How much do self defense lessons cost?

National average: $55


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The average cost for a self defense instructor is $55. You are likely to spend between $25 and $105 total. Exact price may vary depending on your area and project details.

Updated May 1st, 2017

Next Step: Find out exactly how much your project will cost.

Self-defense classes are available for all levels from beginner to advanced and for students of all ages. Karate, mixed martial arts, kickboxing and Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and boxing are popular self-defense practices. People take self-defense classes to learn to protect themselves, to build confidence and strength, to develop discipline and to improve physical health. Classes can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes or more. Several factors affect the cost of self-defense classes.

Private sessions

One-on-one sessions are often an instructor’s preferred way of teaching self-defense to an individual, but private instruction typically costs more than a group class because it prohibits the teacher from earning income from other students during that time frame. Here are some examples of private instruction fees:

Ongoing lessons

Packages and ongoing classes purchased in bulk often cost less per session than when purchased individually. For example, NOVA Self Defense in Arlington, Virginia, charges more per hour for an introductory session, with lower price per hour for sessions thereafter. The company’s intro class covers the self-defense mindset and learning how attacks occur; managing an unknown person in one’s physical space; learning and practicing simple striking, gross-motor combative skills, targeting and defenses against common ambush attacks; and more. Here’s how NOVA Self Defense breaks down pricing:

  • Two-hour private introductory session: $180

  • Private instruction thereafter: $80 per hour

​Group workshops

Group training can be a one-time activity for a corporate group, organized by a group of friends or family members who want self-defense instruction, or may be held at schools or for special interest groups. Group instruction typically costs less per person per hour than private instruction because individuals do not receive the teacher’s full attention. Instructors may charge per person or per class. Here are some examples of group class rates:

Children’s self-defense

Many trainers offer self-defense and safety awareness training to children and teens. Trainings may be on an ongoing basis or taught as a one-time group activity. Generally speaking, in group trainings, the cost per child is higher with fewer participants. Here’s what NOVA Self Defense charges for 90-minute group trainings for kids:

  • $120 per child for groups of six to 10 kids

  • $140 per child for groups of three to five kids


The region of the country the teacher is located in can affect the cost of lessons. Cities and areas with a higher cost of living typically have higher rates for self-defense classes.

Teacher training

Teachers with extensive martial arts, weapons or military training, or those who have competed professionally in their area of expertise may have higher rates than other teachers. In addition, teachers with famous clientele or a celebrity reputation will often command higher fees than those without a built-in following.

Pro tips:

  • Be mindful of cancellation fees. NOVA Self Defense charges $40 for the cancellation of any private lesson with less than 24 hours notice.

  • Don’t wait until something happens to begin self-defense. Instructors at Cruz Fitness Systems encourage women especially to be proactive in learning to defend themselves.

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Recent reviews

Combat Self-Defense Academy

Excellent instruction, entirely usable and efficient. Mr. Barrow is a patient and experienced teacher, and he adapts well to his students. Mark Bauerlein

Eclectic Ground

We hired Marek to do a private self defense class for a small group of women. He did a great job showing us different ways to break holds and fight back. The moves we learned were pretty easy to remember, which will be helpful should we ever need to use them. He let us practice moves with him acting as the attacker, which gave us the chance to practice moves under circumstances that felt more "real". I would highly recommend his class.

Ladies F.I.R.S.T. Self Defense

I hired Kendrick Stephens to come to my office and provide my Real Estate Agents with valuable self-defense skills. He taught us moves that could save our lives, used examples to bring home the real life scenarios we may face and was open to answering our questions. In addition, he was on-time, brought and set-up his own equipment and didn't seem to mind when we went over a couple of minutes. I will definitely use Ken's services in the future and recommend him to anyone looking to stay safe!