Why Do We Only Teach Self-Defense to Women?




Should I teach my sons how to defend themselves or should I teach my sons how to fight?

I believe that men must learn how to defend themselves and defend their families. Being a protector is one of the three pillars of manhood. So earlier this year when I was researching what other writers had to say about the topic, I was shocked.

Go to Google and type in the phrase “men must learn how to defend themselves”. 

Go ahead. I’ll wait until you get back.

What did you find?

Searching for that topic results in pages and pages of links explaining why women must learn to defend themselves.  Not men, but women.

It was odd that I couldn’t find a psychologist, men’s magazine, or writer anywhere online who believes men should learn how to defend themselves. Kids get into fights all the time at school, so I was sure there had to be someone somewhere, especially fathers, who believe in teaching young men to defend themselves. I was confused, and when things confuse me, I tenaciously persevere until I get some answers.

That’s when I finally figured out what was going on.  It may be different in other countries, but here, Americans don’t believe in teaching men how to defend themselves.

We teach men how to fight, while we teach women how to defend themselves, and this fact reveals a lot about American culture.

When I realized this, I originally thought to myself “Well maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just being too picky with my words. Maybe I should leave this topic alone.” But the more I thought about the topic, the more I realized that no one is talking about this online, which means I needed to be the first person to get the conversation started.

Now the first thing you’re probably thinking is “Hold on. What about boxing, MMA, taekwondo, and wrestling. Men learn to defend themselves in those activities, right?” The truth is that those are sports that teach defense as a temporary technique to make offense easier. Learning how to defend yourself is very different than learning defensive techniques in a sport that emphasizes the acquisition of offensive points.

Let me say that again.

Learning how to defend yourself is very different than learning defensive techniques in a sport that emphasizes the acquisition of offensive points.

This is the reason why people like James Harden young basketball players are terrible at defense but still become superstars. When offense is overvalued, praise and approval are given to the ones who attack and score.

There are rules to sports, there are referees, and there are points earned to decide a winner and a loser during competition. Players learn the techniques to win. That’s the focus…developing the techniques and strategies to win by earning more points. Consider fighting sports such as boxing, wrestling, and especially MMA. True, a fighter has to know both offense and defense. And true, every sport, from tennis to boxing, has defensive techniques. I understand that. However, the primary focus is on acquiring points through the offense, not the defense.  

I think boxing, MMA, wrestling, and taekwondo are great sports. I like watching boxing and I’m glad my son is taking taekwondo. I love the skill and competition in sports like those. If you want to fight and you love competition, all of those sports are great.

But it makes no sense to participate in those sports if what you want is to learn to defend yourself.

You’re probably thinking “Okay, but fighting sports like MMA, boxing, and wrestling teach body confidence and discipline. Those are good things, right?” Of course they are. But those benefits exist in self-defense training as well. However, by removing the competition and eliminating the desire to grab offensive points, self-defense training plants the seed in a man’s head that these physical tactics are to be used only as a last resort.  

And that’s the key. When we teach men how to defend themselves, they learn to use violence as a last resort for protection. When we teach men how to fight, they learn to use violence as a means of attack. It’s a subtle difference that has a large impact.


Should I teach my sons how to defend themselves or should I teach them how to fight?

I understand that males have more of a propensity toward violence than females (either through biology or social conditioning.)  I understand that and I don’t think that’s ever going to change.

And I’m actually cool with that.

But for some reason lately, we’re actually raising young boys to become MORE violent than they used to be, and I haven’t heard one rational argument why we need to do that. Why do we feel our boys need MORE violence in their lives? It completely boggles my mind.

Instead of teaching young men how to be protectors and defenders against senseless violence, we’re teaching them to be instigators and perpetuators of violence.  We’re bombarding boys with violent images, violent games, violent messages, and violent conditioning.

We teach boys how to use guns, but we fail to teach them when to use guns.

We teach boys to be aggressive instead of teaching them to be assertive.

We teach boys how to win (which is a good thing), but we fail to teach them when to win. For that reason, too many of our boys grow up to be men who take their thirst for competition EVERYWHERE, even in environments that call for collaboration instead of competition.

We manufacture more ways to perpetuate those violent tendencies. We love football, but even more than that, we love watching video collections of the hardest hits in football.

We used to enjoy watching people fall down on the dance floor on America’s Funniest Videos; now we’ve escalated to watching dangerous pranks, powerful nut shots, and painful blows to the head on shows like MTV’s Jackass and Ridiculousness.  

The Fertitta brothers, who bought the UFC franchise 15 years ago for $2 million, just sold UFC for a whopping $4 billion, making it the largest sale of any franchise in any sport in history. (Before that, the largest sports franchise sale was the Los Angeles Dodgers sale for $2.1 billion.) Over the years, we’ve slowly turned into a society that has discarded boxing for the much more violent UFC and MMA competitions. 

I even remember in college going to watch an exhibition hockey match between the L.A. Kings and the USA Olympic team, and one of the guys I was with mentioned how boring it was because the Olympic hockey team was not allowed to fight.

Count how many fights you’ve actually been in during your entire life. Think of someone you know in your circle of friends who has been in the most fights during his lifetime. How many fights do you think he’s been in? Two? Five? Eight? Here’s my thinking. If you’re in your mid-twenties and you’ve been in ten or more fights, then there’s something wrong with you. You’re either looking for fights, or you’re constantly putting yourself in environments where fights are known to happen, or you have a personal preference for escalating situations rather than diffusing situations.


Should I teach my sons how to defend themselves or should I teach them how to fight?

I often think about the kind of men my sons will become in the future. If someone picks a fight with my sons, I want them to be able to defend themselves. I don’t want them to use fighting as a way to solve problems. I want them to use their brains to solve problems.

When we create a world which makes self-defense classes less “manly”, the thing that happens is our sons lose the sense of being a protector. I want my sons to grow into men who protect, provide, and preside. If they don’t learn to defend, they can’t learn to protect.

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One response to “Why Do We Only Teach Self-Defense to Women?”

  1. […] young boys that violent actions are to be used in self-defense. I wrote about this before, but we have a strange problem in this country. We teach men how to fight, while we teach women how […]


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