Self Defense for Teens & Pre-Teens

“I got a chance to really think about the times I have been abused and thought it was not a big deal. I learned that I have power and I could protect myself from violence and abuse, even though I used to think I was weak.”

– a teen self-defense student


CAE offers several courses for teens and pre-teens each year at our location in Brooklyn and at schools and organizations throughout the city. Each class builds community and respect through talking circles, movement games, and other activities encouraging and empowering teens to take risks, grow, and feel pride in their minds, bodies, and spirits. Students who wish to continue and expand upon this course after completing it, may choose to enroll in PACT, our after-school karate & self-defense program. Click here to visit our calendar of classes.

Courses are taught by intergenerational and racially diverse teams composed of adult teachers and teen peer educators creating a dynamic, and supportive setting that welcomes diverse voices, experiences, and strengths.

What will I learn in this course? Courses combine practical physical training; eyes, voice, body language awareness exercises to help hone instincts; boundary-setting games that help build assertiveness; and discussions highlighting major safety concerns facing young women & trans-youth – including violence in relationships, bullying in school or on the internet, sexual abuse, defending against an attacker with a weapon – and brainstorming ways to be safer.

Who is this class for? Self-defense and violence-prevention courses are offered several times a year for both pre-teen (11– 13) and teen women & trans-youth (14 – 19). Students are diverse in body type, background and ability. To enroll in a teen or pre-teen course, or to set up a workshop at your location, contact us!

What does this course cost? CAE’s teen and pre-teen programming is offered FREE of charge. To make this class as accessible as possible, we also offer free childcare for students during class.

Ready to sign up? Fill out our interest form here (google form) // if for a class, send them to upcoming events page. 

PACT: Power Action Change for Teens

“This program teaches young women to be strong. PACT teaches us what goes on the world, and helps us protect ourselves from it. There are not many places for teen women to improve themselves these ways.”
— PACT student

A unique and dynamic ongoing after-school program for teen women and transyouth ages 12 – 19; PACT offers physical training in martial arts and self-defense, verbal safety strategies, discussions, and the opportunity to participate in youth community projects.

Each class begins with a question of the day so the group can get to know each other, and moves into a brief meditation to help students center and focus. Through warm-ups, games, and voice activities students get the opportunity to vent, have fun, and practice basic safety and awareness skills.

Karate techniques, kicks and strikes help students of all levels of athletic ability strengthen their bodies and build confidence. Role-plays and other activities help students practice exploring and asserting their boundaries. Discussions have included personal safety and prevention issues – bullying, sexual harassment, and dating violence, and issues that affect all of us – body image, racism, heterosexism, and gender discrimination.

PACT students are encouraged to speak out against violence, while developing communication and leadership skills. Each year, students become involved in a community project of their choosing and have the opportunity to participate in anti-violence events such as marches, community fairs, and meetings.

Teens who train with us for a year have the opportunity be trained as paid Peer Educators who teach violence prevention and self-defense at schools and youth organizations throughout New York City.

PACT highlights the link between personal empowerment and creating safer communities, as young people grow their voices, minds, bodies, and self-esteem in a supportive and respectful environment.

Click here for the calendar, or contact us to sign up or if you have any questions!

CAE Peer Educators

After six months as PACT students, teens who train at CAE are eligible to join our Peer Educators group.

Along with adult instructors, these specially-trained Peer Educators take their violence prevention skills and analytical tools into the community, developing and leading workshops for young people in schools and youth centers. Our paid Peer Educators build their leadership and teaching skills, while serving as important role models for young people. They can continue their training to become Assistant Instructors over time.

Peer educators help teach other young people self-defense in our 5-week self-defense classes for teens, and throughout New York City in schools, community centers, foster care agencies, and other organizations that work with youth.