Very little is as simple as using the “fighting cane.” Swinging the cane and striking with the back of the crook produces heavy blows. Smashing the cane forward with a hand at either end allows the user to fend off an approaching attacker. Thrusting with the tip can also prove effective, while the crook gives the user a means of retaining the weapon should the opponent try to grab the tip.

“The cane makes sense as a self-defense tool for multiple reasons, particularly if one is already relying on the cane for mobility.”

Readers of martial arts magazines may already be familiar with the Cane Masters products. Based in Incline Village, Nevada, Cane Masters markets its canes as “walking canes for mobility, self-defense, exercise and rehabilitation.” They offer a full line of grooved, contoured and otherwise grip-and strike-enhanced canes, as well as non-crook-type canes, together with a line of instructional DVDs and books. On the opposite end of the country is Charles Davis, whose C Davis Group also offers a complete line of fighting canes and instructional material. Davis studies and teaches an eclectic blend of martial arts and boasts five decades of martial arts experience. “Even if you carry a gun or knife,” wrote Davis, “a sturdy cane is an excellent addition to your personal security. You don’t need years of martial arts training to block and strike with your cane. Having a sturdy cane in your hand and knowing how to use it is a good feeling.”

Among the instructional programs offered for sale on Davis’ website are DVDs on cane basics, escrima tactics and the use of the “defensive flashlight.” His heavy Tactical Combat Master cane, an octagonal beast of a crooked walking aid, is covered in grooves for improved traction and stained ebony with a hand-rubbed oil finish. It isn’t just sturdy, it’s attractive, too.

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Meanwhile, in Canada, a longtime martial artist named Ted Truscott teaches senior citizens how to defend themselves with canes. Through his website, Truscott uses his many years of experience in martial arts like karate and taiji to give the elderly a means of fighting back using an item that many of them already carry. “My cane style is a blend of Japanese jo and tenbo work,” Truscott told TACTICAL KNIVES, “modern Arnis, Fairbairn’s close-quarter tactics and some really fun stuff from John Kary of American Combatives. This allows for use of a straight or crooked-neck cane.”

Truscott’s students practice warm-ups, footwork (such as side-stepping and the Filipino martial arts’ triangle-step), swinging strikes, tip thrusting and bar smashes with the cane, emphasizing actually hitting targets while implementing caning techniques into applied scenario fighting drills. “I don’t like to teach hooking with the cane,” Truscott pointed out, “because if your cane grabs him, he’s now grabbing you, which can off-balance a senior even more than a younger person.”

Truscott underscores that he teaches his seniors to prepare for a predatory assault. He does not, however, play on their fears of being assaulted. “I know that, statistically, none of them will ever be assaulted,” he said. “Rather, I address their feelings of looking like a victim now that they must use a cane, and their worries about the legal aspects of using a weapon for self-defense.”

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The cane makes sense as a self-defense tool for multiple reasons, particularly if one is already relying on the cane for mobility. Even a young person (if he or she can find a way to justify carrying a crook-top cane) can use that cane both on adverse terrain and in self-defense. The cane offers extended reach and a means of blocking knives and other sharp weapons. It is also reasonably intuitive, learnable by anyone, and applicable even across a spectrum of physical ability. It is worth considering, even if, strictly speaking, you don’t “need” a cane to walk with confidence.

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