The Class: Lakewood Dojo within the Chamberlain Studios of Self Defense. Part workout, part life lesson, this class integrated easy and applicable self-defense techniques with a few wise words about common sense and safety tips.
The Appeal: This is a safe environment for learning self-defense. I felt more at home amongst the instructors or the attendees. I had a great time and got a pretty good workout. And, oh yeah, leaving the studio feeling super empowered wasn’t all that bad either.
The Instructor: Nick Chamberlain is a 10th-degree black belt, but he kept the class simple. His objective was to teach us easy-to-remember techniques that could get us out of dangerous situations. “Anything complicated that you have to go home and practice isn’t going to be much use to you,” Chamberlain says.
The Space: Lakewood Dojo is a quaint studio with just the necessities: a big padded floor and a mirrored wall. I’m not an expert on karate studios, but it fit more than 30 wrestling bodies at once.
Who’s There: Twenty female attendees. Thirteen instructors. That ratio beats every high-end workout in Dallas. One of the women I talked to had seen the free class promoted and decided to come. One teenager was there because her dad signed her up. The youngest girl looked to be about 8 or 9 years old; the oldest was around 60.
I loved the women I met there. Everyone was serious about learning self-defense, and I appreciated the respectful atmosphere.
How It Went: After a five-minute warm-up, we got down to business. Chamberlain and one or two of the instructors would talk us through each move as we watched along the back wall. We started small with striking and kicking. For these exercises, the instructors took the hits with football pads and even encouraged us to yell in their faces.
We covered what Chamberlain calls the “three scary positions.” All of these positions had us rolling around on the mat and–essentially–very gently beating up one another. Was it weird to have a stranger grip my throat? Yes, but it was a learning opportunity. I learned that you can push someone off of you by placing your heels on their hipbones. This prevents sexual assault and puts you in control. It also allows you to kick them in the face.
The Aftermath: After the lesson, we got to “Break a Board for a Buck.” I broke a wooden board with my palm, and, even though it was the tiniest piece of wood you’ve ever seen, it was symbolic. (Plus, it was the equivalent force needed to break someone’s nose, which was enough for me). Each “buck” benefits the Genesis Women’s Shelter.
Loved: Everything. I loved the women I met there. Everyone was serious about learning self-defense, and I appreciated the respectful atmosphere. There were times when we giggled because it felt so unnatural to beat up a man we hardly know, but–in general–the class was taken seriously.
Hated: That I just now found out about it.
Cost: Free! The fact that more than a dozen instructors dedicated their time to teach the free class speaks volumes to how Chamberlain runs his studios. You can tell they genuinely care about educating the community. Chamberlain Studios of Self Defense offers free classes that are often open to the public. But if you’re ready to start now, check out their daily karate and self-defense classes. The studio caters to adults and children.
Difficulty Level: Anyone can do this, and everyone should do this. It depends on how difficult your partner makes it for you. My partner was a sweet high school student who didn’t want to hurt me, so I didn’t have much difficulty escaping her hold. If you want a hardcore workout, just ask one of the black belts for assistance, and you will find your challenge.