Violent crimes are on the rise in the senior population. In 2015 one study found that 51% of violent crimes against seniors were committed by people they did not know, 26% by someone they know well or a casual acquaintance, and sadly 18% by a relative or intimate partner. Injuries to older adults from violent crimes account for $5.3 billion annually in medical costs. Thankfully increased efforts towards prevention in the US after 2007 have resulted in many police departments and prosecutorial offices that focus exclusively on elder abuse. One of the most effective ways of prevention is to learn self defense and there are several kinds that can accommodate seniors with mobility issues. Let’s take a look at the most popular.
Aikido is ideal for older adults as well as people with disabilities. Aikido is based on turning an attacker’s strength and power against him or her. By redirecting the force of an attack, a less physically equipped adult can overcome a younger and stronger opponent. Aikido does not generally involve punches and kicks. It can also teach you how to fall properly in order to avoid getting injured.
Wing chun is a form of kung fu that uses open-handed strikes and low kicks. Because it focuses on precision and posture rather than raw power, wing chun can be excellent training for older adults. It’s a low-impact activity that does not involve jumping or acrobatics, so it’s easier on the knees than some other forms of martial arts.
Many people believe that Krav Maga is the best martial art for self-defense. The whole focus is on surviving an attack. You learn to neutralize an assailant quickly using simple movements (including groin kicks and eye gouges, which are not permitted in other types of martial arts). The techniques are highly efficient and can be used by people of any age, since they do not rely on strength, speed, or flexibility.
Why not transform a common mobility aid into an effective tool for self-defense? A discipline known as “cane fu” teaches seniors to fight back against attackers using an ordinary walking stick. Defense experts point out that unlike weapons such as pepper spray or stun guns, a cane can be taken anywhere and is always ready for action. Often perceived as a symbol of weakness, a cane can instead be an excellent way to inflict pain. Some techniques include swinging the cane in circles, hooking an assailant’s neck or foot, and striking the knee, nose, or throat.
Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings, walk with your head up and shoulders back. If someone stops you to ask the time, make eye contact with them. Many studies have shown that carrying yourself with confidence is one of the easiest ways to avoid becoming a victim of violent crime. Stay safe!