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Empowered and Prepared: Getting Started in Self-Defense

Let’s face it, the world is scary – and it’s not exactly getting better. Statistics tell a sobering story: according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women will experience severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Globally, the picture is no brighter, with the World Health Organization estimating that 35% of women will experience physical or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. While these statistics may be alarming, it’s important to remember you possess the power to take control of your safety. Regardless of your age, fitness level, or background, self-defense training equips you with the skills to prevent an attack entirely or effectively defend yourself. 

However, for these skills to become instinctive reactions, consistency is key. You need to train and you need to train regularly!

But what is the ‘right training’ and how do you take that first step? Here’s your roadmap to getting started in self-defense:

1. Find your tribe

Group classes or seminars are a fantastic way to learn self-defense in a supportive environment. Look for classes specifically designed for women, offered by reputable gyms, martial arts schools, or local law enforcement – and taught by a professional. The camaraderie and shared experience can be incredibly empowering, and you may even find a place that you want to continue training at or friends who will join you in your journey. 

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I took a half-day women’s self defense seminar hosted by Revolution MMA in Littleton, Colorado. The seminar was led by the studio owner Kevin Kowalczik, a 12-time sport karate world champion and Karate Combat fighter. The seminar was filled with women of all ages and experience levels, but all had one common reason for being there – they knew the value of self defense and they knew they needed to learn.

2. Find your style 

Self-defense is about discovering a style that clicks with you and your body. If you like powerful kicks and strikes, Muay Thai is a great place to start. If you don’t mind getting a little sweaty and rolling around with people, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) could be your calling. BJJ is actually extremely important to know because most attacks or rapes will go to the ground – and that is a dangerous place to be. Explore options like Krav Maga, karate, judo, or even Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) – there’s a perfect fit for every woman. 

But don’t get hung up on becoming a master overnight – it’s actually incredibly impractical. Sample a few classes in different styles to find something you genuinely enjoy. After all, an attack can happen anywhere – standing face-to-face, grappling on the ground, or even with a weapon involved. By familiarizing yourself with various approaches, you’ll transform yourself into a confident force, ready to handle whatever life throws your way.

3. It’s more than just kicks

Self-defense goes beyond physical techniques. Situational awareness is key.Learn to identify potentially dangerous situations and trust your gut! Practice de-escalation tactics and know when to walk away or how to get an attacker to change their mind simply by speaking up and making them know that you see them.

Photo Credit: Lindsey Little Photography 

“I personally believe that all women should train in martial arts. For young girls, it gives confidence in difficult situations.  For teenagers or adults, it will help keep them safe and aware in a very dangerous world. Martial arts training is good for the mind in the body and helps empower women of all ages. “ – Kevin Kowalzik

4. Defense doesn’t stop at the studio

Self-defense is a lifelong practice. Regularly review what you’ve learned, consider taking more than one seminar, or join a studio to continue your practice. You may also find a new passion in the process!

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5. Beyond the physical 

Self-defense training can be a transformative experience. It can boost your confidence, increase your body awareness, and equip you with the skills to navigate the world with a sense of self-assuredness.

Beyond Self-Protection: The Ripple Effect of Confidence

Self-defense training is an amazing way to equip you with the tools to handle dangerous situations. But the benefits extend far beyond physical techniques. Learning a martial art is a journey of self-discovery that unlocks a potent inner strength and confidence.

Imagine walking down the street, head held high, not with fear, but with the quiet confidence that comes from knowing you can handle yourself if shit goes down.  This newfound self-confidence spills over into every aspect of your life and that feeling is powerful.

Remember, self-defense is more than learning palm strikes and groin kicks (which are actually really fun to learn) – it’s about taking control. It’s about feeling empowered and prepared. So, take that first step and invest in your safety. You deserve to feel strong and secure!

Research studios in your area, chat with instructors, and attend a one-day seminar. But most importantly, don’t wait for something to happen before you take action. 

Go train!

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