Getting the most out of your Women’s Self Defense Class

There are A LOT of self defense classes out there, and women sign up for them for a variety of reasons. Whatever yours may be, congratulations for taking the plunge and going to a class. If you're like most people, you might be a little nervous. As an instructor and a woman, I can understand the nerves. I've often felt them myself going into unfamiliar territory. With that said, here are my tips for getting the most out of your self defense class.

Walk in with an open mind: Some of the exercises or simulations used during your class might seem silly or strange to you, but try to keep an open mind. Some of these exercises are designed to get you outside your normal headspace and introduce you to a new way of thinking which can be valuable in learning to assess and analyze dangerous situations.

That being said....

Take it all with a grain of salt: As I said, there are a lot of self defense classes out there. Even when you've done your homework and found a class with experienced martial artists, they might not know all there is to know when it comes to self defense, especially women's self defense. If something seems utterly ridiculous, there's a good chance it is.

I went to an all girls high school and as part of our senior week, the school brought in some guys to teach self defense to our senior class. The guys weren't awful looking, and they weren't exactly old either, so you can imagine the reaction they got walking into a room full of hormonal teenage girls. When they proceeded to teach us some rather dubious self defense techniques, my friend and I could only look at each other in confusion. As a martial artist herself, my friend and I were both a little surprised at the material.

The most memorable of the techniques was the "finger flick" (yeah, I know), which our instructor told us he used to get out of a car jacking in New York City. He demonstrated on a snappy piece of paper that seemed specially designed to make a loud noise as he explained the mechanics of relaxing your wrist and, hopefully, hitting your attacker in the eye with this "devastating" finger flick.

Moral of the story? Use your best judgement and focus on what follows common sense. If it's complicated, showy, or seems a little far fetched, it probably won't be of much use to you.

Remember, not every technique works for every body: When it comes to the physical aspects of self defense, not every technique is going to work for you. I'm a second degree black belt, and there are a lot of techniques that I struggle with. However, I've found other techniques that I'm really comfortable with and I know I can execute in a stressful situation. If you find something in your class that works for you, don't worry about the stuff that doesn't come as easily.

Most people forget the majority of the things they go over in these types of classes, so if you walk out remembering one thing that works for you, GREAT!

The flip side of this is that it's an important lesson to learn what DOESN'T work for you. My mom has taken a few of our self defense classes and she was excited to find what worked for her, but she also learned what she struggled with. When one of our male instructors pinned her against the wall, she realized how difficult it was for her to break out of the situation. When it comes to a bad situation, it's better to know what you're up against than to walk out with a false sense of efficacy. Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are is a vital lesson to take from any defense class.

Repetition is OKAY: Hearing the same tips over again is a good thing. Martial artists spend a lot of time practicing their arts, they practice this stuff over and over. In doing so, they not only develop physical strengths, they develop a mentality tailored for confrontation. Taking a class once or twice grants you very limited exposure to the things you need to learn. Hearing things you've heard before is good, the more times you hear it, the easier it will be to recall in a stressful situation.

It's better for you to practice a basic technique over and over in multiple classes than to spend time learning complicated moves you're never going to use again because you forget them an hour out of your class. The more time you spend conditioning your brain and body to respond, the more effective your class will be.

This leads me directly into my last and most important tip...

PRACTICE: The best thing you can do to get the most out of your classes is to practice the material. Most people aren't going to sign up for martial arts classes which is honestly the best way to gain proficiency, but you can still practice. That one class you took in college isn't going to do you much good a few years down the road.

At our studio, we offer half price self defense classes to returning students and we are always available for people who want to practice things they learned during our normal class time, free of charge. We also send out emails to past attendees to let them know when we're doing another class (if you're interested in getting on this list, shoot us an e-mail ). Taking a class over again, is a great way to reinforce what you learned, and pick up new insight you missed the first time around.

At the very least, take a self defense class at least every year. There's a reason CPR certifications expire; people forget skills they've learned over time, especially when they don't use them every day. It is our fervent hope that you never have to use what you learn in our classes, but the more you practice the better prepared you'll be should a situation actually arise.

If you can't come to more classes, practice what you learned in your head. Think about it before you go to bed, practice techniques on your pillow, whatever you need to do to keep the material fresh.

Your self defense class should be an empowering reminder of your own mental and physical strength. Take these tips and have a kick-ass defense class! But before you do, here's one last tip from one of the greats....
"Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own." -Bruce Lee

We have two upcoming women's self defense classes:
Saturday August 20th
October (to be announced)
You can register below or Shoot us an e-mail and follow us on Facebook for updates.

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