If you think self-defense classes are all about kicking someone in the groin, breaking bones and running away screaming, you've been watching too many scary movies.

Experts say protecting yourself from an attack is all about being able to assess danger, control the situation and pull off some offensive and defensive moves and exit strategies.

Here are some classes that will teach you the ropes of staying safe.

American Academy of Self Defense: 175 Bay Shore Rd., Deer Park, 631-667-5001, americanacademyofselfdefense.com

When: Next series begins Jan. 18

Cost: $39.99 for a four-week introductory program (classes organized by age group).

"We try to get you physically in shape and then teach you maneuvers," says owner-instructor Michael J. Bertucci. "We custom-fit the program to the students in the class. Everybody can't learn everything the same way. If that was the case, you'd just pick up a book or watch a video." The course, that runs from three to six weeks, teaches participants to take command of a situation, to be offensive or defensive and then get to a safe location.

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Modern Warrior: 711 N. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst, 631-226-8383, modernwarrior.com

Modern Warrior offers a range of practical self-defense classes ranging from a free rape-prevention seminar for ages 12 and older (Feb. 6, $25 refundable deposit; early registration recommended) to four- or eight-week intensive programs for women ($125-$225; $99-$195 in advance; next sessions start in April and June). "We're very heavy on awareness, strategy, blocking, improvised weapons, ground fighting," says instructor Danette Adamovich. "We don't really recommend hit, scream, run away." Other classes include anti-carjacking and handling attackers who have weapons.

Rape Aggression Defense SystemFarmingdale State College, 2350 Broadhollow Rd., Farmingdale, 631-420-2400, farmingdale.edu

When: March (date to be determined). Preference given to students, staff and faculty of Farmingdale State College and the public on a first-come, first-served basis (register at police@farmingdale.edu).

Cost: Free

"You'll learn how to physically use your attacker's weight to your advantage and how to immobilize them," says Kathy Coley, director of communications. The emphasis, she says, is on being cautious and tapping into your instincts.

Master Parrella's Martial Arts Center: 231 Voice Rd., Carle Place, 516-739-8888, nykungfu.com

Cost: From $12 per class (sold in blocks) to $125 a month for unlimited self-defense classes

"There's always a situation you can find yourself in where you have to defend yourself," says owner Ryan Healy. Classes cover how to effectively step away from a confrontation - but also what to do if you can't walk away. Students learn basic punching and kicking, defensive moves and conflict resolution.

PRIVATE CLASSES

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Rudy Zadwarny: 631-875-6423, totalhakkei@msn.com

Cost: Free introductory session, $40 an hour for an individual, $50 for 2-5 people, $100 for 6-10 people

Zadwarny, who has taught classes at Suffolk County Community College and local high schools, teaches in-home sessions in self-defense. "In my class, you learn real world self-defense. You learn to hear that voice that tells you when something is wrong. What I teach is not theatrics."

Terese Wunderlich: 631-495-2988

Wunderlich offers seminars on female self-defense to individuals ($100 an hour for 1-4 people) and groups ($225 for 90-minute classes for 8-24) such as churches and sororities. Topics include key-chain self-defense, ground-fighting techniques and rape prevention. She also offers college female and dorm environment-specific classes as well as parking lot safety tips.