Martial Art Seniors

The Early Show: Karate - Tracy Smith CBS/The Early Show

If people think seniors are easy prey for purse-snatchers and muggers, they haven't been to northern New Jersey.

In this week's Study Hall Report, The Early Show correspondent Tracy Smith reported on some senior citizens who are capable of defending themselves, thanks to a little help from a worried grandchild.

It's enough to make one step aside when approaching someone with a cane or walker.

When one woman at the East Rutherford Senior Center had her purse snatched last spring, her granddaughter, Leah Schoen, wanted to help her fight back.

So, Schoen, who has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, taught her grandmother and a few of her grandmother's friends some martial arts moves.

The seniors from the center are amused by the lessons, but they take it seriously. Some even take notes.

On the day Smith visited, Schoen used her mother to demonstrate defense against an attacker by using keys to stab the body.

Schoen instructs her class on some effective maneuvers: "You can jab. You can hit their crotch, if you want."

Schoen says she want seniors to have a confidence after taking her class.

"I want them to know they have power and control over their bodies," said Schoen. "And although the attackers also have power and control, that they can do something."

Schoen also teaches the seniors how to use special weapons.

"It's your advantage, if you do have a cane," Schoen instructed her class. "If they hit you, hold the cane up and block."

Schoen demonstrates, and the seniors enthusiastically volunteer.

"I think it's very important for older people to learn whatever they can about self defense," said one volunteer. "And I was very impressed with the young lady. I thought she did very well and I learned a lot."

Schoen says the class enthusiasm surprised her.

"It's self assurance, I think, to be able to defend yourself and be aware of people around you," she said. "That's what I think. And use your keys. Use those keys."

If nothing else, the class gives seniors a chance to feel a little less helpless.

"I am tough. I'm small but I'm tough … I'm feisty," said one.

  • Rome Neal

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