Self defense is an extremely important skill. It is even one of the main goals of people who take up martial arts. If you’re interested in learning how to defend yourself, you might be wondering if it would be better to take martial arts lessons or a self defense class.
Time and Availability
Your skills and ability to defend yourself depend on the amount of time you put into training / studying. Most self defensive classes run for about an hour for a week or two. In that amount of time you will have learned plenty of skills and techniques. However, once the class is over, that’s it. Unless you go out of your way to practice those skills, they will start to deteriorate.
Enrolling in martial arts will give you a consistent way to practice your skills. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. You will also have feedback from the instructors as well as the other students.
Using Martial Arts as Self Defense Training
There are thousands of martial art styles out there, so how do you know which ones will effectively teach you how to defend yourself? There are a few things to consider.
This is an oversimplification, but martial arts can usually be separated into striking or grappling. Striking for self defense is effective, but it can take time to learn how to develop the power necessary to do some damage. You also have to do quite a bit of damage in order to render your attacker incapacitated. This means you may need to break bones or damage organs, and there is no gentle way to do so. Grappling arts are also very effective, and it takes less time to develop the techniques enough for them to be powerful. You can also control an attacker with different locks and holds without causing major permanent damage.
Both will teach you how to protect yourself and your family. The right one is a personal preference.
But the Uniform!?
I’m adding this because it almost always gets brought up. Martial arts use uniforms, yes. This does not take away from any technique designed to fend off an attacker. Jackets, hoodies, and t-shirts are all pretty similar to our uniforms. Additionally, BJJ also has no gi classes. You can always ask your instructor how a technique would work no gi, and she or he should be able to give you a decent answer.
Personally, I recommend that people train in a martial art rather than take a self protection course. The martial arts will teach you far more and provide you with much sharper skills.