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Why I Learned Self Defense.. (and why you should too!)

In my sophomore year of high school, the entire grade had to do something called the “Personal Project,” where we got to pick any subject we wanted and make a project about it, then presented them at the end of the year to show what we had accomplished. Most people chose to learn how to cook or play the guitar, but I wanted to think outside of the box.

So I settled on the idea of learning self-defense.

I scoured the internet for ways to learn self-defense, classes, and tutorials that maybe I could try and then document for this project. Eventually, I found a studio that was near me and holding a beginner’s class, so naturally, I signed up for the next available spots. I had somehow roped my mom into doing it with me, as I didn’t want to go by myself, and she was more excited about it than I was.

The class was early in December, and the roads were super icy and hard to drive on, but we eventually made it to the studio where the class was taking place. We looked odd, huge winter coats on while both wearing athletic shorts to be able to move around freely in, as the instructor sent in her email the day before. There were only about twelve people in the class, and the studio was small, so the instructor’s voice carried well. She had us line up against the padded blue walls on the end of the studio, and we introduced ourselves. The instructor talked about how there would be no judgment in the studio, and it was a place to learn and be uplifted while learning these strategies for self-defense.

We started off slow, learning the basics and going step by step with every move we learned. We learned the heel strike, the elbow strike, how to get out of a chokehold, and more. The instructor brought out her training partner, who was covered head to toe in so much white padding equipment he looked like the abominable snowman. One by one, we practiced the moves we had learned on him, still slowly, until they were fluid enough to be performed in real-time.

We all learned that this was a lot harder than it looked. We practiced and practiced until finally, the moves were all fluid and we could defend ourselves from an attacker without even having to think about it. Once we had all perfected the moves as best we could, we all sat back down on the padded side of the studio, and our instructor told us that we did really well.

I came home from the session feeling something I never had before. The more I thought it over, the more I realized that what I was feeling was empowered. That 2-hour class that taught me basic self-defense had boosted my confidence and made me feel safer than ever.

Self-defense isn’t just a confidence booster either. Self-defense can also help your balance. Classes like these are designed to teach you how to move your body in a way that will help you focus on those specific parts of your body that you have to use. When you gain body control and balance, you can better protect yourself. Similarly, self-defense is a great way to get exercise! It’s a fun way to workout, and it gets your blood pumping and your lungs working, which leads to a better functioning cardiovascular system and musculoskeletal system.

Along with this, I know that as someone who has anxiety, it really helped me feel more confident and willing to be in social situations. By learning and understanding the moves and tricks to be able to defend myself, I felt more at ease in situations where I didn’t know people. It can also be a beneficial tool for those who are college students and have to walk from class to class in the dark. Self-defense can help those students feel safer and it can act as a protective measure to make them feel more comfortable on campus at night.

As a whole, self-defense is a good strategy for future safety. Of course, self-defense should be used as a last resort, but it may one day happen that you find yourself in a situation in which you had to use it. If you’re looking to get into a sport or an after school activity, then self-defense is a great option for not only getting into shape but learning new things as well! Self-defense definitely helped my own self-discipline and confidence. These self-defense methods are often centered around trust and respect, in which you have to learn to respect yourself as well as others. By taking defense classes, you learn how to be focused and you will always take your personal safety very seriously. I made so many friends and learned so much while taking self-defense, and I’m sure you would too!


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