Four Life Skills Students Learned From Women’s Self Defense

By Brittany Bluthardt '20

“No, get back!” a student in Butler’s Women’s Self Defense class shouts as she enters into a defensive stance. Each week, the women are taught valuable self-defense skills by Butler police officers. After a semester of jabs and kicks, the women engage in three realistic scenarios where they must defend themselves against the BUPD officers. The officers, covered in layers of protective gear, take on the full force of over 15 students as the women defend themselves with their new skills. Sophomores Ally Ledder and Allie Hopkins gained experience and personal confidence through the class’ experiential learning environment.



The women begin by learning a defensive stance -- the foundation of all moves. After mastering the first position, students begin to train and learn new skills that could actually protect themselves in the case of an emergency. The skills, often simple and swift, are repetitively practiced until the women react out of muscle memory.

“The skills I learned in this class will go beyond classroom education because they are things that become second nature, when practiced enough.” -- Allie H.



Many of the moves are unnatural to the women, especially the specific finger grabs and strategic blocks. These small movements are extremely powerful, and the women learn their true strength against an attacker. One student, rising just under five feet tall, was able to defend herself against a 6-foot tall police officer. The women learned power is not defined by their size.

“Step outside of your comfort zone! You'll be surprised how powerful you will feel. Be loud and have a good time. Also, support each other - you're all in it together.” -- Ally L.



The women practice shouting rather than screaming to intimidate and call for help. Round after round, the class shouts “No!” after initiating every move. Although it sounds silly, the class learned how important their voice can be in a serious situation. Combining their new skills and strong voice, the women had a newfound self-confidence.

“I went into the class nervous and unsure of whether or not I had the strength to defend myself. I left the class being proud of the bruises I left on Tony's [BUPD officer] arm and confident I could handle anything that came my way.” -- Allie H.


Each class session, the women practice with each other before initiating any skills full-force. They encourage one another to complete the movements with accuracy and strength to their best ability. The police officers and other women work together to form a caring support system of comfort.

“The instructors made the class a lot of fun. They were funny, patient, and encouraging. You could tell that they care a lot about the students and their safety. There was never a dull moment.” -- Ally L.

Above all, Ally and Allie encourage other women to take Women’s Self Defence to gain confidence and real-life skills that will last after the semester ends.

“Take it, take it, take it! I tell everyone I know to take this class. I firmly believe every woman should. It will help you grow immensely in you self-confidence and give you the skills needed to defend and protect yourself, should you ever need to. Plus, the instructors are amazing and super fun to work with!” -- Allie H.