Self-Defense Classes for Teens & Pre-Teens
Advice, discussions, and reviews from the
Parents of Teens weekly email newsletter.
Berkeley Parents Network >
Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults >
Self-Defense Classes for Teens & Pre-Teens
Can you please recommend a self-defense class my daughter can take this summer before
leaving for college. She took one 4-5 years ago that was good then but it seems
important for her to become self-aware more now as she leaves home.
Impact Bay Area. Grew from Bay Area Model Mugging, incomparable origin
story, ethos, and trainings. Simply the best.
My daughter is almost 12. She's a very sensitive girl who
struggles daily at school with mean kids. I don't want her
to be the victim, so I'm looking for classes that will
empower her and offer assertiveness training/resilience
training in the East Bay. Any help would be greatly
I'm not sure if this is the type of program you're looking for,
but check out impactbayarea.com. Basically a self-defense
course, it also has programs that teach assertiveness. My
daughter loved the self-defense so much, she took the advanced
course and now sometimes is a TA for the classes (and she's only
18). Feel free to contact me if you want more info.
Does anyone know of a self defense class that might work
for my 12 year old son? He has been assaulted/mugged
walking to school and I was looking for something that
would teach him both awareness to his surrounding and some
skills to defend himself so he can feel safer. He has
tried martial arts in the past and didn't enjoy them so.
Kidpower does seminars and has online resources. They will come to a
an afterschool program if contracted to. They have permission/release
that need to filed by participants' parents and they do charge for
It was very useful for my child. Was recommended by other parents.
hope this helps
May I suggest that you take your son to an aikido studio and
have him try it for six months? Aikido is not offensive
(like karate) but defensive. It is gentle, philosophical
yet very powerful. Policewomen in Japan have mandatory
aikido training (or so I've been told). Go visit some
aikido studios near your home. I had to negotiate with my
children to get them to do aikido but it was good training
for them physically and psychologically.
Look into Studio Naga at http://studionaga.com/, where the
Indonesian art of Poekoelan is taught. My son and I have
gone there for a few years, and it is great. The youngest
students are toddlers, and some of the black belts are
teenagers. You should even consider training together with
your son. Self defense is taught from day one. Check out the
I cannot seem to find a seminar type program teaching self
defense to women. I prefer something more into physical
defense and perhaps one day. I have checked out IMPACT but
its too costly and I have been told not realistic. I am in
Check out Studio Naga @ 5850 San Pablo Avenue in Oakland.
They offer great self defense classes and already have
mother/daughter structured classes. You can do this as part
of a group or tailor it for you two and some friends.
510.652.NAGA(6242) or www.studionaga.com
I can't say enough good things about Kidpower/Teenpower/Fullpower USA.
They teach personal safety to people of all ages and abilities in a positive,
non-fear-based way. My kids and I have attended several levels of their
workshops starting in preschool and as recently as last weekend for my teen
daughter. They have classes that are from 3 hours to all weekend, depending
on the ages involved. Some classes are for families and some are for specific
age groups. They never turn away anyone for lack of funds, so contact them
if you cannot pay the full fee and they will gladly make arrangements. They
teach groups of random folks as well as going out to your school, church,
playgroup, whatever group you may want to arrange. Please look into it
I finally signed up for a 4 hour self defense seminar class
Im taking it on the 27th. After watching a few others in
order to choose, this one looks the most interesting to me.
The instructor, Lori Wallerstein, is tiny and the things
taught were so simple and obviously effective as I saw them
with my own eyes as she had this 300 lbs guy really going
after her to show the real effects. She also discusses how
attackers interview their potential victims and tells her
own extensive experience with violence and what worked and
what has not. I also liked the FBI studies and lots of stats
she talked about. I am really looking forward to my daughter
and I taking the full class on the 27th. I believe it is
offered every Sunday at Next Level Fitness on Grand.
Telephone is 415-990-9230. I don't think there is a website.
Ill report back once I go through the whole thing. My
daughter is 15---would love her to have some company her own
I am looking for 2 programs for a 13 year old girl in
1. A basic, confidence-building self-defense course
covering ''street smarts'', handling an attacker, etc.
2. Girl-friendly martial arts training, wu shu preferred
but others considered.
a Berkeley mom
For a basic ''street smarts'' self-defence course for girls,
you cannot beat Impact Bay Area's ''Model Mugging'' training.
See their videos and other material at
http://www.impactbayarea.org/. Although they were orignally
set up for women, they have courses
specifically for teen girls, and their techniques and
approach are the best thing ever. Our daughter Sasha took
this training at around the same age as your daughter. She
learned a healthy, confidence-building, and effective
response to street violence that has served her well ever
since. I honestly can't recommend it highly enough!
I found a news article about 17 years old female student in
Palo Alto who was kidnapped and raped. So I believe this is
really important for teenagers to learn self defense skills.
My daughter has been taking martial art classes for 8 years.
She started when she was nine, and she went to 4 different
dojos because we moved, and one of the dojo had a problem.
We can give you our thoughts about good martial art dojos
considering your child is female and 13 years old.
I believe there are two very important factors to select
dojos. Is the heard instructor a business man or a Martial
artist? And does he/she weigh body, mind, and intelligence
equally or focus on body?
If an instructor is a business man, he will contact you
immediately through BPN or other methods. I often saw
advertising posts right after someone put questions about
martial art. Also the lesson fee will not be reasonable. You
can exclude such dojos by visiting several times before you
pay. Before you select a dojo, you should stay for whole
lessons to observe the instructors’ personality as well as
students who are taking lessons.
If an instructor focuses on body, female students will not
have good lessons at his dojo. Such instructors often show
his philosophy that bigger and stronger body is superior,
and smaller ones or female can not learn martial art well.
They pay more attentions to bigger students while good dojos
and real martial artists do not discriminate students
because of their size or gender. Although it is not martial
art any more if mind and intelligence are ignored, I met
many such instructors at tournaments.
In addition, you should ask whether the instructors teach
sparring since you are considering martial art as self
defense. If they teach, ask about which level of students
can take sparring lessons. Some business martial art classes
teach sparring to beginners. It is dangerous for advanced
students who are sparring with them, because beginners don’t
know how to spar. It will take many lessons before students
can learn sparring.
You should also ask how many years it will take to obtain a
black belt. At a business martial art dojo, you can get it
in one or 2 years while it usually takes 4 to 5 years. When
you daughter starts taking martial art lessons now, she will
be able to protect herself late in her high school years.
She should take a lesson at least twice or three times per week.
My daughter liked Kojosho Karate dojo in UC Village, and the
instructors are real martial artists. They teach beautiful
kata (forms) including animal katas. The grand master who is
a crane master comes once a year and teach beginners to
advanced students. When my daughter was taking lessons
there, they didn’t teach sparring, but she learned basics
really well. She was often asked where she started her Karate.
Unfortunately, she had to move to a different dojo because
we moved. The second dojo was not a business type, but she
had to spar with beginners. Also the head instructor/priest
often mentioned that bigger body is better for Karate, and
small ones can not learn well. He started his dojo at his
church even before he obtained his black belt, while martial
artists need 4th degree of black belt before starting a
dojo. I believe it will take so many years of martial art
lessons before anyone can obtains skills and personality to
teach others. Therefore, you need to know about the head
instructor and other instructors before you select a dojo
for your daughter.
Although it is not Karate, there is an excellent Kendo
(Japanese Fencing) dojo in Berkeley and Oakland where a
grand master teaches from beginners to advanced students.
There is no lesson fee, but there is a dojo fee because of
the rent. They don’t teach self defense skills, although
they spar every lesson. Some members went to a world
tournament last year, and UC male team won against Japan,
became second. There was a high school student from Berkeley
dojo who became second at US Youth Championship. Each lesson
is really hard. My daughter said each lesson is harder than
5 hours of belt testing at a Karate dojo where she had been
or 300 hundreds pushups, but this is the ideal dojo for her.
We trust all the instructors there. Any ways, you should
visit many dojos to see where you can find instructors whom
you and you daughter can trust.
mom of a teanage girl
Any recommendations for a self defense class for an 18
year old girl who is going off to college in the fall?
I highly recommend Studio Naga in Oakland. They are a
martial arts studio that also teaches self defense.
Female instructors teach awareness and give non-verbal and
verbal tools in addition to the obvious physical tools.
What I like is that there are males involved in the self-
defense trainings to simulate situations to practice all
skills. It feels ''real'' and when it does tap into
something personal, the support is respectful and
5850 San Pablo Avenue
I second the recommendation for Studio Naga as a fantastic
place for self defense classes for teens! (and younger
kids as well!) I have seen 1st hand the grumpy teenage
girls, hanging back and giving attitude at the beginning
and by the end, they are transformed! Yelling and
empowered with their body language shifted to say, ''don't
mess with me!'' Great stuff!
I'd like to get people's experience with the Teenpower,
Kidpower, and/or Fullpower programs. I am looking to
determine if it's a suitable program for my almost 14 year
old son (and possibly me). Also, it looks like parents
organise the class (assemble a group and find a place).
How difficult is that to do? Any info would be helpful.
I attended an information meeting, and it seemed like a
rather cultish way of teaching kids (and everyone else in
the universe) street smarts. They have a system of
vocabulary for the skills they teach that they seem very
attached to, and also a strong belief in their system for
teaching street skills over all others. In addition, they
seemed very focused on getting the people at the meeting to
fundraise/donate large amounts of money to their
organization. Also, like a cult or Amway-type organization,
they work through social networks. I would investigate it a
little more before signing up.
I didn't see the original post, but I wanted to mention one problem I had with
kidpower. Lots of people love it and I think there's a lot that's positive about
it. I may be the only person in the world with this issue, but I felt that my
daughter was too young to be introduced to the idea that she could be totally
taken away by a bad stranger - even though we all know this happens in the
world. I told them how I felt about this right at the beginning of a 2-day
workshop, actually at a shorter evening thing for parents the night before. I
asked them when they introduced this concept, and they said day 2. I said,
''So if she does day 1 and I keep her out of day 2, she won't hear about this?''
They said yes. I had no problem paying for two days and only doing one. At
end of day 1 when I picked her up, she had already heard about strangers
coming to take you away in their car. Aside from whether anyone shares my
opinion, I felt they thought I was crazy, spoke condescendingly, and basically
lied. That's my experience.
I cannot speak about Kidpower, but can tell you my
experience with Impact Bay Area women's self defense,
previously known as Bay Area Model Mugging. This
organization offers classes and can also be hired if you
have a group interested in sponsoring classes. I feel that
it is important for teens to learn some street smarts and
rudimentary self defense, which is what the 2-Saturday
course taught. Therefore I worked with a teen organization
to sponsor classes. The response was positive from both
parents and the girls who attended. My oldest daughter was
extremely reluctant to take the class, and it was hard to
convince her to go. After the first session, she thought
it very useful and gladly went the second weekend. She
urged me to send our younger daughter.
Therefore, about a year ago I signed my younger daughter
up for classes that Impact organized. Arriving the first
Saturday at their designated spot, we and other parents
waited for some time outside. It turned out that the
instructor didn't have the key to get in. Why there was no
instructor out front or notice given--even a hastily done
sign on the front door--I can only believe was due to poor
organization. The class the next weekend was good. The
instructor was there on time and I believe my daughter
learned some skills. We did not attend the make-up second
class as we had a scheduling conflict.
I did not feel at any time that these people were pushing
fundraising or were in any way cult-like. One hopes their
organizational skills have improved.
I was interested in working with Berkeley High School to
sponsor Impact classes. I was told by the administration
that because the classes are fee based that it would not
be possible to offer them at BHS.
I have great respect and admiration for
kidpower/teenpower/fullpower. Crestmont School (parent co-
op, grades K-5) in Richmond had them give their classes to
their students when my kids attended Crestmont a number of
years ago. First they gave a presentation at the parents’
membership meeting so the parents would know what it was
all about and so we could learn some of the same ideas and
techniques as they would be teaching our children.
I thought their ideas and techniques were “right-on the
mark,” and they presented the material in a way that
emphasized a child’s/teen’s/person’s power and strength,
rather than making them afraid.
In approximately 2001 when I was involved in starting
Manzanita Middle School (a public charter school in
Richmond) we asked Kidpower/Teenpower about doing a class
with our students (many of whom live in less than safe
areas). They agreed to do the class for free (I believe
through a grant they had obtained) as the school had
essentially no extra money, and the class was very well
received. I thought this was very kind of them and feel
confident that it increased the safety of our students.
I had my own son take a teenpower class before he started
attending Berkeley High School. He wasn’t hot on taking
any class of this type, but liked it well enough and I
believe it gave him more confidence in himself. Parents
were invited to join the group for a short demonstration
at the end of the class, and I found the tips and
techniques presented highly valuable. Things about how to
keep from getting into a dangerous situation in the first
place, and specific ways to fight back and get away when
needed. The participants were able to practice several
specific moves on a heavily padded teenpower leader.
Also, the few times I have made a modest donation to the
organization I have received a handwritten note or a
personal e-mail thanking me. I highly recommend this
organization and suggest you peruse their website at
You might especially like to read their endorsements and
success stories under “about us.”
Does anyone have experience with sending their preteen/teen kid to
BAMM? BAMM is a an organization that teaches street smarts and
self-defense. It is fairly expensive and I would like some testimonials
before having my girl attend. Thank you. Trisha
I have no experience with BAMM, but my daughters took workshops with
Kidpower and we were very happy with them. I was so inspired by what they
learned that I also did a workshop. You can contact them through
I am responding to the BAMM request for testimonials. My daughter and
her best friend just finished the BAMM SF series 2 months ago. It was
terrific and well worth it. They feel that they can set limits, avoid
dangerous situations and have some powerful self defense rules should
they ever need it. Both girls are 12 and it also introduced the
concept of "dating" and how to manage the physical expectations of
I would gladly give a testimonial for BAMM for anyone of any age. I took it
myself a number of years ago, and found it astoundingly powerful, physically
and emotionally. I have a number of psychotherapy clients who I have
referred to it who have benefited from it greatly. The instructors are
well-trained to deal with both physical and emotional issues (which do come
up for older teens and adults) A psychology student of mine wrote her
about BAMM, and I got to know the director through her thesis project, and
was very impressed with her.
I have two daughters (now 15 and 19). They took the kids' course when they
were 7 and 11, and then each took the teen course when they were each about
14. The older one took it right after a friend of her's was attacked, and
she and her friends who took it with her found it especially empowering and
healing for them at a difficult time. Both girls still refer to it to
reassure me--"Remember, Mom, I took BAMM--I know how to say 'NO!' "
It is expensive, but I think it's worth the money, especially for high
girls. (And boys--I think they offer courses for boys, too.) You can go to
one of the "graduations" for the regular courses (I'm not sure about the
courses) to get a sense of what they're like--just call the office.
Rape Prevention Classes for Teens
My 14 year old daughter just took a self-defense class which I
thought was very good. It was given by BAMM ( Bay Area Model Mugging)
It was three, 3 hour classes. The cost was $120 with ten girls in the
class. We contacted them and arranged the class with girls we knew,
so we could arrange the time and dates to our schedules. They may
also have classes that are already scheduled that you can attend. The
girls actually get to experience trying the techniques taught in full
force on a very padded man.
There are two well-known programs, one is Kidpower & Teenpower,
with an office in Berkeley. They have a sliding scale. The other
organization, BAMM, Bay Area Model Muggers, is the oldest organization in
the country teaching padded assailant self-defense. They teach teen girls in
a three-part class. Although they don't often have classes in Berkeley or
Oakland, they can be hired to teach a class if you have 10 or more girls.
This can be organized through school or religious associations. The director
is Cori Courture 650 366-4006.
this page was last updated: Aug 13, 2012
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network