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Protect Yo' Neck

Resources for Self Defense

These days, stories of muggings and robberies are all to common, even in neighborhoods once presumed “safe.” Those who’ve had their cell phones ripped out of their hands on Muni or elsewhere may have had to learn that just because there are people and witnesses nearby doesn’t mean they will do anything to stop what’s happening.

In addition using common sense and awareness of your surroundings, several organizations provide training to get you where you’re comfortable defending yourself. Some might go straight for the pepper spray, mace or weaponry, but let’s first discuss some alternate ways to turn you into a venerable badass.

Krav Maga means “contact combat,” “close combat,” or “full contact” in Hebrew. The hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel is the official self-defense/fighting method employed by the Israeli Defense Forces and various law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including Mossad, FBI, NYPD SWAT teams, US Special Ops Forces, and more.

San Francisco’s Krav Maga Training Center is a great place to learn and practice for men and women alike. After starting in a 750-square-foot facility in the Marina in 1999, the Krav Maga Training Center stands today at Bush and Van Ness in a 12,000-square-foot training facility. Memberships start at $119, and five levels of Krav Maga are offered, but you can also pick from yoga, kettle bell, strength training, cross training, conditioning, and other classes.

The Universal Martial Arts Academy, founded by Professor James Hundon, a martial artist and community leader in the Bayview Hunters Point district, offers self-protection classes for the public as well as hand-to-hand weaponless defense training to those who might encounter physical incidents on a day-to-day basis (law enforcement officers, emergency responders, healthcare industry employees, bouncers, and more).

Every Sunday, UMAA offers Ju Trap Boxing Classes for Self Defense at Project Commotion. Ju Trap Boxing combines elements of small circle jujitsu and other martial arts disciplines. $25 per drop-in class or $80 monthly is not much to pay for piece of mind and gaining the ability to defend yourself.

Is a women’s self defense class more your style? The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco offers Essential Self-Defense For Women by Alive & Kicking: a six-class series Monday evenings starting October 18th. From the JCC: “Be trained on a variety of strategies for dealing with situations ranging from mildly intrusive to life-threatening.” $185 for JCC members, $200 for non-members. Alive & Kicking is a twenty-year-old non-profit Bay Area-based women’s self-defense teaching coop.

You will learn from this and many other self defense classes that the physical moves are only one aspect of self defense: verbal tactics and emotional readiness is also critical. However, if you are set on arming yourself or supplementing your self-defense tactics with things like pepper spray and mace, there are options for that, as well.

Hardware stores that carry pepper spray include Cole Hardware locations and Papenhausen Hardware in West Portal. The International Spy Shop in Fisherman’s Wharf also offers pepper spray, Mace, stun guns, personal alarms and more, plus in-store training. International Spy Shop also offers a 100 percent price match guarantee that includes Internet pricing and it offers 10 percent off future orders with the guarantee.

If you’re in the Outer Richmond, try [Crown Locksmith & Safe. Curiously, Movie Crazzz, an indie movie and video game rental place in the Inner Richmond also offers stun guns and pepper spray.

According to California law, tear gas (Mace and pepper spray) can only be carried in 2.5 ounce containers or smaller. Pepper spray temporarily paralyzes the larynx, reducing the airway and making it difficult to breathe while Mace works by inflicting pain and discomfort. Neither will paralyze your assailant, who post-spray may still be able to get at you. Another consideration — certain parts of the city host unpredictable winds, which can blow the tear gas in your own face.

Takeaways: Use common sense and be aware of your surroundings, especially on public transportation (the 38 Geary is regularly mentioned in the crime blotters for phone robberies). Try some self-defense classes, martial arts, boxing, etc., and perhaps if you’re educated self-defense supplements.


Krav Maga Training Center
1455 Bush Street
Cross: Van Ness Avenue

Ju Trap Boxing Classes for Self Defense
Every Sunday
11:30am - 1:00pm
Project Commotion
2095 Harrison Street
Cross: 17th Street

Essential Self-Defense for Women
Jewish Community Center
3200 California Street
Cross: Presidio Avenue

Cole Hardware Fox (Downtown)
70 4th Street
Cross: Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Cole Hardware Mission
3312 Mission Street
Cross: 29th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Papenhausen Hardware
32 West Portal Avenue
Cross: Ulloa Street
San Francisco, CA 94127

International Spy Shop
555 Beach Street
Cross: Jones Street
San Francisco, CA 94133

Crown Lock & Safe
3729 Balboa Street
Cross: 37th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94121

Movie Crazzz
242 Balboa Street
Cross: 4th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118