These Online Self-Defense Classes Will Help You Feel Empowered

Protect yourself.

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The thought of defending yourself against a potential attacker could easily cause you to panic. But there's a way to keep yourself safe should the situation present itself, you're prepared. That's where online self-defense classes come in.

Thanks to the many self-defense courses that are available online, learning how to protect yourself in multiple situations—regardless of your size or strength—is reassuring. Practicing self-defense techniques are vital to defending yourself if there was ever something to happen to you. Below, you’ll find the best online self-defense classes where you can learn the essentials for times when you really need it. 

5 Best Online Self-Defense Classes

Best Overall: Gracie University Women Empowered

jiu jitsu

BO BO / Stocksy

Why We Chose It: Gracie University is an established school that teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for all ages and all skill levels. In its Women Empowered program, students learn how to defend themselves against a dangerous threat. We chose this program as the best overall because of the stellar reputation of Gracie University, as well as the experience of the instructors. 

What We Like:

  • Very extensive course training
  • Established and reputable self-defense school
  • Opportunity to be awarded a Pink Belt upon completion

What We Don’t Like:

  • Instruction is not live
  • Course is on the pricier side

Women Empowered at Gracie University was once an in-person only program but is now available online. Its goal: to help women gain the confidence and know-how to fight back against attackers, should they ever have to face one.

This self-defense program teaches you how to fight back against the 20 most common attacks, using techniques from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Law enforcement and survivors of sexual assault helped Gracie University identify 20 of the most common attacks that a man is likely to use on a woman, including hair pulling, choke-holds, bear hugs, and use of a weapon. 

Unlike other self-defense programs that rely heavily on strength, coordination, and speed, the Women Empowered program teaches women how to employ leverage, timing, and technique to help them fight against a larger opponent, regardless of their age or athletic ability. 

The online course includes more than 20 lessons taught by Eve Torres Gracie and Rener Gracie and is a good match for all skill levels. Once you’ve completed the course, you will have the opportunity to take the Women Empowered test, where you will digitally record yourself and then upload it to the site. Your test will be reviewed by a certified instructor, and if your performance meets the Gracie University standards, you will earn a Pink Belt. 

The price of this extensive course is around $150, and you will have unlimited access to videos and course materials with purchase.

Best Free: SEPS Women’s Self Defense

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Luis Velasco / Stocksy

Why We Chose It: The SEPS (Situation Effective Protection System) Women’s Self-Defense course not only teaches women how to defend themselves against an attacker, but also offers background information as to why predators act and behave the way they do. This knowledge will help you better understand why and how you should respond to each type of threat in a specific way. We love that the whole course is free and offers extensive information.

What We Like:

  • Explanations of different types of predatory behaviors and how to react with each
  • Free, extensive course

What We Don’t Like:

  • Very few how-to videos
  • A lot of information to read

From rape and sexual assault to stalkers, home, and car security, and much more, the SEPS Women’s Self-Defense course includes nine extensive modules with loads of information you need to learn to protect yourself in a variety of situations. 

In this free program, you will work from module to module, reading about how to detect a predator early on, their motivations and methods for the attack, and de-escalation methods to use when involved in a verbal altercation. 

Unlike other programs that teach you how to physically defend yourself against a violent attacker, the SEPS Women’s Self-Defense course teaches women how to identify an attacker and their motives before a violent act might occur. The last two modules teach women about de-escalation tactics, as well as how to manage fear if you are in a dangerous situation. 

This course is free, and while it doesn’t offer many videos on how to protect yourself, it does include extensive written material to help you identify and safeguard yourself from an attacker.

Best for Beginners: She Warrior Self Defense

she warrior

Courtesy of She Warrior Self Defense

Why We Chose It: This course is perfect for anyone looking to get their feet wet in self-defense training. We chose this one for our list because it teaches viewers all about mental and physical training to defend themselves against attackers.   

What We Like:

  • Video-based course, so you can clearly see how each move is done
  • Teaches mental training and physical training

What We Don’t Like:

  • No one-on-one or live instruction

With She Warrior Self Defense, Jenn Cassetta brings her expertise to the masses with a four-part course designed specifically for women. Ideal for beginners who are new to self-defense, the course will guide you, step by step, through different scenarios (i.e. pinned to the ground, hair pulling, or choking) and how to defend yourself, both mentally and physically.  

The first section of the program introduces viewers to what they should expect from the course. The second section, titled, The ABCs of Self Defense: The Mental Training, teaches viewers how to be more aware of their surroundings, how to set boundaries, and how to communicate powerfully. 

The third section of this four-part course is all about the physical training of defense. From how to strike your target, get out of a bear hug, and attack during a chokehold, this section will teach you how to defend yourself during the most common physical attacks against women.

The fourth part is all about ground defense and how to handle being pinned to the ground. We love that each section includes multiple videos and tutorials so that you can see how to use each move to your advantage. 

This course costs around $67 and offers lifetime access upon purchase.

Best for Cardio Self-Defense: Academy of Self Defense

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Luis Velasco / Stocksy

Why We Chose It: Want to learn some serious self-defense moves while also getting a great, heart-pumping workout in? The Academy of Self Defense's (ASD) online classes feature multiple types of self-defense practices (think Krav Maga, Muay Thai kickboxing, and more) so you can get a great workout in while learning to defend yourself, too. 

What We Like:

  • Multiple types of movement available in the membership
  • Great workout while learning self-defense strategies
  • Free two-week trial period
  • More than 1,000 videos on demand to choose from

What We Don’t Like:

  • Might not get as in-depth self-defense movement instruction as other classes

Get in shape at home while also learning some serious self-defense moves with the Academy of Self Defense's online classes. This subscription service offers more than 30 weekly, live online lessons, ranging from workouts like Krav Maga and self-defense to Muay Thai kickboxing and fitness and strength training. If you aren’t able to join a live session, ASD Online offers access to more than 1,000 videos on demand, so that you can continue your practice at any time. 

Through the Academy of Self Defense's online program, you will learn from professional instructors the exercises, techniques, and drills you need to build your body and learn self-defense. Plus, you’ll increase your heart rate and get a workout in with each session, too. Classes are accessible to all ages (there are even offerings for kids), skill levels, and physical abilities, so even if you aren’t in the greatest shape, you’ll still be able to power through these lessons.  

The Academy of Self Defense offers its online classes for free for a two-week trial period. After the trial, the charge is around $39 a month.

Best for Saving Time: Nick Drossos Defensive Tactics

self defense 3

Luis Velasco / Stocksy

Why We Chose It: With one of the top self-defense channels on YouTube, Nick Drossos uses his knowledge of self-defense to teach viewers how to protect themselves in realistic situations We chose these classes because they are relatively short and to the point—so if you only have 20 minutes, but want to learn how to kick like a cobra, these videos are for you. 

What We Like:

  • Clear, concise videos
  • Targeted for all genders and ages, including kids
  • Free videos

What We Don’t Like:

  • No one-on-one instruction
  • Not specifically geared towards women
  • Not a structured self-defense course 

Want to learn some self-defense moves, but don’t have much time? Nick Drossos teaches a wide range of self-defense tactics and mindset coaching on his popular YouTube channel, Nick Drossos Defensive Tactics. With more than 380,000 subscribers, Nick will teach you everything from rape prevention defense to self-defense strikes to how to defend yourself in a riot, and much more. 

Not only are these videos free, but they are also pretty short, so if you’re looking to slowly build up your self-defense knowledge over time, you could take 20 minutes a day watching one video and learning moves from Nick. His YouTube channel is a great option if you’re in need of self-defense training, but don’t have the time and/or money to fully invest in a course.

The Bottom Line

Learning self-defense moves could potentially save your life. The self-defense class you choose really depends on how much you’re willing to spend, how much time you have, whether you want to learn the basics or more advanced skills, and if you're trying to work up a sweat.


For those who are looking for more in-depth training and skill-development, Gracie University and SEPS Women’s Self Defense are your best bet. If you're short on time and/or aren’t willing to pay a hefty price for an online self-defense course, She Warrior Self Defense and Nick Drossos Defensive Tactics are great options. Finally, if you’re looking to get a workout in while also learning how to protect yourself, the Academy of Self Defense is a perfect choice.

What Are the Best Online Self-Defense Classes?

The best online self-defense classes teach you everything you need to know about how to defend yourself in multiple situations. Attacks can come at any and every angle and in multiple scenarios, so it’s important to learn each type of defense in case you find yourself in that specific situation. When searching for a self-defense course, make sure you choose a class that is being taught by instructors who have a background in martial arts, law enforcement, or protective safety. 

Who Should Take Online Self-Defense Classes?

Anyone who wants to learn how to defend themselves against an attacker should take online self-defense classes. If you plan to take an in-person self-defense course, an online option might be a great intro to the basic moves, so that you’re a bit more prepared for your in-person lesson. Many programs are geared more towards women, but there are also many programs available for men, teens, and kids, too. 

How Much Do Online Self Defense Classes Typically Cost?

In general, online self-defense classes can range from around $30 to over $200, with some offered free of charge. Some classes will be a one-time payment for access, while others will require a monthly fee if you sign up for online live classes. 

How We Chose the Best Online Self-Defense Classes

When choosing the best online self-defense classes, we looked at the experience level of instructors, the variety of lessons and levels of instruction being taught, the length of courses, and pricing. We also sought out programs that were more geared towards women.

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