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The world can be a scary place sometimes, if the news lately hasn’t already made that abundantly clear. Due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last year has seen a violent upswing in crimes like carjackings, smash and grabs and homicides. According to NPR, the Chicago police department reported a 50% jump in homicides in 2020 compared with 2019 data, and similar trends occurred in cities and smaller communities across the nation. Carjackings also jumped as much as 527% in some cities in the US, with other, less violent crime following the pattern. Mass shootings are on everyone’s minds again after Atlanta and Colorado suffered tragic losses of life recently, and the latest string of Asian American hate crimes hasn’t helped everyone’s anxiety. These acts have been disheartening, shocking and downright terrifying to hear about.
What’s one of the best ways to relieve anxiety? Taking action. Which for me has meant enrolling in an online self-defense course.
We’ve covered numerous self-defense weapons on Spy including pepper spray, bear spray and pocket knives. These items are great for carrying around in case an attack happens and are typically small and portable enough to fit in most purses, backpacks or even pockets. However, sometimes you forget to switch your pepper spray from one bag to the other, or you don’t have enough time to grab it in the moment. Possessing the knowledge of how to defend yourself in your mind, something we rarely forget at home, is incredibly helpful for those worst-case-scenario moments. When flight isn’t an option, knowing how to fight could even save your life, or the life of someone else.
Thankfully, there are plenty of self-defense classes where you can learn the moves, techniques and combative skills you need for effective self-defense. In most U.S. cities, there are many instructors who teach hands-on defense skills, and we would definitely recommend taking some classes. However, you can also find online self-defense classes on digital course sites like Udemy and Skillshare. You also no longer have to learn these skills in a martial arts studio or a class at your local gym — they’re available online and can be accessed anywhere, anytime at your convenience.
I’ve gathered the best self-defense courses I was able to find online, most of which are totally free. Enroll in one ASAP and walk a little more securely the next time you leave the house.
1. Udemy Self Defense for Beginners — Top 10 Martial Arts Techniques
This course is offered on Udemy and has a 4.8-star rating after 186 reviews. David Wong, a martial artist and 3rd generation Bruce Lee student, has taught over 8,000 students how to act quickly and effectively in the 10 most common weaponized and unarmed street attacks through this course. In it, you’ll learn military-grade Jiu Jitsu self defense techniques. Numerous variables exist in the street including the time of the day, ambushes, weapons, surroundings, etc — and in this course he teaches you how to respond in a variety of real-life situations. It’s available via a paid and free version, with the paid version offering things like a certification of completion, an instructor Q&A and direct messages with the instructor.
2. Udemy Women’s Self Defense Tips
This is a self-defense class specifically designed for women who want to protect themselves and feel safe in the modern world. You’d think this would be a given, but alas. In this course David Wong teaches women how to increase their level of protective awareness through drills that enable them to identify a potential threat in any environment. He also teaches the crucial difference between .a fight and a self-defense situation, two scenarios that require different responses. This course is also available on Udemy and has a paid and free version, depending on how in-depth you’d like to go with your study.
3. Gracie University Combatives Program
Gracie University has an excellent reputation for its professionally-led Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu courses that teach 36 core techniques of the self-defense method. They simplify everything into drills to help facilitate the learning process, and the fun, cooperative learning environment is excellent for beginners. No experience is necessary, and the course is thorough, with 23 one-hour sessions you can complete at your own pace. By the end, you’ll be walking a little straighter and confident in your ability to defend yourself against an attacker. You can access the program online, but beware it is pricier than other options on this list. They offer a 5-day free trial, after which the course will cost you a little less than $200. However, they’re currently offering it at a 20% COVID-19 discount to keep people safe.
4. Skillshare Street Smart Self Defense for Women
BEST FOR WOMEN
This Skillshare course focuses on self-defense skills for women and is led by Richie Smyth, a professional trainer and self-defense instructor. He’s a decreed black belt martial artist who leads this course alongside his wife, Tracy, who’s a former attack victim herself. They lead you through seven simple and “brutally effective” techniques for disabling an attacker and escaping common threatening scenarios. The class, rather than going in-depth about martial arts attack combos, focuses on quick and dirty methods you can apply in the moment, when you’ve only got a few seconds to act. There are 12 different lessons that all total 44 minutes total. Since this course is on Skillshare, the price of it is included in a membership to the online course platform itself. They offer a 7-day free trial after which you’ll pay $99.00 annually or $19.00 monthly depending on which plan you choose.
5. Skillshare Street Fighting for Self-Defense
BEST FOR THOSE SHORT ON TIME
If you don’t have nearly 24 hours on your hands and need self-defense skills promptly, this course is available on Skillshare and is a great option. It consists of five lectures that total 59 minutes, so you’ll be in and out in less than an hour. The course combines the self-defense teaching methodologies of Kung Fu, Filipino Martial Arts and Kickboxing, and simplifies them down into techniques you can pull out anywhere. The course is aimed at police officers, security guards, bouncers and anyone willing to learn self-defense techniques. Since this course is on Skillshare, the price of it is included in a membership to the online course platform itself. They offer a 7-day free trial after which you’ll pay $99.00 annually or $19.00 monthly depending on which plan you choose.
6. ProTrainings Online Practical Self Defense
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
This course from ProTrainings offers the basics in all things self-defense including overcoming fears of defending yourself, using pepper spray to neutralize an attacker and escaping. The course curriculum includes grabs, chokeholds, bear hugs and even mountain escapes — and dives deeply into each one so you have a thorough knowledge of all the ways to save yourself or someone else in an emergency. The course totals one hour and eight minutes, and you receive a certificate of completion at the end. The course does cost money, but they offer free weekly refresher videos you can get delivered to your email to brush up on your skills.
7. Self Defense Company Training Classes
MOST COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM
The Self Defense Company has one of the largest training libraries of exclusively online videos, modules and training programs aimed at self-defense. Their courses range from “60 Minute Self Defense” to a “Reality Check” course that focuses on nine simple and very effective ways at disabling nine of the most common attacks. They even offer a “Self Defense Training System” program that gives you access to over 600 lessons and drills taught via expert instruction. The prices of the courses varies depending on how much content and access you want, you can pay between $30 and $1,300 for their programs all of which are offered with a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. If you want one compiled place with all things self defense, I recommend checking out this program.