When teaching women’s self-defense classes, I like to point out that there are several similarities between chess and self-defense. Self-defense, I would argue, has all the complexities of chess, and then some. Both require a degree of skill, discipline, and subtlety – you are pitting yourself against an adversary. There are consequences to every decision.

Defeating your opponent quickly and with as little sacrifice as possible is essential. It is a common misconception to believe there is a simple, step-by-step approach to winning fights. That assumption relies on a narrow, linear view of fighting. The truth is much more complex. For every move you make in a fight, your opponent, conversely, has an equal or greater number of responses which you must be prepared to confront and counter.

There is no secret technique you can learn to become a lethal weapon in a single one-hour class. The few techniques that could be gleaned in such a short time would give one only the smallest advantage if attacked. To truly be prepared requires more comprehensive training and practice.

Considering all this, Black Belt Academy of Prince Frederick is offering an 8-part self-defense series beginning March 22. These lessons are designed to be a crash course for women and will cover several areas: everything from the basics of striking and grappling to being assertive and using improvised weapons will be taught and practiced.

In the same way that you cannot expect someone to become a chess master in eight lessons, I do not expect to make anyone into a self-defense expert with this program. Rather, it is my intention to familiarize participants with the techniques and strategy of self-defense, which offers a fighting chance to escape an attacker.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to get you started:

The best defense is to avoid fighting, or scenarios where you think you will have to fight. Be aware of your surroundings and maintain what is known as situational awareness. Do not be distracted talking on your phone, especially while walking alone down a street or in parking lots/garages.

If you carry mace or pepper spray, go outdoors to an open area where you can practice pulling it out of your purse/pocket and spraying it. If you really have to use it in an emergency, you are going to be nervous, which tends to cause accidents. Practice will help prevent that. Also, if you carry a taser, check the batteries regularly.

You should practice yelling for help. Over the years, I have met several people who describe not being able to so much as call out for help when they were attacked because they were panicking. Practice what you are going to say.

For more information about the upcoming class, please call Black Belt Academy of Prince Frederick at 410-414-7530. These classes are open to the public and you do not have to be a member of BBA/PF to attend.

BBA Women’s Self Defense Class
Begins Monday, March 22, 7:30 – 9 p.m.
Series of 8 classes | Cost: $20 per class