A self defense class is a workshop which provides the people who attend it with basic skills to defend themselves. Typically, these classes are sponsored and led by a women's group or law enforcement, although they are open to all members of a community. Depending on the type of class, the workshop may take only a few hours on a Saturday morning, or might take the form of multiple classes spread out over several weeks. People who are not familiar with any martial arts or self defense techniques should strongly consider taking at least an overview class, because it will improve personal safety and make them much more confident.
The style of a self defense class varies, depending on who is leading it. In general, the teacher assumes that the students have no knowledge of self defense at all. Therefore, simple defense moves are taught, rather than complex ones which require a lot of physical strength or knowledge of martial arts principles. In addition, students are often led through empowerment exercises to increase confidence and make them feel more secure when out on the streets. Typically the group of students is small, allowing everyone to practice all of the moves and to bond the students together.
During a class, people will learn how to get out of basic holds, how to punch someone safely, and other basic physical techniques. In addition, students will learn about vulnerable parts of the body so that they can get a kick or punch in where it counts. Students will be led through the techniques several times, so that they can quickly remember them in an emergency situation, and they are also encouraged to try them out on each other. In many instances, the techniques incorporate a variety of martial arts disciplines, since many martial arts have strong defense moves which are also easy to learn. The classroom is usually well stocked with mats, boxing gloves, and other protective gear so students can learn moves without hurting themselves or each other.
In addition to physical self defense, students will learn about how to increase their personal safety in other ways. Students are taught about awareness, how to assess a situation, and how to communicate clearly. As part of the communication section of the class, students are often led in group exercises which include screaming and other modes of communication which are usually considered to be socially unacceptable. Students are taught about forceful and clear communication in emergency situations so that they are prepared to say “NO!” to an attacker or to cry out for help. At the end of the class, students should feel more secure and confident, and will project that image when they are in potentially dangerous situations.