Self-Defense Classes

Today, a teen karate student and I will promote a free self-defense class to take place Saturday. We’ll host a table at the Gilbert Public Schools Employee Benefits Fair to announce this special offer for employees and their family members who are teens or adults. These types of classes are one way that our dojo gives back to the local community.


Of course, karate classes are a type of self-defense class. But for the purposes of this blog, when I use the term self-defense class, I am talking about a class that can stand alone (or be part of a short series). A class that specifically focuses on personal safety, how to prevent attacks, and how to react to them. We often hold these expressly for women. And ladies definitely need to attend these types of classes – and not just once in a lifetime. But men can benefit from these too, especially if they are not in martial arts and not experienced with physical competitions or confrontations.


Growing up, my only practical self-defense education was from my mom. In that vein all I remember her saying is, “If a guy attacks you, kick or knee him in the groin.” And “Don’t be alone in a car with a guy.” Mom had great advice. But there is a heck of a lot more to learn and practice in the area of personal safety for teen girls and women.


My first experience of a formal self-defense class was when I was in my 20’s and an intermediate karate student. Newland Renshi hosted a class for women, especially our karate moms. The most practical advice that stuck with me from that class is, “If you have a lock, use it.” So simple and yet so effective.


I grew up in Southern California during the Night Stalker’s heyday. The day they caught him, the news said he had been thwarted by a woman’s locked front door and subsequently apprehended. Yet despite that, it had never really stuck with me how simply locking a door is effective prevention. After that class with Newland Renshi, I got in the habit of locking my car and house as soon as I went inside.


Most law-abiding women, if they use simple, practical preventative safety measures, will not encounter  physical attackers. But unfortunately, there are exceptions to the rule. As martial arts instructors, we help our students prepare for the worst. A big part of that preparation is learning and applying safety measures. But in our self-defense classes we also practice physical skills. These help students fight back in order to get away from an attacker and get to safety. They also give participants more confidence in their abilities to protect themselves.

Self-defense classes and seminars have augmented my martial arts training to help me keep myself and my family safe. My hope is that all women will take the time and make it a priority to attend self-defense classes when they are offered.

Jenifer Tull-Gauger self-defense


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