Some thoughts on MAs from a Senior

DGF

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I am not even a white belt, I am a no-belt. Suspenders, maybe. I would presume to share what I have learned in my research of self defense for Seniors. I am a Senior Citizen, I capitalize Senior because I have lived long enough to be one , ( a bit of a surprise to me). Although what I am about to say is probably common knowledge among the MA community it was a bit startling to me. Common sense stuff, that I had not thought of previously. I joined this forum because I was looking for knowledge of self defense with a cane. To your credit, I received excellent advice, and directions to a number of relevant sites.
There is an old joke that involves two hikers that encounter a Grizzly Bear. One of the hikers turns and starts to run, the other hiker grabs his arm and says ,” you can’t outrun a bear“, the second hiker replies, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.” In effect, that is what happens when you carry a cane. You become a slightly less attractive target to a mugger, someone without a cane will come along shortly and the mugger lets you pass. That of course depends on how you carry yourself, if you are so infirm that you are struggling, even with the cane then you become the attractive target. From what I’ve read about criminals, they do not want to fight, they do not want a confrontation, they merely want you to give up your money quietly and let them go on their way. We have a story in our family that involves my wife’s, then, aged grandfather, a Lutheran Minister, now deceased. He was on a bench in a park in Denmark, when he was accosted by two young men that wanted his wallet. He jumped up, waving his arms and started screaming gibberish, the young thieves , backed off, turned and ran. Was that a self defense, martial arts move ? I think it was. So the first thing I have learned is that just carrying a cane in a confident way is a MA move, a deterrence. As would be wearing a MA uniform with a black belt, or carrying a 12ga at port arms.
The second thing I have learned is that there are few (none?) schools or videos that adequately address the problems Seniors might encounter in defending themselves with a cane. Yes there are schools and videos that make that claim but I have not seen any that to my eye are credible. Of course I have not seen all of them. But I have seen the previews and have bought a few. First, the prime motivation must be to escape, not engage in combat. Second ,we Seniors must have trick or two to allow us to discourage an attack immediately, that allows us to vacate the area. We are not going to defeat an attacker if the fight lasts longer than a minute. We will lose our cane and have it used against us. I remember once being told, “Never carry anything in your pocket that you wouldn’t want stuck up your a$$.” There is always someone out there, no matter how tough you are, with the capability to do just that.
Third thing I have learned is that I enjoy the exercises, (do you call it Kata?) I do with my walking stick. My cane does not arrive till next week. Tai Chi with a cane is relaxing and for me at least, a credible workout., worth doing.
Now the challenge. I am 67, slightly older than the boomer generation my wife belongs to. As you know, the boomer generation is about to retire, the first one already has, they are a huge percentage of the population. To me, prior to my research,. MAs were a mystical, Bruce Lee type of thing that was out of my reach, a difficult thing to learn and the marketing certainly wasn’t geared towards me. Perhaps that should change. The marketing needs to attract these boomers. Sure there is a great deal anecdotal evidence of Seniors being involved in the MAs but Imp sure you would have to admit it is not mainstream. I remember when Honda seriously entered the motorcycle industry in the 60s. They came in with the slogan “ You meet the nicest people on a Honda“. It was a brilliant campaign and very successful, they sold a ton of motorcycles. They overcame the image that motorcycles had previously. The image I have of MAs, at my age is having someone throw me all over the Dojo and going home sore and having my wife rub liniment on my back.
How about a Cane Self Defense school that emphasizes the health of exercising with a Cane, the side effect being that perhaps you will someday defend yourself with it. A school that does not require you to engage in mock Cane fights with fellow students but to learn a Cane Tai Chi that is relaxing and contemplative. A curriculum that does teach self defense but geared to what a Senior needs. It seems to me This is an idea , I believe, whose time has come. You MA entrepreneurs could start talking to me and my generation.
 

theletch1

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That is an excellent post. We have a student in our school who will turn 60 in a month or two. Our style is Nihon Goshin Aikido in Roanoke, Va. The style is not for the faint of heart. There's alot of pain and many falls and rolls. However, the art, when done properly doesn't require much muscle at all to be effective. We've done some work with a cane but it isn't a normal part of our curriculum.
 
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DGF

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I think it is important to market the Cane school diferently than you would a normal MAs program. You are trying to reach an entirely different clientel. Remember, "You meet the nicest people on a Honda".

Imagine how much more secure to would feel if you had something in your hand as you walk. Imagine how much better you would feel if you did low impact stretching exercises that reduce stress and clear your mind while teaching you self defence. Etc,Ect Ect.It's a matter of marketing.
 

Hawke

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I met a senior lady in a Kenpo class. She could take a beating and come at you hard.

There's an old saying in FMA. Beware of old men with sticks.
 

Never_A_Reflection

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Our school, while it does not teach cane, specifically, does not wish to exclude the older generation. We have a 62 year-old student who will most likely be testing for his black belt in the next year or so, and he does well with our curriculum. We do teach a variety of weapons that could be applied in a similar manner to a cane--the jo or escrima especially, as they are shorter. I certainly think it would be interesting to learn some self defense techniques with a cane, though I'm only going on 20 years old--after all, I will most likely be using a cane eventually, since I have a bad knee
 

SenseiBear

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How about a Cane Self Defense school that emphasizes the health of exercising with a Cane, the side effect being that perhaps you will someday defend yourself with it. A school that does not require you to engage in mock Cane fights with fellow students but to learn a Cane Tai Chi that is relaxing and contemplative. A curriculum that does teach self defense but geared to what a Senior needs. It seems to me This is an idea , I believe, whose time has come. You MA entrepreneurs could start talking to me and my generation.

I think it would be a good idea, and it is starting to happen. I have seen several schools that beging to offer cane defense...

And I think the health benefits, the taiji with a cane, etc. are all good... But while I don't think you need "mock cane fights" in order to confidently use a can in a self defense situation, you do need to train combat techniques, against an attacker. Alot. Like any other skill you want to call on in an emergency situation.

This cane form may interest you - fwiw.
http://www.ironcrane.com/html/cane.html
 

LawDog

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At my school I have 5 students that fit into the senior category, one woman is actually 85 yrs. I do teach weapons but I encourage new students who are older to join the empty hand martial arts program. The reason for this is there is a strong emphasis on training that includes a "balance" physical training. This includes toe to neck stretching, toning of all of the major / minor muscle groups in the upper and lower body. Many, not all of the weapons programs do not focus on a complete physical training.
With seniors, no matter what training program they study the key is, "Gradual is better".
I am a boomer who is now retired and so to are most of my friends, I understand fully what you are saying.
Have fun in whatever style that you choose.
:ultracool
 
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DGF

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Thank you Lawdog for your response. There are many exercise programs for Seniors. My daughter is a Yogi instructor. Excellent program for stretching and toning muscles. There are others, many others.

What I am proposing is something completely different. My limited workout, Tai Chi with a cane "Asian fighting techniques DVD" has shown me that I get a very good workout, (for me ). I have no interest in empty hand self defence. I do not want to get that close to an attacker unless I absolutely have to. Plus with an empty hand I am losing the first defence of carrying a cane, that of being a less attractive target.

To market this idea I think one has to eliminate all the macho MAs baggage and emphasize what appeals to Seniors, Independence, Confidence and Health. I think " You meet the nicest people on a Honda" is the perfect metaphor for this program. ie, I don't want to be associated with with the Hells Angels, I want to be associated with my neighbors, have fun and look cool. There is a certain cachet about MAs that is not appealing to the mainstream, promulgated by, to some extent, all the Kung Foo movies. I look at those movies and say," I could never do that", as erroneous as that statement is. We need something that tells us,Yes I could do that. The cane, I think is perfect. Get rid of all the jargon, the MA uniforms and start a new discipline. I know I am speaking as a heretic and may fly in the face of what is precious to many MAs practitioners but I am not saying get rid of the past, I am saying add something new.
 

charyuop

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I wouldn't like to sound rude, and maybe I misunderstood what you said (after all English is not my main language and that happens often). What you are saying is that there is the need of something where Senior can go, do some stretching, learn a kata or two with the cane and in the end being told ok you can defend yourself.
As far as I know there some schools that can help you learn using a cane...and I mean foe Senior, not with high jumps, wide splits and so on. But in order to be really able to use them you have to work on being proficient.
It would be very easy to teach you a kata, have you do it perfectly and tell you ok, now you can defend yourself. Then you go out, find an a**hole that comes to "bother" you and you find out that said truth at your expenses.
True, when I was younger I would have started MA too, but because of my "good" shape and the movies I thought it was out of my range. I started when I was 34 and learnt I was wrong.
The same way you will be able to find a school where they won't require to be thrown up and down the tatami for hours, but on the other hand learning a form of Taiji won't help you. I did Taiji for two years and I can manage through the form, but that doesn't mean I can use it to defend myself (not vouching against Taiji Chuan). Even Taiji is excellent, but requires alot of work to be able to use it....learning the form alone is not enough.
 
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DGF

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Charyuop, I understand what you are saying. It is not my intention to mislead someone into thinking they can be a combat cane expert able to defeat large tough aggresors. My concept is a program that teaches avoidance, awareness if you will, of potentially dangerous situations. Defending your self by actually using the cane would be a very last resort and only enough to possibly allow a person to escape.

The benefits of the Tai Chi would be as an exercise to stretch and loosen these old joints and bones. There is an old saying that says "If you think education is expensive, see how much ignorance costs". It cannot be anything but a benefit to learn techniques of self defence that may be a help in an unavoidable situation. I do not think it is likely for me to be attacked on the walks I take, or for that matter, ever attacked. I however feel better when I carry a stick on my walks, it gives me a feeling of not being completely unarmed. If I am going to carry a stick anyway why not learn to use it with some skill?

My concept of the curriculum would be instruction on basic self defence techniques to include to putting students (Seniors) in actual self defence,(classroom) situations and discussing the best way to handle it. I would have a period of Tai Chi and a period of actually swinging thrusting and generally beating the crap out of a heavy bag or armoured opponent. The creativity of that curriculum would be the challenge for the Sensei running the class. I believe there is a need.

I remember, when I was in the Army and I had completed our basic training hand to hand combat course, the advice given to me by the instructor. "Don't think you can go into Waynesville ( the town just outside the base at Ft Leonardwood) and think you can clean out a bar full of rednecks because you did well in this class. They will kick your a$$." I have no illusions about what I will be able to do with my cane, I will continue to follow my Drill Instructors wise advice, as should students in this hypothetical class.
 

LawDog

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Tai Chi will fit your needs nicely if taught by a qualified instructor. Today many instructors were taught Tai Chi by Master DVD.
When you practice with the cane you should work both arms equally. In this way one side of your shoulders will develop equally with the other side.
:ubercool:
 

geezer

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How about a Cane Self Defense school that emphasizes the health of exercising with a Cane, the side effect being that perhaps you will someday defend yourself with it. A school that does not require you to engage in mock Cane fights with fellow students but to learn a Cane Tai Chi that is relaxing and contemplative. A curriculum that does teach self defense but geared to what a Senior needs. It seems to me This is an idea , I believe, whose time has come. You MA entrepreneurs could start talking to me and my generation.

OK--the truth be told, I'm not a true geezer yet (except in the eyes of my teenage daughter). In fact I won't even qualify for the Sr. menu at Denny's for a couple more years. But you are just a bit ahead of us. Soon we will tread in your footsteps. I'm already finding that my joints won't take hard grappling and throws, and I'm having to re-design my workout regimen to better accomodate my changing physical abilities. Right now I'm finding Wing Tsun and escrima to suit me very well, and in a decade or so when I retire from "the real world" I plan to teach them again. I see absolutely no reason why I should ever have to give up beating young punks with a stick!
 

newGuy12

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This is good to read. You keep on practicing and enjoying yourself, geezer. And if in the future you wish to practice some kind of empty hand MA (never say "never"), remember, that there are schools that have older students. We have some at my school. They cannot do all of the techniques as some younger students do, but they can do most of them, and modify the others.

As far as kicking and punching with freesparring goes, it is only good sense to let the older student (if they are advanced far in age) to set the pace and the level of intensity. This makes for good flow, and prevents injury. If they wish to step up the level, then that's okay, it is their choice.

The very advanced age students that I have met are not wishing to become barroom bouncers or tournament competitors usually, and this is just the way that it is. In any event, all the best,




Robert
 

kidswarrior

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I remember, when I was in the Army and I had completed our basic training hand to hand combat course, the advice given to me by the instructor. "Don't think you can go into Waynesville ( the town just outside the base at Ft Leonardwood) and think you can clean out a bar full of rednecks because you did well in this class. They will kick your a$$." I have no illusions about what I will be able to do with my cane, I will continue to follow my Drill Instructors wise advice, as should students in this hypothetical class.
Ahhh, experience talking. Great to have you on the board, DGF. Welcome.

I have often thought of creating a program such as the one you describe in the OP, but alas I'm not an entrepreneur and have no interest in becoming one (again--been there, done that). So, I teach MA's to the students I choose for free. But I am interested in the cane both for exercise, and self-protection. I do carry one (have three, in various guises) much of the time. And I do qualify for the Senior menu. :D

Would love to hear how your 'training' is going when your cane arrives, and maybe kick around some ideas. We wouldn't make $$millions (or even pennies ;)), but who cares? Might be fun. And could use the PM function if you wanted, to keep pesky youngsters away (no offense to said youngsters).
 
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DGF

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Kid,

Thanks for the welcome. There is another site at http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/PerfectWeapon/. It is only about canes. There are some interesting people there. One perslon has a MA/Fencing school in Missisippi and is putting together some DVDs for cane self defence for Seniors. I would like to talk with you and bounce some ideas I have about cane for Seniors.
Again,
Thanks for the welcome
 

Brian R. VanCise

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DGF it is really nice to have you on board here at MartialTalk. The cane is a formidable tool. My oldest student (83) is very effective with the cane. Personally I like having one with me as well.
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kidswarrior

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Kid,

Thanks for the welcome. There is another site at http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/PerfectWeapon/. It is only about canes. There are some interesting people there. One perslon has a MA/Fencing school in Missisippi and is putting together some DVDs for cane self defence for Seniors. I would like to talk with you and bounce some ideas I have about cane for Seniors.
Again,
Thanks for the welcome
The link is temporarily out of commission, so I'll try back. I'll PM you soon.
 

bluekey88

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I don't want to hijack the thread, but I'm hoping you guys might have some thoughts here.

I am not a senior (37), however, I suffer from periodic bouts of severe gout. At these times I have to resort to a cane to help me about.

Now, I've always thought it would be good to get some training in the use of the cane as a self defence weapon. However, I oftne wonder how useful I'd be taking the thing I need for mobility off the ground. I'd literally be hopping on one foot whilst trying to fend off the bad guy.

how does one deal with that?

Peace,
Erik
 
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DGF

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"I oftne wonder how useful I'd be taking the thing I need for mobility off the ground. I'd literally be hopping on one foot whilst trying to fend off the bad guy."

Blue, what would you do if you didn't have a cane?
 

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