I have taught numerous self defense classes over the last twenty years, for four or five years I taught them at four local high schools in my area. These classes were taught to the 9th grade boys and girls. I have mixed emotions about self defense classes. Can anyone learn anything in a 1 to 2 hour class?
I’m inclined to think that a one time self defense class is mostly useless. Physical self defense techniques require muscle memory. Muscle memory requires repetitive training, you must practice the same movement many, many times to develop the natural reaction needed to react in a timely manner. If you have to think about what you need to do to perform a technique, it’s too late, the attack is over. There is much debate about how many times one needs to practice a particular movement to commit it to “muscle memory”, I believe that 1000 times is a good number to start with. Obviously no one is going to complete 1000 repetitions of the numerous movements needed to perform a useful self defense technique in a 1 to 2 hour self defense class.
Now all of that being said, the physical techniques are, in my opinion, the least important aspect of self defense. Most dangerous situations can and should be defused or avoided well before physical violence becomes an issue.
If there is one thing that can be learned from a short self defense workshop, I think it would be Awarness. Always pay attention to your surroundings. Most of us live in a society that does not require us to be on guard at all times. Realistically most of us live a very comfortable life, we have a tendency to ignore things going on around us. All of us have seen someone step right out in front of traffic because either they were not paying attention or they just assume that the oncoming cars are going to stop. This is a very dangerous way to live.
Always pay attention to what is going on around you, this too takes practice. If you’re standing in line someplace, take the time to note who’s in line with you, are they standing too close to you? are they looking at their phones? are they acting nervous? Most people I see are completely oblivious to what’s going on around them. If you wait for the screaming to start to start paying attention is probably too late.
Always listen to your gut. We have a built in alarm system that really, in our comfortable lives has been turned off by most of us. If you were being hunted all the time, or your community was at war for an extended period of time this alarm system would become very acute. You would develop the ability to “sense” danger. We all have this ability but most of us don’t pay any attention to it. If you get that feeling that “something just is not right” go with that feeling and get out, better safe than sorry.
Along with awareness, is the determination to survive. Make the decision now that if you find yourself in a bad situation, you will do whatever it takes to survive, always be looking for a way out, never give up.
I have much more about this topic if anyone is interested post some questions and if I can not answer them I will find someone who can.