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Senior activity: get hooked on training with a cane (VIDEO)

Clifford Crandall Jr.
Sentinel columnist
Posted 2/5/23

There are so many areas you can train in. The one I am suggesting now is one that I have trained in for more than 50 years. It is in the use of the cane.

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Senior activity: get hooked on training with a cane (VIDEO)


There are so many areas you can train in. The one I am suggesting now is one that I have trained in for more than 50 years. It is in the use of the cane.

Training in the use of the cane is an incredible experience that improves your balance, strength and reaction time. The cane is a tool that most of us have become familiar with in our lifetime through knee, hip, leg and ankle injuries. As we age, some of us may use one to maintain the active quality of life we wish to have.

Therefore, training in the use of the cane becomes a great activity. Across the country, you will find multiple cane martial arts styles, as well as seminars on how to use the cane and defend yourself with it. The cane is a unique self-defense tool that you can legally take wherever you go, even on an airplane. This is a powerful tool with a rich history in traditional Japanese and Chinese martial arts dating back hundreds of years.

(See video here.)

Once understood and practiced, the techniques can easily be transferred to a hiking staff and even an umbrella. This tool also offers individuals in wheelchairs a reach and leverage that will allow them to defend themselves from a seated position. With a small, easily attached clip added to a wheelchair, the cane becomes readily accessible in a moment.

Training with this tool in a regular program will get you out and active, and routine training helps to improve your balance and mental alertness. Like any training, it is repetitive, which is why the cane becomes an extension of your body, allowing you to feel comfortable and empowered.

Self-defense training with the cane will include blocks, strikes, transitional moves and control moves. If you are limited to one good arm, all these moves can still be done. Your legs are working the whole time if you are standing, or your body core is working if you are in a wheelchair.

You may be lucky as you train to break a sweat, but most of the time you will simply have brain strain. Yes, there is that much to learn and to teach your body. If you go online, the internet will offer many books and videos on the use of the cane. OK, no plug intended, just a fact that some have been authored by a man named Clifford Crandall Jr. (Oh my gosh, I know him).

You may now use other kinds of adaptive equipment, such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, dental implants, CPAP, or even a nose strip, to breathe better at night. They make us no less powerful or lessen our desire or intent to do something. I carry my cane with me many times when I travel, although I don’t need it for mobile support. There are many kinds of canes; I prefer the style with a round crook because of the additional self-defense techniques that are available.

If you think it makes you look old, you are most likely right, but then again, you are old. I feel funny when someone holds the door for me because I am traveling with my cane, but I get over it because I am also aware of what can be done to someone with my cane if they should try to assault me. If it makes you look a little frail or helpless, then they  — an attacker — will underestimate you, and that gives you an advantage. I have a T-shirt I like that says, “Underestimate me. That’ll be fun.”

The object here is to get out and work your body, challenge your brain, and move your emotions. Whether you are 60 or 80 years old, training in many physical activities will do that, and the cane is a great option.

Keep in Mind: Worry gives a small thing a big shadow. (Swedish proverb)

Clifford Crandall Jr., 75, is founder and grandmaster of the American Martial Arts Institute, 8382 Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford. He has produced a monthly column and video series, “Still Alive and Kicking,” promoting life-enhancing activities for seniors.


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