Women's self defence
Taijiquan syllabus

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Self defence

Women often seek to learn self defence. They want to acquire the same fighting skills as men.
These skills are useful but they do not typically address the fact that men and women face rather different self defence scenarios.


These situations illustrate that women often face specific types of threat/conflict:

Domestic violence
Adult bullying
Unwanted persistent sexual advances (physical or verbal)
Sexist, insulting remarks, jokes, malicious gossip, banter, innuendo, swearing, name calling
Abuse of power or position
Sexual assault

Women are far more likely to be attacked by somebody they know rather than a stranger.

Size and strength do not necessarily determine a person's ability to defend themselves - small women have been known to successfully fight off a bigger and stronger attacker. Many women are fitter, brighter and quicker than their male counterparts.

(Barry Davies, SAS)


Self defence is taught as part of the overall taijiquan syllabus, but we do also offer occasional Girl's Night classes that specialise in training women-specific skills and scenarios.
These sessions explore realistic scenarios and a wide range of practical fighting skills that work.
Female students learn how to intuitively target vulnerable areas on a man's body. Counter-intuitive but logical, the training methods explore effective ways to 'reverse' dangerous situations.
Learn how to become dominant, rather than the victim.

Use what you have

The training is a mixture of psychology, anatomical knowledge, positioning, accuracy, opportunity and a willingness to actually do what is necessary.
Women are bottom-heavy; with large hips, thighs and strong
legs. This is where your power lies. Self defence for women is all about using your body effectively and comfortably.


The ability to defend yourself is important in modern society. There are many ugly situations in which conflict may arise.
Having the confidence and the fighting skills to handle aggression, bullying and violence is invaluable.


The side effects of unpleasant situations are fear and panic. These immobilise the body and prevent clear thinking. Self defence training encourages composure and mental clarity.
Instead of feeling vulnerable and exposed, you become integrated and focussed.


Many martial arts classes separate men and women. They even impose weight categories. In real life you cannot choose who will attack you.
In order to cope with a male attacker, women's self defence must address attacks from both men and women.


Training in our classes is fun, friendly and gently challenging. Many of the skills seem counter-intuitive. We will invite you to consider new options, possibilities and choices.
To drop long-held preconceptions.

Julia: "You think she'll get hurt?"

Dudley: "Probably, but she'll love it."

(The Bishop's Wife)


Self defence training begins with the fundamentals of effective body use and slowly moves through different levels of threat. Escaping from holds, evading and counter-attacking are preliminary concerns.
Eventually you must discover how to handle armed assailants and multiple opponents.

Beyond class

Self defence fighting skills will teach you to approach situations differently; especially at work and in the street.
Instead of responding to aggression with aggression (or fear), you see more powerful alternatives.
Coping with stress is good for your body and your mental health. The training will make you feel calm, confident and capable.


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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 09 June 2019