The Importance of Learning Self-Defense as a Woman

image of a woman pointing her finger at a man on the ground in a black hoodie

When I was asked to write this article, I was excited and scared. I had so many ideas that I couldn’t decide where to start or what topics to cover. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to write something worth reading, so…I’ve decided to just start at the beginning.

I’ve never been attacked or assaulted, but as a teenager, I ended up on a predator’s radar and some quick thinking got me, and my sister, out of it. We were lucky, but it left behind the realization that I wouldn’t have known what to do had the situation gone south. I needed to learn how to defend myself and my family. It became even more crucial when my daughter was born, I recognized that it wasn’t just me that I needed to look after.

As I began my search for this security, my first thought was to ask other women I knew, however, it became painfully clear that a lot of women, like myself, have a false sense of security when it comes to their safety. I heard remarks like, “I’ll never be attacked because my husband is with me” or “I’m too fat and/or ugly to be attacked” or even “I live in the safest neighborhood things like that don’t happen here”. And I admit, at times, I was guilty of these thoughts too. But predators do exist. It’s a fact. Otherwise, we wouldn’t hear about violent crimes happening every day.

The sad truth is we live in a world where no one is really “safe” or insulated from the threats of the real world. It’s never 100% safe for us to go to the store at night, or meet up for drinks on Friday night, or drive a car with perfect certainty that we won’t be the victim of road rage. The reality is, we are all vulnerable and possibly at some point, when we least expect it, we could each find ourselves alone in a violent situation.

So, what do I do? Do I wait for a guy to come by and “rescue” me? Do I play the damsel in distress? Ha! Hell no! I want the courage and the knowledge to save myself. I want to feel empowered, confident and comforted knowing that I can protect myself. I want to survive. I am woman hear me roar! But how does learning self-defense do that? I’m glad you asked!

“What I do have is a particular set of skills….”

Liam Neeson – Taken

The protection of her family and herself is the most important reason a woman should learn self-defense. They should call it family-defense it would be more descriptive, personally, I just call it jiu-jitsu.

Jiu-jitsu is a smaller man’s sport, meaning it’s perfect for women. Men may be considered the “stronger” sex, but jiu-jitsu evens the playing field. It teaches techniques that allow women to use leverage instead of strength. This is pivotal in a life or death situation and gives you the advantage and the ability to escape. Notice that I said escape. The goal, when attacked, is to defend until you can escape and seek help, not stay and fight.

This discipline (jiu-jitsu) teaches women situational awareness and how to diffuse a potentially dangerous threat giving you time to escape a before it even starts. It’s always better to remove yourself from the situation before it happens, but if I don’t have that option, you’re better equipped to handle it and know how to use appropriate physical force.

“But Andrea what if they have a weapon?” Through self-defense training, women learn how to disarm an opponent. Good jiu-jitsu covers weapons and a variety of items that could be used as weapons. It wouldn’t really be self-defense if it didn’t.

“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Another added benefit to learning self-defense is that it gives you confidence. This can’t be undervalued.

When I first started, I had very low self-esteem and self-worth. What the world saw was a confident woman, but on the inside, I was anything but. In a world where women are viewed as the “weaker” sex, we often don’t know our own value. I know I didn’t.

Jiu-jitsu has built my confidence by allowing me to train in a safe environment while working through difficult situations, both physical and emotional. It has helped me push through roadblocks to become a better version of myself. It has also taught me self-worth, that, as a woman I have value and that I have the strength to defend myself and my family. That’s something that can never be taken away.

“Discipline is just doing the same thing the right way whether anyone’s watching or not.”

Michael J. Fox

Okay, you won’t become Wonder Woman (blame genetics), but you will learn a lot about discipline. Personally, I’ve committed myself to a minimum of two days of training per week, with the option for more if my schedule allows for it. This routine has improved my strength, dexterity, flexibility, overall body control and awareness of my surroundings. It forces me out of my comfort zone and encourages growth in ways I never thought possible. I find myself eating healthier, going harder in the gym, all so I can have a better jiu-jitsu game.

I’ve learned perseverance despite setbacks and failures. How to keep trying over and over until I accomplish what I set out to do. All these skills transfer into my day-to-day allowing me to push through challenges to reach my goals. I’ve learned patience in a world where instant gratification has become expected. Training has inspired purpose, not just on the mats, but in starting a blog and my daily habits. Most importantly, it has taught me how to stay safe so I don’t have to live in fear.

“A good example is far better than a good precept.”

Dwight L. Moody

When I started jiu-jitsu, I had just started dating my husband. Since we were in the same class, my eight-year-old daughter would come to practice and watch from the sidelines. After a few weeks of watching me have fun in class, she expressed an interest in attending, so we enrolled her in the youth program. Now that she’s headed into thirteen, we are transitioning her from the youth program into the teen class, and I couldn’t be more proud.

We’ve had the pleasure of watching her blossom from this timid little girl into a strong, confident pre-teen. She went from being terrified to try new things, to jumping on a wakeboard, taking kickboxing classes, and graduating from the retiree horses at the barn to a horse that requires a skilled, confident rider. She stands up for herself and her friends but has also learned when it’s best to let things go and diffuse the situation. All because of jiu-jitsu.

I have never sugar coated anything with her and never will, so she is aware of how cruel and unjust the world can be even if she doesn’t fully understand it right now. Jiu-jitsu is providing her the necessary tools to go out in the world and still be safe.

“Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Yoda – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Ladies, I know stepping into the gym for the first time can be terrifying and overwhelming, but it’s absolutely worth it. I want you to have the confidence to step out into the world knowing you can defend yourself and your family. We’re all there for the same reason and we build each other up, help push beyond preconceived boundaries, and become more than we ever thought possible.


Image of a woman walking down the street looking at her phone