The truth about “Women’s Self Defense” classes…

Ok, so you want to take the local class being offered for Women’s self defense. The marketing flyer you read is awesome right? Come learn to defend yourself? Learn “Not to be a Victim” right? The instructor will teach you “real life” applicable techniques. They are an “expert”. They are qualified. Some flyers market Krav Maga, some others market programs built by “experts” in law enforcement…the list goes on…

What I am about to tell you will upset all those people but this is the reality of it all coming from someone who has taught over 300 courses to women, studied all the statistics of what women face, has been in countless situations where I had to use what I know to defend myself due to career choices such as being a bouncer, correctional officer and bodyguard. You won’t like what I am going to tell you but, after training for 40 years now and teaching for the last 26 years, this is the truth when it comes to learning to defend yourself…


Now this may sound odd coming from myself who teaches women’s tactical defense courses quite often but I also say the same thing at every single class I teach. Sure you will get “ideas” and some basic fundamentals in courses offered out there. You may even gain some skills that will last a few months in your memory, but they will fade away quickly if you do not train CONSISTENTLY. When it comes to self defense there is no substitute for enrolling a good martial arts program, training 2-3 times a week and doing so for a couple of years minimum. Why? I am glad you asked! So let’s look at it…

  1. Real ability to survive a physical confrontation comes from being in shape. You need to be physically in shape to fight off any attacker, especially the ones who are bigger, stronger and meaner than you are.
  2. Real ability comes from repeated training so that your skills will become automatic. Consistent training makes you react fast, effectively and precisely. You cannot get this in single course or even a short term course like most that are offered today.
  3. Your mental state to be prepared to fight cannot be learned in short term setting. Regular martial arts training will build your ability to stay focused, calm and react accordingly to each situation. This type of mental acuity takes time to learn, to build and cannot happen without proper guidance.
  4. Without regular training for a prolonged period of time you will not remember anything when you get attacked for real…period! Sure you know all these great places to strike an assailant from that class you took but you have never trained to strike them with little thought, little effort and against someone who is trying to resist you. That type of training is found in a good martial arts school and gets instilled in you so that it is effective. You will not get this from that local class at the YMCA, sorry.
  5. Building the ability to strike someone with powerful techniques takes a lot of time to develop. Martial arts gives people the ability to strike very hard, regardless of their size. It accomplishes this from the repetition of techniques, explanation of physics applied to generate mass amounts of power as well as teaching you what works and where to hit. The short courses out there may cover this but if you don’t actually train it you will NEVER be able to do it.
  6. It is a fact that people who train in martial arts on a consistent basis will increase their odds of surviving an attack exponentially based on the length of the time they spend in training. A few years back we did a study using statistics that were gathered from FBI, local law enforcement and domestic violence groups. We looked at the number of people who had trained (according to their survey answers) who had survived an attack versus those who failed to fend off the attacker and ended up raped, beaten or seriously injured. What we found was that only 5% of the women who took a single self defense course successfully defended themselves. Women who trained for 12 months in a martial arts course were 50% more successful. Those that had over 2 years of training were 80% successful. I think those stats speak plenty for themselves about what is effective for real self defense versus that local class being offered.

Whenever I operate a clinic on women’s self defense tactics I always explain that, while the course is going to give you great ideas, if you don’t actually train on regular basis your odds of applying what you will learn decrease dramatically. What always shocks me is the number of women who “think” they are just fine and can defend themselves effectively…until pressure is put on them using scenarios they WILL face. 1 out of 50 women in class will do good. The rest will freeze up, lock up or simply freak out. It is always interesting to me to find out that that one woman who does well has trained in martial arts before…the rest have not.

My advice to women who want to learn self defense is never to not take these courses but rather to use them as a supplement to actual training in a good martial arts program at a good martial arts school under a qualified instructor who understands how to make the martial art work in a real life violent encounter. You won’t find that at your local TKD strip mall school so do some research and find an instructor who teaches a good, solid martial art. As far as the local RAD, women’s defense classes or “Krav Maga” programs go…well most of them are great supplements to actual training but they are not going to save you if all you do is take an occasional class once every few years…that is the TRUTH to it all.

Sadly most will not listen to my advice on this matter even if they read this. If they are an “expert” who teaches these courses they will argue to they are blue in the face because they are afraid of losing money from their pocket. If it is a woman who took a few courses they will feel they are adequate with what little they know and fail to realize it until it is too late. The reality of good self defense ability is that you must train on a consistent basis over a period a few years in a good martial arts program or you will not develop the actual skills you will need to survive…that is the truth regardless of who disagrees with me. How do I know? Because I have trained several women to black belt levels who are tough as nails, determined, focused and have used what I taught them 100% effectively against men in real situations…that’s how I know (plus the 40 years I have spent honing my skills, training daily and teaching 26+ years might have given me a better insight than those who have a few years I would believe).


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