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When I was a six-year-old, my parents enrolled my sister and me in karate. It seems pretty common to get kids involved with self-defense classes, doesn’t it?
We have adorable pictures of us striking karate poses in the foyer of the house I grew up in, our faces (okay, my face) scrunched up in a six-year-old’s version of seriousness. My sister still laughs at that picture today.
But I didn’t stay in karate. As far as I can remember, I didn’t like it… So, my parents didn’t force us to continue.
Why Self-Defense is Important
Nobody wants to be unable to defend themselves should the need arise. Remember, it’s not paranoia if people really are out to get you!
Learning self-defense, especially as an adult, fosters self-confidence, self-discipline, and builds strength.
Self-defense is the training and techniques necessary to defend yourself when targeted by crime or violence. (Krav Maga Worldwide)
Probably the most obvious reason learning self-defense is important is so you can keep yourself and those you care about safe from harm.
In the SEAL teams, there’s a saying that when you’re under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion—you sink to the level of your training.
In a street fight or a locker room brawl you’re not magically going to know all the moves if you haven’t practiced them.
Watching kung-fu movies doesn’t count.
The only way to hold your own in a fight is to train until that response instinct is second nature.
Learning Self-Defense as an Adult
Looking into self-defense as an adult feels a bit intimidating. Fortunately, I found it relatively easy to start up again, 20 years removed from my 6-year-old-karate-self… Kinda.
I decided on where I wanted to go back in January 2019, but didn’t make the next move (trying it out) until after my employer hosted a workplace violence training by our local police force. The police officer who spoke to us recommended the studio I’d already been looking at… And the rest is history. Haha.
Choosing an Art
I did a lot of research into which martial art to try. For a while I listened to Jocko Willink’s podcast (it’s on the back burner for now) and learned about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from him. Jocko is a former Navy SEAL commander, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, and hella interesting to listen to.
But I also researched other arts, including Karate, Muay Thai, Arnis, and Taekwondo. I know there’re tons of different martial arts, but these were the ones offered in studios around where I live.
I ended up at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu because 1) Jocko Willink recommended it, and 2) some of my cousins practice it and I could ask them questions about it. Plus, they seem to like it…
Think about what you want to learn and do the research.
Choosing a Studio
Obviously, the closer to home, the better… But I also didn’t want to go to a sketchy studio with bad reviews just because it’s close by.
Another thing I learned is that there’re different kinds of Jiu-Jitsu studios. Some focus on competition, and others focus on learning basic self-defense. The Gracie University Jiu-Jitsu studios focus on the 36 basic Jiu-Jitsu moves most often used in fights.
One of the two Gracie University studios in my state is super close to both my work and home. Score!
Try Self-Defense Classes Before You Buy
If you can get a free trial (one session or more), take it! It lets you get a taste of what you’d be learning.
I signed up for the free 10-day trial offered by the studio I chose, and my first couple sessions went very well. The studio owner and head instructor is friendly, and the other students I’ve met so far are helpful for me being a newbie.
I’m already planning on making it part of my exercise routine.
I don’t want a repeat of six-year-old me in Karate, giving up and putting down my belt. If I’m going to dive in headfirst, I want to make my investment count towards something and buckle down.
It’s important to remember that the time will pass anyway… And if in six months or a year I look back and didn’t follow through, I’ll feel bad.
So that’s the last step in this whole process. If you’re going to try self-defense classes as an adult, commit to learning for a set amount of time—time long enough for the training to make a difference.