In the last few weeks, I have been physically attacked dozens of times. Usually the attacker was just trying to choke me, but sometimes he was trying to throw me to the ground. After a few minutes of fighting, I would attack him. Then we'd both shake hands, say "thank you", and walk to the metro. My wife and I have always recognized a need (or a strong desire) for some sort of self-defense training. I've always wanted some, because I don't like the idea that my only option to protect myself is "run away". That would not always an option, nor does it help anyone other than me.
Kristi often felt uncomfortable walking many places in DC by herself, especially at night. Metro platforms, parking garages, gas stations, or any place where you're not alone can be scary places.
The way I saw it was this: We're not training to protect ourselves against a low-probability incident, but rather we're training to provide peace and comfort in situations where before we may have been nervous or on edge, because ITSHTF, we have options that, if executed correctly, leave us safe.
The top of my Epic List is Krav Maga. My wife and I are taking lessons at Krav Maga DC, in China Town. We go between two and four times a week, for an hour each lesson.
We signed up for a year of classes, which usually gets students to a solid level of proficiency. The classes are structured in week-long "blocks", where a single new element is focused on, for the week. Recent topics have been learning to use "hammer fists", elbow strikes, and defenses from chokes and head locks. I feel far from proficient, but we've been going for just a few weeks. (By the way, every defense includes usually a "crush the groin" step, and "gouge the eyeball" or "collapse the windpipe".)
Krav focuses on real-life situations and instinctual offensive reactions to attacks. The goal is to, if attacked, not just respond and be safe, but leave the other guy unable to get off the ground to prosecute the attack any farther. (This is called "ending the fight", and is brutal. Yes, you are expected to kick 'em when they're down.) Anything goes, because if attacked, you're probably smaller than your attacker, weaker, and much less prepared for what's going on. (If I were attacking someone, I'd make sure to be bigger, stronger, and mentally prepared for the attack. Wouldn't you?)
We're having a blast, and this is a solid step towards checking off an item on my list. If anyone wants to join with us, it's Krav Maga DC, by the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro. There are a lot of training centers in the area, though, so if you're interested, make time in your schedule, your budget, and make it happen. You'll always have other things to do with your time and money, but if this is something important to you, it'll happen.