SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

At the Paragon Academy in Santa Barbara, co-owner and instructor Sean Apperson says more young women are taking Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Kickboxing in preparation for college life.

"In the last eight years, I have seen a bit of a change, where some high school parents are bringing their girls in trying to get them ready for college. You can tell there is more concern," said Apperson.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 19 percent of undergraduate women experience attempted or actual sexual assault.

Apperson says learning to defend yourself is important. But, it isn't going to happen overnight.  

"It takes a commitment. Anything that is complicated and challenging takes doing something on a weekly basis for a good six months to a year," said Apperson.

The skills are built over time, until they become instinctual.

"Whatever skills they are learning will come out naturally, so they are not having to think about it. It just happens and their able to defend themselves in real time when somebody surprises them, grabs them from behind, and throws them. They are able to stay composed, recover and create enough space to get away," Apperson said.

Apperson says women who train in mixed marital arts on a constant basis have a good chance of fighting off an attack, even if they are smaller than their attacker. He says he sees proof of that every day in the gym.

"Some of these girls, after four or five months of training are actually really starting to do pretty well. Then when new guys come in that are bigger and stronger, they are able to defend themselves and get them in submission holds and make these guys tap out," he said.  

Apperson says with training, also comes a stronger sense of confidence and self-esteem.

"Their confidence goes through the roof. They are less likely to get attacked because they are so physically confident. They hold themselves differently. People that are predators can pick up on that and they'll seek out the weaker victim," he said.

For more information about the Paragon Academy click here