Seniors Self-Defense? Does it Make Sense?

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Self-defense
15 Nov 2008


I saw this video entitled, “Seniors Learn Self Defense Techniques” on San Diego’s 10 news last night and was stunned! Some parts of the news story by Joe Little made sense, you know seniors learning to defend themselves but as a kid that grew up in long island, fighting over your wallet or purse does not make much sense unless you are a great fighter! Better sense is to not carry too much cash on hand and be ready to give up your wallet if doing so can save your life!


 After watching the story I had the feeling that it was endorsing old folks fighting for their purses? Why? Part of any self-defense strategy should be giving up lesser valued property (wallets, purses, cars) to save your life! Unless you live in an area that allows you to license a concealed firearm, why would a 70 year old man, much less a 70 old woman want to fight for a wallet or purse from a 17 year old assailant? Watch this video I found on youtube.




Did you notice the first advice if someone was actually trying to take your purse was let it go? My grandpa told me while traveling in Europe that he actually had two wallets, one with some cash and old credit cards in his rear pocket and another with a large rubber band wrapped around it in his front pocket (where he kept his current stuff).


I would assert that this channel 10 story was not responsible because it was selling self-defense advice as street fighting! Self defense basically is doing whatever you have to do protect yourself. If you are already a great fighter and want to take on a bunch of street tuffs – that is your business but that is normally more a matter for the police (property crime).


The only time responsible people that are not great fighters should fight is in self-defense (you’ll notice I did not say car-defense, wallet-defense, or lawn light-defense). Old people or young people can be killed defending themselves so why put yourself at risk for a few bucks (more if you are so dumb as to carry large amounts of cash)?


I do applaud the news for letting old folks know that they can fight back but I just think they should not get some crazy person out there (maybe it was a mistake of focus) stating that old ladies should fight street robbers for their purses! Fight for your own or your loved ones life; don’t fight for property! Life is too short for a bad decision to take you away from your loved ones.


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10 Responses to “Seniors Self-Defense? Does it Make Sense?”

  1. Martial Arts News 11.16.08 « Striking Thoughts Says:

    […] has some interesting thoughts on senior self-defense. After watching the story I had the feeling that it was endorsing old folks […]

  2. Sharon Kaye Says:

    I found the video to be very interesting and with awesome advise for women!

    Thanks for sharing it :)

  3. PepperSprayKing Says:

    For seniors, weapons like Pepper Spray would be the perfect choice to protect them from enemies. Crime victims are frequently chosen because they are easy targets. Criminals prey on the weak or unsuspecting, and usually avoid people who are aware of what´s going on and might put up a fight. When out in public, look people in the eye, keep your head up, and walk with a confident stride.

    PepperSprayKing – Stun Guns, Pepper Sprays, Home Protection, Mace, Child Safety, Personal Alarms, Voice Changers, Safety Lights, Diversion Safes, Hand held Metal Detectors, Tasers, Instructional Fighting DVDs

  4. John W. Zimmer Says:

    I have always endorsed non-lethal weapons for anyone. I believe that a layered strategy is best. Sunday I was walking home from a hike and happened to have my walking-stick/5′ staff with me when a large dog circled me growling. I just glanced at the dog and he moved away. Had the dog came at me I would have had no problem using my staff in my defense. One never knows when you might need to defend yourself.

  5. Matt Klein Says:

    Don’t forget the combat cane. Any cane can be a lethal weapon if handled correctly, and whats more you can legally carry it around with you. There is a whole art of using the combat cane, even Katas for competition. John, you did the right thing by only glancing at the dog. If you stare them down, dogs will look at you as a challenge on their turf and be more likely to attack. I would favor your odds with the staff but no need to fight unnecessarily. Cats, even lions, will back down with a stare but I am not sure I would like to try this.

  6. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Good point Matt… I took a look at them (the canes) and even saw some video of how the hook might be used. Looks interesting.
    Now as far as dogs… I’ve never been worried about any one dog… weapon or not. I remember Larry McCraw telling me about a dog biting his hand and he grabbed the dog’s tongue and the dog just opened it mouth (I don’t know that I would really try that but it makes sense).
    What a trained fighter can do with one dog is punch or kick through the target – breaking ribs and taking the fight out of the dog… if the fight gets to the ground – the dog does not have a good defense for a choke.
    If there are two or more dogs… one would have to climb something or have a good weapon to come out ok. Once I was in the desert stopping to ask directions and had just gotten out of my car. I look across the street to see two large pit-bulls starting to run at me. I had just time to jump into my car and roll up with windows before the dog’s paws hit the side window!
    As far as the stare -you are right as far as the dogs thinking goes but like I said… if there was just one dog – I might have to educate him. I was working as a temp for UPS about 20 years ago around Christmas as a package runner. I came up against many dogs but as I was unafraid of them – the dogs that were barking at me at first – all turn tailed and ran as I approached them. I just held out my front arm’s fist (as bait) and stared them down – daring them to lunge at me. Had that happened I would have taken them out with a back hand or back foot. The threat was enough as most dogs sense fear and then get aggressive. Conversely dogs fear confidence.
    I don’t want anyone to think I am a nut but I just want to point out that all dogs have going for them are their teeth as well as it fast paw work on all fours.
    People have hands, feet, weight, wrestling, weapons, pepper spray and a superior intellect (hopefully) so even people that cannot fight – can figure out a way to defend themselves.
    I also agree even after stating my attitude with animals (not just dogs) that it is always better to avoid confrontation if possible because once you are in a fight – there is not guarantee of the outcome!
    Take care,

  7. Sly Says:

    I watched that news story too and just about fell off of my chair laughing. Sorry, no disrespect, but it seemed more like a social gathering than a real self defense class.

    I am all for seniors protecting themselves if their life is in danger, but it’s hard to see a frail seventy-five year-old woman beating off a young whipper-snapper with an elbow to his face, that she could barely raise above her head, all for a stupid purse.

    I’m for fanny packs that slip under a full fitting blouse. Senior women with big purses are targets for those scum-bag purse-snatchers.

    A word of advice:Walk tall and carry a big cane…and beat the ..ll out of those creeps!

    God bless our seniors.

  8. Matt Klein Says:

    Interesting insights about dogs John. As a paper boy years ago I learned that a rolled up paper jabbed straight at the dogs nose (their noses are sensitive just like ours) was pretty effective. Most dogs would not challenge but would try to take a chunk if you tried to run away, so yeah, the best course of action is to try to show no fear. Nevertheless, I would not want to take on a pit bull, martial arts skills or not. You are going to get bit, just as you are going to get cut tangling with a knife attacker. Cheers, Matt

  9. TKDFan Says:

    very good info…thx

  10. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hi TKDFan,
    I checked out your site and noted it was a well organized TKD school website. I especially like that it has space devoted to kids dealing with bullies! I added the link.
    Take care,
    John W. Zimmer