national Women's
Martial Arts Federation

How To Choose A Self-Defense Class

A good self-defense class teaches skills in awareness, assertiveness, verbal confrontation skills, safety strategies, and physical techniques. These strategies can help you prevent, escape, resist and survive assault, abuse or harassment. A good self-defense course provides training in psychological awareness and verbal skills, not just physical strikes.

In choosing a class, look for a program or an instructor who:
  • Knows the facts about abuse and assault aimed at women, and tailors her classes to this reality. For example, a good class will address situations involving acquaintances and romantic partners, not just attacks by strangers.
  • Knows the realities of women’s lives and is able to work with each student where she is. For example, a good teacher is able to adapt verbal and physical techniques to each student’s strengths and challenges; she will not have a “one-size-fits-all” program.
  • Respects women’s decisions on how to handle dangerous or threatening situations and does not blame or judge survivors
  • Offers techniques, knowledge and strategies to help students make their own decisions about how to handle situations. She does not tell students what they should or should not do.
  • Takes an empowering approach not only to the practice of self-defense but also to teaching the program. For example, students should be able to determine their own levels of participation in the class, and no one should feel pressured into doing specific exercises.

(Thanks to the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault for some of this material.)

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