Self-Defense in the Trump Era

Targeted groups take safety into their own hands

Fit & Fearless

The 2016 presidential election surfaced skeletons in America’s closet that many falsely assumed were fading away. In the following weeks and months, neo-Nazis and fascists openly celebrated a world they think is going their way, while violence and intimidation against minorities of all kinds made headlines across the country.

Whether or not this wave of hate crimes and enthusiastic bigotry is a long-term trend remains to be seen, but the country we live in right now doesn’t feel as safe as it used to for many Muslims, people of color, the LGBTQ community, or just about anyone else who would look out of place on the set of Leave It to Beaver.

Many individuals in these threatened communities are responding by taking their safety into their own hands and seeking out training in self-defense techniques. While the proprietors and teachers at some fighting gyms and martial arts training halls in Austin are reporting business as usual, many we spoke to have noticed a sharp increase in the number of women and minorities seeking training following the November elections. This is causing a shift in the demographics of a clientele base that has traditionally skewed white, male, straight, and politically to the right.

Even if the events of the past few months aren’t causing you to break out in a cold sweat, it might be worth considering following these Austinites’ lead. There are many side benefits that come with self-defense training and martial arts, such as fitness and camaraderie with fellow trainees, that might make it worth your while. And who knows? Maybe bigots will start to think twice about mouthing off if they know that many women, minorities, and allies have the ability to kick their asses. Only in defense, of course.

Here are some of the many options available to Austin residents seeking out training. There are many factors to consider when choosing a gym or school, such as cost, time investment, training style, fighting style, and schedule availability. Thankfully, many establishments have free trial classes for prospective students, but be sure you do your homework before taking the plunge to becoming a full-fledged trainee.

Austin Self Defense
8868 Research Blvd. #502
Offers private lessons and group seminars in basic self-defense, Krav Maga, and fitness. Regular group classes are no longer available.

C.O.B.R.A. Self Defense
2700 W. Pecan St., Pflugerville
Describing itself as a “police academy for civilians,” C.O.B.R.A. emphasizes preparing its students for real-world attacks outside of the structure of traditional martial arts.

Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu

Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu
7113 Burnet Rd.
Men and women are taught separately. The academy offers free classes for women on Thursdays during January.

Fit & Fearless
2800 S. I-35 #100
A Krav Maga gym that offers a free class on the first Wednesday of every month for anyone who identifies as female. One free introductory class is also offered for all beginners.

Austin Impact Jeet Kune Do
1779 Wells Branch Pkwy.
Teaches jeet kune do, the hybrid martial art founded by Bruce Lee, as well as ukidokan kickboxing. Offers a free introductory class.

John’s Gym Mixed Martial Arts and Fitness
11416 FM 620 N.
Offers classes for boxing, muy thai, jiu jitsu, and women-only self-defense. Has a free 30-day trial membership and unlimited MMA classes for veterans.

Yama Kan Self Defense School
10516 Manchaca Rd. #100
Group and private lessons in kajukenbo, Brazilian jiu jitsu, judo, and more.

Lions Krav Maga
911 W. Anderson
Hosts a women’s self-defense seminar at the beginning of each month to raise money for local nonprofits.

Sun Dragon Martial Arts and Self Defense
4534 West Gate Blvd. #101
Operates as a nonprofit organization with social justice and ending violence in the community as core tenants. Maintains a scholarship fund for students who need financial assistance.

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