Want to Learn Self-Defense? Here’s How to Build Your Skills for Free

free self-defense classes
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Self-defense is one of those skills I hope I never have to use, but I want to be prepared just in case.

I’ve put off learning out of fear of not having extra funds to splurge on a pricy private class — and maybe you’ve been doing the same.

Thankfully, I just found out about plenty of FREE ways to learn how to defend yourself!

A few hours of your time could potentially save your life. Here are some ways to find free self-defense classes and resources:

5 Free Ways to Learn Self-Defense Techniques

1. Read About the Basics

free self-defense classes
Parker Knight under Creative Commons

Before I could dive into all the options, I wanted to get a sense of the basics. Where could I start?

This article from LifeHacker shared tons of helpful information, along with videos or photos to demonstrate the moves and methods.

Reading it helped me become familiar with basic self-defense mechanisms, which gave me the baseline knowledge I needed to consider which classes and courses might be a good fit.

2. Try a Free Online Class

free self-defense classes
Island Joe under Creative Commons

Some companies offer free online self-defense classes. Most of these resources focus on assessing situations to prevent attacks altogether, rather than showing physical tactics.

These classes can help you become familiar with the moves and mindsets in your own home. Maybe you and a friend or family member could learn them together!

Here are a few to consider:

After taking the SEPS tutorial and the Howcast: Basic Self Defense Moves videos, I understood how to identify an attacker, how to use pepper spray and how to properly punch someone without breaking my hand or fingers.

The SEPS video demonstrating how to use pepper spray was most useful for me. I never knew that you shouldn’t aim for your attacker’s face — it makes more sense to fill the space between the two of you with the spray, so even if they duck as they move forward, they’ll be impaired. Smart!

3. Call Your School’s Campus Safety Department

free self-defense classes
Barbara Cortez receiving instruction during the COBRA self defense course at MA Fitness, St Petersburg, FL. October 27, 2016 – Samantha Dunscombe – The Penny Hoarder

Some colleges offer a variety of free self-defense courses through their campus safety programs. For example, the University of Denver offers 10 types of classes, ranging from rape prevention to active shooter awareness programs.

If you’re a college student, call your school’s campus-safety office and see what they have to offer. If they don’t currently offer free self-defense classes, you may inspire them to. It never hurts to ask!

4. Call Your Local Fire or Police Station

free self-defense classes
Dave Stickler, a self-defense instructor, teaches his students gripping techniques. St. Petersburg, FL. October 27, 2016 Samantha Dunscombe – The Penny Hoarder

Some fire or police stations offer occasional free self-defense classes as a way not only to protect their communities, but also to bring them together.

The Portland Police Bureau, for example, has educated more than 30,000 women since 1979 through its free program.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and many stations offer classes around this time, so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

5. Check Your City’s Parks and Recreation Website

free self-defense classes
Carolina Wetzer and Katrina Baschuk wrestle for the fake knife during a self-defense class. St Petersburg, FL. October 27, 2016 Samantha Dunscombe – The Penny Hoarder

City parks and recreation departments are known for putting on free events and providing free resources for people of all ages.

For example, the city of Boise, Idaho, offers free martial art classes for youth that “focus on the development of self-defense” as well as increasing cardiovascular development and overall fitness.  

Check whether your city or state offers similar classes for teens or adults..

Kelly Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.