Orlando senior citizens fight back in 'cane fu' self-defense class

Class teaches confidence, protection techniques

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Police Department is offering a new class that teaches senior citizens self-defense in a way that proves you don't have to be strong and nimble to fight off a potential attacker.

Although OPD offers a variety of self-defense classes, the "cane fu" class, hosted at the Beardall Senior Center in downtown Orlando, is the first of its kind.

Orlando Police Cpl. Kevlon Kirkpatrick, who is part of the community policing division, said he came up with the idea because he wanted to give seniors the confidence, power and tools to protect themselves.

"We want them to feel safe, minimize the anxiety, we understand there's a certain amount of fear and vulnerability that they bring," Kirkpatrick said.

A recent class focused on teaching seniors how to use their elbows and knees to thwart a criminal, and reminding them that running in the opposite direction isn't always the best option.

For 71-year-old Beverly Rosenberg, it was her first self-defense class. Still, she was a natural who didn't shy away from using some force.

"I love the kicking part," Rosenberg said.

But the class wasn't all serious, with instructors reminding seniors that they can laugh while they learn, as long as they remember the basic concepts that include protecting themselves, covering up and charging forward.

Attendee Tom McCaughna said he wants to commit the moves to memory in case he ever has to defend himself.

"I'm just looking out to make sure I'm safe. I have a responsibility, I have grandchildren, I don't want to get really hurt badly because I want to stick around for a while. I don't want people hurting me because they think they're younger and stronger than me, and take advantage of me."

Orlando Police officials said the class is still in an experimental phase at the moment, but because the response has been so positive, they hope to make it a regular offering. For more information about upcoming self-defense classes, click here.

About the Author: