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Self-defense is more than knowing how to fight back again a physical attack. Participation in self-defense classes encourages you to think in terms of options and choices, develops your awareness and assertiveness skills and provides practice for physical self-defense techniques. A good self-defense class will expand the way you think about violence prevention, help you deal with your fears and enable you to feel more empowered in your life. With so many programs, how would you know which ones will best equip you to respond to or avoid an attack? To find out more, read our FAQ's, Criteria and Philosophy, and Self-Defense Program sections on this page.

What is Self-Defense?

Self-defense is a set of awareness, assertiveness, verbal confrontation skills, safety strategies, and physical techniques that enable someone to successfully prevent, escape, resist and survive violent assaults. A good self-defense course provides psychological awareness and verbal skills, not just physical training.

Does self-defense work?

YES! Self-defense training increases your options and helps you prepare responses to avoid, slow down, de-escalate, or interrupt an attack, and also empowers one to prevent violence. It is important that the strategies and skills deal with the potential violence from acquaintances and intimates, not only strangers. Women usually know their attackers, therefore it is essential that a person is training in how to deal with the violence that can come from someone you know.


Is self-defense training a guarantee that you will be safe?

NO. There are no guarantees when it comes to self-protection. Be aware of advertising hype, or exaggerated claims of success from marketers of guns, alarms, devices, and self-defense training programs. Be a smart consumer and find a self-defense training program that increases your choices/options and preparedness and is committed to helping you develop a wide range of strategies.

Do I need to train for years to learn to defend myself?

NO. A basic course can offer enough concepts and skills to help you develop self-protection strategies that you can continue to build upon. Self-defense training is not karate, although some of the techniques are derived form the martial arts. The skills and techniques do not require years to perfect. Certainly, practice is important and investing the time to review and perfect your skills can build confidence and increase your abilities. The key is to make a commitment to participate in your own safety and to do what is necessary to reduce risk and become empowered to act, rather than to be acted upon.

Should I take martial arts lessons? 

Generally- NO. Martial arts are a fantastic way to train, exercise, get in share, and gain discipline and self-confidence. But, all that said, many, if not most, martial arts classes available and taught today focus on children, belts, and tournament style competition. While all of this has value, the focus of martial arts schools these days is not necessarily self-defense, despite what they may advertise. While there certainly are some martial arts schools that have functional and practical self-defense application, that is typically not their forte and you should search long and hard before making the decision to sign up for martial arts lessons. 

What is the role of Mace, Pepper Spray or other 'devices' as self-defense aids?

Any device is useless to you unless you understand how to use it, and you have it ready to use at the time of the attempted assault. There is NOTHING guaranteed about any of these devices. None are foolproof, and none of them can be counted on to work against all possible attackers. Realize that anything you can use against an attacker can also be used against you. While some of the devices can be helpful in some situations, it is best not to depend on them and to be aware of their limitations. Your brain and your body are the best primary weapons that you have with you at all times. Everything else is a weapon of opportunity.

Should I get a gun?

NO. It is not advisable for anyone to "just go out and get a gun." Guns are often presented as the 'equalizer,' but actually guns can provoke more unintentional injury, accidents and unnecessary deaths than random car accidents. Ten children a day are killed by handguns, and several studies show that the most likely use of a firearm in the home will be against a family member or an individual known to the gun owner. There is a lot of debate surrounding the use of firearms as an effective self-defense tool, with little data available to support their effectiveness. Owning and operating a firearm should not be taken lightly, and if you are a person who is looking for a shortcut to self-protection, and are not sure about investing time in self-defense training, then gun ownership is certainly not for you. There are no shortcuts to self-protection, and guns are not a risk-free solution.


Where can I get self-defense training?

Since you are already reading this, you've already taken steps to find the very best self-defense training available. ABC Women's Self-Defense is the most fun, popular, and acclaimed programs in the area. Currently taught in 14 countries and 12 US states, our program has taught thousands of women and students the essential skills to recognize, avoid, and, if need be, respond to unwanted interactions. Go to our Self-Defense Programs section for more information on all of our classes.



Participation in self-defense classes encourages you to think in terms of options and choices, develops your awareness and assertiveness skills and provides practice for physical self-defense techniques. A good self-defense class will expand the way you think about violence prevention, help you deal with your fears and enable you to feel more empowered in your life. Ideally, a good self-defense program should reflect these philosophical points:

1. Women do not ask for, cause, invite or deserve to be assaulted. Women and men sometimes exercise poor judgment about behavior, but that does not make them responsible for the attack


2. Whatever a woman's decision in a given self-defense situation, her decision to survive the best way she can must be respected. Self-defense classes should not be used as judgment against a victim/survivor.


3. Good self-defense programs do not tell an individual what she "should" or "should not" do. A good program offers options, techniques, and a way of analyzing situations, including a full range of strategy-building. A program may point out what usually works best in most situations, but each situation is unique, and the final decision rests with the person actually confronted by the situation.

Criteria for a Good Self-Defense Program


1. Women Only classes

Since women are more vulnerable to sexual assault, you may be interested in training that is designed specifically for women. Here's what the best women's self-defense training offers:

  • Awareness, safety strategies, assertiveness skills and physical self-defense techniques.

  • Awareness of specific vulnerabilities and issues of women and girls.

  • Classes taught with women's experiences, strength and capabilities in mind.


2. Size up before you sign up.

In selecting a self-defense course, observe a class or at least talk to the instructor about the philosophy of the class. You can also talk to students in the class or someone who has taken the course. Keep in mind that a self-defense class in not the same as a martial arts course, though some of the skills taught may be derived from the martial arts. Evaluate a prospective source using the following criteria:

  • Does the class emphasize rape prevention, including potential assaults by dates and acquaintances as well as assaults by strangers?

  • Is awareness training stressed as an important part of the class?

  • Is assertiveness training stressed as an important part of the class?

  • Are the physical techniques simple and easy to remember?

  • Is care taken to allow class members the option of not participating in any practices or role plays that may re-stimulate trauma or fear?


3. Professional Instruction

The skill and experience of the instructors will make all the difference in a good self-defense program. Before signing up, ask yourself these important questions:

  • Is the instructor respectful and encouraging?

  • Does she or he respect the experiences and fears that women, in particular, have about violence?

  • Is the instructor mindful of the safety of the participants?

Committed to the prevention of violence against women and to community education, ABC Women's Self-Defense offers self-defense programs to women, high schools, college, professionals, corporations, small businesses, families, friends, and community organizations. Th most fun, popular, and acclaimed program of it's kind in the area, ABC is designed to empower women, build confidence, and instill self-esteem in order to help prevent crime and victimization.


ABC Women's Self-Defense is presented in 3-hour classes as a means to empower women, break the myths surrounding violence against women, and develop simple, easy-to-use self-defense techniques. The program is divided into 3 segments:

1. Awareness - The foundation of prevention, assault prevention must begin with education. In this segment participants learn the latest facts, figures, and statistics about assault, the risk of and chances they might become a victim, what an attacker looks for and what an attacker wants to avoid in a potential victim. We offer valuable information and discuss the myths and misconceptions of self-defense and assaults against women. Participants will learn how to maintain awareness of their daily environment and decrease their potential for being targeted for assault.


2. Boundaries - The most effective prevention, assertiveness is one of the most effective techniques in avoiding assault. An assertive response may prevent as much as 80% of potential attacks. Participants will practice using assertive body language, eye contact, and and verbal confrontation skills.


3. Contact - This section focuses on developing basic physical self-defense techniques which empower you to create an environment and opportunity to get away. This section includes escapes from grabs, chokes, striking and kicking techniques, and techniques from the ground. The techniques taught are simple, easy to learn, and can be modified to each individual's ability. Also in this sections, there is a practical application exercise allowing participants to apply the techniques learned against a real, live person in protective gear.  


In addition to programs for women, ABC also offers programs for:

  • High School and College Students

  • Business and Corporations

  • Community Organizations

  • Senior Citizens

  • The LGBT Community

  • The Muslim Community

  • and MORE!


Please see our PROGRAMS page for more info.


ABC programs are designed to be flexible in time and cost, with no woman ever turned away for lack of funds. Sliding scale and corporate and organization rates may be available. Our expert instructors have provided training for persons who are deaf, visually impaired, mild to severely physically disabled and/or developmentally disabled. Educational Seminars and/or modified versions of the self-defense workshops are available.


Personal Security Awareness Training (PSAT) for Businesses & Corporations Workplace safety has become an increasingly important consideration for concerned employers. Businesses forfeit $100 million in lost wages, sick leave, absenteeism and non-productivity due to domestic violence . Employers can help prevent violence before it occurs, an can assist their employees to travel and work together more safely. ABC offers a comprehensive safety training program tailored to meet the specific needs of employees at your place of business. PSAT seminars include classes in self-defense, travel safety, workplace violence prevention and conflict resolution.


"I attended the ABC Self-Defense class after work last night. It was excellent, fun, and worthy of every person to seriously give thought to attending this program! I found it to be informative, instructional, valuable, and a lot of FUN! I now feel equipped with intelligent, basic, do-able skills to defend myself. I did not have these skills before I attended this class. Now I do!"

"I took your class on Friday and can't believe how incredible it was! I really went into the class thinking it was going to be informational but not practical; boy, was I wrong! I was so impressed with your staff and how much information was disseminated. It is useful, practical, and easy to do!"

"I've been to a hundred of these types of classes as part of my job, and this is the FIRST time I've ever seen real, practical self-defense being taught! GREAT JOB!"

"Went with my mom as I am headed to college in the fall! Incredibly informative class with lots of hands on activities! Would recommend to anyone!”


“I learned so much in this class. The tools John taught make sense and are easy to learn. I’ll be back!"


“Took my two girls and it was awesome!! I recommend this class to any women and their mothers, sisters, daughters!! So many good tools!!”- Christine S“It is amazing how much you can learn in just 3 hours. I really got an amazing amount of both info and practical techniques. Thank you ABC!!!"

For more testimonials, check our the TESTIMONIALS page on this website

Frequently Asked Questions

Philosophy and Criteria of a Good Self-Defense Program

ABC Self-Defense Programs


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