Just watching the news can make it hard to feel safe as a woman, especially when it comes to walking alone at night. Combine that with the #MeToo movement shedding a long-overdue spotlight on the rampant sexual assaults on women, and the need to know how to defend yourself has become that much more urgent.
We’ve rounded up local workouts that double as self-defense training so you can learn usable defense techniques while getting fit. Whether you lace up boxing gloves and step into the ring or train at a martial arts dojo, these workouts will make you more prepared. Of course, we hope you never have to use any of the moves outside of the gym.
Krav Maga, which translates to “contact combat,” is the fighting system of the Israeli Army. This self-defense approach is designed to build your stamina and strength and to teach you how to deal with a variety of attacks and assaults. The military-inspired method is great for women because it focuses more on technique than on brute force; for example, learning how to use your opponent’s strength against them.
Boston Krav Maga, based in Charlestown, offers specific classes on women’s self-defense as well as situational training for active-shooter scenarios, muggings, sexual assault, and more. You can take a free trial class to see if you like the system before signing up for a membership.
As a combat sport, boxing has roots all the way to Ancient Greece. And while there won’t be a referee calling fouls if you’re ever in a real-world self-defense scenario, boxing does teach important techniques like anticipating your opponent’s blows, bobbing and weaving, and striking strategically. It also provides a hard-core, full-body workout.
Almost half the members at The Ring Boxing Club are women. Trainers who have been amateur and professional boxers themselves teach the classes, and they’re not cutting you any slack. The club says to expect an exhaustive, exhilarating workout. The weekly schedule includes workout classes, sparring classes, and technique classes, so you can mix and match to your own needs.
Martial arts provide a unique blend of training that’s designed to strengthen the body, mind, and spirit. You’ll receive a rigorous workout, self-defense techniques, and a meditative space for self-reflection. If you’re looking for something that combines the inner peace of yoga with a more intense workout and the one-two punch attackers won’t suspect, martial arts may be the right choice.
There are many styles of martial arts to choose from, each focusing on a different skill set. Brazilian jiujitsu/judo, taught at Broadway Jiu-Jitsu in South Boston, places particular emphasis on cardio and strength training. If you’re the competitive type, the dojo offers opportunities to attend competitions where you can practice your skills in sparring matches with other students.
If you’ve already got a good workout routine but you want to learn straight-up self-defense skills, Boston offers a lot of classes and longer-term seminars.
Women’s Self-Defense Boston
Using the SEPS technique (Situation Effective Protection System), Women’s Self Defense Boston teaches how to avoid and identify dangerous situations and how to defend yourself once you’re in them. It draws on Krav Maga techniques to get you out of danger fast.
Charlestown Maritime Center
10 am–11 am, Sat.
200 Terminal St., Charlestown
Vine St and Moulton St stop on the 93 bus, on-site parking
IMPACT provides multi-day self-defense seminars where students learn verbal and physical strategies for defending against threats in situations with strangers and with friends and family. It also offers courses on boundary setting with verbal communication and negotiation and self-defense for trauma and abuse survivors.
Three-day course, Nov. 2–4
89 South St., Boston
Boylston T stop, limited street parking
The Rape Aggression Defense program is a nationwide course teaching self-defense techniques. The Brookline Police teaches the program of avoidance, response, and defense using simulation and hands-on training.
Three-night program, Nov. 18, 19, 25
Brookline High School
115 Greenough St., Brookline
Brookline Hills T stop, on-site parking