As a relatively small woman, I know how it feels to be scared while walking alone at night. I’ve raced to my car, gripping my keys between my fingers like knives and praying that my heels wouldn’t keep me from outrunning the man who has been behind me for several blocks. Most of my girlfriends have felt this, and I’m betting a lot of people reading have as well. In order to combat this fear, a lot of women turn to female-only self-defense classes to get back a sense of control. Still, you have to wonder, are female-only self-defense classes worth it?
The short answer is yes, but you have to be careful. Female only self-defense classes are great when taught properly but can be dangerous when a scam artist uses them to take advantage of women who want to live their lives without being afraid. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding whether the female-only self-defense class you’re considering is worth your time and money.
Are the instructors treating you too gently because you’re female?
While chivalry is excellent in some circumstances, this is not one of them. If you’re going to learn how to defend yourself against an attacker, you need a teacher who’s willing to practice full force with you. A class where instructors treat you like you’re made of glass will not help in a real life or death situation. Be on the lookout for an instructor who is willing to realistically practice situations without going overboard and actually hurting you.
Does the class promise that you’ll get a black belt in just a few short months?
Actual black belts and martial arts rankings take years to earn from legitimate studios. Cash for belt studios, on the other hand, pander to the ego. These studios will make you feel like an incredible warrior after just a short time without giving you any actual skills in self-defense. A legitimate female-only self-defense class should advertise realistic expectations for results, and the time it will take to achieve them.
Will you practice the moves at home regularly to reinforce them?
The greatest female-only self-defense class will be all for nothing if you don’t practice the moves regularly at home. Moves learned over a single weekend once and then never tried again are not going to do you any good in a fight. In order for self-defense lessons to be effective, the moves must be reflexive to the point where you don’t have to think about them. The two best ways to accomplish this are to set aside a few times a week to practice or to attend courses that happen over the course of a few weeks or months.
Is the class focused on helping you get away, or helping you ‘win’?
Unlike a martial arts sparring match, where the goal is to score points or disable your opponent, the goal of any self-defense situation is to get away with your life. Classes that spend all their time on power hits might feel great but remember that as a woman you will almost always have a size and strength disadvantage. It is doubtful that any female-only self-defense class will give you the ability to physically demolish an opponent attacking you over a weekend seminar. Real female-only self-defense classes will also cover important maneuvers such as preventative safety tips and how to buy enough time to get away.
Do you exercise good fitness on your own, including weight training and cardio?
Self-defense requires being in reasonable shape. Running away is the most critical part of surviving an attack, but if you’re out of shape, your attacker will catch up to you quite easily. Additionally, to make most self-defense moves work you will need a reasonable amount of stamina, strength, and flexibility. I would recommend taking up running two or three days a week, and some kind of barre or Pilates class another two days a week to keep your body in good survival shape.
Are you prepared to use every possible advantage to survive?
As great as female-only self-defense classes can be when taught by an ethical instructor and practiced regularly, they simply don’t compare to carrying. I think of having a concealed carry as a great equalizer, and it makes me far less worried that my smaller size can be used against me. You should be prepared to do whatever it takes to survive and be sure to incorporate both self-defense and responsible gun ownership into that. After all, if someone is thinking of attacking you, they’ll think twice if you’re adequately equipped to defend yourself.