How many hours do I need to train until I can feel safe?

The short answer is there’s a big difference between feeling safe and being safe. So perhaps it’s the wrong question to ask. 

The self-defense journey starts even before you step on the mat. It takes courage to start, especially when you don’t know what to expect, so the journey begins when you first pick up the phone to inquire about starting. 

 One of the most asked questions I get from women who call to inquire about self-defense training is  “Do you have some kind of a short but intense course, something like 3 days or a week? I don’t really have time for a longer commitment.” 

The answer would be similar to asking a nutritionist if you can eat well for one week and be well for the rest of your life. Or asking a dentist if it’s ok to clean your teeth very well for one week and neglect your mouth hygiene afterward. Can you be fit and strong & healthy by training for 3 days and stopping afterward?

People often don’t understand what it takes to BE SAFE. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is when the less you know about something, the more convinced you are you’ll be able to perform it well. Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all trying to discourage anyone from starting something new! I am just pointing out the fact that it takes time to master a skill. If you don’t use it, you forget it. It is possible to make a lasting change only over time.

 When you first learn a language you don’t expect yourself to lecture in front of a large audience or pitch an idea to your company’s CEO.  You probably expect to get by when buying coffee or having a polite conversation with a stranger. The same expectations should be set for learning a physical skill. Attending one or two sessions might become a great memory, a good experience, and perhaps even a life-changing event to some of us. But it will not get us the results we are seeking. 

You become what you repeatedly do. 

People are looking for self-defense training for different reasons, but generally, they fall into 3 main different motivations: 

  1. Fear – Usually related to something that happened or fear it will happen to
    them or their loved ones
  2. Fitness – they want to be fit. 
  3. It’s cool – they want to fight like Jason Bourne or Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. 

All reasons are valid, and all that matters is that you walk through our doors. 

The deal is simple – if you show up, we can help. If you don’t show up, we can’t help. And whatever goal or expectation you have when starting is probably going to be exceeded. I am aware of how this sounds, but here’s why I say that with so much confidence:

  1. Training increases confidence and self-esteem. There’s a ripple effect that reaches way beyond the mat. 
  2. When people fight they make better friends! There’s a lot of trust required while training in full physical contact. You must trust your training partners won’t hurt you. And you must treat your training partners with care and respect. This is a healing process for many people and helps with relationship dynamics off the mat as well. 
  3. You will become part of a supportive community helping you reach your goals.
  4. Training helps people overcome traumatic events – practicing martial arts has been proven to help with PTSD. 
  5. ¹Studies in Psychology found positive correlations between practicing self-defense and lower levels of hostility, aggression, and higher levels of self-esteem, which of course leads to an overall positive attitude. 

The list goes on and on. In the past decade, I’ve had the honor to train tens of thousands of students at Krav Maga Experts in NYC and around the globe. Each of them can probably add something to the list.  

 So the question you should ask yourself is ‘How often should I practice self-defense?’

Ideally, at least 2-4 hours a week, depending on the level of intensity of your practice. Over time you will not only feel safe, you will be safe.

 “If you don’t have time in your life for Krav Maga, make it your life” 


Tsahi Shemesh

References: ¹Aggression Dimensions Among Athletes Practising Martial Arts and Combat Sports Karolina Kostorz1,2,* and Krzysztof Sas-Nowosielski2