“Ben brings passion and intensity to how he teaches combatives. His no nonsense approach quickly prepares his students both mentally and physically for conflict and combat. The classes Ben leads are both challenging and enjoyable, and Ben is excellent at providing constructive feedback on everything from establishing good form in performing exercises, to developing skills for self defense, and to preparing mentally for confrontation."

--Patrick May, Senior Management Analyst, Defense Centers of Excellence


"To anyone seeking a serious self-defense program in the Washington D.C. area, I would strongly urge them to consider District Combatives. The combatives system that coach Ben Drader teaches is entirely based in realism, centered around surviving a life-threatening encounter. Classes will whip you into shape, but will more importantly condition your thinking to identify serious threats, act decisively to defend yourself, and safely disengage. In addition to effective fighting techniques, Ben places equal emphasis on techniques to avoid violent interaction whenever possible, but also to act in accordance with the law when one is obliged to meet force with force. Best of all, he makes a point of tailoring your fighting styles to best utilize your physical strengths while negating your weaknesses. Don't join if you're just looking for the artistic or sporting elements of a "traditional" martial arts class, join if you're serious about learning how to defend yourself and the people you love."

--Ben Burgoon, College Student


"I have absolutely zero reservations in giving District Combatives five stars. I have been going to DC for a little over a year, and my experience could not be better. I was looking for an activity in which I would get good exercise while learning self-defense, and District Combatives has provided just that. Every class includes various and differing exercises to keep you in shape and work every muscle, and often new materials are introduced to step up our training as well as keep it interesting (as examples, recent additions include High Gear impact-reducing training suits, various punching bags, and better training pads).

The material isn’t just taught rote, as I have seen in many martial arts courses, but we learn self-defense tactics and maneuvers for real life situations and practice them in varying intensities to simulate and train for actual emergency situations. I took lessons in Krav Maga for a couple months before changing to District Combatives, and there is a stark difference in the material taught, as well as its application. Combatives training teaches concepts so as to be used in real-life situations. Krav Maga will say “this is the correct way to react to x situation,” and then that response will be practiced over and over. The approach taken at District Combatives recognizes that situations are fluid, and responses can’t be regurgitated in the same manner, especially for the high-stress self-defense situations that the course prepares for. Instead, the approach focuses on techniques that are applicable in changing, unpredictable scenarios that better imitate real fights. Our training is a direct extension of this approach.

Ben is an incredible instructor: he is well versed in physical training and therapy, and always knows a good stretch or exercise, he takes the time to explain concepts thoroughly when we are learning them, and is always receptive to feedback or input on what students want to learn.

When I look at various websites or advertisement for services, I often wonder how true-to-reality the publication is. In the case of District Combatives, my best advice would be to go look at the website and understand that it is on point. This class is definitely not for everyone, it prepares for a serious and unfortunate possibility. However, it is amazing, challenging training. My ability to defend myself, and my confidence in doing so, is now substantial.

If you are looking to defend yourself in real-life situations, this is definitely the class for you."

--Theodore Cohen, U.S. Army


"Ben is an amazing teacher who actually teaches how a person can defend themselves. Yes, he goes through great strength/conditioning training that will challenge you physically. Yes, he will teach you how to correctly throw a punch, kick, jab, etc. But what makes Ben and District Combatives incredibly useful and valuable is that he goes beyond these basic "martial arts" regimens and addresses the core of self-defense: the act of being attacked, of having to potentially harm another human being, and the overwhelming physical/emotional reactions that you will be presented with in a real-life situation.

Don't take this class for stronger abs or better cardio-vascular fitness-although these are a great side effect, take it because you want to learn how to provide for your own security and potentially save your own life. Buy some protective gear because you will actually fight, learn your limitations and be stronger for it.

In terms of the basic day-to-day, this class is incredibly rewarding and a genuine great time. Ben is simultaneously a serious badass and one of the warmest and funniest people out there. The environment with the other students is close and supportive--kind of inevitable when you spend your Saturdays wailing on each other. Without a doubt, one of the best way to spend 2 hours if you are willing to put in the sweat.

In short: 5-5 stars, easy."

--Kathleen Rossetti, Analyst


"Ben's incredible knowledge of self defense, paired with his friendly demeanor and personalized style of instruction, makes District Combatives a great place to study martial arts in DC. Ben is also very knowledgeable of fitness and restorative routines, which is great to treat the occasional injury and overcome muscle imbalances. In addition, he provides outstanding personalized materials for us to study at home, or when we cannot attend class. I'd easily give more than five stars if I could!"

--Gustavo Sudre, Postdoctoral IRTA Fellow, Human Genome Research Institute