European Federation of Krav Maga USA
New Jersey


Training Self-Defense equals being able to identify and handle dangerous situations better than an untrained person?

Although the question looks to have a simple yes answer, it needs better evidence and where possibly scientific and non-anecdotal proof. I’ve made some research and found two studies that look interesting to support the claim above, although I’ll not focus on the content of the programs since not all Self- Defense programs are equal and many myths have been debunked via youtube or personal trials, let us consider that:
  1. programs are up or more than10 weeks
  2. practitioners’ train 3 times a week and each session lasts for at least 60 minutes
  3. scenario training exists as a constant and that mimics real live situations
  4. the curriculum contains fundamentals of striking, defense against unarmed attacks and ground techniques
  5. practitioners  are taken to emotional and physical stages and its response is effective in the context of the program
elle-se-degage-photo-philippe-juste-1520702526 (1) Here in “Does Self-Defense Training Prevent Sexual Violence Against Women? ” by  Jocelyn A. Hollander in 2014 , explains that:

“My analyses indicate that women who participate in self-defense training are less likely to experience sexual assault and are more confident in their ability to effectively resist assault than similar women who have not taken such a class.”

and that

“Women in the one-term (30-hour) self-defense class reported significantly fewer sexual assaults during the subsequent year than women enrolled in other classes at the same university, even when controlling for pre-existing differences between the two groups.”

post making trials of a trained group vs a non-trained group of women and following them for a period of 1 year – full study here. et-porte-un-coup-de-coude-fatal-a-son-agresseur-photo-philippe-juste-1520702526 (1) On a more quality of training based focus, Leanne R. Brecklin and Rena K. Middendorf in “The Group Dynamics of Women’s Self-Defense Training “  published in 2014 elucidate a framework for training environment that ensures progression from the practitioner view:

“The role of the group in women’s self-defense training was examined through the combination of interviews and non-participant observation. Based on interviewee responses, it appears that the dynamics of the group setting itself played an important part in not only enhancing the women’s ability to learn and successfully execute the self-defense techniques but also in building up their self-confidence and empowering them. This empowerment may be necessary to help the women overcome any hesitation to use physical resistance that results from traditional gender socialization. According to Hollander (2010), “self-defense transforms the way it feels to inhabit a female body. It changes what it means to be a woman” (p. 469).”

  What I also found really interesting is that this framework discovered through interviews, describes components that are not only particular to women’s classes but more fundamental used as success factors for learning under duress:
  1.  Realization of potential threats
  2. Bonding
  3. Fun
  4. Comfortable atmosphere
  5. Supportive of each other
  6. Significance of Vicarious Experiences Key components of many women’s self-defense courses revolve around watching the other participants practice and effectively execute the self-defense techniques. The simulations, where each participant is “attacked” by offender(s) and has to fight back until the offender is disabled, are particularly important in terms of increasing women’s self-efficacy and confidence in their own abilities to fight back. During these “attack” scenarios in the final RAD session, the other students typically watch from the sidelines (after completing the scenario themselves). After the scenarios have been completed, the participants sit together to watch all of the video-recorded scenarios. As a result of these vicarious experiences, interviewees reported feeling proud of the other women’s accomplishments and empowered by the other participants, in addition to viewing the age diversity of the class as vital to their increased self-efficacy.
  7. Proud of other women
  8. Empowered by other women
  9. Impact of age diversity Several interviewees mentioned that diversity in terms of participant age was appreciated and important for the class dynamics.
to read more in-depth please access the full study here.

alexandrine-a-appris-a-repousser-son-agresseur-et-professeur-steve-par-une-prise-aux-yeux-fort-douloureuse-et-efficace-photo-philippe-juste-1520702526 (1)

In summary

The group and its interactions matter, the content needs to be sharpened to deal with scenarios that exist (forget high-kicks) and delivered under experienced direction so that the use ( taking the program/ doing the classes) and consequent results appear on the 30 hours threshold within the conditions above.

I must also address that the effects of permanence are not seen here, that is, it is not because once you have trained that those learnings remain active, the authors had a scope/ time frame that addresses college life for a maximum of 2 years.

My advice, train more than 3 days a week and keept it challenging.

  Hope you have enjoyed this. Krav Maga is Self-Defense Made Simple Gonçalo Esteves – FEKM -USA