The 6 Best Online Self-Defense Classes of 2020

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Knowing how to protect yourself from a potential attacker is a skill set all of us should have in our toolbox. Mastering the steps necessary to identify a dangerous situation and ward off an attacker is at the core of self-defense classes.

Most traditional self-defense lessons are designed to teach everything from basic level de-escalation skills to full, physical combat techniques. Although in-person instruction is ideal, you can still learn many valuable self-defense techniques at home. So, if you’re ready to learn how to assess your surroundings, identify danger, and know what to do when confronted with a threat, we’ve got you covered.

This roundup includes online self-defense classes and programs from expert-trained instructors that feature strategies appropriate for all ages and levels. With that in mind, here are our top picks.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Gracie University Combatives Beginner Program

Gracie University

Gracie University

Gracie University stands out as one of the best online self-defense programs available today. It offers several in-person and online classes that emphasize how jiujitsu is one of the most effective, reality-based self-defense systems available.

The Gracie Combatives Beginner Program is an excellent place to start, especially if you are new to jiujitsu. It features 36 lessons covering positions like trap and roll escape, leg hook takedown, straight armlock, elbow escape, double leg takedown, and many more.

Since this is a linear curriculum, it’s recommended to take all of the lessons in the prescribed sequence. However, you can take any one of the individual lessons as a standalone class.

You have the option of purchasing all of the lessons for about $115 and taking them in the prescribed sequence, or you can buy any individual lesson for a one-time fee of around $10. Gracie University also offers a number of different types of instruction, depending on the student's skill level.

Best Free: SEPS Women’s Self-Defense

SEPS

SEPS

If you’re looking for a class that will educate and empower you and that’s also free, then sign up for the SEPS Women’s Self-Defense Program.

SEPS, or Situation Effective Protection System, consists of nine modules that walk you through topics concerning personal safety. You will learn how to predict, identify, and avoid violence before it occurs in a variety of settings including potential sexual assault, abusive partners, stalkers, muggers, home and car security, and more.

The course will also teach you de-escalation strategies you can use when involved in a verbal altercation. Although this class is geared toward women, men can also benefit from this free class, especially since it teaches you how to assess a situation to determine if harmful intent is present.

The SEPS Women’s Self-Defense online course is available to anyone with internet access. You can complete each module in the order laid out, or pick and choose the lessons that most apply to your situation. For maximum benefit, it’s best to go through all of the modules.

Best for Beginners: ProTrainings Online Practical Self-Defense

ProTrainings

ProTrainings

If you’re new to self-defense and want a quick overview of techniques and skills, ProTrainings Online Practical Self-Defense class is worth checking out. In a little over an hour, you’ll learn the basic principles to help you defend yourself against an attacker.

Self-defense skills covered in this course include hair and wrist grabs, chokeholds from behind, the front and against a wall, and various bear hugs. You’ll also learn how to escape an aggressor with a mount escape and between the legs position.

The course curriculum reviews common fears of self-defense, as well as how to use pepper spray and how to practice without a training partner. Every concept is covered from scratch, which makes it easy to follow for anyone, anywhere.

The ProTrainings Online Practical Self-Defense class costs about $90 and is appropriate for both men and women. Included are video training, a weekly video refresher, and lifetime access to materials.

Best for Women: She Warrior Self-Defense - The Complete Beginner Training

She Warrior Self Defense

She Warrior Self Defense by Jennifer Cassetta

Instructor Jennifer Cassetta teaches women the basics of self-defense in her online She Warrior Self-Defense Complete Beginner Training program.

From learning the ABC's of Self-Defense: Awareness, Boundaries, and Communication to all the beginner moves like standing and fighting from the floor, you’ll feel educated and empowered to embrace your inner strength.

The course consists of 24 short video lessons and lasts about 90 minutes. A few of the defense moves you’ll learn include the shoulder grab, bear hug, front choke, choke from behind, and the ponytail grab defense. You’ll also have access to three bonus lessons: meditation, a beginner kickboxing workout, and an intermediate kickboxing workout. 

For about $67, you get access to the She Warrior Self-Defense Complete Beginner Training course. The class is self-paced, which means you decide when to start and when to finish. Plus, you’ll have unlimited access to the course for as long as you like. And, if you’re not satisfied with the training program, She Warrior will refund your money within the first 30 days after purchase.

Best for Kids: IMPACT Personal Safety

IMPACT Personal Safety

IMPACT Personal Safety

While IMPACT held classes were previously held in-person as full-contact adrenaline- and scenario-based self-defense course for adults and kids, IMPACT now offers its training online for small groups.

It also leads classes on boundary setting and basic physical skills where students can practice verbal skills with an instructor role-playing as a mock assailant. All classes are team-taught by a female lead instructor and a male padded instructor.

The kids' online class teaches the non-physical aspects of self-defense, including setting boundaries and telling an adult what happened. Kids will learn skills that will help them stay safe with strangers and people they know. Instructors focus on safety concepts specific to being alone and how to keep a safe distance from strangers. Role-playing scenarios include bullying, peer pressure, and unwanted touch.

You can sign up for the kids' class online. The cost is roughly $30 per child. In addition to its kids' class, IMPACT offers basic and advanced courses online for men and women. Topics include what to do if confronted by a stranger and how to handle uncomfortable situations with people you know.

Best for Groups or Organizations: Girls Fight Back

Girls Fight Back

Girls Fight Back

Girls Fight Back is an online workshop for individuals or groups of any size, taught by women for women that focuses on the basics of personal safety and self-defense.

Originally designed for college women, the program combines core values, a fun and empowering attitude, and the best safety and self-defense methods available. Participants will practice both verbal and physical skills to help them feel more confident handling a variety of sketchy situations and speaking up for their boundaries.

Topics covered include safety tips, how to set boundaries, verbal de-escalation skills, and the basis of self-defense. It also offers a Students Fight Back course that is gender inclusive.

Girls Fight Back pricing varies, depending on the needs of the group or organization. For an individual or small group, a 60-minute class can range from roughly $75 to $175 per person. The service is are willing to customize a program and work with budgets whenever possible.

The standard fee for an online program for groups, organizations, or colleges with no limit when it comes to audience size is roughly $2,900.

Best for Short on Time: Self-Defense Company

The Self Defense Company

The Self Defense Company

The Self-Defense Company offers a series of self-defense training classes suitable for men and women of all levels.

Taught by founder Damian Ross and his instructors, the 60-Minute Self-Defense class is an excellent starter program that will teach you everything you need to know about how to protect and defend yourself in a fraction of the time of other systems.

Included in this course are lessons on how to stop an attack before it starts, how to break down every situation to its common denominator, how to control an assault, ground fighting without grappling, and more.

The 60-Minute Self-Defense class is on sale for about $27, which includes lifetime, on-demand-access. Plus, the class comes with a risk-free guarantee.

If you like the 60-Minute Self-Defense course, consider trying one of the company's other programs. Classes include a comprehensive Self-Defense Training System, Combatives Fast Course, Police Training Pack, and a Family Safe program appropriate for kids ages 5 to 12 that teaches the six rules every child should know.

How We Chose the Best Online Self-Defense Classes

Our picks for the best online self-defense classes are taught by expert instructors trained on self-defense strategies, techniques, and skills. We included classes for all levels, including ProTrainings' Online Practical Self-Defense, a top pick for beginners, and Gracie University's Combatives Beginner Program, an excellent choice for anyone interested in a comprehensive program.

To create this roundup, we also considered classes appropriate for children and families, with the IMPACT Personal Safety course being our standout pick for kids. We also featured a 60-minute class from the Self-Defense Company that is a perfect fit for anyone who is short on time. You can view all of these self-defense classes on a phone, tablet, or computer.

What Are the Best Online Self-Defense Classes?

When it comes to the best online self-defense classes, the first thing you should consider is skill level. Most classes are leveled, with intermediate and advanced programs often requiring a solid foundation in self-defense training. You’ll want to make sure and choose a course that matches your current skill set.

With that in mind, look for classes taught by instructors who have a background in law enforcement, protective safety, or martial arts. Another consideration when choosing the best online self-defense class is the length. Some instructors offer comprehensive programs with more than 20 lessons and modules, while others offer a short, introductory 60-minute overview of self-defense. Both options are beneficial, but you may want to consider a more comprehensive program, especially if you plan on doing any in-person classes.

How Much Do Self-Defense Classes Cost?

In general, online self-defense classes can range from about $30 to well over $200. The length of the course along with the topics covered is what determines the cost. In-person classes also vary and can cost between roughly $45 for a two-hour class to $400 or more for a more comprehensive program. There are also low- or no-cost options available, so check with your local community centers, college campus safety programs, and local police departments.

Who Should Use Self-Defense Classes?

Self-defense classes are often targeted at women, but anyone can benefit from learning strategies and techniques to stay safe. Many instructors offer basic safety courses to kids as young as 5 that include everything from how to identify strangers and dangerous situations to tips on how to respond.

You can also find courses geared toward advanced levels that focus on martial arts and combat that draws from disciplines like Brazilian JiuJitsu, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Taekwondo, kickboxing, and more.

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