Many people, women and men, consider taking courses in self defense. These courses are designed to teach you how to defend yourself from an attacker. They also boost confidence and help the participants feel empowered.
Things to Look for in a Self Defense Class
Most self defense courses are offered through martial arts schools. These classes should be taught by certified black belt instructors. However, a black belt is not a standardized ranking system. Some schools offer black belts to people after less than a year of training. Other schools require up to ten years hard of training before allowing someone to test for their belt. Ask the instructor how long they have been training, and how long they have had their black belt. This is a common question, and they should not be offended by it.
Ask about class sizes, and how many instructors there will be. A good sized class will have between four and ten people. Classes larger than ten can begin to sacrifice the individual attention needed to teach these techniques. However, a large class with several instructors will be manageable.
Look at the room the class will be taking place in. It should be large and spacious. There should also be some sort of mat. Many self defense techniques involve throwing an attacker off of you, so a decent mat is necessary.
Ask if you can observe a class. Instructors should have no problem with this. The class should be structured with a combination of verbal and physical instruction. Make sure everything you see makes sense, and that you are comfortable with it.
Warning Signs in a Self Defense Class
Self defense is complicated. There are many techniques involved that must be practiced repeatedly before they are effective. Therefore, the class should last more than one or two days. A self defense class should last at least a week. There may even be more advanced classes offered after the first one ends.
If you are taking a class being offered through a martial arts school, be suspicious if they try to push their martial arts classes on you. Learning karate or judo is very different from learning self defense. If they are insisting you sign up for these lessons, or require you to take a martial arts class first, the school is more concerned about making money than with teaching you.
It should be perfectly fine for you to observe a class. If they refuse, there is probably something they are trying to hide. If this is the case, move onto the next school.
Watch out for flashy techniques that look good, but are too complicated or unrealistic. True self defense techniques are simple and stable. A flying hurricane kick may look very impressive, but it will not get you very far in self defense.
Your First Self Defense Class
Wear loose and comfortable clothing. You will be moving around, so be sure you have clothing that will allow it. Some martial arts schools will require you to take off your shoes. This is sometimes done out of tradition and respect, but sometimes it is to prevent damage from being done to the mats. If they do not have any rules about shoes, wear sneakers.
There should be some verbal instruction about what to expect. Much of your first class will consist of you getting used to your body. You may learn some basic striking with your upper and lower body. It takes time to develop the balance needed to perform these techniques with power, speed, and accuracy.
At the end of class, the instructor may go over some stretching. Self defense requires the use of muscles that are not used everyday. Stretching will prevent cramping and reduce soreness.
Self defense is a great way to build strength and confidence. Be sure to find a good school with experienced instructors. Take control and learn how to defend yourself today!