When someone asks me, ‘are self defense classes worth it?’ My answer is always the same.

On going self defense classes are excellent! Now this is just my opinion, but short 6 week (or similar) time frame courses can be dangerous. That’s not to say you cannot learn anything on these short courses. Awareness of your surroundings, knowing where not to go, knowing if you are being followed, etc, these are all elements that can be extremely beneficial and these should be taught on self defense courses, however short they are.

Are Self Defense Classes Worth It

Attending a short self-defense course can have certain drawbacks and risks. Here’s an explanation of why it may not provide the desired level of preparedness:

Insufficient Training Time: A limited few weeks of training might not offer a comprehensive understanding of self-defense techniques. Developing effective skills demands consistent practice and experience over an extended period. Depending solely on a short course could create a false sense of confidence without the necessary expertise to handle real-life self-defense situations.

Absence of Real-Life Scenarios: Self-defense courses typically focus on teaching fundamental techniques in controlled environments. However, real confrontations are unpredictable and involve factors like multiple attackers, weapons, and chaotic settings. Without exposure to realistic scenarios and stressors, it becomes challenging to apply learned techniques effectively during actual self-defense encounters.

Physical Fitness and Conditioning: Self-defense can be physically demanding, requiring strength, agility, and endurance. A brief course might not allow ample time to develop the required physical fitness and conditioning to execute self-defense techniques effectively. Insufficient physical preparation may lead to feelings of being overwhelmed or inability to perform under real threats.

False Sense of Security: Completing a short self-defense course can instill a false sense of security. Individuals may mistakenly believe they are fully equipped to handle any dangerous situation, leading to overconfidence and poor decision-making. In reality, self-defense encompasses complex skills beyond physical techniques, including awareness, de-escalation, and avoidance strategies.

Inadequate Continued Practice: Proficiency in self-defense necessitates regular practice and skill reinforcement. Without consistent training, techniques learned in a short course can degrade or be forgotten over time. In high-stress situations, muscle memory and instinctual responses are crucial, and infrequent practice can impede an individual’s ability to respond effectively.

Legal and Ethical Considerations: Self-defense situations involve legal and ethical implications. Understanding the laws pertaining to the use of force, self-defense rights, and proportionate responses is crucial. A brief course may not sufficiently cover these legal aspects, potentially leading to erroneous judgment calls with severe consequences.

Lack of Personalized Instruction: Due to time constraints, instructors in short self-defense courses may be unable to provide personalized attention and address individual concerns or unique needs. Personalized guidance is crucial to tailor techniques to an individual’s physical attributes, strengths, and limitations. Without such guidance, individuals may struggle to apply techniques effectively or inadvertently cause harm.

Mindset and Attitude:
Some people have it! Most do not and they need lots and lots of training and short self defence courses cannot possibly convey this across properly.

I was asked many years ago to hold a ladies self defense class not for from my home, i agreed and decided i would talk a lot about awareness, who’s watching you, is anyone following you, go the long way around, rather than a short cut through a dark alley, etc.
Well one person said they could defend themselves easily by kicking the attacker where it hurts! I said ‘do you know what it’s like to have a strong man attack you who’s intent on doing whatever he wants to do, what would you do if you both ended up crashing to the floor, lets just say your groin kick missed (which she laughed and said ‘it wouldn’t miss!’), I said OK, let’s just pretend you are both on the ground and I said his face was close to yours, if you are not prepared to sink your teeth into the side of their face, you will PERISH! (that didn’t go down too well)

Most people, without training, don’t know what to do and simply freeze, ATTITUDE is everything

Are Self Defense Classes Worth It

In Conclusion

It is important to note that while a short self-defense course may have limitations, it still offers some level of training. However, individuals should be mindful of these limitations and consider seeking additional training, regular practice, and ongoing education to develop a more comprehensive set of self-defense skills.

I hope that helps answering the very common question of ‘ are self defense classes worth it? ‘

Linden Huckle

About the author

Linden Huckle has been practicing and teaching karate for over 50 years and believes first and foremost, karateka should enjoy their karate. He says 'there is nothing better than seeing a person develop into a great person through their karate practice, while at the same time enjoying karate.'

Linden Huckle