Self-Defense Classes for Adults

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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Self-defense class for women

Jan 2011

I'm looking for a self-defense class for women. I've seen a few postings, but mostly from a while ago. I'd like something that really focuses on the self-defense part. The fitness element would be a nice perk, but less a priority. andi Hi Andi, I highly recommend checking out the self defense classes at Hand to Hand Kajukembo in Oakland. They are great!

I'm not sure from your post if you are seeking an on-going class such as karate, or judo, etc, or if you simply would like to learn some techniques for self defense. I highly recommend Impact Bay Area. It is a women's basic self defense class. You can find out more at I took their beginning class and found it quite helpful.

Highly recommend Studio Naga in Oakland (510.652.6242 / Their methods are effective, realistic and practical. But better yet the instructors make sure you feel safe and confident as you learn in a fun yet challenging way. For a sweat, think about training. The first phase of training is ''Cun Tao'' or Self-Defense. You'll definitely get a workout while expanding your self-defense experience. Cinthia

Self-Defense class for adult

Oct 2004

Hi, can anyone recommend a good self-defense class? I don't know where to begin looking. I know there are various martial arts like tae kwon doe, aikido, karate, etc., but I don't have a specific style in mind. I just want to learn how to defend myself if someone tries to attack me. Thanks! Anon

i know many people who have had great results from Impact Bay Area (formerly Bay Area Model Mugging), including friends of mine with whom i practice aikido. you can reach them at anon

I took a self-defense course from Bay Area Model Mugging (BAMM) about 15 years ago. I was very impressed with the program which was team taught by male and female instructors. (We'd practice our techniques directly on the instructors who were dressed in protective gear!) I appreciated that the course focused on boundary setting and healing as well as on drilling into muscle memory the self-defence moves. The class was an intense experience that I'll never forget. See if you can find some more recent info on their offerings. The organization is now call Impact. Good luck, Marjorie

I would recommend ''Model Mugging'' for a self defense class. In this class you actually fight ''attackers'' that are in pads (usually paid volunteers who are experienced in the martial arts). You get to practice what it would really feel like to be attacked, and to fight back with all your energy. It is based on martial arts, and you learn many moves for defense. But even moreso, you learn how to get in the mind frame of thinking defensively, and thinking about how to commit yourself mentally to defending yourself. It was a life changing class for me, and I really could not recommend it more highly. Note that my belief is that if you take a course at a school for martial arts (like karate or aikido or what have you), you will likely not get the most valuable lessons unless you stay for a long time and really learn the art that they are teaching. Model Mugging is not teaching a detailed ''art'', rather it teaches you how to fight hard in a street fight where you are being attacked (and a great deal of this is mental). Also, you didn't say if you were a man or a woman, but they have different courses for men and women which focus on the different ways in which men and women are more likely to be attacked. Learned to fight for myself, changed my life

My son went to Kidpower, which was a great program. They also have classes for teens (Teenpower) and Adults (Fullpower) I think they are based in Santa Cruz, but they come around to the Berkeley Area pretty often. They will do classes for your group, if you arrange it.

I couldn't tell for sure if you are a woman, but a class I really highly recommend is the women's safety project ( They are a non profit org out of SF that has these fabulous self defense classes for women. The classes are normally held weekly from 7-10pm, near a BART station. Plus, many women drive in from the East Bay and often offer to give rides for those who need them (I gave and received rides myself).

I haven't taken any other martial art class, but this class focuses mainly on self defense against a single unarmed attacker. The class is broken up into two sections: physical and verbal techniques. The physical techniques are taught by women and you practice them over and over again. You learn how to ID vulnerable points on an assailant and more importantly you learn how to make it a reflex. I learned that even though I'm small (about 5 feet even) I can floor a big man based on body mechanics. The verbal skills are fantastic. They teach you how to spot and avoid manipulating situations, how to de-escalate violence, and how to trust your instincts. Often an attacker ''tests'' his victims verbally. I took the class because I was getting a lot of street harassment (''hey baby!'' kind of thing). Now I know how to deal with it.

It's a great class. I've taken it twice plus the advanced classes. The teachers are fantastic and the all-women atmosphere makes it so safe. PLUS, it's a lot less expensive than the ''full body attacker classes'', which unfortunately don't always teach the verbal things and don't let you practice knee kicks (because the guy in the puffy suit can get hurt). HTH, Janki

I've been involved with two organizations that provide self- defense training in the Bay Area. (1) Impact Bay Area (formerly BAMM - Bay Area Model Mugging). You can get more information from or 510.208.0474. (2) Kidpower- Teenpower-Fullpower International. You can get more information at or 1-800-467-6997. Nancy

You may want to check out Studio Naga in Oakland ( They are a martial arts school that also teaches self defense to children, teens and adults. I like their approach - going over assessment, non-verbal, verbal, and of course the physical. My 15 year old cousin and I took the class together and I was amazed how her confidence was built in such a short time as well as let me see just how unaware I have been in certain situations.

After taking their class, I checked out a martial arts tournament that included self defense using a padded attacker to see what other people learned & how they reacted to similar situations. Studio Naga swept that event so I felt like my money for self defense was well spent. cinthia

I have studied martial arts (Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, Wing Chun) and currently study at Modern Combatives. I recommend Modern Combatives ( I am a satisfied customer - I attend their classes, our girls take the kids classes, and my wife took the women's self defense course. The school was founded by three people, including a Berkeley police officer and a counselor who specializes in cross-cultural issues. They have extensive martial arts background among them (two second degree black belts in Judo, army boxing experience, kick boxing competition, blue belts in Brazilian Jui Jitsu, Wing Chun, etc.) The instructors see themselves as coaches and help everyone with their own personal goals. The atmosphere is friendly and family oriented.

Modern Combatives has a great women's self defense course, taught by Lily Pagle. For the ''graduation'' class the women fight guys in padded suits. I was very impressed with the skill level all the women showed after just 10 classes. In fact, before seeing the results of this course, I was quite skeptical that much in the way of practical skills could be taught in 10 classes. The classes include not only training in techniques but also education about situations. The classes are small and allow for discussion and questions. In addition to this short course, there is an introductory training program for adults and regular martial arts classes (which is what I take).

In my opinion, the two biggest benefits you get from studying martial arts are not the self defense skills, which you hope you will never use. The first big benefit is the better physical condition, which helps you defend yourself from other sorts of deadly things, like diabetes and heart problems. When you have that extra something in your walk that comes from being in shape and the self confidence to hold your head up, you are far less likely to become a victim of crime.

The second big benefit is the awareness that comes from understanding how physical conflict works. The criminal mind looks for signs of weakness and moments of opportunity. If you are more aware, you may avoid parking your car in a dark place, you may notice and avoid that suspicious looking person and, if there is a person near you, you might get on the other side of something like a shopping cart so that the person doesn't have a chance to start making a problem for you. The idea is to avoid the problem and, if you cannot avoid it, to deal with it quickly and effectively and get away safe. ddm