When crime increases, two reactions occur. Gun sales rise, and so does local interest in self-defense classes.

Although most self-defense courses are designed to teach women how to protect themselves, everyone has options. If the class talks about domestic violence, the organizers typically limit it to ages 12 and up.

The best self-defense courses involve hands-on practice. When you can see and feel how to react to different situations, it clicks better than listening to a lecture. The goal should be to hurt someone enough to get loose and to be more trouble than they thought.

Are you looking for a self-defense class right now? If so, here are some tips to help you select the best one for your needs.

1. Find a Local Option

Look online for self-defense classes near you. Different agencies sponsor or host these events, so you might need to look at law enforcement sites, martial arts schools, library event schedules, and similar resources.

In-person classes are usually the best choice. If you have someone who wants to learn with you, a Zoom lesson could help you practice the techniques at home.

2. Ask for Recommendations

Talk to the people you know about the self-defense classes they’ve taken in the past. Did one provider stand out from the others? Was the information easy to learn and implement? If you don’t know anyone, try asking your local police department.

Some self-defense companies have online reviews that let you see what to expect from the classes. Read these to see if you’re comfortable putting yourself into that situation.

3. Check for Availability

Most self-defense classes target a specific audience. You might get to listen and watch a women’s course as a guy, but you might not be allowed to go hands-on to practice. Options include age, physical orientation, existing knowledge (refresher courses), and disability-specific choices.

4. Verify the Credentials

The best self-defense trainers tend to have a background in law enforcement, military, or martial arts. You want to work with someone who knows and implements what they teach, especially if they’ve had to use the techniques in real-life scenarios.

Most instructors offer three tiers of self-defense: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The first option is the best if you haven’t tried anything before.

When you’re familiar with today’s best self-defense tools and techniques, an advanced class could challenge you in unique ways.

5. Attend the Class

It’s tough to learn something new if you don’t get yourself to class. Attend the first one to see if you feel comfortable with the instructor and the group. If you get pushed too hard, a course meant for more beginners could be better suited for your needs. You should feel like you’re getting something from the information and practices presented.

The cost of self-defense classes typically ranges from about $30 to more than $200. Comprehensive programs are often more, and could be offered monthly. In return, you’ll know how to defend yourself with all the best tools, including stun guns and pepper sprays.