Rose City Self-Defense

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

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. ALL PROGRAMMING IS FREE!

Introductory Class Schedules

October: The October class is in SW Portland on Mondays, October 2nd, 9th, and 16th from 5:30-8:45 pm.

Registration opens Tuesday, September 5th at 6:00 pm. We welcome all cis and trans women as well as non-binary people who are comfortable in a space that centers the experiences of women. Classes are open to ages 13 and above. Young women under 16 need to be accompanied by a participating adult.

  • Please fill out our online registration form on or after the registration date listed for each month.
  • Please plan to attend all three sessions at the location you select.
  • Please cancel your registration before the first session if you cannot attend all three sessions.


Registration opens Tuesday, October 3rd @ 6:00 pm 

Saturdays, November 4th, 11th and 18th from 9:30 am-12:45 pm

NW Neighborhood (exact location given upon registration)

December: (CANCELED)

The December class is canceled due to a lack of volunteer instructors. Introductory classes will resume in March of 2024 after we complete a new volunteer training.

Intermediate: Defense Against Weapons Class

November: Wednesdays, November 1st, 8th and 15th from 6:00-9:00 pm near Foster/Powell neighborhood.

Registration opens Tuesday, October 3rd at 6:00 pm

Classes are open to all participants that have taken the Introductory class within the last year. Must be at least 18 years old to take this class.

  • Please fill out our online registration form on or after the registration date listed for each month.
  • Please plan to attend all three sessions at the location you select.
  • Please cancel your registration before the first session if you cannot attend all three sessions.

**NEW** Youth Personal Safety Workshop (ages 10-13)

November: Thursday, November 9th from 7:00-8:30 pm near Mississippi/Albina neighborhood

Registration opens Tuesday, October 3rd at 6:00 pm

We welcome all cis and trans girls as well as non-binary people who are comfortable in a space that centers the experiences of girls. Classes are open to ages 10 through 13.  Women-identifying adults may accompany their child to this event.

Youth Programming

Rose City Self Defense offers Youth programming, focused on 4th—8th girl-identifying, non-binary and transgender youth, while the Community program is for women-identifying, non-binary and transgender persons, ages 13 and up. If you are interested in having RCSD set up youth programs for your group, please reach out to 

What types of Youth Programs are offered? 

9 week after-school programs 

  • Offered for 4th-8th grade students at elementary and middle schools in Portland.
  • Classes run after school once a week for 9 weeks; Each session is 90 minutes long.
  • You can request a program at your school! 

Summer Camps 

  • Camps are offered during the summer and last one week. 
  • Classes run Monday through Thursday and are 3 hours each day 
  • We partner with local community centers and schools to offer these programs across Portland.


  • Offered to students ages 10-18; A great option for high school students! 
  • 90 minute and 2 hour self-defense introductory session 
  • Great for school groups, girl scout troops, church groups and students with special needs. We can tailor the class to your students and their learning goals. 
  • Requester recruits the students and secures the space. Rose City Self-Defense brings materials and runs the workshop!

Request a service.

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:

  • All gender 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, includes all topics that Personal Safety Workshops cover with an additional hour of de-escalation skill building and practice)
  • For your affinity group, we will tailor the workshop for your group!

Click here to register.


We are currently recruiting volunteer self-defense instructors for our new volunteer training in 2024

We would like to orient you to the process of training to be a RCSD self-defense instructor. Instructors first complete a classroom-based training and then apprentice. Our training begins in January of 2024. There are two parts of training. The first part happens on Saturdays, in which volunteers will learn basic physical self-defense skills as well as concepts and theory on topics like intimate partner violence and understanding oppression. Saturday training dates for 2024 are: January 6th, 27th, February 10th and 24th & March 9th from 9:00am-5:30 pm. The second part of training will be participating as an apprentice in introductory level self-defense classes from March-May. The dates and times will be determined by the spring class schedule.

Please see the application for more details.


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.

Class Resources

  1. Do you have questions about the health of your relationship
  2. Part of self-defense preparation is knowing the difference between intuition and bias. Learn more about your implicit biases by taking these tests
  3. What are some alternatives to calling law enforcement? Consider putting these into your phone contacts for easy access:
    1. 988: Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (anything mental health related)

    2. Call to Safety: 888-235-5333

    3. Portland Police Non-emergency Line: 503-823-3333

    4. *911 and ask for Portland Street Response (they arrive in less than 20 minutes with a mental health care worker and an EMT, no law enforcement unless specified). PSR will be 24 hours by summer of 2023.

  4. What are your boundaries?
    1. What is important to you?
    2. What makes you uncomfortable?
    3. What do you want to keep private?
    4. How do you want to be touched?
    5. What makes you feel respected?
    6. Have you identified any “deal-breaker” behaviors?
    7. Are there things that trigger a trauma response?
    8. Is this a reason for a boundary or is it a bias? Think about the difference between intuition and bias. Our prejudices are not reasons for boundary setting.


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