Cane self-defense program for senior citizens now at the Sunshine Center

ST. PETERSBURG — Many seniors feel they are easy targets for crime, especially if their mobility relies on the assistance of a walking device such as a cane or walking stick. Many say they have a fear of becoming a victim of theft or some other act of senseless violence.

Safety specialist and martial artist Bryant Harrell has created a self-defense program to help teach and empower senior citizens, showing them techniques and skills they can use to no longer walk in fear.

It’s called Cane-Ki-Do, which teaches seniors various ways to use their cane and perform basic blocks, strikes, jabs and hooks that could protect them in a physical altercation. Not only are canes an assistive device, but they are also an amazing self-defense tool!

Bryant, a 10th-degree black belt, teaches the program along with his wife Leotte Harrell, a sixth- degree black belt. Together they teach and inspire their senior citizen students to dig deep and tap into an inner strength that they forgot they had. That’s the “Ki” in Cane-Ki-Do – channeling that energy and learning to turn that fear into fuel.

Many seniors — even though they may need it — do not use their canes because they’re afraid of looking vulnerable. However, once they’ve taken the Cane-Ki-Do class, they use their cane with pride and confidence!

Canes are one of the only self-defense tools that can be taken anywhere without question. In their Federal Code of Regulations, the FDA has certified canes to be “medical devices,” and therefore, can be kept with you at all times, unlike a walking stick that does not have the same medical exemption.

The Cane-Ki-Do class is exciting, invigorating and inspiring! The Harrells do an excellent job of taking time to address and work with each person in the class. They modify and adjust specific techniques to reach and teach each person at their level of physical mobility.

The inspiration for the Harrells to create the program came from incidents involving two of their martial arts teachers, Professor Bill Brown Sr. and Grandmaster Joseph S. Harrell Sr. On two separate occasions, they both used their training and skills to ward off attacks from potential thieves using their canes.

Brown Sr. and Harrell Sr. showed that just because you may be disabled or a senior citizen, it doesn’t mean you have to be a victim.

If you or someone you know would like to train in this awesome cane self-defense class, please come out and try a class. Classes are taught every Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Sunshine Center, located at 330 Fifth St. N, St. Pete.

Membership to the center is required for participation in the classes. For more information, please call 727-893-7101.

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