and unarmed combat be included in a CP course? There is only one answer and its black and white.

Yes of course.

Whatever spin is put on it by training providers saying that it is an individual’s responsibility to remain physically fit and capable is a cop out because they want to either maximise their profits, lower their prices in order to attract more bums on seats or are physically incapable themselves.

Physical training on a course has a multitude of benefits:

1. However much planning, threat assessment and risk mitigation we carry out, we must always look at the worst case scenario and be able to move from a proactive role to a reactive role. This means that all CPOs should be physically capable of defending their principals against attack.

2. As most of you will have found out, there is lots of work out there, however there are also lots of CPOs who want it. Many of them are from elite regiments or SF backgrounds and whether we like it or not employers and principals have an idea in their head of what a CPO should look like.

Given the choice between a lean, physically fit individual and someone who waddles in, slightly out of breath from climbing the stairs it’s a no brainer. It doesn’t matter how good you think you are, appearance and first impressions are everything to the people paying the bills.

3. Close Protection work often means long hours working in arduous conditions. I think a CP course should test not only an individual’s skills but also their ability to cope under pressure when physically and mentally tired. Anyone can sit in a classroom from 9 – 5 and answer questions, and for most of you who are looking at the cheaper courses that’s exactly what you will be doing.

I want to know that anyone who passes our course and goes out into the industry has the ability to cope with long hours without cracking, and will be mentally and physically able at the end of a long day.

If you are reading this post and thinking that the Galahad Associates course isn’t for you, because you hate exercise, have bad knees, an injury that prevents you from fighting, or don’t like being woken up at 7am to participate in team physical training I put it to you that this probably isn’t the industry for you.

By all means book yourself onto one of the cheap courses that don’t see the need for physical training, unarmed combat, protective driving or surveillance skills. But please don’t then spend your time afterwards complaining on CP world that there is no work and no one is queuing up to employ you….you were warned.

If however you are serious about a role in Close Protection, and want to be pushed to your limits acquiring the skills needed to protect people anywhere in the world, then please visit us at



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