Galt Martial Arts Class Empowers Seniors
By Bea Ahbeck/News-Sentinel Chief Photographer | Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2016 11:38 pm
BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL Master Stan Toscano demonstrates cane-fu moves during the Cane-Fu self-defense and fitness class at Iron Dragon Tactical School of Self Defense in Galt Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016.
GALT — On a drizzly Thursday afternoon, two senior ladies and a man in his late 50s swing their canes around with great precision, striking different self-defense positions and holding them steady and strong.
“There, go to the half guard. Look behind you, look behind you! Is it safe?” an instructor yells. “Get yourself in a still and ready position, because you’re ready, you’re ready to quickly get to your car, and quickly dial 911 if necessary.”
The seniors are participating in a self-defense class that utilizes an unorthodox weapon — a walking cane.
Called Cane-Fu, the American Cane System — now in its 10th year — teaches what some call true “street-style” self-defense, or using the cane to ward of an attacker.
Master Stan Toscano, who is leading the class, has extensive experience in self-defense and martial arts. He also has 30 years of law enforcement experience, having taught self-defense tactics and firearms training.
His passion for Cane-Fu is evident when he talks about the training and how it helps the seniors he trains.
“I feel passionate about this,” Toscano said. “You can feel empowered, you don’t have to feel that you are vulnerable, and you don’t have to look and feel like you’re a target. You’re not.”
Toscano says the training helps seniors stay fit, build flexibility, and perhaps more importantly, gain more confidence.
“It makes them feel a little more comfortable and gives them more confidence to be in public,” Toscano said. “It’s also a great opportunity for seniors to get out and network with other people. It brings them out of the house.”
Linda Dulaney, 68, is in her third year of Cane-Fu classes, and credits the class with improving her stamina.
“I was becoming a couch potato. The class gets you moving — he takes us through cycles to get the heart rate up,” Dulaney said, adding that the class has made her more aware of her surroundings.
“Wherever I go, he’s in my head.”
Toscano teaches the seniors that the best line of self-defense is to “not be there, and if you are, pay attention. You have the power to drive away or walk away.”
Toscano, 60, says the cane doesn’t just have to function as a support for walking, it can also be a tool to help maintain your health and fitness.
“If you use the cane to strengthen and exercise then maybe you won’t have to use a cane quite as early. It is a beautiful tool for folks to feel empowered. It fights what is gonna be inevitable — we get older.”
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