What’s a class like?

You questions answered

Group of women flexing their arms to show their strength
A group of teenage girls learning to defend themselves

What do the classes cover?

Every class, no matter how long or short, covers three areas:

  • Prevention and awareness: things you can do to prevent or avoid  harassment, abuse, or assault
  • Assertiveness, boundary-setting, and verbal self-defense: using words and body language to stop obnoxious or intrusive behavior and keep a situation from escalating
  • Physical self-defense: strikes to end a physical attack and get to safety.
You’ll learn these techniques through discussion, role-plays, exercises, and more.

This isn’t a martial arts class. You won’t have to practice for hours to learn practical skills. Even after the first class or a short workshop, you’ll go home with techniques you can use if you need to.

Can I do it?

Yes! Everyone can improve their skills and expand their options in case of harassment, abuse, or assault. This isn’t martial arts, and you don’t have to be fit to use the techniques we teach. They’re skills that everyone can use every day to keep themselves safer.

Also, all of our classes are held in wheelchair-accessible spaces. If there’s something else that would help you be able to participate, please let us know.

Defend Yourself teachers have extensive experience teaching people from all walks of life, including those with physical disabilities. They’ll work with you to adapt the techniques to something that works for you, your body, your life experiences, and your needs.

Who can take the class?

Two students at a workshopWe can organize a class or workshop for any group. We have age-appropriate material for ages 3 and up, and we teach people of all genders and abilities. For example, we have led workshops for LGBTQI+ college students, for adult wheelchair users, and for social service workers who have lots of contact with the public. (Find out more about setting up a class for your group.)

Most of the classes that we schedule that are open to the public are for people age 16 and up. Check each class description for details. We also have workshops for:

  • teens getting ready for college
  • parents and pre-K or elementary-age children
  • middle-schoolers
  • LGBTQI+ people
  • elementary-age children getting ready to go to school on their own (via walking or public transit)
  • people who have taken at least 8 hours of self-defense (advanced workshops)
  • and more!

Check our current schedule, and if you don’t see what you’re looking for, contact us to let us know and we can make it happen!

How do I register for a class or bring a workshop to my group?

Check our schedule of upcoming classes. Or learn about bringing Defend Yourself to your workplace, community group, Girl Scout troop, etc.

Two students holding their hands up in the "stop" position

Who are the teachers?

Lauren Taylor demonstrating at a workshop

Lead instructor Lauren Taylor has studied and taught empowerment and self-defense since 1985. She holds the rank of black belt in tae kwon do, a traditional Korean martial art. She specializes in teaching self-defense to women, to people with disabilities, to LGBTQI+ people, and to survivors of abuse and assault. She and other Defend Yourself instructors (meet them here) all have training in empowerment self-defense, in trauma and healing, and in teaching.


I have more questions. Who can I talk to?

Email us or call 301-608-3708. We’re happy to talk and answer any questions you have!