Aaron St. Louis wants you to be able to defend yourself. He wants it so much, he’s willing to bring the training to you.
Aaron, an expert in self-defense, started his business, SMART Defense Tactics, out of his Spare Street home in Dracut after earning certifications in several martial arts and self-defense tactics.
“Everybody should know self-defense, and they don’t teach it in schools,” he says. “I think it’s something everyone should learn.”
With January being both National Personal Self-Defense Awareness Month and National Personal Trainer Awareness Month, Dracut Economic Development focuses on SMART Defense Tactics as the January 2023 Dracut Business of the Month.
Aaron’s road to becoming a self-defense instructor began when he earned a black belt in Taekwondo. After graduating from Dracut High School, and while spending two years visiting his father in Korea, where Taekwondo originated, Aaron realized the American version was nothing compared to Korean Taekwondo.
“I told them I have a black belt, and they said, ‘No, you don’t.’”
So he earned his black belt in Korea and took up kickboxing.
Two years in the Air Force, training with a special-ops instructor, provided him with more survival and self-defense skills. Then he took up jujitsu and tried his hands (and feet) at mixed martial arts. This was before the highly regulated MMA came about.
“It was a little more lax then,” Aaron says. “I was 5-foot-8 going against guys who were 6-foot-2. It was fun. I never got any serious injuries -- a cracked nose, a hand fracture, a torn meniscus.”
Though trained in database management while working as command support staff in the Air Force, Aaron, now 49, works as a fitness kickboxing trainer at iLoveKickboxing in Westford while operating the mobile SMART Defense Tactics.
“I always wanted to start a mobile self-defense operation,” he says.
That’s how SMART Defense Tactics began. SMART is an acronym for Survival Mindset Adrenal Response Training. (Being military, Aaron is big on acronyms.)
“It’s both self-defense and fitness,” he says of the training he provides. “People should be more fit than their attacker.”
Aaron’s qualifications are extensive.
He is a ninth degree black belt in Effective Level Fighting System and a fourth degree black belt in Krav Maga, an Israeli martial art.
He has had extensive training, and is a certified instructor, in close-quarter combatives, Jeet Kune Do (which was conceived by his idol, Bruce Lee), Kali, Muay Thai, boxing, Rapid Assault Tactics (RAT) and Kenpo.
He is certified as a bodyguard, personal trainer and fitness instructor, and in CPR and first aid.
Oh, and he has been inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame as 2022’s Self Defense Instructor of the Year.
Aaron recently held a self-defense training seminar for a group of nurses. After the training, he threw on his Spartan gear and told them to attack him and don’t hold back.
“I make it as real as possible,” he says.
After reading a recent article in a local newspaper about employees at a Lowell restaurant and bakery being intimidated by vagrants, Aaron approached the owners of the business to offer self-defense training. The business took him up on it and may bring him back for more training.
“It was a pure self-defense class, no martial arts,” he says.
But as Aaron says, a large majority of attacks against women comes from within the home, and it’s those women he wants to reach and teach.
He preaches the “stun and run” approach or, as he calls it, FAST -- Fierce Assault Survival Tactics.
“In a domestic-violence situation, women are thinking, ‘Why is this happening? I love this person, and I don’t want to hurt him.’ But you have to give yourself permission to injure them enough to run away and get some help.”
In fact, he says what he teaches is more appropriately called “self-offense” than self-defense.
“De-escalation tactics are a big part of it,” he says. “Situational awareness is the number-one tool. If you see something that may be about to happen, get out. If your intuition tells you something, get away. Hopefully, a woman can calm a guy down, but if they can’t escape or de-escalate, they need to know how to fight back and get away.”
Aaron credits internationally known women’s self-defense expert Melissa “Dr. Ruthless” Soalt for her training methods, especially when it comes to domestic violence.
“Melissa Soalt helped me to become a better self-defense instructor for women,” he says. “Yes, they might be attacked by a stranger and, yes, you see it on the news. But 90 percent of the attacks are domestic. I really want women to be able to protect themselves.”
Aaron teaches women to go for a man’s face first, not just because it puts the attacker on the defensive, but also because you may be able to get the attacker’s DNA under your fingernails. He tells them to scratch at the attacker’s eyes or stick a finger as deep into the attacker’s eye socket as they can.
“They’ll say, ‘That’s gross.’ And it is gross. But no adult can take a scratch to the eyes.”
Most of all, he tells women they need to be prepared to use violence as a way to escape their attacker.
“I tell people, ‘You’ve got to use violence as a tool. Criminals are going to use violence -- they don’t care if they hurt you. So you’ve got to use some kind of violence.’
“You’re more important than the person attacking you.”
SMART Defense Tactics will come to you to do family training, group training, corporate training, even child anti-abduction training, or CAT.
So do the SMART thing and get in touch with Aaron St. Louis and SMART Defense Tactics. Call 978-677-0127, email email@example.com or visit www.smartdefensetactics.com.