What is ESD?

Empowerment Self-Defense (ESD) is a comprehensive approach to violence prevention and resistance education. It is the only approach to teaching self-defense that has been shown to be effective in reducing rates of attempted and completed sexual assaults. It has also been shown to help participants increase their confidence in their ability to defend themselves – which reduces vulnerability to assault and other threatening situations.

ESD is different from more traditional self-defense classes in many ways. Some of the core principles that set ESD apart include:

  • Empowers participants by teaching easy to learn, highly effective techniques that reinforce natural reactions and pre-existing personal strengths
  • Maintains a core assumption that perpetrators of violence are exclusively responsible for their behavior and actions. ESD acknowledges and combats the cultural tendency towards victim blaming!
  • Recognizes that most assaults against women are perpetrated by people they know and trust
  • Teaches recognition of threatening situations and how to interrupt the full continuum of violence from street or verbal harassment up to and including violent physical or sexual assaults or rape
  • Asserts that anyone can learn to defend themselves regardless of age, experience, or physical abilities
  • Understands that violence occurs within a broader social context, and recognizes interconnections among all forms of oppression and discrimination such as sexism, racism, homophobia, and classism and their role in violence

To learn more about ESD visit the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation website.


Contact info
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