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Where in New York you can learn self-defense techniques for free: list of courses


Alina Prikhodko

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Hate incidents and crimes have increased dramatically during the pandemic. Following the Hamas attack on Israel, there was a second surge in violence. During these difficult times, it is important to be aware of laws and resources for self-defense. DocumentedNY We have prepared information about organizations in New York that offer free self-defense classes.

1. Academy of Medical & Public Health Services

The Academy of Medical and Community Health Services (AMPHS) is partnering with Pop Gym to offer a 6-week self-defense course to teach participants how to safely respond in the event of a physical or verbal attack. The course is open to people over 18 years of age and includes basic strikes and blocks, knee and elbow strikes, and defense against holds and holds.

Venue: Leif Ericson Park, 9th Avenue and 66th St. Entrance.

2. Free self-defense seminars for women in New York

Instructor FIT HIT will discuss current trends and changes in sexual assault data in Manhattan. Learn how, when and where to strike, awareness and street smarts, and the basics of Krav Maga. This course is designed for beginners.

Venue: FIT HIT Chelsea, 122 W. 27th Street.

3. Center for Anti-Violence Education Empowerment Self-Defense

Participants in this online course will learn tools that can be applied to a variety of interpersonal communication situations. From physical skills to verbal, emotional and social skills, situational awareness and self-help practices to heal from the trauma of violence.

Each session is trauma-informed and focuses on the experiences of those most at risk of violence. You can register for one lesson or a full course. All classes are free. If your workplace or organization would also like to host a self-defence empowerment course, please email [email protected].

4. Chinese Hawaiian Kenpo Academy

For nearly 30 years, the academy has offered free self-defense classes to New York City women. The course focuses not only on self-defense techniques, but also on ways to avoid becoming a victim.

Instructor Sifu Jack teaches self-defense techniques such as punches and kicks that will help you defend against potential attackers. This class is open to girls 14 years of age and older.

Venue: Street Community Center in the East Village, 638 East 6th Street.

5. Dragon Combat Club

The club was founded by a group of volunteers during the pandemic in April 2020 so that more people could learn self-defense skills. Free self-defense classes continue to this day. Previously held in Manhattan and Flushing, weekly classes have now moved to Gantry Plaza State Park (northeast of Rainbow Playground) in Long Island City on Fridays from 18:00 pm to 20:00 pm.

Self Defense Strategies

Asian American Federation with Center for Anti-Violence Education developed safety guide, which teaches ways to protect yourself in the event of violence.

  • Physical self-defense strategies: Use only in situations where you perceive a level of aggression that threatens your physical safety.
  • Safe position: If you are cornered, turn in a semicircle to quickly cover the distance and escape safely. Stay at least an arm's length away from the aggressor. Bend your body slightly at a 45° angle. Start backing up slowly. Keep your hands open, palms up.
  • On the ground: Use kicks to maintain distance.
  • Basic hits: The goal is to slow down/immobilize the attacker. These strikes are designed to cause serious damage to the eyes, nose, throat and knees.
  • Heel strike to palm: Strike with the palm of your hand, keeping your fingers pointed back and your thumbs folded. Target: nose and chin.
  • Foot stamping: Bend your knees and quickly stomp down with your heel. Target: foot.
  • Front kick: A quick kick by lifting the forefoot and sharply moving the leg back. Target: knees or shins.
  • Define behavior: Be specific about the behavior you consider inappropriate, offensive, or violent. Avoid offensive labels or sarcasm.
  • Slow down: To avoid “silencing” the person causing harm, adjust the intensity of their voice. The goal is to gradually “slow down” or speak in an increasingly calm tone. They may follow your lead without even realizing it.

On the subject: New Yorkers are often pushed onto the rails in the subway: how to protect yourself on the subway

  • “I” statements: Use “I” statements to express your feelings and wishes without being judgmental, so as not to put the person doing the harm on the defensive.
  • Lose to win: Self-defense is anything you do to protect yourself. Sometimes you have to make compromises to protect your safety or the safety of another person.
  • Say no: You always have the right to say: “No,” “Stop,” or “You can’t do that.”
  • Broken record: Repeat the same statement until the person doing the harm corrects their behavior or leaves the situation.
  • Ignore: Ignoring can sometimes become preemptive action. By choosing not to engage in conversation, you can defuse the situation. But don't forget about it. If the situation continues to escalate, be prepared to try a different strategy.
  • Go to “we”: Use the word “we” to create a sense of unity. When you form a “we,” the person doing the harm is less likely to direct their anger at you.
  • Interrupt: Interrupt or divert attention from either the person causing the harm or the situation.
Photo: IStock

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) Strategies

The goal of nonviolent communication is empathy, establishing contact with another person and with oneself.

  • Watch: Make neutral statements about what you see, without judgment.
  • Define the feeling: Express your own emotions, not what you think someone is doing to you.
  • Determine your need or desire: voice your needs without referring to specific people, actions or things.
  • Request: To get things moving, make specific and achievable requests.
  • Be a supporter: What to do if you see someone being harassed.
  • Speak directly: Respond directly to the person doing the harm or physically intervene if necessary. Be confident, assertive and calm.
  • Distract attention: take the harmer's attention away from the person being harmed or away from the situation itself.
  • Delegate: Ask someone else for help. Ask for help, resources, or assistance from others.
  • Stay longer: Check in with the person who was harmed after the incident. Explain to yourself and those around you why this happened.
  • Document: If someone is already helping a person in crisis, document the situation with photos or videos. Note: Never post or distribute a video without the consent of the person harmed.


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