Imagine an upper cut to the throat, or a quick jab to the kidneys. A couple of these blows may be enough to bring down a professional boxer, or for an elderly person, ward off an unsuspecting attacker.
Exercise programs and classes gaining popularity in senior citizen centers, independent or assisted living environments, where residents are free to come and go as they please, are now offering up “self-defense tactics,” and there is frequently a waiting list.
‘Boxing 101 for Seniors?” Not quite, no longer used just to assist with walking, canes have become the weapon of choice for the vulnerable elderly.
Cane fighting isn’t a new concept either. Andrew Chase Cunningham wrote about using a cane as a weapon in 1912. Several cane fighting books have been published in Europe, and fighting with sticks, of course, is as old as fighting itself. Moorpark Hospice
Mark Shuey, now owner of Cane Masters in Incline Village, NV, is credited with the growing popularity of cane fighting. An expert at hapkido, Mr. Shuey started studying at an advanced level that utilizes sticks as weapons at the same time his elderly father started using a cane to get around. Mr. Shuey realized that the vulnerability of senior citizens could be neutralized by proper use of their walking aid. He now travels and teaches his "American Cane System" of self-defense and has formed the Cane Masters International Association.
Cane Fighting as part of an Exercise Program
Cane fighting classes for the elderly are considered to be a light form of exercise. Stretching and bending with the cane used as a piece of exercise equipment makes handling the cane for self-defense feel more natural. It is important for each individual to know his or her balance limitations so that swinging a cane doesn’t make them topple over.
When used for self-defense, being hit with a sturdy piece of wood like a cane will hurt. Being jabbed in the stomach with the tip of a cane isn’t fun either. The hooked end of the cane can snag an arm or even a neck, and guide it where the holder desires. A crack to the shin is more effective that a wild swing to the head of an attacker if the empowered senior is still standing and able to call for help or get a way.
While seniors shouldn’t expect to completely eliminate the presence of their assailant with this form of martial arts, learning the techniques of stick fighting allow the potential victim the confidence to deflect an attack and to escape. If nothing else, it will definitely attract the attention of and help from bystanders.
Canes can be carried everywhere and can quickly be used as a weapon in an attack. Learning the proper way to use them reinforces a feeling of empowerment.
Although these programs at senior centers, independent and assisted living facilities emphasize cane fighting and handling as a form of exercise and a mild form of self-defense for the elderly community, none encourage violence as a way of acting out frustrations. The concept makes this type of exercise program inappropriate for individuals with dementia, hostility or agression issues and those confined to a facility without the danger of intruders.
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