I have always worried about how I would react in a situation where I was forced to defend myself. After attending Women’s Self Defence classes in Observatory though, I can say that I am no longer worried, I am prepared.

We all hear scary stories from friends and family about women and men being attacked in Cape Town. However, it’s about time we decided to stop living in fear of these horrible incidents possibly happening to us and instead use them as motivation to prepare ourselves for such situations in any way we can.

I stumbled upon Women’s Self Defence classes in Observatory, taught by amazing instructor and passionate martial arts fundi Jay, and I will never look back again.

Trusty instructor Jay.

Classes start at 6.30pm every Wednesday and usually last roughly two hours, and it’s best to bring a friend along and experience the classes together so you can practice moves you’ve learned together in your own time as well, although this is not a must. Two hours may sound long but the sessions go by in the blink of an eye.

It is difficult to mention all of the things I learnt from these classes, because I have simply learnt so much.

From becoming more aware, more confident, being able to better evaluate a dangerous situation, and even knowing what to expect from an attacker, it cannot be stressed enough how valuable this knowledge is – it could quite possibly save your life.

Not only do these classes make you feel more prepared for these possible situations, they are also a great way to blow off steam during the week and leave you feeling empowered and positive.

“We’d like women to leave our training with an understanding of the diverse situations that can occur but also that they have spent much training in response to each. That they know the both situation, the principals involved, and the solution, that they have enough training to adapt and respond effectively should they be faced with situations they haven’t trained.

We want them to leave knowing that they can truly defend themselves and others, which means the student gains a new sense of self-respect and confidence. The degree of a person’s confidence and self-respect are present in all their relationships and even their work, and decision making. So a change to these has deep effects. We’d like to dissolve the fear the fear people feel, we don’t want people to walk around feeling fear daily, and if people have been victims of violence we want to help them heal as best as our contribution will allow,” says Jay.

Instructions in progress.

I found the classes to be perfectly suited to each attendee because of the tailored lessons; Jay asks each student to personally think of a situation they fear happening and want to be prepared for.

From here, Jay teaches attendees how to prepare, avoid and overcome. Being exposed to a scenario you haven’t experienced before works much in the same way that dancing does; you’re better prepared for the moves if you’ve been on the dance floor a few times before.

Prepare to possibly get a few bruises along the way in these lessons, or for being a little (or very) stiff the next day from all the punching, kicking, elbowing, and all the other awesome techniques you get to practice.


A student practices her elbow attack.

Lessons should be taken seriously as you learn dangerous techniques that could really hurt someone and paying attention is important, but this is not to say these sessions aren’t fun.

It is great to learn alongside other women and experience a unique kind of camaraderie where you can feel each other’s motivation and enthusiasm as you learn together.

I would suggest attending as many lessons as you possibly can, because the idea that one self-defence lesson can teach you all you need to know is simply not realistic.

I found each lesson I attended focused on different yet equally valuable content, and I left each two-hour session feeling safer and more confident in my own power than I did when I arrived.

“Self-defence is an example of work which involves looking at problems, attempting to understand them, and then solving them. It is an act of taking personal responsibility and not delegating power to someone else, and in doing so growing and changing achieving a victory in the process. We believe there will be a radical shift in how some women feel about themselves and what is possible for them to be. We’d like to see a different kind of society and it starts with people being empowered, taking responsibility, and feeling more fearless,” says Jay.

Jay takes students through some floor techniques.

The classes truly put the idea of being attacked into perspective and help you realise the reality behind these serious situations and how best to handle them.

I can highly recommend Women’s Self Defence classes and I would say it is something that every woman should do, especially the dangerous day and age we live in.

“We’d like students to leave with a realistic respect for their own power which has been gained through their own efforts and training. By strengthening women, and how they feel about themselves and how they respond in situations, we would be strengthening a big portion of society on a very deep level, this will show positive effects in all kinds of ways,” says Jay.

If you’d like to level up your self-defence abilities check out their website below and get in touch with the instructor via email.

Website: wsdo.co.za

Email: [email protected]

Address: 10 Anson Street, Observatory, Western Cape, South Africa 7925

Pictures: Facebook/Women’s Self Defence

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