Female Self Defence System

The Female Self Defence System (FSDS) is designed with the express purpose of making women safer and more capable of defending themselves. It incorporates simple, realistic and effective self-defence techniques with a fitness regime which promotes strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness.

The system is an extrapolation of a Japanese martial art designed around self-defence, not sport. The instructors and assistants are qualified in the Japanese martial arts, but these classes are not what would be considered classical.

The group is designed to create a safe space for women to learn how to defend themselves against physical attack. It also features advice, information and expert input from external sources who present from knowledge and experience, including a retired police officer with 23 years of front-line service in uniform response, CID, major crime, stranger rape and murder squads.

The classes are designed to be inclusive for females of all age, race, sexual orientation, religion, creed, culture and ability.

The intention of the class is to create a mutually supportive society.

The classes are taught by Tessa Bell, who has a shodan black belt in Shōrinji Kenpō and has been training since 2015. She won an award in 2019 for Community Based Martial Artist of the Year for her work with young women in Southampton  and domestic violence refuge shelters.

Regular classes are led by female instructors with female assistants. Male guest instructors and assistants can be invited in by the attendees of the class.

This ethos was created to make a space that is welcome for traditionally hard to reach groups, such as those whose religion prevents them from attending exercise classes with strange men, or to victims of serious assault and/or abuse who would feel uncomfortable with males in the class.


A typical class consists of:

  • A thorough and energetic warm-up.
  • Self defence technique practice starting from simple individual form, then working to pair form, and onto realistic full-force application on strike pads etc.
  • Discussion and open question forums on the law around and reality of self-defence and fighting.
  • Physical conditioning that switches between major muscle areas.
  • Warm-down with deep yoga stretching, breathing and relaxation exercises.



Cost is kept to an absolute minimum. Sessions are £20 per calendar month for private students or £30 per term for University students.
There is also an annual (Oct 1st to Oct 1st) cost of £30 to cover personal insurance and admin fees.

Special low income rates are negotiable.

Training info

At present due to the COVID-19 pandemic FSDS classes are closed. We hope to start up again in September at the beginning of term.

For more information or for answers to any questions you may have, don’t hesitate to enquire at our FSDS Facebook group.