Even athletes find that the classes make them more confident in every area of their lives. Two women who train at McKenzie Martial Arts prevented recent attacks without any violence. Adam Roberts, their teacher, instructs his students to be aware at all times and to hold keys like a weapon. One woman was walking to her car when she saw a guy who “seemed off.” She locked her door just before the man tried to open it. Such immediate reaction to a potential threat made her feel so empowered, knowing that she was prepared.
The other woman returned home to intruders. She grabbed an object as a weapon and yelled at the men, who then ran out. She said her heart was racing, but she felt confident rather than panicked. Assertiveness is essential, because upwards of 80 percent of attackers are acquaintances. “Those situations don’t start with someone jumping on you,” said Jocelyn Hollander, a sociology professor at University of Oregon who researches women’s self-defense. “They start with conversation and with the assailant trying to see if you’re vulnerable.” Ryan Kelly, who teaches a women’s self-defense class at UO, agreed. “The fighting techniques are just one small part of the overall strategy of a good women’s self-defense program.” Hollander’s research shows that women who learn self-defense feel more confident in every aspect of their lives.