Self Defense at its core is simply ‘keeping safe’. Education in personal defense includes many more levels and much more information than just the physical strikes and kicks training. The most important aspect in keeping safe is mindset. Mindset will get one through and beyond anything, whether they have skill or not.
Self Defense has a strong, deep connection in the martial arts and karate. Therefore the two are often synonymous when in fact, they are very different. Martial arts and karate were developed in an age when violence had infinitely different social ramifications than today. History and evolution has created a vast crevasse between karate and self defense. Training in karate or martial arts is often training for contests. The self defense segment of a class is composed of techniques that have been handed down from instructor to student many times and usually without question. Without knowing how violence really happens, techniques are ignorant of the violent reality, in which things can go very bad very fast - as the target and as the defender.
A good personal defense program educates. That education includes the ethics of defending, understanding the body’s fear response, verbal practice, force law, levels of force, violence dynamics and what can be expected after a violent encounter. The skills practiced must be taken from a reflexive response, simple and effective without requiring memorization. But it also includes de-escalation, escape and evasion, and trusting your intuition. It is so much more than mere physical techniques.
Finding a quality personal defense program takes research. There are no magic moves or silver bullets when it comes to personal defense. Ask questions and trust your instincts when researching schools and instructors. Any program offering a “just... “ or “always...” solution to defense is one to be wary of. There is never a ‘just’ or ‘always’ answer when it comes to personal defense. The best anyone can do is raise the percentage points in your favor and you want the most accurate information you can find.