What is a self-defence class?

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A solid black silhouette of a figure practicing a punch in a wide-open space. In the background is a sunset.
Warming up for when it turns dark and you need to practice your self-defence? klimkin via Pixabay

 Is it more than just learning how to dodge a punch?

Regina Self-Defence Fitness (RSDF) is an academy that focuses on teaching Regina residents about self-defence and how to remain safe in stressful moments. They started their five-week self-defence course last week on February 21, 2024. 

Troy Ostapiw is the lead trainer focusing on defence tactics for the Saskatchewan Police and the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP). Ostapiw has a strong background in self-defence, and has a certification as a Close Protection Officer (C.P.O.) for Hostile Environments.  

Ostapiw has travelled the world to work and focus on his knowledge and training in self-defence. He is currently working and contracted in Saskatchewan by the Justice Teaching Defence Officer for Safety and Leadership, as stated on the RSDF academy website. 

The Regina Self-Defence Fitness Academy has trained many people. According to their website, trained groups include Canadian Arms Forces Instructors, Special Weapons & Tactics Unit (SWAT), civilians, peace keepers, Emergency Medical Personnel (EMS) and more.  

Over the last few years, Ostapiw has expanded beyond instructing businesses and professionals. The RSDF has begun training and teaching the general public about self-defence mechanisms. This increase may very well serve to help people worried about their safety by teaching them how to avoid dangerous situations and help themselves if they cannot avoid them. 

The self-defence classes have a unique style that comes from Ostapiw’s experience. Ostapiw explained, “I have a unique approach as I am a trainer for police officers and the Canadian Department of Self-Defence. I have trained a lot of men and women.”  

Another unique part of Ostapiw’s classes is how he treats the classes like real-life scenarios instead of treating it more similarly to teaching or learning the rules and skills of a sport. He said, “There is no weight class, there is no time limit and no tap out. […] In reality we are focusing on education on self-defence, for families, for citizens, all types of people.”  

“We educate people. That is the first [and] most important thing. We can educate them on situational awareness and teach them about certain circumstances that they should not put themselves in, situations that they can learn to prepare themselves for from a psychological perspective,” Ostapiw explained. A self-defence mindset is what the academy strives for. To get into that mindset, they say a person needs to understand what a “predator and prey” mindset looks like and be able to recognize it.  

During the class, students learn about topics like verbal de-escalation concepts, mental health recognition and understanding, how to be smarter in the moment, and situational awareness. As Ostapiw spends time educating, he pushes the idea that “Education is the most important aspect of self-defence.” 

“Each class we educate more and more. We talk about things that happen in the community and focus on how we could have done something and prevent it from occurring. We try and empower people, not just teach self-defence mechanisms,” Ostapiw said.  

Self-defence is not all about thinking, but it is highly important. Once you understand the situation and learn how to prevent it from happening, then you move towards the more physical parts of the class.   

Ostapiw focuses on teaching the class about prevention. The class talked about stances, minimizing yourself as a target, how to protect yourself, roleplaying self-defence scenarios, bringing your hands up to protect your head, and more.  

As you get comfortable with your body and the mechanisms that are involved in self-defence, then students will move further into their training. “We start one-on-one, but we also get into a mass attack, which is multiple attackers. I also educate people on [how to tell] if somebody has a weapon. Are there indications that you can look at before that? […] I educate them on those aspects so they can understand if they are in a bad situation.”  

You might be wondering who this class is intended for. Well, this class is designed to be for everyday people. Ostapiw wants this class to be used in a variety of different ways so you can use it to protect yourself now, when you are travelling overseas, minimize risk generally for yourself, and give people a feeling of safety.  

If you are interested in joining this class they train all genders, but they prefer their students to be 12 years of age and older. If there is a family that wants to get their child involved too, Ostapiw encouraged families to contact the RSDF Academy to make sure their program will work for the family’s needs.  

This self-defence five-week program happens twice a year. If you are interested in getting more training and specific details, contact Ostapiw for that information. Contact information for the RSDF Academy can be found on their website and Facebook page.  

Ostapiw offers more than self-defence training through RSDF. He trains on violence and prevention, violence prevention in the workspace, self-defence for businesses, organizations, and even hockey players. Ostapiw also said he offers private seminars and training by request. From the request he will design the appropriate type of class or seminar to fit the person’s needs.  

Now that we have learned all the components of what a self-defence class can look like, you can make a more informed decision if you want to try a self-defence course. You can learn some useful tricks, learn how to defend yourself, and keep yourself safe.  

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