Zephyrhills, Fla. These seniors are ready to fight, using a form of self-defense called Cane-Fu.
Cane fighting classes have popped up all over the country, in part due to the influence of Cane Masters, a company founded by Mark Shuey, one of the country’s most recognized cane fighters, that sells wood canes made of harder, thicker wood, to sustain wear and wider crooks to fit around an attacker’s neck. Now, it’s being offered at dojos and increasingly in senior centers and retirement communities.
“You don’t have to be powerful, you don’t have to be fast,” said Gary Hernandez, who runs a dojo northeast of Tampa. “It’s a piece of hard wood. It hurts.”
In the two-hour session, participants are taught a sampling of moves to use in different situations. The cane can simply be swung in circles, used to grab a foot or neck, and fashioned into a bat or poker. Advanced techniques even show a senior how to use a cane to ward off someone with a gun or knife.
“You don’t think about carrying it other than for somebody who needs help,” said 63-year-old Joan Kirkman, a nurse from Zephyrhills. “But after taking this class, you realize you could do so much more with it.”