Self Defense

Practical self defense training is a cornerstone of personal development, empowerment, and safety for all people. Our instructors have over 30 years of combined teaching experience, including self defense, use of force, and de-escalation training with security guards, police agencies, and vulnerable civilian populations. Our teaching is focused on giving students concrete, simple tools and the psychological preparation they need to use them and deal with the aftermath.

Financial support is available for low-income students. Self-defense training is for everyone, and we will work with you to make it possible for you to attend. Visit our accessibility page or contact us to learn how we can help.

Free Introductory Talk

First Sunday of every month, 12:00pm - 2:30pm

This free, informal talk is the entry point to our weekly self defense classes, and lays the foundation for putting the skills you'll learn into context. You'll learn:

  • how the Canadian legal system defines and regulates self defense
  • what different kinds of violence look like, and how that dictates our response
  • how to spot and avoid dangerous people, groups, and places
  • how to make decisions under stress
  • a simple approach to verbal de-escalation
  • how to understand the Canadian National Use of Force Framework, and how to think about force escalation in general
  • what to do in the aftermath of a violent encounter

No prior knowledge or experience is required, and there is no physical component to this session. If you're at all interested in understanding self defense and violence, this is an essential starting point.

Weekly Classes

Saturdays, 2:30pm - 4:30pm

Each two-hour self defense class will develop the physical capability, technical skills, and tactical and decision-making skills you need to protect yourself and others. Our curriculum cycles through focusing on the internal and physical structure you need to fight well; the geometry of combat and the mechanics of how human bodies interact; the psychology of violence, including reading your opponent, distraction, and deception; and addressing the full tactical scope of an encounter, including challenges like bad terrain, weapons, and multiple opponents.

Every class follows the same structure:

  • warmup and workout (30 mins): strength, mobility, and agility development, and building proprioception and adaptability to a range of positions and circumstances
  • technical skill-building (30 mins): the physical building blocks of self defense ability, including power generation, striking and targeting basics, body mechanics, and more
  • break (10 mins)
  • tactical context and problem-solving (50 mins): games and drills to put your skills in context and sharpen your thinking under pressure, including problem solving and improvisation practice, operant conditioning, and stress testing

Women's Only Self-Defense Workshop

This program is open to all students who have attended one of our Introductory Talks or a longer self defense workshop at Valkyrie WMAA. Our instructors have experience teaching students with a range of bodies, genders, and experiences (including histories of violence and trauma). No prior fitness or martial arts experience is required -- our goal is to take ordinary people and make them more capable and able to defend themselves, no matter where they start.

Ongoing self defense classes can be paid for using our credit packages. You can pre-purchase yours today, or buy one when you show up for your first class.

Practical Self-Defense Workshops

Take a deep dive into the many sides of effective self defense, including legal rights and Use of Force frameworks in Canada, identifying potentially dangerous people and situations, decision-making, de-escalation, physical defense, and aftercare. Our two-day, 9-hour program covers a range of situations, from the mundane to the life-threatening, and helps you build a healthy, realistic relationship with violence and risk. In Day 2 of this workshop, students have the opportunity to participate in several tactical self-defense scenarios, and practice their decision-making, de-escalation, and physical response skills in a realistic context.

We offer mixed-gender courses, as well as a Womens' Only Self Defense Workshop. In this version, instructors Courtney Rice and Kaja Sadowski cover the same legal, psychological, and practical ground, with a special focus on the dangerous situations and social pressures that affect women most strongly, and the different problem-solving tools available to them. The single-gender course is run entirely by women, and is open to all female-identified and femme-identified students, in accordance with our gender accessibility policy.

Check our calendar for our next workshop, or contact us to request a custom booking.

Short Group Presentations and Workshops

Not everyone can dedicate a full weekend to their self-defense training. We offer 1 hour and 2 hour presentations and 2-4 hour workshops tailored to larger groups. Our basic sessions teach students how to deal with unsafe situations that are uncomfortable and unsafe, but not actually life-threatening. How do you escape or defuse a confrontation with a creep at the bar who doesn’t value boundaries, or a street harasser, or a problem customer in your workplace? There are a lot of intermediate, lower-risk techniques that you can use to address a dangerous situation without getting into a fight. Let us teach you how to use observation, verbal de-escalation, and simple physical techniques to solve the problems that you’re most likely to face.

  • 1-Hour Presentation: covers the basics of dealing with everyday dangers and harassment. Learn how to spot and respond quickly to a bad situation, what resources you can bring to bear against someone who threatens your safety, and how to take care of yourself after a confrontation.
  • 2-Hour Presentation: covers all of the material featured in our presentation, and adds in an expanded discussion of the legal context of self defense, violence dynamics, and verbal and physical techniques to address the most common issues.
  • Workshop: all of our presentation material, plus hands-on practice with our physical techniques and some mini-scenarios to put your observation, tactical, and decision making skills to use.

We're also always happy to build a custom presentation or workshop that's the right fit for your group, their circumstances and concerns, and the goals of your organization.
Contact us for rates (sliding-scale pricing available for non-profit organizations and community groups), or to request a presentation on a topic of your choice.

Talking Self-Defense in the Media

Want more of a sense of our approach? Check out the videos below to get to know some of our instructors and hear us share some self defense advice with Global News.

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