Considerations When Training Self Defence For Women

Considerations When Training Self Defence For Women

Often when a self defence course is run there is limited time to get the message across. As with all martial arts there is, of course, a huge amount to cover but with a self defence course we are expecting to be able to defend ourselves by the end of it.

Likewise with Karate, kung fu or whatever, part of the deal is wanting to feel safer by being able to defend ourselves in times of danger. It is not possible to realistically be able to cover sufficient ground for someone to effectively be able to defend themselves against all kinds of attacker in a short time. However, it must be possible to be able to improve the chances of managing effective self defence.

A good self defence course, or self defence section of a martial arts style, should cover the following;

Awareness and avoidance – being aware of potential danger is the easiest way to avoid it, providing someone with the skills to spot trouble is essential.
Simple effective defence techniques – techniques both standing and on the ground should be learned. These should be simple in execution rather than complex using gross rather than fine motor skills.
Power production – in theory it is good to keep the training arena safe but once learned the delivery of a technique must be ramped up so it can be thrown with power.
Movement skills – effective movement skills are critical in both the delivery of techniques and to be able to fashion an exit from an attack. This is especially so for multiple attackers.
Pressure testing – once learned skills should be applied under increasingly difficult situations approaching what a real fight would be like.


Often self defence courses are part of a work commitment and may be run across as little as a single afternoon every six or twelve months. For me though the biggest crime is to ‘forget’ to include some form of relevant pressure testing.

It is all very well to teach techniques which allow a person to escape from any number of nasty situations but if the training attacker is only employed in a perfunctory manner then there is no way of knowing if the technique will work in the real world. While that is obvious it is important that techniques are practiced at a level where it can ‘fail’. If you do not try to get it to fail you will have no idea of how effective it is for you!

It really is key, as all the other bases can be covered but if something really doesn’t work under the pressure of a ‘live’ situation it really should be binned. You may very well be able to apply a gross motor technique with power on the move BUT when the stakes are upped and pressure applied it falls apart. In this case it should be dropped no matter how much you like it, or at least relegated to certain instances only, ie. those where you can get it to work. It is better to spend time developing techniques that work than to waste time practising a favourite skill.

If your self defence is important enough to train for it is important enough to train for properly and effectively!

Want more? The Epic Martial Arts Blog has tips on many martial arts skills while these two posts; and cover the effective women’s self defence training.