Does online self-defense measure up?

Although lacking an instructor with inviable face-to-face feedback, online martial arts instruction may have its merits.

7/16/20232 min read

two men dueling inside room
two men dueling inside room

Weighing Up the Pros and Cons of Online Self-Defense Learning

Online learning is not a novel concept, and its influence has permeated even the most physical of disciplines, self-defense being one of them. With the advent of digital platforms, more and more people are turning to online resources to learn self-defense techniques. But does it hold up against the traditional, face-to-face method of learning? This article examines the pros and cons of using online methods for self-defense training.


Accessibility: One of the most significant advantages of online self-defense classes is their accessibility. Regardless of geographical location or time constraints, anyone can learn self-defense techniques from the comfort of their home. This is particularly advantageous for those with tight schedules or living in remote locations where access to traditional self-defense classes may be limited.

Diversity: The internet offers a plethora of choices. This allows for a more diverse array of self-defense techniques to be learned and practiced. Students can explore different martial art forms like karate, judo, krav maga, etc., and select the one that resonates most with their physical abilities and interests.

Affordability: In comparison to conventional self-defense classes, online courses can be more affordable. The elimination of travel costs, physical infrastructure, and other overheads often results in cheaper class fees. Many platforms also offer free resources or trial periods, providing an economical way to acquire new skills.

Flexibility: Online self-defense classes offer flexibility, allowing learners to go at their own pace. Videos can be paused, replayed, or slowed down, catering to different learning speeds and repetition needs. This allows for a more personalized learning experience.


Lack of Personal Feedback: In traditional self-defense classes, instructors can provide immediate, hands-on feedback and corrections. This element is mostly missing in online learning, making it difficult to correct mistakes and fine-tune techniques. While some platforms provide one-on-one sessions or video analysis, they may not be as immediate or effective as in-person feedback.

Potential for Injury: Self-defense techniques often involve intricate movements. If executed incorrectly, they can lead to injuries. Without the supervision of a trained professional, the risk of incorrectly performing moves and subsequently injuring oneself is higher in online classes.

Lack of Sparring Partners: Self-defense training often involves practicing with a partner. This not only helps in understanding how techniques work against an opponent but also enhances reaction speed and timing. Online classes usually lack this interactive component, potentially affecting the effectiveness of the training.

Limited Motivation and Discipline: Self-discipline is a critical aspect of any online learning, including self-defense. It's easy to procrastinate or get distracted in a home environment, which may impact learning progress. Also, some people find it more motivating to train with a group, a dynamic missing in online classes.

In conclusion, online self-defense classes offer numerous benefits, such as accessibility, diversity, affordability, and flexibility. However, they also come with their own set of drawbacks, including a lack of personal feedback, increased risk of injury, lack of sparring partners, and a potential dip in motivation and discipline. Like many learning methods, its effectiveness ultimately hinges on the learner's personal preferences, learning style, and commitment to practice.