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Teaching those with canes self-defense

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Martial arts instructor Robin Taberna has seniors using their canes on a training torso to practice best self defense moves.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/

POSTED January 19, 2014 9:36 p.m.

It’s the only weapon that you can take on to an airplane.

And for seniors, the cane might be the only thing around that you can successfully use to thwart an attacker looking to do harm.

But you can do a lot more than just swing it through the air, as local karate master Robin Taberna showed a group Friday afternoon at the Manteca Senior Center. He shared some of the knowledge he gained when studying how to use a cane for self-defense purposes at a Shaolin Temple in China with 29 other blackbelts in 2007.

For one thing, Taberna said, a cane is solid – just creating contact will often create the type of separation needed for a safety window. And when properly wielded, it can deal punishing blows to whoever made the mistake of trying to snatch the watch or wallet of the unsuspecting old man that seemed like an easy mark at first glance.

“One of the things that I teach the seniors are the pressure points because they need to get their opponent down when they’re attacked,” Taberna said. “We have blocks that we teach them on and we show them the range of things that they can do – leg grabs, sitting down, standing up.

“One of the best things about this weapon is that a cane can be used for pokes or jabs or hooks or to bring somebody straight down. We had a lot of interest today, and it’s something that we’re going to look into offering as an actual class.”

Taberna said that he’s next going to offer the brief class out at Del Webb for residents. If the interest remains strong he might consider partnering with the City of Manteca or another group to bring the self-defense element to a group that is often targeted because they’re viewed as helpless.

That doesn’t have to be case, he said, especially when you know how to use what you carry to get around.

“At one end you have the sharp end and that will create separation, and then you have the horn – one of the most solid parts – and the hook,” Taberna said. “A shot to the throat or the neck or any of the pressure points and you’re going to put somebody down, and that might be all that you need to do. 

“That can be the difference, and that’s what we wanted to get across today.”

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