Sunday, July 19, 2009

Senior citizens Cane-Do self-defense too

By Larissa Klitzke Contra Post Times

DANVILLE — An elderly person wielding a cane may not be as vulnerable as criminals suspect, thanks to Cane-Do, a self-defense class for seniors.

The classes include a 30-minute lecture and warm-up, followed by an hour of training in which seniors use exercise bands and their own canes to learn how to hold, twirl, strike, poke, jab and block.

"Honest citizens are not allowed to carry anything to defend themselves, but we can all carry canes," said John Bruhl, of Danville, who recommended the class to Danville town officials after his wife, Nadene, saw a video of Cane-Do on television late one night.

Organizers say self-defense is a valuable skill for seniors in particular because the elderly are perceived as easy targets by criminals and are disproportionately affected by property crimes, including burglary, motor vehicle theft and property theft.

In 2005, about one in five personal crimes against persons 65 and older were thefts, compared to one in 33 for those ages 12 to 49, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics.

"I am older and I know in this economy people pick on the elderly," said Nadene Bruhl. "I don't want to be a victim."

The first day of class on July 6 included light sparring and techniques such as the two-handed jab, groin hook and head strike.

"I thought it looked particularly ridiculous for elderly people to defend themselves with a cane," said George Field, of Danville, who uses his cane regularly for walking support.

Field said he likes the idea of knowing self-defense, but added that he joined the class primarily as a fun way to exercise.

The local Cane-Do class is being taught by Jose Isidro of the Mt. Diablo Hwa Rang Kwan school, who teaches other self-defense classes in Pittsburg and has more than 25 years of martial arts experience.

Cane-Do draws from samurai sword fighting skills to not only use the cane as a means of self-defense but also to integrate useful hand-to-hand techniques such as striking, kicking, locking, throwing and grappling.

In the class, Isidro also offers mental training, including mind-clearing and breathing exercises to quiet the mind, aiding the body in fostering self-defense skills, personal fitness and healing.

"The main part is to keep healthy and enjoy life," Isidro said.

Reach Larissa Klitzke at 925-847-2160 or

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