Most people don’t give thought to knowing any form of self protection until they really need it, and in that moment, it is too late. Personal defense is often perceived as a fun, active hobby, but the truth is, it could save your life. The most effective way to learn defense is hands-on training in classes where you can master techniques that can keep you safe and protect you against violence.
What Are Self Defense Classes?
Many often imagine defense classes as involving swift punches and kicks to fend off an attack. In reality, classes will teach you methods of precision and control to predict an attacker’s moves and avoid being hit. There are different types of defense techniques, but all have the same objective of learning how to defend yourself.
Personal defense classes are typically offered in a group format and run anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. A full course is typically anywhere from 10 to 12 weeks in duration, after which you can advance into a higher skill level and more advanced level training. Classes are often offered in subgroups such as classes for women, children, and in specific forms of defense. Some classes will also train you to use various self defense weapons such as pepper spray, stun guns, or batons.
Costs for training vary depending on duration, school, and whether you choose drop-in classes or a full term. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $230 depending on the participants age group, length of the term, and prestige of the school.
Choosing a Class
When choosing a personal defense class, consider what techniques you may want to learn, and what specific subgroups you are seeking such as classes for kids or women’s defense. There are various types of defense, so it helps to research in advance to identify which training will best suit your needs. Ask around amongst friends or family to identify any recommended schools, and do a little online searching to see what is offered in your area.
Another aspect to take into account when choosing a class is the quality of the school offering classes. Look for any particular licences or credentials from the instructors to ensure their credibility. Local police stations often have a listing of reputable classes in the region.
When you do find a potential school, go in person and speak with an instructor there on the classes offered. The instructor should focus primarily on avoidance of confrontation rather than outright fighting. If you can, watch a class in action to get a feel for the atmosphere and style of teaching.
Once you’ve found a class you may be interested in, seek out any trial periods or free classes that you can try to get a firsthand feel. When partaking in a class, try to analyse what you are learning and decipher whether it would really work in a violent situation. The whole purpose is to learn effective defense techniques, if you think the moves are too complicated or unrealistic to execute in real life, then that certainly defeats the purpose of personal defense!
Finally, ensure that you are comfortable in the school and class. Ask yourself if you’re at ease with the instructor and other students in your class, as this will influence how engaged you are in learning the techniques.
Defense Methods: Krav Maga Training
Krav Maga, Hebrew for “contact combat”, is a popular style of martial arts developed in Israel and is the official defense format used by the Israeli military. This Israeli method has been proven successful in real life situations and has even been taught to U.S. federal and statewide law enforcement officials, as well as in Europe and Central and South America.
Krav Maga techniques are founded on two main features, personal defense and hand-to-hand combat. Aspects of personal defense include learning to avoid hits, kicks, punches, in familiar and unfamiliar situations such as being attacked in the dark. The hand-to-hand combat component involves learning techniques to quickly neutralise attackers as well as mastering the psychological aspects of attacks. Krav Maga classes will gradually teach you these components to become more aware of threats and how to defend yourself in violent situations.
Personal Defense Classes for Women
Women are the most commonly targeted victims of violence and this is often a big motivator for women to learn personal protection techniques. Learning how to defend yourself is not just smart for protecting your own safety, but is also empowering.
Personal defense techniques for women often focus on both the physical and mental aspects of defense that you need to protect yourself in an attack. Women’s classes provide a safe environment to learn about protective techniques and engage in physical fitness and conditioning.
Krav Maga as described earlier is becoming an increasingly common form of personal defense for women given its effectiveness and feasibility to learn.
Defense Classes for Kids
Unfortunately, children can fall victim to violence whether it be in the schoolyard or an unanticipated attack while walking home. Self-defense classes for kids offer a means of mastering self-protection as well as providing a safe outlet for energy and fun. Several types of defense class exist for children, though karate and martial arts are the most common.
Karate Classes for Kids
Karate is one of the most common forms of martial arts for kids. A Japanese martial art, karate which mainly involves various forms of striking including punches, kicks, knee strikes, and elbow strikes. As you can imagine, this provides a great energy outlet for kids while encouraging physical activity, concentration and personal defense techniques. Children with a particular interest in karate can even partake in tournaments as they advance, offering a competitive but fun aspect to this high-energy extracurricular activity.
Parents worried about kids being struck or injured can rest assured that a large part of karate is learning the art of control and precision. A large component in karate lessons for kids is learning concise moves very slowly in a controlled setting – the fighting aspect is not introduced until a child can prove he or she is ready.
Different schools will offer classes beginning at different ages, but most will typically teach as young as age 4 and up. It is a good idea to see first if a school offers a free trial class to allow your child to determine whether the class, instructor, and school are a good fit.
Classes and Training in the U.S.
Every major U.S. city offers an array of options for personal defense classes.
New York City (NYC) has a highly related, renowned womens program, Female Awareness, which has been featured on several media outlets including ABC and Fox News. In these classes women learn how to deal with not just physical violence, but verbal and psychological confrontation.
In Miami, the Miami Beach Police Department offers a women’s self defence course that is open to the public and taught by experience police officers. Divas in Defence in Atlanta (as featured on the Real Housewives of Atalanta, Fox News, and MSBBC to name a few) is another popular female defense centre with a focus on empowering women and teaching practical techniques.
Many personal safety courses focus on being streetsmart and practical to real life scenarios, such as being attacked in the street or at night. In Chicago one program is particularly appraised as being practice and streetsmart at the Self Defense Centers which teaches in a hands-on, practical approach. The popular Krav Maga approach is taught at renowned Impact Krav Maga in San Diego, CA, raved for its patient instructors.
Choosing a school, instructor and method of defense that is right for you can take some time, but is worth the effort. Self-defense not only improves your safety, but is beneficial for your mental, emotional, and physical health. Most importantly, knowing self-defence could one day save your life, and that alone is priceless!