Are you a lover not a fighter? Self defense is perfect for you. Whether man or woman, senior or teen, self defense provides the mental and physical confidence to protect yourself in daily life. Simple techniques will save you. Andre Tosado of Defensive Fit in Union, New Jersey and Vinny Cruz of Cruz Fitness & Self Defense Systems in Los Angeles, California give the straight talk on how to hire a trainer and taking care of yourself.
What should you ask before hiring a trainer?
What type of training do they have? Andre wants you to inquire about their combative, martial arts, or military training. He says look for experience and read those reviews! Let the instructor know the kind of environment you want to learn to defend yourself in. Will you be living in a big city, a rough neighborhood, or maybe it’s for an isolated wilderness trip? Make sure they can help you defend yourself based on your needs.
Do they teach self defense against weapons, is a major question Vinny wants you to ask. Knowing how to react to a gun or a knife will save your life. Vinny recommends you ask what their focus is—teaching people to fight, or teaching people to defend themselves. He clarifies these are two very distinct mindsets: one is about winning, the other is about walking away safely. He wants to teach you to walk away safely. To get home.
Who should take self defense?
According to Andre, everybody should have some sort of defensive skill training, whether it be surrendering, complying, or knowing how to react in case of an attack.
More women need to know self defense, is the consensus from these two trainers. Andre also points out teenagers really benefit from the mental and physical confidence of self defense.
Sadly, most women don’t take these classes unless they have experienced a physical or sexual assault of some kind, says Vinny. He is a father to three daughters, and it pains him to see how many women don’t have basic self defense skills. Most his female clients start because they want to prevent another problem. He’s a big advocate for females being able to fend off unwanted advances, and would like to see self-defense be part of training for life, especially for young people before they leave home for college. Andre agrees, he says he often has female realtors take these classes after experiencing an attack, or wanting to prevent the possibility.
How much do self-defense lessons cost?
Defensive Fit in New Jersey has variable rates from $75-$200 for private group trainings, to $50 for a two hour private session.
Cruz Fitness & Self Defense Systems in Los Angeles focuses primarily on private instruction with rates at $40 per hour. He does teach private group trainings on occasion, which range from $10-$20 per person. Vinny strongly recommends ongoing training so your reflexes are honed.
Each trainer will be different, so be sure to clarify if it’s private or group instruction, what type of training it involves (weapons defense, etc.), and if there are package rates.
How long is it before people can defend themselves?
Both instructors want you to walk out of the class with tangible skills. The key is practice and repetition, so if you’re in a high-stress situation, you react instinctually from your training. Andre says this practice is the difference between freeze or fight. You need to practice to have the confidence to respond effectively.
Any knowledge is better than none. Vinny shares it’s both mental and physical training. You want to be able to react sanely and safely if someone verbally attacks you in an emotionally triggering way. Practicing is the key to preparation and prevention.
What does a first class look like?
Wear comfortable clothes. Show up prepared to work. It’s about self defense, and also about being healthy and fit, says Andre. He likes to go through a warm up and fundamentals the first 30 minutes, then each session focus on one, maybe two techniques—to make sure you really take it in.
Vinny prefers one-on-one sessions so he can tailor each class to the client. He’s noticed that timid folks (those that might benefit most from the training) tend to drop out of group classes if there are others who are more confident or more athletic. In private classes, he can work to build up the missing confidence that is a key part of the training.
Both work with weapons defense and reality-based defense. Vinny wants clients to know how to react if someone approaches them screaming. In his classes, they train for these high-stress situations, so if they happen, you are ready. His main goal is helping people Get Home. He doesn’t teach people to fight, he’s all about helping people recognize a threat, take action, and staying safe.
Any stories to share with readers?
Andre had a client effectively prevent a purse snatching. Using his environment-based self defense training, she knew that in the large city where she worked, she could use the glass of the buildings as mirrors to be aware of her surroundings. She noticed a man following her, so she crossed the street and then stopped and pointedly watched him, defending her space. He sped up, leaving, and she watched him come behind a group of young women not paying attention, and he grabbed a purse and ran. Self defense doesn’t have to be physical, Andre stresses, your number one self defense is prevention.
Men benefit, too! Self defense isn’t just for women! The reason these teachers advocate for more women to join, is they see men being more proactive about their own protection. The key to self defense is learning to think first! As Vinny says, your big goal is to Go Home Safe.