Our mission is to empower women with effective, relevant training in situational and physical self-defense. Relevant situational self-defense training covers awareness measures, dealing with street harassment, and tactics used by acquaintances to perpetrate assaults. Relevant physical self-defense training means a focus on defending and escaping the most common physical attacks on women.
The A.C.T. women’s self-defense program was developed in response to a void of women’s self-defense training that addresses the realities of violence against women. The A.C.T. curriculum discusses the dynamics of confidant assaults, domestic violence, confidant rape, stranger rape, assault, robbery, and abduction.
The curriculum that is based on how women are commonly attacked, which is significantly different than how men are most commonly attacked. Statistics on the most common attacks on women are not readily available. Details are buried in the text of police reports, and there is no effort in any jurisdiction to compile accurate data on how attacks against women occur. The most common types of attacks were identified through interviews with police, victims, researching serial killers and rapists, assessing victim recounts in news stories, and viewing lots and lots of abduction and assault videos.
The A.C.T. self-defense class curriculum encompasses threat awareness, understanding and managing boundaries, projecting physical assertiveness, verbal confrontation skills, exit strategies, and physical self-defense techniques to equip women with the skills to successfully resist and escape violent physical attacks. The objective is to help women be mentally and physically prepared for an encounter that could become violent, and to equip them with the techniques to help them get away if an encounter does become violent. De-escalation strategies, the degree of aggression warranted given a situation, boundary setting, and the self-defense mentality are integrated into every class.
The self-defense techniques included in the A.C.T. curriculum have been carefully selected from a broad range of martial arts disciplines for their effectiveness, their use of leverage, and their ease of learning. The objective is to equip women with knowledge of how perpetrators operate so they can avoid being attacked, and a robust tool belt of effective self-defense techniques that will help ensure they can get away safely if they are attacked.
The self-defense techniques taught center on the most common physical attacks on women (fact: men and women are, in general, attacked differently). The techniques drilled in classes and workshops help eliminate a panic response while building muscle memory, the unconscious response to a physical attack. A ranking male aggressor co-instructs to provide realistic practice to help ensure you can escape a real attack.Women who participate in women’s self-defense classes learn how to be more assertive and better stand up for themselves, which in and of itself makes them less likely to be victimized. When women learn to recognize and avoid risky situations and how to stop coercive behavior before it escalates, they can better avoid a physical confrontation. If there is a physical confrontation, women who have trained in self-defense are far likely to escape successfully, and escape without injury.
Why Every Woman Should Train in Self-Defense
Numerous credible studies document the benefits of women’s self-defense training. One survey of 60,000 women who participated in self-defense classes found that attendees were less likely to be assaulted (98.3% assault-free), more likely to successfully de-escalate threatening situations to avoid a physical confrontation (78.35% of those threatened with assault), and if assaulted, are able to successfully fight off their attacker (97%).
Many studies, including those by Ullman & Knight (2007), Reekie & Wilson (1993), and Kleck & Tark (2005), show that women who respond with verbal and physical and verbal resistance to a violent attack significantly reduce the probability that a rape would be completed. German commissioner Susanne Paul examined 522 cases of sexual assaults in the 1990s and found that fighting back had an 85% success rate. Irène Zeilinger, director of the NGO Garance, found that fighting back has a 90% success rate. Furthermore, the Kleck & Tark study found that tactics that are ambiguous and not forceful such as stalling, cooperating, pleading and screaming from pain or fear actually increase the risk of injury. Fighting back actually reduces the likelihood of injury.