Input on using a cane for self defense?

Brian King

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@geezer
Geezer, Somebody with limited mobility due to age, illnesses, or injuries has more to face than just their mobility issues. There will likely be a greater fear of falling and greater fear of injury. Many martial students also have fear/reluctance of hurting another human. To swing a fist at someone can be difficult but to swing a stick can be even more so. I am sure with your experience in training the stick you have seen the reluctance manifested in targeting drills and such. With these issues in mind with along with the topic of “using a cane for self defense” a few quick thoughts have come to mind. You already know how to teach targeting, and which targets they might wish to hit to incapacitate or disable their attacker(s) and can certainly teach someone to hit hard and break things. That said, whacking a bag and especially being the one holding the bag can help deliver some confidence.

Just as important or maybe even more so, would be teaching the students how to fall relatively safely and how to get up. An interesting drill for you and your whole class to do that helps teach how to fall while injured and how to possibly get up while injured (this drill will give you tons of empathy to those with injuries or loss of mobility and give you some very good feedback on how to teach these important skills) Have all students take a Jo or Bo sized stick and shove it down their pant leg or tie it ankle and belt. Once the stick is in place – fall, repeatedly. Fall onto stomach, fall onto ‘free’ side, fall onto stick side (yes it might produce stick on bone at least once…this is good) and fall onto back. Practice some forward and backward rolls. Of course, after each fall you must get up but try to get up differently each time for the exploration. Then pair up. One partner has the stick limitation and the other partner trips him up, pushes him down, steps into the space the partner needs to get up or fall, etc. The one with limitations is not fighting back, but rather enjoying the exploration of falling and getting up with a partner that is getting in the way and helping the exploration of unexpected choices and chaos.

So, the person with the cane is in a self defense scenario and has taken out the attacker’s knee, groin, or throat and is able to limp off into the sunset, awesome. But what if instead of that they slip, fall, or are knocked down…now what. Hopefully they kept their wits and their cane. The cane can be used as a stiff and tough frame/shield. A drill to play with would have your students partner up with one getting a stick and the other getting a stomp and kick attitude. The one on the ground must keep both hands on their cane but can move their body how ever they want but they must stay on the ground for this drill. The other partner is allowed to circle, jump, skip, yell, whatever they want as they approach the prone partner and kick at them (make f’n contact, if the students wish or the prone student is new to contact the kicks can be solid pushes rather than strikes) The prone student will quickly learn to use the stick to frame (one end in the ground works very well and is strong) and lightly parry the kick and then be able to counter by levering or simply let the end stick the kicker as they pass by or over. The kickers will want to start out a bit slower and steadier or at least they will want to after catching a surprise stick end. Have them for sake of the drill walk up to the prone partner and without stopping walk right over their partner if able. Then walk up and without changing pace change the walk to a stomping stomp type of walk, then walking up and kicking but without stopping and aiming. The idea is to learn how to target something/someone on the ground with a kick without having to stop or change pace. One is learning how to parry, and counter while grounded with a cane and the other should be learning distancing, commitment to the attack, and how to protect vulnerable targets during the offensive movements.

For those that must use the cane it is important to learn how to hold onto the cane. Partnered push-ups, sit-ups and squats where the partners must each somehow together hold the cane while doing various exercises is an interesting and useful teaching tool. As is partnered falling and getting up – again having to both keep hold of the cane while performing these movements.

Finally, prior to the end of class have the students partner up and using the cane one gives the other a nice rub down/massage using the cane to rub the leg and arm muscles of the other. The cane can hurt but like most things can also relieve and heal.

Perhaps these ideas will feed your imagination and give you your own ideas and explorations. Helping someone cope with a little less fear, to explore the limiting and the frightful in a safe environment is a good thing.


Good luck

Brian
 
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geezer

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Brian, unfortunately we can only pick one rating icon, otherwise I would have picked informative, like, and agree. Thanks for the thoughtful and useful input!

Interestingly, my little group has a couple of gnarly old guys who wouldn't hesitate a moment before whacking an attacker with a stick as hard as they can.

One is a roofer in his mid sixties who has really gimpy knees do to years in his trade, some falls off ladders, and a few rough landings sky-diving. He still does roofs, with just one assistant, in Phoenix, in the summer. Also, his knuckles have huge "ram's horns" from doing hard, old-school TKD training in his youth.

The best thing about that guy is that since he can't run very fast, anybody foolish enough to attack him has a chance to get away alive!
 
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Blackstaff

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@Blackstaff this is the thread. It may help to read through the whole thread, particularly geezer's posts. Or it may not. Who knows.

Just wanted to pop by to say thanks, I know it's been a minute. Will definitely be looking through these posts further.

I see some of you asked about things a disabled or more enfeebled person could do with a cane, as opposed to someone who is more physically able. Thank you for that.
 

Hanshi

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I'll be watching the videos you posted later as I'm under time constraints at present. I'm a martial arts teacher but am retired. I am also disabled and have to use a cane outside of the house or when not in buildings. The cane I use is simply a shortened shepherd's staff cut from its 6 foot length to the correct size. It is made of oak with a flat rubber tip. I've trained with the cane and at least mostly agree with your approach. I couldn't swing it around if my life depended on doing so. Rheumatoid arthritis have weakened my hands too much. But I can do strikes, locks and blocks. My training, including the traditional Okinawan/Japanese, is basically "environmental" and consists of everyday items as well as firearms and blades. Being physically disabled sucks and majorly affects what one can do in any confrontation. I don't even walk so well now. So yes, most of what passes for defensive cane work on the videos available is worse than useless for someone with heavy limitations. I look forward to watching your posted videos asap.
 

Brian King

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@geezer,
That roofer sounds like many I used to know in the trades. Working day in and out, doing hard difficult labor builds a toughness and honest cynicism that is hard to beat.
How goes the group of ol' gnarly folks and their training? They still getting after it?
Another drill adaption you might want to explore is a 'partner drill' utilizing three people. One the 'victim', one the attacker, and one that will 'help' the victim. The helper has the victims cane in their possession. The attacker grabs the victim solidly, pushing, pulling, and or twisting the victim. The attackers job is to rough up the victim but not necessarily take them to the ground or finish them (hands covering eyes or nose and mouth will ramp up the training and emotions). The helpers job is to throw or hand the victim their cane. The idea is to get the partner used to the idea that they have a tool (easy to forget in the moment) and also to have to figure out how to use that tool while not in a fighting stance or other optimum position, from the ol' darn the shindig has started and I screwed up by letting them too close position. With the cane being thrown (they then have to focus on catching or picking up something while being roughed up, fun) or handed to them they will be holding the cane in positions that are not optimum or usual. Their body will remember these feeling and should the need ever arise, that feeling will return and bring familiarity, especially if the drill is made game like and fun. The helper should kind of make it a point to more often than not hand or throw the cane so that the 'victim' has to come to grips with it in odd positions, off hand, high or low, behind or from the side. If the victim just focuses on breathing, finding and holding the cane and trying to get it between themselves and the attacker, they are doing well and developing some usable experiences. They then can perhaps explore various possible take-downs or other martial type of work from odd and uncomfortable positions. The attacker will be learning how someone might be accessing a tool (and also they will be learning to observe others who might not be in the conflict) as well as how to place the conflict so that others have a more difficult time interfering or engaging. The helper will be learning how to read where a conflict is moving to and when as they try to get the cane and partner together. The helper will learn how to hand off tools effectively by learning how to do ineffectively. For a bit deeper drill, all three should be observing how their own psyche feels and changes at all phases of the drill (attack, unarmed, armed, counter) and for even a bit deeper dig, observe how all three peoples psyches feel and change during all phases of the drill. All partners should be observing the other two partners as well as themselves.

Regards
Brian King
 
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