Two meProtective gear is a key component of any IMPACT class. We want students to practice their physical skills with all their strength and force, just as they would in a real life situation. We also need to protect our instructors’ safety. Enter: “the suit”. The suit is a collection of items, namely a helmet, shoulder pads, belly plate and groin protector, that the “suited instructor” wears during training scenarios. You might not realize that we build all this gear ourselves. It’s highly customized and rigorously tested. It’s truly one-of-a-kind!

Back in December, members of IMPACT Boston, Prepare Inc (NY/NJ) and Turtle Mountain Empowerment Self-Defense (ND) gathered in Boston to build a new batch of suits. We call these sessions “suit builds”. We worked in teams, carving, adhering, trimming, molding, applying, shaping and finally taping until we completed the equipment that you recognize from class. Here are some candid photos we took of the three-day process:


(First image: piles of foam materials stacked on tables. Second image: IMPACT team members cutting and taping foam pieces. Third image: IMPACT team member modeling an unfinished groin protector equipment piece)


Working collaboratively with other IMPACT organizations is a highlight of these suit builds. Not only do we share the labor and cost, but it gives us time to chat and learn from one another about other aspects of our organizations. Is anyone working on incorporating talk therapy with licensed mental health professionals into classes? How could we adapt our training scenarios for groups outside a city where ‘someone approaches on a subway platform’ isn’t relevant? How often are you updating your Internet Safety curriculum as algorithms, scams and entire platforms get more sophisticated? Honestly it was also just plain fun!


We hold these suit builds a couple times per year on average, but it really depends on the need nationwide. While some elements of the suit can last for decades with minimal use, most consistently take a lot of hits. We review equipment for safety before and after every class. As the need for our classes grows, so does our staff. New instructors each get their own fitted suit to take with them. It took years of development to create the first suits and the process will ever be evolving.


The realistic role play scenarios where students get to practice their new safety skills with a suited instructor is one of the things that really sets IMPACT apart.  We are able to do this without risking the instructor’s safety based on all of the research, time, thought and effort that continuously goes into making these “suits”. If you’d like to see them in person, sign up for a class!