Research company and instructor before signing up for a self-defense class

Published on Thursday, 7 September 2017 17:48 - Written by MECHELE AGBAYANI MILLS, Better Business Bureau

For some, self-defense is a practical course in assertiveness training and goal setting. For others, it serves as a catalyst in helping promote self-confidence, assertiveness, coordination and concentration in adults as well as children. One of the more obvious reasons is to protect your personal safety from those who want to cause physical harm.

The Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas received 42,953 inquiries about martial arts and self-defense instructors or schools in 2016, and advises consumers to do their homework when selecting an instructor.

When considering a personal safety class, it’s important to remember there are no guarantees. Self-defense training from a skilled and qualified instructor, however, can increase your options as well as your preparedness. The latest statistics from Crime Clock indicate that a violent crime is committed every 26.3 seconds in the United States.

“An attacker has the advantage when a potential victim is caught by surprise and becomes paralyzed by fear,” said Brandon Jones, owner and head instructor of Tyler Kung Fu and Fitness. “The objective of martial arts and self-defense programs is not necessarily to fight back, but rather to get the body past the fear, and increase awareness so that you are more prepared should you become a target.”

The BBB suggests you do some things before choosing an instructor:

- Research the company. Look at the company’s track record and reputation. Go to for a business profile that includes customer reviews and complaints.

- Ask the instructor about their teaching. If you’re seeking a martial arts instructor, find out who their teachers were. A legitimate instructor will be able to describe their “lineage” in detail rather than keep it secret or simply say they were taught overseas. Bogus instructors will be elusive about their lineage and will have an obscure style.

- Read the contract. Contracts are legal documents that are designed to protect both the consumer and the business involved. Once a contract is signed, it generally cannot be changed or broken unless both parties agree. To protect yourself, the BBB suggests you read and thoroughly understand the contract before you sign.

Here are some tips provided by the BBB to help prevent the occurrence of a potential attack. Remember, perceiving a threat before it occurs is an important part of a good self-defense mindset.

- Pay attention to your surroundings and trust your instincts. Actively scan your environment for possible hazards. Objects such as dumpsters, delivery vehicles and vans are ideal cover to conceal a predator.

- When leaving a building, always observe any activity that may be going on near your vehicle as you approach. Ask for a security guard or store employee to escort you if you feel uneasy about going to your car alone.

- If you think you are being followed, go back inside. Never leave a public area to go to a secluded place, and draw as much attention to yourself as possible. Attackers do not want to be seen.

The Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas and Tyler Kung Fu and Fitness are hosting a free self-defense class for BBB-accredited businesses and charities and their guests from 6 to 7 p.m. Sept. 21. at Tyler Kung Fu and Fitness, 2537 E. Fifth St. in Tyler. The class is for adults only. Space is limited. For more information or to register, call Betsie Chimney at 903-581-5704 or send an email to

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.