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  • Is Women's Self Defense Necessary?
    I have conducted these types of classes, and see other schools promote these courses all the time. The question seems to be “Is Women’s Self-Defense Necessary” or is it a gimmick? The simple answer is that it can be either. It is not a cure all and is NOT a class to guarantee success in defending oneself. If it is promoted as such, then you should be wary of participating in it. It is known by my students, and will be made known to any future students, be it in my Women’s Self Defense Class or in regular Karate Classes, that Martial Arts takes a LONG time to become proficient in. And, all because one knows Martial Arts, that does not mean that they can effectively defend themselves or win in a hand to hand combat situation. Martial Arts training provides the person defending themselves with training, and thus a distinct advantage against the person being the aggressor. These things are apparent to myself and my students.

    Is Women’s Self Defense even necessary, relevant, or worth-while?

    The question remains, however; is Women’s Self Defense even necessary, relevant, or worth-while? The short answer is – yes. Women’s Self Defense is important, relevant, and effective for the target audience- women. Women and men, for the most part, differ in strength and physical ability. Women’s Self Defense Classes should, first and foremost, identify that, and work with the perceived “disability” of the female in a physical confrontation with a male, or even a larger female.

    Be cautious of some instructors

    Examples of non-effective, gimmick classes would be the price, for one. Exorbitant prices for a class, with flashy Instructors relying on flashy demonstrations should be a key indicator that the Instructors are there to show off THEIR skills, and collect YOUR money, and NOT to give you the skill-set to practice. If the Instructor does not want to get to know you, and identify what potentially makes you a target, it is likely that they care less about your ability to defend yourself, and more about getting you to sign up with their school.

    Be sure to understand what you are getting into. Make sure that there is actual instruction taking place, for example, the Instructor will be taking you through how to punch and kick and what areas of your attacker that you will be targeting. Ensure that there will be a block of instruction on improvised weapons and non-lethal weapons (pepper spray, etc.). It should also be emphasized that one or two class sessions is not the solution to your safety. These Classes should be designed to make you aware to potential problem areas in your life and give you the tools which you will need to continually work on to better be able to defend yourself. It takes time.

    Still, some people are of the opinion that providing training specifically geared for women is useless, even dangerous. I completely disagree. Providing a Self Defense Class especially for women is important because there is a special need, and abilities which women have that men do not, and these abilities need to be capitalized upon!

    I think that providing Women’s Self Defense Courses to first help specifically women become aware and more able to defend themselves and also generalized Martial Arts Instruction to a mixed Student Body to help all people become better individuals is absolutely necessary. I think that neglecting either of these aspects of Martial Training is dangerous and even irresponsible.

    The point of Martial Arts is to live better through Martial Arts. Not having to ever defend oneself, but having enjoyed the healthy benefits of Martial Arts is my goal as a Kenpo Karate Instructor. I never want to hear of, or see a fellow person being hurt in an assault. But if a person is assaulted unjustly, I simply LOVE to hear that they successfully defended themselves using Martial Arts.
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      • 2
      Richie My work is building a gym on campus. I plan on doing a free self-defense class whenever I have the time. I will start all my classes with "I am teaching you the icing on the cake without the cake." I hope that will help them realize they can't go be Batgirl after one class.
      • 2
      Alex I don't like women's only self-defense. I think that women learning self-defense is super important but women's self defense classes in my opinion are useless, at least the ways I've seen them taught. What I like is seminars that teach concepts instead of moves, so they discuss the "before" of a self-defense situation so that hopefully no woman in that room finds themselves in a situation where they have to defend themselves.

      As you stated the only way to truly learn how to defend yourself is to find a martial art and dedicate yourself to it, and even then it may not help. I train BJJ and I believe that if I had all my mental faculties that I would be able to defend myself if I had to, but if I were in a situation where I was drugged then no amount of martial arts are going to keep me safe, what will keep me safe though is knowing never to accept a drink from someone if I didn't see it made right in front of me, or drinking from a cup that I sat down and looked away from etc. These are the things I like to learn in a self-defense seminar because no amount of training is going to help me if I drank from a tainted drink.

      For what it's worth I also don't care much for women's only classes in general. I understand it as a tool to introduce the art to women who are uncomfortable training with men at first but if we want them to learn to defend themselves they need to learn how to do the moves on men, especially larger men. This of course does not include women who have dealt with violence at the hands of a man, I understand why they would stick strictly to a women's only class rather than moving to the co-ed class.
        • 1
        Will - Black Belt Wiki Excellent post. Situational awareness is often forgotten during training.

        • 1
        Andrew Patterson I would offer a two-day course that was tailored for Women. It was a way to open the world of Martial Arts to women, specifically. I think that you can go either way, as I have seen the gimmick of teaching "Women's Only" self defense. I do not advocate that in the article at all. I advocate introducing the topic, providing a useful skill-set to practice, and encourage regular enrollment in a Martial Arts School.
        • 1
        Richie Agree, safety is a frame of mind. It is not about punching someone in the face.
      • 2
      Will - Black Belt Wiki Other than saying that I believe that self-defense training is useful for everyone, perhaps some of our female members would like to respond to this post such as [172080,Rachel DS] , [176815,Alex] , [217372,KSP08] , [220307,Beth Loomer] , etc.

      • 1
      Mike Women "Only" seems a bit confined. We understand that if an attack were to happen to a gal on the street her attacker would most likely be a male, probably a bigger male. In our seminars we pair women with men, kinda helps make things a bit more real. Typically the black belts will fill the partner roll. We don't charge for our seminars, heck, we love to do them. We think it's a positive for the guests to our school.
      • 1
      Mitt Radates Krav Maga is less about being a martial art or sport than it is about self-defense. Women in my classes do the same drills and learn the same skills as the men. It is gratifying to see that after 7 or so class sessions (in the 10-session curriculum) they are more confident, willing to engage in contact drills (with pads, of course), and eager to learn more and improve their skills. Nearly all of them sign up for additional 10-session classes and say they really enjoy them. The techniques use major muscle groups and gross motor skills, and are thus easier to learn and retain. We also focus on situational awareness, danger "triggers", and the primary goal of getting home safely.
      • 1
      Christopher Adamchek glad to see most hit the nail on the head
      my only thing to add is specifically training the gender specific things that women or men do that they could be attacked during. Its not easy to have to fight in a dress and heels for women or a suit and tie for men
      • 1
      Dave Magliano I taught women's self-defense classes years ago as one of the conditions of having a martial art's class on a military base. There were times I'd see a couple of these women at the store (a military base is a small community) and ask if they still practiced what we did in class. The answer was always "no" with excuses like time, lack of interest, etc. In my opinion, going to one class does not give the typical person enough tools to rely on if he or she needs to. It gives folks a false sense of security, kind of like people who get their concealed-carry license and never go to a firing range. That said, I do believe these classes can be great community builders and opportunities to educate the public about what we do.
      • 1
      Rachel DS One of my Sensei teaches at a Uni campus. He runs 2 or 3 SD seminars a year. They are not specifically for women but generally the people that come (that are not part of the usual class like me) are all women. I go every time as it always pays to stay fresh. He keeps it simple and effective and talks through scenarios, how to minimise risk, awareness, personal space / appropriate distance, deescalating things, and actual self defence against various attacks (mostly based on male / female police stats for male on male / male on female violence etc). He also runs a ground escapes session 4 times a year which I go to even though it's very hard because again it's good to stay fresh. I should add that the SD is free to all on campus.

      Recently I had a potential situation where I man came up to my car window when I was in the car with my 6 year old in a carpark at night, waiting for her / assisting her to get her seatbelt done up so we could go. She actually saw the man at my window and told me. It was scary but I could think clearly and knew what I had to do (lock the doors and GTH out of there) and knew that if I hadn't been quick enough locking my door, what I would have needed to do next. Part of it is just having a plan in your head so you can stay calm.
      • 1
      Beth Loomer I think that womens only self defense classes can be a good thing. But as has been stated in most of the comments 1 class doesnt make you proficient. So encouraging the women to do more than 1 or 2 classes is a good thing. Women do have different abilities than men do and women have very different fears than men do in self defense situations most of the time.

      I teach the womens self defense classes in my school and I try and ask everyone before we even start what is their most feared situation and I tell them mine. That way I know regardless we need to work on those things during the course of the class. Mine personally is being choked against a wall so I work on that one often and have more moves for that than some of the others.

      I always always have one or two of the bigger guys help me with the classes so the women can use these things against a larger man. It helps them gain confidence in themselves. We always talk about the fact that the way you hold yourself and being aware of your surrounding makes a huge difference in the way you are perceived and if you are targeted at all. The benefits of a "resting bitch face" are and should definitely talked about.

      Personally I prefer to do my self defense practice in normal class or the time I spend at the school before class with my partner. I can be meaner in those times and he takes it very well. As a whole my school spends quite a bit of time on self defense.
      • 1
      Kathryn Carson Absolutely agreed on the practice. One session does not proficiency make. But the huge thing is watching an entire roomful of women walk into a self defense class tense and scared, yet walk out with their heads high. If they bring home just one trick to use in a pinch--even if all they remember is to stay aware of their surroundings!--that's great. It increases their survivability in a bad situation. But walking with their heads held high? *That* reduces the chance that they'll ever be targeted in the first place. Priceless.
      • 1
      Kim Right before I started TKD, I went to a women's course at our school. It was taught by the master instructor and one other instructor, both males. There were 4 or 5 of us, none who had studied martial arts. We learned quick combos to escape arm grabs, neck grabs, etc. We talked about target areas women could easily strike, pressure points, etc., that would be good for a woman smaller than her attacker to employ. We basically got to beat up the 2nd Dan while the master instructor coached us. There was a lot of information, a lot of hands on activity, and I enjoyed the class. It was too much to effectively remember and execute after one three-hour session- even now it takes me a lot of reps to be able to do anything fluidly- but it was a start. I have no problem with women's self defense. A lot of women prefer to take a women-only class, I think especially since we talked about rape situations, etc (this class was limited to teens and older), that was appropriate. I spoke with my instructor about it since then and suggested doing a mini-session spread out over a few days or even weeks so attendees could get more practice.

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