The New Year is here, and that means it’s time for millions of women to make resolutions aimed at helping them lead better, happier, more fulfilling lives in the year ahead. New Year’s resolutions often focus on purely practical ambitions like saving money or losing extra pounds. But for me, like many other women, I have found that feeling better about myself starts with taking more control over my life and well-being – which helps me feel more confident and more self-assured.
For decades, women have turned to self-defense classes to help them lead safer lives. The good news I have learned is that it turns out self-defense classes can help you in other ways, as well.
Physical benefits — and more
Certainly, self-defense classes can help women develop skills and techniques to ward off attackers, and many women take self-defense classes for that reason alone. In 2018, nearly 653,000 women were victims of violent assaults in the U.S. — about eight times the number of men who were victims of violence in the U.S. in the same period. According to data from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National network (RAINN), roughly one out of every six women will be a victim of sexual assault during her lifetime. Learning self-defense techniques is a smart way to increase personal safety while discovering simple, effective ways to prevent violent attacks in all sorts of settings.
But self-defense classes have given me and many other women far more than just physical techniques. They have given us an air of confidence and capability that leaves us feeling safer, more empowered and confident, and, as a result, we are far less likely to be attacked. This can prevent violent confrontations before they start. One study shows women who’ve had self-defense training are angrier and far less scared at the outset of an aggressive confrontation than they would’ve been before the training, and that because they appear stronger and more confident, they are far less prone to being victimized. These women also found that in real-world situations their training helped prevent escalation during the early stages of physical confrontations.
Types of self-defense: Which one is best?
When it comes to selecting self-defense training, the first step is deciding which type of training is right for helping you reach your goals. You’ve got plenty of options.
Aikido is unique in that it teaches students how to use the attacker’s own force or strength against him. For women, that means they don’t have to rely on being stronger than their attacker in order to successfully defend themselves. Aikido tends to rely a lot on throwing and “locking” positions that help destabilize an attacker, giving women the opportunity they need to get away.
Krav Maga is used by the Israeli Defense Forces, focusing on defense techniques against both armed and unarmed attackers. One of the biggest benefits of Krav Maga is that it teaches students to reason, think and function in situations of extreme stress. Krav Maga students learn how to use their arms, knees and other body parts as weapons to ward off attackers.
Tae Kwon Do
Tae Kwon Do focuses on using the lower body for defense through a series of special kicks and other moves. Since men tend to have greater upper body strength than women, Tae Kwon Do’s focus on use of the legs and feet can help women gain an edge during a physical assault.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
The Brazilian version of the classical Japanese martial art Jiu Jitsu uses hand-to-hand grappling, which can be very useful for a woman handling a frontal attack. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu places much emphasis on ground-fighting techniques, which can help women defend themselves when they’re being held down or pinned under an attacker.
There are many options when it comes to selecting self-defense classes, and to get the most benefits it’s important to make sure you choose the right trainer. You can ask friends and coworkers for recommendations and looking at online reviews can also sometimes be helpful – but it’s also very important to look at a trainer’s credentials and experience, since those two factors will have a huge impact on your results. Ideally, you want a trainer with plenty of experience in multiple techniques so you have options when it comes to selecting self-defense disciplines.
You also want a location that’s easy to get to and offers class times that are convenient for your schedule. After all, when you’re really busy, it’s all too easy to skip a class if it seems too far or if the times just don’t work with your other obligations. You might also want to consider the makeup of the class; some women prefer a class that’s all women, while others find working with male students helps them prepare better for real-world confrontations.
Put yourself first in 2020
For me, and I imagine for you as well, it’s not always easy to put yourself first, especially when your life is jam-packed with other obligations. But the fact is, taking care of yourself should always be a priority — not just at New Year’s, but throughout the year. When you make your own self-care a priority, you put yourself in a much better position to take care of other responsibilities too. Self-defense classes are a great way to feel and be better, physically, emotionally and socially. Stop making excuses. Make 2020 the year of caring for you. Sign up for a self-defense class and experience the benefits yourself.
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