Cane Fu, a New Martial Art for Senior Citizens

A new martial art for older adults called cane fu or simply cane fighting is sweeping the globe. This old technique is finding new popularity as the population gets older. Also, people are becoming increasingly interested in personal safety and active lifestyles.
Cane Fu, a New Martial Art for Senior Citizens

Last update: 02 January, 2021

We’re sure you’ve heard of kung fu, the ancient martial art of self-defense, but have you ever heard of cane fu? It’s a new form of self-defense created especially for seniors. So far, it’s taught by over 3,500 masters at senior homes and assisted-living facilities.

One of the main issues of seniors is a boosted fragility and being unaware of their surroundings. With the inevitable loss of physical capacity, strength, and quickness, which are essential to self-defense, are substantially affected.

Sadly, some seniors are robbed and beaten terribly. Others are attacked and discriminated against for no reason whatsoever. Fortunately, with cane fu, senior citizens are now using their canes for more than walking. It also teaches them how to be more aware of their surroundings .

What exactly is cane fu?

Cane fu is personal defense using one mighty weapon – the conventional cane. This martial art makes great sense for senior citizens. Canes aren’t only physical walking aids but also self-defense tools, perfectly legal in every country. When in the hands of those who know how to use it, it’s a formidable weapon. 

An old person holding a cane.

Although it’s less known by the public, when a cane is in the hands of someone trained in its use, it’s an exceptionally effective weapon. While any cane may be used, the best canes ever for self-defense are those made of hardwood. These don’t break on impact while delivering a hard hit.

The martial art, exercise, sport, or whatever you’d like to call it, has become very popular all over the globe. So much so that even The Wall Street Journal wrote about it. The article was entitled “ Everybody is ‘Cane-Fu’ Fighting At Senior Centers, So Watch Out” .

The cane is over 5,000 years old, and a tool that one can carry anywhere. Several martial arts have used this wonderful tool as a weapon, specifically training to defend themselves. Cane Fu is one of the newest uses for the cane, an active program of self-defense, rehabilitation, and exercise for seniors.

“Young men, hear an old man to whom old men hearkened when he was young.”

-Emperor Caesar Augustus-

It’s the first martial art ever for the elderly, making it a groundbreaker. This fighting technique, using canes as a defense weapon, gives them determination. Remember the day when relying on a cane was considered a sign of a weak, aging body? 

But now, seniors are finding empowerment through their canes thanks to this martial art. After all, this weapon can be carried anywhere by people of any age. This unexpected martial art originated in the United States.

Crimes against the elderly

A 2013 special report from the United States Department of Justice titled Crimes Against the Elderly, 2003–2013 shared interesting findings. Check them out:

  • About 93 percent of all crime experienced by the elderly was a property crime.
  • Elderly protection measures that were adopted to control crime had little success.
  • About 43 percent of domestic violent victimizations against senior citizens were committed by strangers.
  • Since 2003, rates of violent crime have increased by 27 percent for the elderly.

With the overwhelming insights on crimes against elderly life , it’s imperative for them to take action. They should take advantage of any self-defense strategy available, including this martial art.  

Going beyond avoiding aggression and robbery, this martial art’s benefits cover both physical and mental well-being. Involving physical activity , cane fu dramatically enhances self-confidence, while reducing fears.   

 “If you shift your focus from yourself to others, extend your concern to others, and cultivate the thought of caring for the well-being of others, then this will have the immediate effect of opening up your life and helping you to reach out.

 -Dalai Lama-

A few interesting facts

The first cane fu instructor certification course was held in North America nearly a decade ago. 

Senior citizens interested in honing their self-defense skills are delighted to find that something they already own may also be used as a weapon. This dramatically boosted the popularity of the martial art.

The ideal training for this martial art is with a highly qualified instructor. If this isn’t available to you, it’s possible to gain some of the basic cane self-defense training from online books.

Everywhere from poking a stomach with a cane to striking an attacker in the knee, basic cane fu moves are taught in an hour. Advanced moves teach seniors how to use a cane to ward off someone with a weapon, by using the handle to disable an attacker with a strike to their neck or crotch.

There are three branches of this martial art in the United States. The first is Mark Shuey Senior’s American Cane System, also known as Cane Masters. The second is Dave McNeill’s Goju-Shorei. The third branch is Cane-Do Kai by Joe Robaina.

Old men are dangerous: it doesn’t matter to them what’s going to happen to the world .” 

-George Bernard Shaw-


Cane fu canes that are used for self-defense often have a much thicker shaft. This way, seniors may defend themselves against a robber hitting them with a baseball bat or pipe . Remember that the best self-defense tool is the one you have on hand right when you need it.

In short, we hope you loved learning about this unconventional martial art for the elderly. Whether you’re interested in self-defense or just want some exercise, regardless of your age, try cane fu. This is the perfect way to become active. Who knows, it may even save your life.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.