5 Must-Haves When Teaching Self-Defense Classes

Learning how to defend oneself effectively is one of the most popular reasons adults start martial arts classes. The world can be unpredictable and having the ability to protect yourself can help empower people and assist them in surviving any unfortunate encounters with aggressors.

In most cities, there are a lot of different types of self-defense you can learn, ranging from separate self-defense classes, to traditional martial arts and mixed martial arts classes. The must-know techniques will differ with the type of self-defense being taught, but there are still some concepts that should be addressed, no matter the style. Here are five must-haves when teaching self-defense classes.


Diffusion and Evasion are the Best Scenarios

Just because you know how to defend yourself, doesn’t mean you want to get physical with an aggressor. For most traditional martial arts programs, this will be one of the first key understandings a new student will need to master. Diffusing a tense situation is always preferable to direct conflict. While not always an option, dispersing aggressors without physical violence its own type of defense martial artists need to understand, in order to save their psychical skills for when they are needed most.

If you’re in a situation where you have the option to flee or the opportunity to defend yourself, fleeing is almost always the best choice. Just like we learn in traditional martial arts, violence is a last resort. You never know what the other person is capable of or if they have a dangerous weapon. Humility is essential in martial arts and life. You’re not trying to prove anything; you’re trying to keep yourself safe.



Getting Confident and Comfortable

It can be challenging for someone to remember his or her techniques, in the adrenaline-filled chaos of a violent situation. This is one of the reasons that repetition in martial arts training is so important. When you practice your techniques over and over, your muscle memory starts to adapt and you no longer need to consciously think about what the next step in the manner that you did when first starting.

In a real-life situation, this split second can mean the difference between successfully defending yourself and sustaining injury or worse. Practice your techniques until you gain confidence and until you no longer need to think carefully while performing them. While many facilities will often one-off self-defense classes, this is an important reason for continued training and why instructors should encourage students attending these classes to learn further techniques.  



Physical Conditioning

No matter the type of self-defense you learn, physical conditioning is your insurance policy. A defender’s strength, speed, and cardiovascular endurance can aid the defender in overcoming the attacker. With cardiovascular endurance, you can outrun your attacker more easily. When things get physical – if you’re evenly matched but you have more endurance – then you’ll have the advantage. Aside from all of that, it’s good for your well-being to stay fit and active.

For some who attend their first self-defense course, seeing how out of shape they are can be a real eye opener. This realization can start a student down a path of improved health, outside of their self-defense training. While it important to guide classes in a way that allows anyone to improve their defensive skills, improving physical conditioning should be built into the lesson plan.



Real-Life Applicable

The most important thing for self-defense classes is teaching students how to defend themselves in real life situations. While there’s nothing wrong with learning self-defense in a traditional martial art that illustrates traditional techniques, students must know the difference between this and self-defense techniques that will work in real life.

For example, a beginners’ wrist hold can illustrate pressure points and wrist manipulation but, in real life, not many attackers will be grabbing you by the wrist alone. In reality, things are a lot more chaotic and fast-paced. Being ready for that uncertainty is what will allow someone to put their knowledge into practice successfully.



How to Address Weapons

While it’s important to learn to defend against common weapons, most types of self-defense classes don’t teach participants to yield weapons. Each state and province will have their own laws regarding any type of concealed weapon. Whether your courses cover any type of weapon handling or not, it can be a good opportunity to educate students on local limitations.

Most people are not going to be comfortable carrying a knife around with them, let alone using a blade on someone. While it may not be absolutely necessary, carrying around a whistle and a small container of pepper spray can help some people feel safer and can be effective ways to diffuse altercations before they turn physical. Be prepared to make recommendations on the availability of these products, along with sharing local rules regarding pepper spray and other deterrents.

What are some of the most important lessons taught in your self-defense classes? Let us know on our Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Google+, to stay up to date with all of your ChampionsWay news.