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Rose City Self-Defense

Rose City Self-Defense
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Welcome to Rose City Self-Defense!

(Formerly the WomenStrength and GirlStrength programs)

Rose City Self-Defense empowers girls, women and the LGBTQ+ community, with a focus on engaging communities of color, people with disabilities, folks with unstable housing, as well as safety for sex workers.

Class Schedules

Rose City Self-Defense classes will resume in March. Please check our website after February 13th for updated class offerings.

Introductory Classes

*Masks required for all in-person classes

We are taking a break from classes in January and will resume in February. Please check our website for classes in early January.

Click here to register.

Middle School & High School Programming

This programming is currently on hold due to staffing shortages. We will update this website as these classes become available.

Safety Workshops

Personal Safety Workshops are designed to introduce adults to a variety of self-protective options in a short, non-physical, discussion format. The basic workshop covers:

  • prevention strategies
  • recognizing when one is being targeted for an attack
  • the pros and cons of various options for ending an attack

Discussion is designed to help people identify their risks and evaluate their strengths, and to explore their options for dealing with the threat of violence.

Specific workshops:

  • Co-ed work groups (90 minutes in length, does NOT include physical self-defense skills)
  • For women identified people who have Intellectual or developmental disabilities (2 hours in length, includes physical self-defense skills)
  • For women identified people who use mobility devices (2 hours in length, includes physical self-defense skills)
  • Women's groups (90 minutes-2 hours in length, option of including physical self-defense skills)
  • De-escalation training (3 hours in length)
  • For your affinity group, we will tailor the workshop for your group!

Click here to register.


Thank you for your interest in becoming a volunteer self-defense instructor! We are currently planning on a new volunteer training in 2023, with dates to be determined. If you are interested in volunteering, please email rosecityself-defense@portlandoregon.gov and let us know your name and email. We will be in contact when we start accepting applications.


In July of 2022, The Strength Programs (WomenStrength, GirlStrength and BoyStrength) moved from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB)! We have moved to the Community Safety Division (CSD) under the City of Portland’s Office of Management and Finance. This move was for several reasons: CSD was created to house safety and prevention programs in 2021, and the Strength programs were a natural fit. The other significant reason is that we found in WomenStrength, it was hard to reach some communities with our association with PPB; specifically, communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community. This move to CSD was a positive move and motivated us to rebrand our name and also update our curriculum to focus on equity and inclusion of those who we have been missing.

The Youth Against Violence (formerly BoyStrength program) has moved under the Office of Violence Prevention. You can find their website here.

Since 1979, we have provided free empowerment-based self-defense classes and personal safety workshops to people around the Portland metro area.  We have taught self-defense skills to approximately 40,000 women and teenage girls, and personal safety workshops to over 110,000 people. In our self-defense classes we offer just more than just physical self-defense skills. Included are topics such as using your intuition, understanding different escape options, negotiating consent, information about abusive relationships, boundary setting and assertiveness skills. This holistic approach has been successful in teaching our students that physical fighting is our last resort and we have so many options to choose from if faced with the threat of violence.

Finally, please be patient with us during this transition. We anticipate more web content in the upcoming weeks.


Contact us at rosecityself-defense@portlandoregon.gov.