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Participation in self-defense classes encourages you to think in terms of options and choices, develops your awareness and assertiveness skills and provides practice for physical self-defense techniques. A good martial art or self-defense class will expand the way you think about violence prevention, help you deal with your fears and enable you to feel more empowered in your life.

Ideally, a good self-defense program should reflect these philosophical points:

1. Women do not ask for, cause, invite or deserve to be assaulted. Women and men sometimes exercise poor judgment about behavior, but that does not make them responsible for the attack

2. Whatever a woman's decision in a given self-defense situation, her decision to survive the best way she can must be respected. Self-defense classes should not be used as judgment against a victim/survivor.

3. Good self-defense programs do not tell an individual what she "should" or "should not" do. A good program offers options, techniques, and a way of analyzing situations, including a full range of strategy-building. A program may point out what usually works best in most situations, but each situation is unique, and the final decision rests with the person actually confronted by the situation.

Criteria To Look For

1. For Women Only. Since women are more vulnerable to sexual assault, you may be interested in training that is designed specifically for women. Here's what the best women's self-defense training offers:

Awareness, safety strategies, assertiveness skills and physical self-defense

Awareness of specific vulnerabilities and issues of women and girls.

Classes taught and designed by women with women's experiences, strength and capabilities in mind.

A focus on sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse prevention.

2. Size up before you sign up. In selecting a self-defense course, observe a class or at least talk to the instructor about the philosophy of the class. You can also talk to students in the class or someone who has taken the course. Keep in mind that a self defense class in not the same as a martial arts course, though some of the skills taught may be derived from the martial arts. Evaluate a prospective source using the following criteria:

Is the instructor respectful and encouraging? Does she or he respect the experiences and fears that women, in particular, have about violence?

Does the class emphasize rape prevention, including potential assaults by dates and acquaintances as well as assaults by strangers?

Is assertiveness training stressed as an important part of the class?

Are the physical techniques simple and easy to remember?

Is the instructor mindful of the safety of the participants?

Is care taken to allow class members the option of not participating in any practices or role plays that may re-stimulate trauma or fear?

Sensei (Heather) Ani has been training in Aikijujitsu and TenShin Aikido for more then 10 years, She has had to use her training more then one time while she was in Middle (Junior High) and High School. She is well aware of the dangers women, young and old alike, face in the real world. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Ani (Heather) Sensei.

For private women's self defense classes contact Ani (Heather) Sensei.