Women's self defense classes

Discussion in 'Women's Self Defence' started by Metal_Kitty, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. Metal_Kitty

    Metal_Kitty Valued Member

    Has anyone ever attended/seen a women's self defense class? I'm really curious as to how it would differ from the type of MA classes we're used to seeing. I'm guess there was obvious be an emphasis on 'dirty' tactics such as eye gouges, groin kicks, etc. What other tactics do they teach? And how do they train? Full contact and with resistence?

    My main question is, do you think women's SD classes are more or less beneficial for women than a full contact, mixed gender martial art such as krav maga, muay thai, mma, or some form of jujutsu? Do you think women's self defense should be taught separately?

    Personally, I think women would benifit more from training with males and in a tough full-contact style.
  2. Moi

    Moi Warriors live forever x

    No difference than men training. Achieve what they can for their weight and hope for tge best. Full contact sport all the way. Probably BJJ is more important than a striking art for women but good all round skill trained in a realistic manner
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  3. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    from what i've seen publicized of women's SD, i THINK it generally sucks ass in a major manner. if a woman wants to be able to defend herself, she's far better off (as is anyone, really) learning about self-protection and investing in the long run to learn to actually fight.

    in a real altercation, training is secondary to what you actually go and do. telling someone "oh, you just rip his balls out" will do jack squat if the person in question doesn't have the mindset to go and grab the guys balls and pull back sharply. hell, even learning to punch another person in a controlled environment takes some time to get used to for some people. some are naturals, some need to be helped along until they develop it, but all the training in the world won't help you defend yourself unless you're mentally ready to hurt another person, possibly badly. full contact fighting and combat sports which involve it are among the best tools to develop that, along with scenario training if you're aiming specifically towards SD.
  4. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    also, i second what moi said. by training women differently from the men you just handicap them, leading to a lot of these funky super-lethal women's SD classes.

    i mean, you don't see SD classes for short men, do you?...

    ...bloody hell, i'd make a fortune!
  5. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Realistically you need to cover off environmental awareness in a WSD class because there is not a lot else you CAN teach.

    I teach Awareness and Avoidance and have a paradigm that I teach to help them with any physically based encounters. TBH though you have to stress to them the importance of sustained training and putting what they learn into practice.

    Can you learn ANYTHING form these courses? Yes you can - but not to any real level of competency. They are are more of a "heads up" for me with advice on where I teach. If they are serious they will take up their training in earnest.

    Tragically very, very few actually do
  6. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    Martial arts classes tend to focus on a good workout and build skill sets.

    Self-defense classes tend focus more on aggression and awareness. Less on actual skill. More and more common these days is having a person padded up (e.g. redman suit) and almost anything goes just fighting him off.

    It depends, but self-defense classes probably are more beneficial for most because they can be life changing wake up calls. One woman I took to one self-defense training workshops that was a friend, told me years later that the class had changed her life and she wanted to tell me that.

    Not quite as dramatic, but a few others have said basically the same to me over the years.

    Conversely, if you look at people, say single out women just for the sake of argument, those that stay in full contact training such as Muay Thai or MMA, they really don't need martial arts. They already have a strong fighting spirit. So something like MMA is good for them, but it isn't necessary for them to survive.

    The people that have been traumatized (call them damaged goods) come into martial arts a lot of the time to help them heal. So any martial art can work for them as long as it helps them in self-development and healing.

    Those that come to self-defense training are kind of in between. They aren't completely damaged goods, but they also don't tend to have extremely strong fighting spirit. Self-defense works on awareness and unleashing their raw aggression in the face of aggression. It can show them a side of life they are not aware of. Hence, it can change their life...

    This is independent from the benefits from formal martial arts training. A person can train both self-defense and martial arts. Why is there a need to do one and not the other?

    You can state your opinion, but everyone is going to be different and have different needs. People seem to have short memories, probably about 15 years ago there was a female BJJ black belt that was brutally attacked and raped by a much larger man.

    Maybe nothing would have helped her, but it isn't always a matter of what benefits someone the most, it can simply come down to what they lacking in and what they need to move on.
  7. tonyv107

    tonyv107 Valued Member

    Training can only do so much. Not even a Black belt in BJJ will help when someone has a good 60-80 pound advantage. Sometimes I have to roll with people with many years of experience but the fact that I out weigh them so much let's me just muscle through some of the locks/chokes, etc that they try to use. I think self defense items coupled with MA training and awareness as stated above is the best course of action.
  8. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  9. Metal_Kitty

    Metal_Kitty Valued Member

    Thanks for the brilliant article!!
  10. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    I run self defence courses for women, but if they want classes they come to a mixed environment as I do not currently have time to run a regular single sex class.

    I prefer to run my courses as single sex. Why? Because in a course you have a limited amount of time to try and convey as much useful information as possible. Going single sex allows me to focus on particular items and the predominant predator tactics against women differ from those against men. This means that both the theory and the physical package they receive is different.

    Single sex courses can have great value to people who lack the ability to commit to a regular class. As with any form of education there is bound to be a tail off over time for memory and skill retention etc, which is why good courses focus more on awareness strategies and implanting ideas rather than teaching complex physical skills. Any fighting skills taught should use motor motions common to everyday activities.

    Here's an example of a description of the framework of my courses:

    I've also noticed the growing predominance of redman, and even bulletman. I'm not a fan of either of these as the person wearing them cannot move realistically which lessens the value of the exercise. Where possible I bring a team of people in armour in (generally High Gear or my own gear due to its greater mobility) and run a range of simulations. Of course what you can (and can't do) depends upon how much time you've been allowed.

    With regular classes, for someone wanting self defence, picking a class is a double edged sword. How much information a woman needs (motivation, fear management, conflict management, adrenaline, predator tactics, safety strategies) will very much depend on her genetics, her upbringing, her education, and her environment. These are crucial parts of self defence so going to a martial arts class (even a good sporting full contact one) isn't so useful if she doesn't have this info. But, on the other hand, a regular self defence class that teaches all that info but doesn't let her practise her skills in a pressurised contact environment also has serious drawbacks.

    In my opinion there is generally a lack of decent self protection training out there. As a result, unless a woman happens to be one of the few located near a good provider that addresses the issues above, I would say her best bet is to go to a good contact sport martial art (for example Thai boxing or MMA) and buy a couple of decent books to cover fear management, attacker strategies etc (for example Gavin de Becker, Dave Grossman, Bruce Siddle...). My only 'issues' with this option are:
    1. Getting a more timid person into such a martial arts class may be difficult.
    2. Such a class may not practice the most realistic (and thus useful) event simulations.
    Ultimately however the most important thing is to have all the avoidance strategies in place.

    While the benefits of training in a mixed sex class may seem obvious, there are (as suggested above) often drawbacks. Some students may have a past that has led them to fear physical contact with men - a mixed class could well put them off. Coupled with that you need to bear in mind that in self defence men predominantly need to train in male on male HAOV while women predominantly need to train in male on female HAOV.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  11. Lorelei

    Lorelei Valued Member

    I took a self-defence course (2 hours once a week for about 10 weeks) when I was at school - it wasn't just for females though. The course was run by a Shotokan instructor, and involved basic blocks, strikes and kicks for the most part, with a few examples of grappling and throwing. No idea if what I learned would work in a real situation - the course was over 20 years ago and I've never had to use any of it......
  12. righty

    righty Valued Member

    It actually sounds like you are writing off womens self defence courses before really considering what sort of realistic role they have in womens self defence.

    A lot of valid points have already been made, but the reality is, this being a martial arts forum, that you are preaching to the choir. So yes, training regularly in an art that has a higher level of contact and sparring for a decent period of time is generally going to be much better in the long term.

    However a lot of women are not comfortable doing this for many reasons that have been discussed previously around the place. In my mind there are two main benefits for this sort of class or course.

    1 - They can act as a stepping stone for more serious and continued training.
    2 - The old adage is still true - a small amount of training is better than none.

    The being said there are definitely bad courses and good courses. The biggest risk is that you send the women home with a false sense of security. This is made worse by the fact that a lot of women self defence are run as a set course running for X weeks (6-8 is common). So women can think that because the course is over, they have learned all there is to know in that time.

    What can be really beneficial in my mind is a sit down lecture type presentation with guest speakers. Police officers or other LEO and emergency services are great. Basically they can get across the types of risks and common sense avoidance tactics to prevent and escape from attacks as well as identify danger. They can also being in the legal aspects of self defence. This sort of thing in my mind is far more useful than the physical techniques that are taught. But in comparison what you can also find is this sort of thing isn't really common in the general MA arena, even in the higher contact arts that were originally mentioned.

    So basically there can be good and bad courses, as long as the teacher gives a sense of reality to what is being taught. And are very clear about what is being taught rather than along the lines of 'take this course and you can survive any attack'.

    This comes from me taking such as course ~5 years before starting regular training. I forget the vast majority of the techniques taught but remember the lectures, even though I think upon it now even these could have been better done.

    I've also toyed with the idea of running a similar class myself, but I don't think I have the necessary qualifications, background or experience yet to do it - particularity the psychological side of things.

    ADDITION: Actually sine I am here (and this is mostly directed at JWT) can you think of anything I can do (training, experience, reading etc) I could look into to get more qualified, even just as an informal thing. I would want to know this for myself anyway.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  13. Microlamia

    Microlamia Banned Banned


    Note to self. Do a whole moloch load of resistance training.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2011
  14. Bigmikey

    Bigmikey Internet Pacifist.

    Actually I have a friend who teaches a self defense course and is quite successful at it. The differeces as they appear to me are rather profound. Firstly there are no kata to practice, no belts to earn or rituals to perform such as bowing, etc. All the techniques used are straight to the point and practical, unlike many martial arts. Where Krav Maga has a wealth of offensive techniques SD doesnt. It all deals with the opponent placing you in a position of danger.

    The focus on immediate reaction and simple strikes. For example, against a front two handed shoulder grab (the kind men always use on women in the movies in order to 'talk sense into them', lol) the movements are simple. There isnt any grab this, twist around, now loop your tumb in his nostril, pull his buttocks up over his head and tickle his left foot. It is left ridge hand to the groin and double handed volley ball "bump" style strike to the underside of the chin. Step back, and run.

    Personally I think we should ALL learn a little basic, old fashioned self defense.
  15. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    You know, I'm kind of wondering about my own sources on that assault. I'm having difficulties confirming the facts about a sexual assault on a BJJ Black Belt or the time frame. Maybe for the better as the identities of rape survivors really should not be a easy thing to find.

    In any case, I wanted to address the resistance training. As I remember it described (which unverified as I stated in last paragraph), the woman was hit in the head and knocked to the ground. Repeated slaps to the head factored into the outcome.

    In your resistance training, I suggest including dealing with open hand strikes to your head with everything else.
  16. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter


    How can I help?

    Well, what you need depends upon what you've got to be honest! :) I don't know where you are, how you were brought up, what you've trained in, what that training is like etc...

    A good self defence instructor needs to know predator tactics, HAOV, crime stats, safety strategies, biomechanics, vulnerable points of the body, use of force and the law, fear management techniques, empowerment techniques, conflict management strategies, a working knowledge of human physiology, human stress responses, simple adrenal tolerant effective striking and unbalancing techniques, full and semi contact safety procedures and safety strategies, scenario simulation procedures, risk assessment procedures, first aid... as a basic platform.

    At risk of offending a number of instructors I would say that what a student needs to be effective as a self defence fighter/escapee can be taught in considerably less time than it takes to be a martial arts fighter. Furthermore a good self protection class will result in someone able to defend themselves more competently on the street quicker than a good martial arts class - they are different beasts preparing for different things after all. However, in my opinion as someone who has been both, what an instructor needs to be an effective self defence instructor takes far longer to learn than the requirements to be an effective martial arts instructor for most martial arts.

    At the top of my reading list for you would be
    Gavin De Becker - Protecting the Gift
    Bruce Siddle - Sharpening the Warrior's Edge
  17. robertmap

    robertmap Valued Member

    Hi John,

    Not sure that I agree with this. It would be possible to systematise training so that something like a basic self-defence course could be taught by someone with relatively minimal skills.

    I do the same with my Anger Management Coach training courses that I teach professionally. As long as the person is a competent trainer or coach I can teach them to coach using my anger management program in three to four days. In the same way if you systematised the self-defence instruction then within a week - given suitable people - you could teach them to deliver a successful and useful self-defence course.

    Remember someone with no self-defence training needs only a little training to see a dramatic improvement.
  18. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    I think there is a big difference between a teacher and a coach.

    You may be able to get someone to teach in three to four days, but surely not to coach.
    In my opinion a coach adapts to each person as an individual, rather than the group as a whole.
    Being a coach relies on being able to break down a system or individual technique, being a teacher does not.
    I think it is wrong to teach a three or four day self defence course and expect the students to go out and deliver that course.
  19. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    Hi Robert,

    Any good teacher can teach something if they have reference manuals, powerpoints, videos etc and a bit of time to absorb the material.

    Could such a person deliver a successful and useful self defence course? Yes, it's possible. Would they have the subject matter understanding to explain what they are doing and why? No. Would they be a better and more effective self defence instructor if they had a greater knowledge base from which to form a course? Yes.
  20. Microlamia

    Microlamia Banned Banned

    What the heck is HAOV?

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