Best Online Self-Defense Classes

Gracie University Combatives Beginner Program is best overall

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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. This is where self-defense comes in. Although in-person instruction is ideal, you can still learn many valuable self-defense techniques at home.

This roundup includes the best 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.

6 Best Online Self-Defense Classes of 2023

Best Overall : Gracie University Combatives Beginner Program


Gracie University

Gracie University

Key Specs:
  • Price: $189
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Free Trial Available: Yes
Why We Chose It

Gracie University’s Combatives Beginner Program offers one of the most comprehensive online self-defense courses with options to add on a subscription plan that includes more classes during or after the course is completed.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Comprehensive program covering 36 lessons

  • Successfully completing the classes and passing the ability assessment earns Gracie Combatives belt

  • Access to other techniques and video instruction

  • 5-day risk free trial

Cons
  • Initial investment is more than other programs

  • Course takes 16 hours to complete

  • Might not be challenging for intermediate to advanced levels

Overview

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.

The course consists of 36 classes averaging about 27 minutes, and all can be completed in any order at your own pace. It costs about $189 for the entire course. 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


Key Specs
  • Price: Free
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Free Trial Available: Yes, entire course is free
Why We Chose It

SEPS Women’s Self-Defense class is a great choice if you’re looking for a free course that covers the basics of self-defense and teaches about how to avoid potentially violent situations.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Nine modules cover the basics of self-defense

  • Tips and techniques for avoiding sexual assault

  • Course is free

Cons
  • Modules require a lot of reading

  • Not as many videos as other programs

  • Recommended time for completion is nine weeks

Overview

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

Key Specs
  • Price: $29.95
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Free Trial Available: No
Why We Chose It

ProTrainings Online Practical Self-Defense class teaches beginners several basic physical holds and skills to escape from an attacker. It also covers the mental side of protecting yourself from an attacker.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Lifetime access to materials

  • Weekly video refreshers

  • Covers basic self-defense skills to use with an aggressor

  • In-depth lesson on how to use pepper spray

Cons
  • Not challenging enough for higher levels

  • Total learning time is only one hour

Overview

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 $29.95 and is appropriate for both men and women. The course includes 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

Key Specs
  • Price: $67
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Free Trial Available: No
Why We Chose It

She Warrior Self-Defense training is a great choice if time is tight and you want to learn in chunks. The videos are under 10 minutes, making it easy to watch them on your schedule. Plus, you get bonus content for meditation and kickboxing.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Short video lessons

  • Bonus kickboxing and meditation classes

  • Training focuses on both mental and physical aspects of self-defense

  • Money-back guarantee

Cons
  • Total instruction time is only 90 minutes

  • Cost is a bit high for the the amount of instruction

  • Does not go in-depth about physical holds

Overview

Instructor Jennifer Cassetta teaches women the basics of self-defense in her online She Warrior Self-Defense Complete Beginner Training program. From learning the ABCs 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 Groups or Organizations : Girls Fight Back


Girls Fight Back

Girls Fight Back

Key Specs
  • Price: Varies based on time of year, geographic location, and group size
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Free Trial Available: No
Why We Chose It

Girls Fight Back is designed for small and large groups to experience the dynamics of learning self-defense skills with their peers. It is one of the only organizations to offer live, in-person group programs in an online format.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Taught by women

  • Focuses on both verbal and physical skills

  • Review of improvised weapons and ground fighting

Cons
  • Mostly available for groups

  • Need to contact team to register a group

  • Per person cost depends on a variety of factors

Overview

Girls Fight Back offers online workshops for individuals or groups of any size. These are taught by women for women and focus 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 basics 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. The group tries to produce national tours based on geographic areas to keep prices lower, and they recommend booking in the off-season to get the best deal. The fee for an online program for groups, organizations, or colleges has no limit when it comes to audience size.

Best for Short on Time : Self-Defense Company


The Self Defense Company

The Self Defense Company

Key Specs
  • Price: $37
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Free Trial Available: No
Why We Chose It

The Self-Defense Company’s 60-minute class is a quick but action-packed course that teaches the pillars of self-defense for all skill levels.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Appropriate for adults of all skill levels

  • Lifetime, on-demand access

  • Offers a family-safe program for kids ages 5-12

  • Money-back guarantee

Cons
  • Only one 60-minute class

  • Must purchase more courses to learn additional skills

  • Lacks diversity in students and instructors in video

Overview

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 only about $37, 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.

Final Verdict

Gracie University's Combatives Beginner Program is an excellent choice for anyone interested in a comprehensive program. If you're a beginner, ProTrainings' Online Practical Self-Defense provides everything you need to learn self-defense strategies, techniques, and skills. 

Online Self-Defense Classes vs In-Person Self-Defense Classes

Online self-defense classes are convenient, flexible, and cover a variety of levels. Plus, most of the programs give you lifetime access to the videos and course materials. In general, you can expect to learn basic or entry-level moves and tips for protecting yourself in potentially dangerous situations. That said, online classes come up short because they lack hands-on instruction. In-person classes, on the other hand, offer real-time instruction with experienced teachers. Many of the teachers are law-enforcement experts who provide realistic scenarios, question-and-answer sessions, demonstrations, and feedback to students.

Frequently Asked Questions

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—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. Both long and short course 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 to 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. These include everything from how to identify strangers and dangerous situations to tips on how to respond in different situations.

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.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Self-Defense?

If you're new to self-defense, you can learn a few basic moves in a beginner introductory course. However, becoming proficient in self-defense is an ongoing process that will take months, or even years. If you're looking to master self-defense or a martial arts discipline, you'll need continued education and training.

What Are the Benefits of Self-Defense?

Learning self-defense can help you protect yourself and others from potential danger, but its benefits extend far beyond the fighting skills you learn. The practice of self-defense also builds confidence, improves your physical health, and teaches you awareness, as well as the right response to attackers.

Methodology

We looked at six different online self-defense classes from reputable companies. All of the classes listed offer instruction with some written content. We researched companies that allow students lifetime access to the videos and content, especially if the class has a fee. To be included, courses needed to be taught by certified, experienced instructors, with preference given to instructors with law-enforcement or personal safety backgrounds.

She has the will and skill

 Getty Images/Goodboy Picture Company

By Sara Lindberg
Sara Lindberg, M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on health, fitness, nutrition, parenting, and mental health.