Sui ipsius defensione: self-defense. This term has roots in every country around the world, specifically ancient Chinese and Japanese culture with their traditional martial arts such as Taekwondo and Jiujutsu, which are still widely practiced today. Other martial arts, such as Tai Chi, have been re-purposed for the modern age as therapy practices for meditation, arthritis and other maladies.

There are many important benefits that can be gained from practicing self-defense or martial arts. RIT offers numerous self-defense and martial arts classes, including an online course created in 2012.  


In today’s atmosphere, learning self-defense can give you a sense of security. It can help prepare you to face unexpected, hostile situations. Having the knowledge to defend yourself can be invaluable to your peace of mind. Breanna Dionne, a fifth year Information Technology major and student in a Self-Defense class, commented about how self-defense can be for anyone.

“No matter how small or even if you’re not in the best shape of your life or something, there’s things you can do to get out of a situation and you don’t have to be, like, a macho man or a black belt to do it,” Dionne said.

Even if a person stays away from dangerous areas and situations, her or she can still end up in a situation where self-defense knowledge could be essential. 

"A very large percentage, like 60 or 70 percent of assaults, are someone that you know on at least an acquaintance level," said Sifu Jennifer Trezza, a long-time martial arts instructor on campus. "Maybe you don’t really know them, they’re a friend of a friend of yours who happens to be at the same place. But even if you do kind of sort of know them, it’s better to be safe than sorry."


The physical and health benefits of self-defense include muscle building, toning and strengthening, as well as improved balance and endurance. Other contributing factors include overall fitness, reflexes and self-discipline, a practice which can transfer into academic life.


Training in self-defense not only gives peace of mind, but it can also make individuals more aware of hostile situations and provide self-assurance when in dangerous areas. The practice of several forms of martial arts can also have mental benefits, an example being decreased anxiety.

Dana Dale, an undecided first year student and a black belt in Isshin-ryu Karate, recalled that she was a very quiet child. However, after taking martial arts from preschool through her sophomore year of high school, it helped to increase her self-confidence drastically.

“I would say that it has definitely impacted my life for the better. I really put a lot of time and effort into it and I definitely know that I am a different person because of it,” Dale said.

Social Interaction

There are many opportunities for social interaction within self-defense, martial arts and wellness classes that give students a time to interact with individuals from various paths of life. It can also give them a break from our technology-driven lives.

"Be more aware of the world you’re in. Look outside the screen you pay attention to and make your own assessment and decision. Don’t rely, and don’t get sucked into, this tiny little screen," said Sifu Austin Baddeley, a martial arts instructor who has been teaching on campus for over 20 years, about the use of technology and its impact on awareness. 

Although RIT offers many different types of self-defense classes, it is possible to gain some understanding of techniques through reading or tutorial videos. To get you started, here are three common self-defense techniques that can aid you in escaping situations:

The Drop-Step

If someone charges at you, move your entire body either to your left or your right, allowing them to move past you which will give you an opportunity to get away.

The Wrist-Grab Escape 

If someone grabs your wrist, move your arm so it twists theirs, breaking their grip at the thumb, allowing you to escape.

The Inside Outer Block/Stun 

If an assailant throws an outer punch, "windshield" your mirroring arm, blocking their limb before thrusting that same arm up, open palmed and into their face, also known as "pie in the face," before running away.

Practicing Awareness

Being aware of your environment is very important before attempting any of these moves. If you become aware of a hostile situation that you can get away from, run away. While keeping these moves in mind could be beneficial in emergency situations, please do not attempt them without appropriate instruction. 

To learn more about different styles of self-defense and martial arts, do some research to find what styles would fit you and take a class. Classes offered on campus can be found on SIS under the classification WMAR. With offerings of everything from Karate to Aikido, you're sure to find something that suits you.

The last thing to remember is that the best fight is the one that is avoided. Practice situational awareness everyday and if you can get away from a situation, do it. Self-defense is a last resort to protect yourself or others in a dangerous situation and its application should not be taken lightly.