People of all abilities have the right and need to learn to defend themselves. Self-defence isn’t about fighting, it is about dealing with conflict, verbal and physical. Everyone encounters some form of conflict in their life, and it is important that people of all abilities learn the skills needed to manage conflict and protect themselves. A guest interviewer, Grace, interviews Tactix founder Sean from Newcastle, and he talks about his approach to inclusive self-defence training.
Episode 7- Accessible Self Defence
Nicky Weeks, Sean Oultram, Grace Paine
Welcome to the Personal Strength Podcast: building confidence for life. Here's your host, Nicky Weeks.
if you've been thinking about starting a martial art or self-defence, or introducing your child to one, are you concerned about the accessibility of training for you or your child? Hopefully this episode will provide some insight. Today we have a guest interviewer Grace Paine, who works with us at Personal Strength. Grace will be interviewing Sean Ultram from Tactix Training in Newcastle. Tactix Training provides mixed martial arts, Brazilian jujitsu, self-defence and bullying prevention training. Tactix prides themselves on being able to deliver training to everyone regardless of situation or disability. Here are Grace and Sean.
Well, I just wanted to thank you for being on the podcast Sean, very happy to have you here and learn about Tactix training. To get started, I would just like to know where were you before you started Tactix Training.
Okay, so thanks for having me on, by the way, I'm really excited. Looking forward to getting to it. So, before I started Tactix, I was – I've done I've done a number of jobs, probably most importantly for, you know, just moving forward in the interview is I was a security guard for a long time in nightclubs, and I was a doorman. So, I used to deal with people coming in and having a lot of confrontations. Yeah, which is, which was a great experience. And I learned a lot doing that. And I was also a youth worker for a long time. So, I worked for a company, who, when I worked for them, mostly dealt with behavioural kids with or without disability. So, I actually ran a house in, uh, with a couple of, well there was always two boys in the house with disabilities and they had behavioural issues. So yeah, that was a that was a fun one to learn a lot with those guys.
You would, definitely very experienced in like, the bodyguard, disability sector, it sounds like.
Yeah, yeah. So that was sort of my, my background for Tactix.
Awesome. And so, what motivated you then to start Tactix Training in the first place?
So, because I've been involved in martial arts for a long time, like I'm currently a brown belt in Brazilian Jujitsu, and I've done mixed martial arts and kickboxing and all that stuff. I sort of, actually getting back to [my previous workplace] I had a client who, he was pretty overweight, he didn't do really anything. And you know, we've I tried everything to get him moving and doing exercise and what have you. So, he came to me one day and said that he wanted to do karate. And I was like, oh mate, that's fantastic. Let's get right onto that. So y’know, I started looking around, and I’m like, surely someone's doing that for kids with disabilities. And there was no one, you know, not only in Newcastle, but like anywhere. Y’know. I couldn't find anyone really in Australia that was doing it. So, I was like, oh, man, well, you know, I'm not a karate guy. But I, you know, I've worked with people with disabilities for a long time, I do martial arts. So that's something that I can definitely bring to people. When I realised that you know, if I could run a business and get a lot of people, get a lot of guys, that wouldn't ordinarily be training, I was like, oh, let's, let’s go, So yeah.
That’s really good. Definitely stumbled on something that hasn't been done much before. Which is why we were so interested in talking to you about it all, which is great. So how long have you been running
Tactix training for then?
I believe it was May 2015.
Okay, so while now?
Yeah, a while now, got a pretty, pretty full book which is good, keeps me very, very, very, busy now.
Yeah, I can imagine – what does like a normal group training session look like then? Like what would happen in it?
So basically, my group guys you know, so I'm involved with a bunch of different, like really – all my groups are all smashing, all my guys are great, I love them all, but I've been involved with a Aruma, formerly house with no steps, and Clear Sky Australia, which is, I think they’re Newcastle based now but I'm sure they’re expand they’re awesome and healthy change challenge. Basically with, it really depends. We tailor it to clients specifically, right? So, it's not like a one size fits all type of deal. So, if I would use you know, my Clear Sky guys, for example, I've got maybe eight to ten men come in with all sorts of different diagnoses – Down Syndrome, Autism, all sorts, and we get those guys wrestling a lot, boxing, and they don't box each other of course, they box me. Which they thoroughly enjoy. They really give it to me, actually. Oh, it's so, so good. So, yeah, they wrestle each other really hard. Then, you know, other groups, they might not – like it might not be safe for them. If they've got, you know, different physical disabilities. Yeah, just the different diagnoses. So other group sessions might look more like a modified exercise circuit, you know, doing a lot of mobile- mobility in core stuff, a lot of squatting to different size balls and jumps and, y’know all that sort of stuff. So, it really depends on what, what they kind of capable of and the goals too.
Yeah, that's awesome. And you said Clear Sky. Can you just explain what that is?
Yeah, so they're, they're a day programme. I mean, I shouldn't limit them to a day programme, they, they do a lot of stuff they've got like, so they got, they've got day programmes, y’know men's and women's groups, which are really cool. So, I do lots of stuff with those guys, but they've also got, it's called Clear Paws. So, they, it's a dog grooming, essentially a business that started with the participants, you know, under their employee, you know, just to get to grooming dogs or learning, learning different skills and that sort of stuff. So, they get there, they get stuck into everything.
That's awesome. Yeah, good place. Um, they give you a lot of clients, I imagine, or you get clients from there?
Uh, yeah, yeah, most I mean, I'll get them – the boys group once a week, and the women's group once a fortnight. And then of course it like you said, they've got guys that want to just keep training and training. Um, there’s a lot of potential there.
Which is really good. And so, I guess a lot of what tactix training is about, it's a lot of self-defence training. So why do you think people should engage in self-defence training?
Uh, I’d like to watch myself here or else I'll carry on, yeah, well that’s lucky, so yeah, I'm really passionate about self-defence, it's, you know, I just happened to be in the space to be able to provide it to people with disabilities, predominantly, but I teach, you know, everyone else – other women's programmes, men, everyone. But I feel it's important because you are going to get confronted in your life, know, over and over and over. And it's, you know, it doesn't just go it's not just your best – your safety, which is obviously very important, your self-esteem and confidence and that sort of stuff. You know, it's surprised me that more people don't get kids involved in, in martial arts like, you know, straight off the bat. Yeah, y’know, like, it's, I just feel like it's important. It just, it's just gonna happen, you know, even, even if it's not a violent confrontation. It's just it, you know, what I tell the teachers, or a couple of schools, you know, a confrontation begins not with a fight, with a conversation almost. Yeah, that's time. So, a confrontation could be your teacher giving them grief about some math homework, or someone that you don't know, in the street, pulling you up about something or just giving you grief. So, you know, you won't find anyone that hasn't been confronted, intimidated. And, you know, nine times out of ten, or probably more, most people don't know what to do at all, you know, like, when I was a kid.
I definitely agree. I definitely agree. It's an, I guess, an inevitable part of life. Like, there's gonna be some kind of conflict. And it's good when, like you said that people just feel more equipped and confident in their abilities, I guess, in reacting in this situation, which is great.
Yeah, we need a plan like this. Whether it's, you know, whether you've been doing martial arts, or whether you can really handle yourself, I should say, like, and then I'll say, again, for self-defence, I don't I think has – people think that if you can fight, then you're capable of self-defence. Like, that's not really the same thing. Because if you're in a fight, like if, in a sporting arena, say, you know, a boxing match, I know if I box someone, I'm gonna fight that person. You know what I mean? Whereas someone comes up to me in the street, I don't know what they’re thinking. So, it doesn't fight- that doesn't start with a gun. Right-o, hands up. It's: we're conversing. I'm trying to figure out what your intention is. And yes, it's very complicated. Yeah, it's not just as simple as oh I can, I can fight, oh sweet.
Yeah, sounds like it, definitely good that you're able to, I guess, teach that and use that in your practice as well, for the whole range of clients.
Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s the same as same as the exercise stuff. What do you tailor it to different, different sorts of people? And yeah, you know, confrontation, you know, I would expect to be confronted differently to the way you would be confronted, do you know what I mean, like, if it was a man, woman, you know, whatever. So, it's, yeah, it's very important to tailor to you.
Yeah, of course. And I guess with you saying that to tailor it to people. And you were saying before, how you have different, I guess, plans for different clients. How would you say at Tactix training you accommodate to the different needs of clients? Like do – do you like a write up a plan at the start, or do you get the plan from their provider or something like that?
Uh, well I try to talk over specifically with my guys with disabilities, I try to talk to as many professionals that deal as possible. So, particularly with physical disabilities, I've a couple of guys now who had problems with their legs, so I talked to their occupational therapists, physios, all sorts, yeah. So, I've just really tried to get as much background information as I can, and then usually I'll run an assessment. So, a lot of the time, you know – different kids with autism, for example, take us a long time to form a relationship sometimes. So, you know, the first couple of sessions, we're basically getting to know each other, I’m doing an assessment, see what they're capable of. Yes, just a bit more of a tricky process, rather than, um, you know, so if you came up to train, like, right at what have you done in the past, what are your goals, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom – it's very black and white. Whereas, you know, a lot of the time a person with some sort of diagnosis can’t just straight up tell me that. Yeah.
Gotta build that rapport. Yeah, that's awesome. And so, well, like you were saying before, you have a lot of strength based and self-defence training programmes available? What kind of – was that, like the majority of the training sessions you have available for people with disabilities? Or do you have like other kinds available too?
So, my guys with disabilities, we, it usually goes back to their first assessment. So, if I think we're going to get the most out of our sessions, doing boxing or something, we'll do that. If it's weights, we'll do that. So, you're basically – we usually break it down, we'll do, you know, martial arts based stuff, strengthening, conditioning, or mixture of both? Yeah, that's about it. We just basically whatever, whatever’s gonna work.
Yeah, yeah, that's great. You just, you definitely modify it to what they want, which is what you need as well. You don't want to be implementing a programme someone doesn't want to participate in so that's good.
Yeah, well like, yeah, you do – you do whatever you need to do, like, a great example is the new space we're looking at. One of the first things we're going to be doing is like a Star Wars based programme for autistic kids, oh, I'm so excited, like, I've actually…
What's that gonna be like?
Well, so I've got one of the guys already that I’ve already trained, Ben, O-Ben Wan Kenobi. Even his brother, I've already done sort of like, uh, light-saber training, and that sort of stuff like that, yeah. And I just researched online, got stuck into it and really enjoy it. He's, you know, just an enthusiast. He's like, ooh, he’s just finishing school. So, he's like, 18. But what really got my juices flowing with that, was he was talking about how there's a lot of mindfulness and meditation involved. So, you know, I'd love to see like a room of 20 kids with different, like, on the spectrum in capacities or sitting around doing Star Wars stuff, but meditating, at the same time. Yeah, imagine it. So, you know, they begin and end with that, too. So, you got to use the force, I mean, you can’t, yeah.
Oh yeah, you totally gotta to use the force. I mean, that’s what, you know, has to happen in a Star Wars place. That would be such a good way to engage. What, kids on the spectrum, they would just love that. Like, especially if they're into Star Wars. Yeah, that’d just be fantastic, oh my gosh. Okay. So, when individuals have been training with you for a while, what benefits do you hope to like see, and like for them to get from your trainings?
It really depends. Usually, confidence, honestly, and self-esteem. Because I find, if we can build confidence, then the person we're training is just going to keep going on to do bigger and better things. You know? So even, as well, like, a lot of the time, when we're doing strength stuff, it's, it's, we want to create goals that they can achieve, so like, a box jump, like, “hey, you reckon you can jump on that box?” You know? “Oh, no, it's too big.” And then, you know, two weeks, two or three weeks later, we're getting him jumping. So, it's just building and building and building. Yeah, I would say that's the biggest thing, is confidence and self-esteem. Like I've got a young guy, Tyler, we’re training for a while, he's got cerebral palsy. So, he can't – he's got very limited use of his right arm and right leg, but we've done, you know, boxing, he's actually got really, you know, he can only use his left hand, but it's strong, like so we’ve done, we, oh yeah.
So that’s good. You don't want to get in the way of the left hook – that's like, danger zone!
Oh, big time. He used to put the little, little gloves on, you know, like the, the different sized gloves – the bigger the glove, the bigger, the easier you can cop it, a bit better, doesn't hurt as much. So, he had to start wearing the big gloves because he was, hitting me every now and then, yes, yeah, for my head. So, you know, we were doing that and then started doing weightlifting, got into deadlifting, loves all that, now he's into running. So, we just did a, he hasn't competed yet, but he did a half marathon for 20 odd k’s in a couple of hours. So, he just kept going on doing better things. And, you know, he's done it all. But I'm very proud that we sort of started him off on that journey.
Yeah, of course. That'd be great.
Yeah. And he just, he took off from there.
Yeah, that's, that's awesome. Do you like – do they usually do like running on their own, or is that something you guide them?
Oh, nah, he’s – that's probably the first of it, he’s done purely by himself. So um, yeah, he just, he just took that on and just decided it was that he wanted to have a go. And he did, he started with another guy I train, or used to train, sorry, and yeah, just went for it. So, the world, the world’s his oyster.
Yeah, sounds like it! That's awesome. You definitely would have helped build him build up that self-esteem and confidence in him to be able to do that on his own. How is your – his Tactix training, I guess physically accessible for say, like people in wheelchairs or any other people with disabilities?
Yes, so we, we run out of a gym called Alpha mixed martial arts. And luckily, alpha, you know, it's got huge big doors that open up your old roller door, go through the front, there's no stairs or anything. So, it's like, oh, it's so yeah, you, there's literally the carparks’ 10 metres away, if that, from the front doors. And um, yeah, we get up all our guys with different walkers and wheelchairs, and they just swoop right up and they’re going for it.
Yeah. Awesome, straight- straight into the training. Yeah, that's great. And so, if people wanted to use the, like, NDIS programme to train with you, what do they need to do to be able to do that?
So that's a bit of a tricky one from my end. Have you done much stuff with the NDIS?
I have, I worked in disability a little bit.
Yeah. Yeah. So, it's, it's tricky to say the least. So yeah. And then always moving the goalposts too. At the moment we’re, we're not providers, so definitely hope to be in the future. What I do usually, if people have an NDIS or they – most my clients have an NDIS plan – we go through their planning manager, and they can usually figure out the best source of funding, whether it's the cost or whatever. Otherwise, I get written, I can be written specifically into plans, usually focusing on mobility and quality of life. That's good stuff. There's ways around it now. I think, was it, plan-managed, agency-managed and self-managed, the only one of those would have trouble accessing is agency managed from memory. But I think that to start with when the NDIS was rolled out, that was the bulk of people. And now that's, that's pretty minimal, I think it’s only about 20% If that, that use AMC manage funding, so yeah.
Well, that's awesome. So easy to access and work with you guys then, definitely.
Yeah, it’s made it a lot, lot easier.
Yeah. Is there a favourite class that you get like from your clients? Is there any particular ones that they enjoy the most?
Probably sumo wrestling?
Yeah, I'm just trying to think… So, I mean, we have fun, no matter what, but the guys really seem to froth on the sumo wrestling stuff. So, we just, you know, we do, we don't just chuck them in there to start with, but we get them – gives them some skills to sort of stay on their feet and get good in the wrestle. And then we set out a circle made of just like cones, and then rather whoever wants to go, like right-o, you know, Lee and Chris really go for it. And then everyone's cheering and carrying on. It's really, yeah, it’s heaps of fun.
Bit of a community, everyone just cheering everyone else on.
Oh, yeah. Once it- once it starts up yet, like, yeah, we've got a couple of groups like 10 to 15, 10 to 15 guys in there.
Fantastic. That's so good.
Yeah, it's on, and it might even work out a few little niggling issues along the way. You know, maybe someone's been giving someone else a bit of grief. So, they jump in and… (laughs).
Ok, definitely work though their issues there!
Yeah, working out a bit of stress there.
Yeah, well, you got to. That’s awesome. So, if our listeners wanted to find out more about Tactix Training, where would you say they should go to get in touch?
Uh, probably tactixstraining.com.au, or the Tactix Training Facebook page. That's, the Facebook page is probably updated the most.
Okay, cool. The most active out of all of them?
Yeah, pretty, pretty well, that's the easiest one for me to sort of get on real quick and, and chuck some stuff on and get back into coaching and all the rest of the stuff. So yeah, if they, if they’re keen to check us out, get on there or just flick me message and say g'day, they're more than happy to talk to people.
Yeah, that's so great. And is there anything else you'd like to add about Tactix Training for our listeners?
Oh, no. Maybe for the Newcastle guys just keep an eye out for our Broad Meadow space opening up. I want to, well, say soon-ish in the future at some point, that's, that's probably the most exciting thing on the radar. Yeah, I haven't made any official announcements yet. But.
Big thing to look forward to, just a hint to everyone that's listening. Well, that’s great, thank you so much. And hopefully some people listening might be more motivated to engage in self-defence themselves now. So, thank you so much.
Yeah, big time. Thank you very much for having me on, I really appreciate it.
Self Defence training needs to be accessible to everyone. People with disabilities and people with a history of abuse are at greater risk of abuse than other people. So, it's very important that they understand their rights and how to defend them. It's so fantastic to know that places like Tactix exist. If you're in Newcastle, please look Tactix up. All links and references for this episode will be available online at www.personalstrength.com.au/7-accessible-self-defence-training/. Until next time!
Personal Strength is in Gordon on Sydney's North Shore. We run workshops and weekly sessions including personal training and group classes for children from four years old, teenagers, and adults. We also have a range of eBooks and online courses available at www.personalstrength.com.au.