Self-defense classes are almost always a waste of time and money.

I agree that my karate classes will not prepare me to beat up a mugger or a rapist.

But I still think they are useful for self-defense.

They make me feel more confident about my ability to protect myself.

They make me practice fighting. Most women are very strongly conditioned not to hit, and teaching myself to hit another person was very hard. I doubt I could have done it easily without getting used to it in the dojo.

They taught me some vulnerable spots and useful techniques. I have no illusions- I don’t think I could beat up an attacker much larger for myself. However, I think I might be able to get in an unexpected blow to the knee, the groin, or the throat, then run like hell while my attacker recovered. And that’s all I really need.

Around here too.

We are in 35 states now.

What is more dangerous than a 6 foot 6 300 pound criminal attacker?

A 110 pound lady with a revolver who knows how and when to use it.

Over 500 women use firearms to defend themselves against sexual assault or abuse each day – that’s one woman protected every 3 minutes. Source: Kleck and Gertz, “Armed Resistance to Crime,” p 185.

Karate classes are great, I have taken them, but you must keep up with it, you cant just take a class one or two years, and then expect to be ready to defend yourself against an attacker a year or more later than your last training session, you must train every week. If you are not constantly training, or if you are not in great shape, you will not be effective in defending yourself with your bare hands.

Also, karate and other physical classes are not that good as women get over the age of 50, for women who are very small, for women who are overweight, or for pregnant women.

I have seen pepper spray drop 3 huge well built muscular men to the ground in a couple of seconds, crying and helpless whimps.

I would also chime in that practicing 1-2 moves until mastering them can be real useful. If one gets into a bad situation and the attacker misjudges, it may work. For example, if one actually trains and drills an eye gouge, when getting attacked, beat up, on the ground, you just might remember that one shot and successfully do it (whereas without the training the odds are a lot lower).

      • I took a self-defense class down at the local gunshop. It was pretty expensive, but then I only had to go once. :wink:
  • I wouldn’t doubt this, having been told by people who do it. My problem with “self-defense” classes is the way that they are often advertised–as a one-time event that leaves you with this ability forever… -which they do, to an extent. But I have to wonder, assuming you do go weekly, how much of the reason you’re “less likely to get attacked” is the fact that you’re not out on the streets going about your usual business, because you’re spending that much time in a karate class?

Methinks Dinsdale hit it right on the head. Self-defense classes can be a good thing if approached (and taught) with realistic aims in mind. No two-day quickie self-defense class can teach you to reliably defend yourself in a real threat situation – as soon as you get attacked, all those cute little foot-stomp stick-'em-with-your-keys defenses will go right out of your head. In the words of Steven Barnes, it isn’t a dojo ballet; it’s two cats in a sack.

But what those classes can do is teach people to be aware of what’s around them and to get them in the proper mindset (i.e., not to put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation, but if you get into one, that you do have options).

Unfortunately, I see you are from Ohio, which is currently deciding whether or not to allow women to carry guns for self defense. You current gun ccw laws are in a state of flux right now and being argued by judges and legislators.

I hope you can run faster than your attacker when you are 8
months pregnant, or when you are 60, or when you are wearing a tight or long skirt, but I seriously doubt it.

Long term, you really need more than getting in an unexpected blow and running.

Also, your current strategy does not work that well if there is more than one attacker.

Finally, as you get older, your calcium loss will weaken your bones much more than mens bones. The older a woman gets, the less hard she can hit someone.

Your best long term bet, is to write or call your state representatives and tell them you want a ccw self defense law for law abiding women in Ohio, just like the women in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan already have it.

Actually, as a pacifist, I wouldn’t consider carrying a gun even if it were legal for me to do so.

Sure, I could be hurt by bad people, but I think that’s a risk that exists for everyone. The situation has never come up, and maybe it never will. If it does, I’ll just do the best I can, but neither martial arts nor a gun in my purse is a guarantee of my safety.

I’ve studied martial arts (karate) on and off for years. I echo some of the things people said above - the one thing that was always drilled into me was that the first and best move to make is to run away.

Martial arts are defensive. Despite all the years I’ve been learning karate I’m not sure I would even know how to launch an attack on someone - I wouldn’t know what to do. If they attacked me first then I’ve got dozens of options available for a defence/counter-attack but I wouldn’t know how to go about attacking someone as a first strike. I’m sure I could come up with something but it would feel wrong. It would be against the whole ethos and philosophy of martial arts.

Regarding the small woman vs big man debate. Theoretically, and I stress theoretically, the small woman actually has an advantage if she is good at Judo or Jui Jitsu.

Judo and Jui Jitsu are all about pivots and weight balance etc. So when a big guy lunges he will have his weight propelling him forward. A small woman (if she’s good at judo) can use his weight against him by throwing him in the direction in which he’s lunging.

So she uses his weight as the force rather than her own strength. She allows him to lunge and then she dodges out of the way and just adds a little of her own guidance so that the combination of his weight and her guidance leads to him ending up on the floor with a broken arm.

It all comes down to pivots and weight balance and stuff. But you need to practice constantly to get to this stage - a couple of classes a week, maybe.

My point is that the idea of a big guy vs a small woman sounds, on paper, to be an uneven match but in reality it’s not, as long as the woman understands pivots, locks etc. It’s even possible that the smaller quicker person has an advantage over the big, slow, lumbering brute doing the attacking.

This is, of course, all theoretical. In real life anything can happen. Sheer luck plays a big part but there’s no doubt that constant training improves your chances. A top golfer, I think either Gary Player or Jack Nicklaus, once said “the more I practice, the luckier I get”.

The head instructor at the place where I took judo was a tiny little woman named Sensei Connie. Every year on the first day of class she’d pick out the biggest guy there, put him in a pin, and tell him to try to get up while she read her introduction to the class. Nobody ever got up.

Remember too that many studies show that there’s a good chance an attacker will run as soon as the potential victim fights back at all; she doesn’t necessarily need to kick his ass, just to show she won’t go down easily.

I’m a smallish woman (5’3") who has, unfortunately, had to physically defend herself a number of times.

Bruce_daddy this will probably shock you, but every attacker was a male bigger than me, and I got away every time. Except for when about 10 people ganged up on me and that six-foot woman-child beat me senseless (and had to have her face sewed back together later, but I digress…)

Now, I had the advantage of a sister who was a self-defense instructor, but even so, I never trained in a dedicated manner in any particular style.

What I was taught, basically, was

  1. Avoid trouble whenever possible
  2. If trouble finds you, run like hell if you can
  3. If you can’t run, get ruthless - hit as hard as you can
  4. If the Bad Guy falls down, lets go, or in any way backs off go back to #2 and run like hell.

In every case I’ve had to open up the toolbox, not one of my attackers expected me to fight back, and all were shocked when I did.

The first was a guy who tried to rape me at 14 - you know, grab me from behind in a chokehold, drag me into the bushes, proceeding to try to remove my shirt. I got a few good hits in, he dropped me, and I ran like hell. I later learned I’d busted one of his legs with one of my kicks - even a small woman is capable of causing major damage in the right (or lucky) circumstances.

Another time a jerkwad snatched a musical instrument case from me on an El stop in Evanston. It was heavier than he expected, he dropped it, I picked it up, whacked him on the head with it, and shoved him off the platform onto the tracks. After which he decided to bother someone else. Again, he wasn’t expecting a number of things that happened to him.

Part of the value of formal martial arts training is keeping you in good physical shape so you can exert yourself when necessary. Partly, it’s learning how to use your own assets. I was able to do the above feats in part because I was an athlete when younger (soccer, hiking, skiing, horse-riding, swimming, weight training).

I had also made a decision a long time ago that I would be completely and utterly ruthless in my own self-defense. My sister used to complain a lot about women who would whine “but I could never huuuuuuuuuuurt someone…!”

But I also agree that older women, frail women, and the handicapped of any gender are at a disadvantage and have a legitimate reason to carry weaponry. I may not own a gun right now, but I like having the option to choose that form of defense if I feel the need for it.

And attackers who target the handicapped are occassionally surprised as well - my husband, who can’t physically run and doesn’t have very good balance, carved up a mugger’s face and beat him severely with a car door once upon a time.

I’d say self-confidence, the ability to use violence in self-defense, awareness of your surrondings, and the ability to improvise weaponry are the best best bets for a lot of folks. The element of surprise can enable a small person to startle/stun a much larger oponent long enough to move to the “run like hell” option. Will it work every time? No - but often enough it’s worth making the effort.

What the hell you doing over there, fighting or surfing? :smiley:

My personal beef is with fraudulent martial arts and self defense classes–instructors who make up their background and then teach people things that will get them hurt or killed.

It’s really one of the few things that will get me spitting mad.

You know the type…“ninjutsu” instructors, people who take 1 year in a style and then decide to make their own style of martial arts. I’ve seen a few of those types hold self-defense clinics. It’s not pretty. In one case, a guy was teaching girls to defend themselves with reverse crescent kicks (you know…a stiff-legged sweep from the outside into the bag, sideways, at chest level). The man called himself “sifu”, held classes and absolutely refused to tell us what style of martial arts he taught…

There really has to be some sort of licensing body for this sort of thing. The sort of people who need to be aware are the least likely to be able to point out discrepencies.

I’ve seen some pretty impressive clinics, though, and agree they can be useful. The local judo club at my university had one that I still have sympathy pains thinking about. For gleeful brutality you can’t really beat jujutsu…

Nope. Running away is the best policy, with fighting as a last resort.

What made you think that would shock me? My problem was with people who thought they could kick ass after a weekend class.

c’mon! c’mon! I dare you! :wink:

I was just remembering how I dropped a 6’2" guy who tried to grab me from behind – by slamming back with my elbow (what did that hit? his kidneys?). It’s a long story. My black belt boyfriend was staring in shock (some help, huh?) as the guy went down yelping.

I don’t have any formal training other than growing up in Brooklyn and having a brother who was constantly trying to kick my ass.

Bruce_Daddy your OP seemed to imply that self-defense classes have no value because a woman has no chance against a larger attacker. What’s that saying? “Chance favors the prepared mind” – I think that applies in this case.

Regarding guns:

After last weekend, I’m convinced that everyone who ever so much as touches a gun should first take a basic gun safety and usage class. See, we visited my husband’s family this weekend in south Arkansas, staying with his mother. My husband grew up around guns, went hunting with his dad, got his first weapon before he was a teenager, etc. He learned how to treat a gun.

His parents were married until he was well into adulthood, so his own mother should’ve been well familiar with all types of weapons. Some of the things I heard last weekend:

“So will the safety click off when I pull the trigger?”
“It’s not loaded?” After her boyfriend had just said the gun was ready to shoot. (For those of you who’ve never held a weapon: a gun is ALWAYS loaded, even when it’s not).
“I have this handgun I got that I’ve never even fired before.” (My MIL and a neighbor woman)

And then there were the neighbors who brought over their guns. The man was not as careful as I’d be with his wife’s Beretta .22. People die by .22s because they forget they aren’t really just glorified BB guns. He was more careful with his Taurus 9mm, but he still wasn’t taking as much care with it as he should.

Those who owned guns they’d never fired really ticked me off, though. That neighbor’s wife I mentioned earlier? She’d never fired her gun, and it wasn’t until everyone told her she really needed to that she finally did. And as it turned out, it wouldn’t fire (probably the ammo was old, but that model is picky about what ammo it uses anyway). A gun that doesn’t work when you pull the trigger is pretty damn useless, as is a person that doesn’t even know how their own weapon works. I don’t know if she was afraid of the kick (which is very light) or the noise (we had earplugs) or just the thought of firing a weapon (in which case she shouldn’t have one).

Just for the curious, I shot a black powder rifle (too much trouble for me), a 30.06 (lots of kick), a 7 Mag (ditto on the kick), a .22 rifle (no kick whatsoever), the Taurus 9mm I mentioned above (nice, I want a Beretta Cougar now), and our own Beretta .22 (same model as above), which hadn’t been fired in years and really needed to be.

One of my martial arts instructors was Miss Debby. She was 5’6" and weighed about 130 lbs. She was a 5th degree black belt in taekwondo. I am 6’1" 250 and had nothing on her. She routinely used me as an example of how to take down a bigger guy. I resisted and fought her if I could. I didn’t make it easy.

I also had the unlucky job of teaching the younger 10-14 yr old girls how to throw an older man. Her methods were very effective. I would start by helping them to throw me. But by the time the session ended, they had to do it by themselves. And usually even the younger timid ones would and could.

Granted, if some mean mutha really wanted them, I’m sure he could get them but it wouldn’t be easy. It added the element of surpise for the girls if they were attacked. They had something better than nothing. She also taught some REALLY effective pressure points, wristlocks, and throws that even the smallest women could use.

Oh and we were also taught never to fight police officers (because of their defensive training) and never go to the ground with a wrestler. Both being very bad things to do.

Me: (2nd posting this thread)

You and your boyfriend want a weekend at Myrtle Beach? I’ll fly y’all down here just so I can kick your ass and prove my point.

I’m kidding! :smiley:

Just want to observe that the fact that some women can develop tremendous self defense ability has little to no relevance to the OP.

Yes, I can provide my own list of women barely 1/2 my weight who could handily defeat me standup, grappling, or with various weapons when I was at my peak of fitness and training. And there always is the chance of a “lucky shot” or an easily dissuaded attacker.

But that says little or nothing about what it takes for the average woman or child to be able to protect themselves against a committed attacker intent on doing them violence.

If I were a woman, I would learn how to defend myself with a knife, practice regularly, and always carry at least one easily accessible blade. Just MHO.

Oh, I missed your last reply Bruce_Daddy. The two schools that I have attended both stressed running away. And both made it clear that their techniques took time and training to perfect (although they did give quick easy techniques like throat jabs that would help if attacked).

But you are correct about after weekend class you ain’t gonna go out and kick butt. Self-defense places that don’t explain this are remiss.