Does taking a Self-Defense Course Matter?

In a 2013 study by a UO sociologist Jacelyn Hollander that looked at the outcomes for 117 college students who received some self-defense training versus a control group of 169 students who did not. Of those, seventy-five from the first group and 108 from the second agreed to take part in a follow-up survey or interview.


The results were very clear: a much lower percentage of the women who took the self-defense class reported incidents of unwanted sexual contact than the women who did not take the class.

In retrospect, I would think that to be a probable outcome.    In the past 40 years I have been asked more times than I can count if taking a short term self-defense course to be beneficial.

Let’s consider, does taking a hunter’s safety course, a driver education course, a first aid/CPR course prepare you for the actual activity of hunting, driving and saving a life?  Not that they aren’t valuable they absolutely are.  They introduce and help you to become aware of the skills necessary for these activities.  Do they fully prepare you though?



Would you rather go hunting for the first time by yourself with the lessons from your course or go on several excursions with a skilled hunter?  Would you want to be the person attempting CPR in a life threatening situation or have a trained paramedic there? The day after getting your driver license are you ready to get on the racetrack?

Obviously, we tend to value experience and when truly interested in a topic or activity we seek out the best instruction possibly.  We dedicate a certain amount of time to developing and improving our skills before we take on the challenge that the activity might fully present.

Unfortunately, we as a society tend to think of our personal safety to be someone else’s responsibility.   We first grow up our parents “protect” us.  We go off to school where the administration protects us. We get a job and the security protects us.  We walk the streets and the police protect us.   Someone is always there to insure our safety.   Unfortunately, I’m sure as you read this you can recognize the image of protection is merely that, an image.

Ultimately each of us in truly responsible for our own protection and self-defense.   We all are in some settings a “victim.”

For example: We go in to buy a new car.  If we are not informed and understand the ins and outs of buying a vehicle, we will be taken advantage of.  Are we not victimized by the skills of the salesman?  Not necessarily is he/she the bad guy but they do take advantage. They are doing their job making the dealership a profit.  However, a quick course in Finance might prepare me better for this situation.  If I take the initiative on my own to seek out information, to prepare for purchasing a vehicle-the outcome will be much more to my benefit.

The more we prepare for a situation, the more we consider the extent of our safety; Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, Financial, etc. We recognize that skills of self-defense are our personal responsibility.  No one can do these things for us. Sure they can help but when push comes to shove- we each on our own accord must step up.

Yes, I have dedicated my life to teaching self-defense.   Again, I believe every aspect of my life is a process of self-defense.  In a recent class I asked an adolescent why he wore a specific shirt and pants.   At first it was to protect him from the elements; they were warm, kept the sun from damaging him, protected him.   Then it was that they were stylish; all his friends were wearing them and it helped him to fit in- it emotionally protected him.  As we talked though I pointed out that the shirt material was rather thin and could tear easily-  the good point was it would allow him to get away if someone grabbed him.  Which led us to the pants-  I believe they are called “skinny jeans.” Aren’t they a little tight, did they restrict his running I had asked?  To which he admitted yes, tight-uncomfortable and he would hate to run in them.   Oh, good- a shirt that would tear easily so he could get away and pants that limited his ability.  Not good in a physical self-defense encounter.



In some ways the choices he made were protecting him- environmental and emotional.  However, in an actual encounter he was restricted by his choice of clothing.  Not that he couldn’t have defended himself again, only that his choices of defense had some restrictions.

In summary, everyone should take some form of self-defense program.  Something that increases their awareness.  Much like the ladies in the study.   Depending on your needs (which again, I believe are greater than you may realize) the time spent and you dedication to the development might be longer than you originally anticipate.  However, the ultimate rewards will also be greater than you had expected.


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