Personal Safety Training - Lone Working & Breakaway Specialists - Banner

News & Resources

Finding A Self Defence Seminar or Course

There are many Self-Defence courses and seminars advertised and available. So, how do you select a Course that will actually equip you with some Self-Defence skills?

Firstly let us question the rationale which purports to teach someone complete Self-Defence in 5, 7 or 10 hourly sessions, or perhaps a single day. Is this actually possible? The simple answer is no. This is not to say that the participant will gain nothing from such a course, however, no skill can be truly learned without many hours, often years, of practice. Frankly, unless the participant is willing to practice the techniques and regularly, think and act on the precautionary advice given, there will be little chance that any Self-Defence techniques learned will be available to be used in an actual situation. If that is so, why bother to attend? There is an old saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, however in the case of a violent attack, ignorance can be lethal. Being aware of and understanding how, where and why attacks happen, can be the difference between successfully defending yourself and ending up as a victim, and possibly hospitalised.

Next we should look at who would run such a course, and why. The reason why has the simplest answer; to earn money. This should not be a shock to you, if an instructor is willing to give up the time to pass on expert techniques which have often taken years of study to perfect, surely such a person is entitled to profit from these efforts. Provided that profit is not the primary motive and the course is neither a matter of cramming as many willing participants into the training area as it will hold, or showing a few flashy techniques that a beginner has little chance of mastering, then this should be viewed as a positive. It must borne in mind that the instructor is not providing a public service purely out of the kindness of his or her heart. If this is the case, then what kind of person runs such courses?


A wide range of instructors provide self-Defence courses, the majority are run by either Martial Artists, Ex Police, Ex Military, or Security Consultants. The course will differ in content according to the background and experience of the instructor. Where Martial Artists are concerned the course will usually have a bias toward the particular discipline studied, for instance Karate and Tae-kwon-do exponents are likely to concentrate on kicks and strikes, whereas a Judo trained instructor is more likely to focus on throws and grappling. Similarly Ex Police instructors have a tendency toward restraining an attacker and / or escape, whereas an Ex Army instructor would probably be more concerned with incapacitating, often permanently, the opponent. With a profusion of styles and content, what should you look for in a good, basic Self-Defence course?


The criteria for a good Self-Defence course begins with the credentials of the instructor ? this can be difficult to establish. The advantage is that most instructors will belong to some organisation, and this can be a good indicator of quality ? no genuine organization wants be associated with poor instruction or rip off courses. Check the credentials, and avoid any in which the instructor also head the organisation or association, this is usually an indicator that the instructor has simply formed an organisation over which they have control ? not a good sign if there are any issues later. A connection to a National Governing Body will usually ensure that the organisation is reputable. Moving on to the content of the course and the techniques that will be taught, further questions will include: How many participants in each class? What type of facility is utilised? Are mats or safety equipment used? Is insurance for the participants included? Is the instructor alone or assisted? Is the course based around purely physical techniques? Is the Instructor patient and helpful when questioned about qualifications and content? Does the course provide the possibility of a shorter follow up revision course? When discussing the course with the instructor, does this inspire confidence, or do you feel that the course is being sold to you? These are precisely the type of questions a well-qualified and reputable instructor will be happy to answer. In order to illustrate what should be considered before joining a course, an example of an ideal course follows.

The course should also be carefully considered in terms of the suitability; for instance, if the course sought is for a Women?s Self-Defence, and contains striking and locking techniques that an experienced Self-Defence expert might struggle with if under determined attack, then this may not be the best fit. In the case of such a course, the type of technique imparted should require little strength or expertise, enabling the attendee to pick up the technique quickly, and to perform this correctly with a minimum of practice. The key is to ensure that the course is suitable, and able to deliver Self-Defence techniques that match the requirements of each individual participant.


The ideal course probably takes place at the local Sport Centre, Local Council Facility or gym where there are good facilities. The instructor has good credentials, is a good communicator and has lots of patience. During each lesson, which should last at the very least an hour, there are assistants to help with the explanation and performance of the techniques, and to demonstrate. The next thing on our wish list should be a short lecture on various topics relating to Self-Defence. Subjects covered might include such topics as; Avoidance, Prevention, Self-Defence and The Law, Fear and its Effects, The Psychology of the Attacker, using Everyday Items for Self-Defence, using the Voice as a Weapon, using Body Weapons, Safe Travel, Building Self Confidence, Avoiding Confrontations, Body Language, the list of subjects should match your expectations as closely as possible. Each of the lectures should cover the subject adequately, in particular prevention and avoidance; the tenets in Self-Defence should always be Avoid / Prevent / Act /Escape; however it must be realised that in a short lecture only a limited amount of information can be imparted. You should look for a course that suits your requirements and personality, therefore, if you are used to a high level of personal discipline, a course from an ex military professional may be preferred.


Following the lecture an aerobic warm up would be ideal before beginning to learn how to actually defend against an attacker. The techniques should ideally be simple, painful and able to be performed on a person who is physically bigger and stronger than the student. This is where the assistants come in, to help show individuals where and how the techniques work, on a one to one basis. ?One Time Finishing? strikes are useless in a Self-Defence situation where novices are involved and attempting these without the required skills may only serve to anger the attacker. It takes many years to be able to reach a level where it is possible to incapacitate an opponent with a single blow and even in these circumstances the success rate may not be high.

There are other means of Self-Defence available; these differ according to the country in which one lives. Personal attack alarms are legal worldwide. It should be noted that any item purchased specifically for Self-Defence is only worthwhile if it is to hand - an attack alarm at the bottom of a handbag is not going to be of help in an assault situation ? by the time it is deployed, the attack could have been carried out! In the U.K. it is illegal to carry any item which can be used as a weapon, specifically for Self-Defence purposes, but many everyday items may be turned to the purpose of defending one's self, should the need arise. Some of the better known are; perfume spray (into the eyes), a fold up umbrella (to block and strike), the handbag itself (to strike), pen (to stab and gouge), door or car keys (to strike and scratch). There are many other alternatives and of course any item, which can be thrown, may be used to keep an attacker at bay. Provided that the items utilised are not carried specifically for self-defence purposes, they are quite legal to employ in a situation where you may be required to defend yourself, another person or your property.


It should be clear that the best way to avoid an attack is not to allow yourself to get into the situation in the first place. Sensible precautions can, in most cases, greatly reduce the probability of an attack. Despite the sensationalist reporting which accompanies such attacks, few are committed in broad daylight in crowded public areas. Almost all attackers prefer the cover of darkness and to be away from interference when their sinister deed is carried out. You can also prepare for those times when you have no choice but to walk down a dark, quiet street, or traverse a subway. Preparation and visualisation are important elements in avoiding and dealing with attacks. With thorough forethought and planning you can ensure your own safety by dramatically reducing the risks.


What about the actual confrontation? Here it is important to remain calm, think, think again and act. The assessment phase is used to weigh up the reasons for the attack, the dangers that are presented, and to formulate a response. The assailant?s motive could be robbery, sexual assault, substance abuse fuelled rage or simply an act of mindless violence.

These different attacks require quite different, but appropriate responses. If robbery is the motive, is violence likely to follow? Are the money and credit cards that you carry worth the additional risk of violence? Only the individual in this high-pressure situation can formulate a response to these questions. For instance, making a decision to give up your cash and cards and escape unharmed is an option that can be planned for and responded to quickly.


Whilst it is clear that there is much you can do to reduce the risk of attack, such a situation may still arise. Under these circumstances you must be prepared to do what is necessary to ensure escape. Whatever your moral viewpoint with regard to violence, if all else fails, inflicting damage upon an attacker may be the only alternative. Be absolutely convinced that an assailant who has intent to injure you will not be put off by any moral argument or plea for mercy. There can only be one attitude to adopt when attacked, this is to escape at all costs, even if this means severely hurting the attacker in the process. You also have to accept that there is a good probability of being hurt yourself. In a violent assault, research clearly shows that the predator often has a need to dominate the victim through the use of violence. The key word here is victim: if you fight back effectively, you may not be viewed as a victim by the assailant and this will often trigger a withdrawal - and a search for easier prey.

For more information, or to book a Lone Worker Training Seminar, please contact us on 01279 419427, or email from our contact page.