Q: What will I be expected to do during the class?

A: Our classes are designed to be fun and engaging even though we deal with serious topics.

During the physical skills section, you will meet in a mat room with Ryan. You will practice physical self-defense skills alone and with a partner. We encourage you to wear clothes that are easy to move in, but no special preparation is necessary. You do not need any prior experience or special skills to take our classes.

During the assertiveness/empowerment section, you will meet with one of the other instructors (Jessica, Justine, Jocelyn, or Peg) for a combination of short lectures, interactive exercises, and group discussions that will help you to develop your verbal self-defense skills, your awareness and intuition, and your understanding of the underlying causes of violence against women.

Q: I’m a survivor of sexual assault. Is taking a self-defense class a good idea for me? 

A: Research has shown that empowerment-based self-defense classes can be empowering and healing for sexual assault survivors. We aim to create a survivor-centered, trauma-informed classroom. However, we encourage you to be aware of where you are in your healing process, and to consult with a therapist or other advisor if you are not certain whether you are ready to take the class.

Q: Do I need to be super athletic to take a self-defense class?

A: No! The physical skills we teach are easy to learn and do not require a great deal of strength or skill. They can be used by anyone, from children to older people. If you have particular concerns (for example, a bad back or a chronic injury), consult with Ryan about how to adapt the skills for your situation.

Q: I have a disability. Is taking a self-defense class a good idea for me? 

A: Yes! Talk with your instructors so that we can make modifications that will meet your needs.

Q: I’m a trans woman or a genderqueer woman. Can I participate?

A: Yes! As long as you identify as a woman (however you define it), you are welcome in this class. We are trans-friendly, queer-friendly, Greek-friendly, geek-friendly… We’re just friendly.

Q: I’m a trans man, or a cisgender man. Can I participate?

A: At this time, the women’s self-defense class is designed for people who identify as women. People who do not identify as women are welcome in Ryan’s co-ed self-defense class, where he teaches many of the same techniques. We are hoping to develop a LGBTQ-specific class in the future.

Q: I notice that one of your instructors is male. Why is a man teaching women’s self-defense?

A: All our instructors are committed to ending violence against women. Ryan is passionate about helping women develop the tools to defend themselves, and has dedicated himself to building the most effective program possible. We believe that sexual assault is not just a women’s issue, and we value the contributions of everyone who opposes sexual violence.

Q: Does self-defense prevent violence?

A: Yes! Research on this campus and elsewhere has found that empowerment-based self-defense training can reduce women’s risk of violence by at least 50%. See the Research page for more information.