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What Makes Pretty Deadly Different?

Pretty Deadly Self Defense was developed by American martial artist Susie Kahlich, based on her experiences as a violent crime survivor, her research into the biology of self defense, and her 24 years of training in the art of Ninjutsu. First developed for Susie's mom in 2009, Pretty Deadly has since grown to reach thousands of vulnerable people in 16 cities across four continents with accessible, user-focused, body-positive self defense.

Read more about Susie and her journey to empower the world through self defense and body confidence here.

The Business of Self Defense

Did you know self defense has seasons? That there is a sweet spot when pricing courses and classes? The Pretty Deadly Self Defense Instructor Certification Online sessions cover teaching methodology and theory, and also the business side of things.

  • best days, times and seasons to offe self defense

  • how to find a space for a course or workshop

  • what to charge

  • how to market + marketing materials and support from us, including being featured on our podcast if you like;

We really want you to succeed.

We don't promise you a job, we show you how to build a career and earn money while doing it.

You'll have access to our trainer's dashboard that provides a video library of techniques but, just as importantly, easy to follow short videos on accounting, time management, setting up a payment system, booking clients, and how to set up websites, partnerships and more.

We teach you how to teach better.

We teach you how to teach - something your personal trainer certification course does not provide for you. We show you

  • how to quickly establish authority without being militant

  • how to identify client behaviors that need special attention

  • how to set boundaries for yourself without being harsh

  • how to handle training challenges and issues

  • how to identify when stored trauma is affecting training

  • how to identify when someone is about to be triggered and how to handle it without becoming a therapist.

and we show you how to design classes, courses and workshops that are effective, keep your clients engaged and keep them coming back for more. And you can even use our course and workshop templates as training wheels until you're ready to design your own.

Self Defense Instructor Certification is perfect for you if

You're thinking about certifying as a trainer but aren't sure yet, this is a great way to start and takes care of your CEU credits.

You're a new trainer and are overwhelmed with how to even get started designing a class

You're an experienced trainer and are ready to level up your offers and increase community engagement.

What do you get out of the Pretty Deadly Instructor Certification Course?

Self defense is usually the domain of martial artists, and most martial artists are trained in a classical style: the teacher demonstrates a technique, and students dive in and try to figure it out. That's one of the great joys of learning martial arts... but it doesn't work for women and non-binary people.

Girls who present as female grow up being socialized to not try something new unless they know they're already good at it. There are a lot of reasons for this, but we can sum it up as "girls are taught to be risk-averse". If your clients have ever shown reluctance to deviate from established routines and workout, this is why. And when it comes to martial arts and self defense, it's 10x more intense becuase there is greater potential for pain.

Our mission is to change the way self defense is taught, to focus more on body dynamics and progressive skills than whether someone can beat up the other guy.

We've developed a teaching methodology that works: one that

  • helps clients reconnect with their bodies in a positive way

  • builds their confidence in themselves, and

  • shows up in the form of engagement:

    • they're more present

    • they're more eager to try new things

    • they're more ready to challenge themselves

    • they're more willing to take action to find solutions

Our pre-set program incorporates techniques from 11 different martial arts, and we show you how to adapt everything to your practice, whether it's Pilates or Krav Maga.

Self defense techniques are universal, but learning them is gender-specific.


Women spend 50% of our time and energy strategizing how to stay safe. Imagine freeing up that time and energy to access an education, pursue a career, grow a family, give back to community, and build a better world.

Here's how:

Learning self defense gives us tools to disrupt violence as it’s happening, which gives us a sense of agency. That agency is everything — it empowers us, it reinforces our sense of self trust, it gives us confidence. But most importantly, it lowers the risk of long-term trauma from violence. Which means we are less likely to pass that trauma on to our families and friends, our communities, and our children in the form of trauma-adaptive behavior.

Trauma-adapted behavior, when passed down from generation to generation, loses the context of the original trauma, turns into abusive behavior. And the cycle of violence continues.

Pretty Deadly was developed to break the cycle of gender-based violence--because gender-based violence contributes to poverty, hunger, unwanted pregnancies, child marriage, and illiteracy; to climate change, and to the rampant capitalism that is hurting us all.


Our partners offer discounts and accessibility options to certified trainers and Pretty Deadly grads.

Want to partner with us? Get in touch!


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