Choosing a Self Defense Program

When seeking to learn how to defend ourselves, there is no shortage of trainers, dojos, gyms, and classes offering to teach self defense. Here are some things to consider in choosing a self defense program.

1. Pick Your Style: While nearly every martial art or fighting system has self defense benefits, many have goals and objectives beyond merely protecting oneself. Most martial arts fall into the sports fighting category, meaning tournaments, sparring matches, and ultimately rules and procedures that influence the techniques that are taught. True self defense training should be against realistic attacks, and not just attacks from a certain fighting style

2. Grill the Instructors: While you are considering the system or program you want learn, take the time to examine the credentials of the instructors. Have they completed certifications that require physical and teaching tests? Are they affiliated with organizations that require ongoing training and evaluations? Unfortunately as with anything, there are both legitimate self defense instructors and also some not so legitimate. And when it is potentially your safety that is on the line, doing some research and homework is crucial.

3. Take a trial class: Once you have done some initial research, sign up for a trial class. The only way to really understand the program being offered is to jump on in and get the hands on experience. Is the class challenging? Do you like how it is run? It is very important that portions of the class are trained at full speed or "combat speed". If the practice of the techniques never make it past the slow motion training phase, it will be next to impossible to employ during  a real attack. And if the techniques are not safe enough to ever train at full speed, then there is a good chance they are too complex.

4. Talk to Other Students: When you visit a training center or classroom, spend some time asking questions to the members. How long have they been training? Do they feel like they are constantly learning and becoming more proficient? Does it cover the topics and scenarios that are important to them? A good program will attract the right kind of people, people that are welcoming and make you feel safe training with them. 

There are of course many other factors that go into choosing a program such as your location, budget, and goals. But keeping these points in mind can you help find a great program and get started in learning how to protect yourself. 





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