Self-Defense for Seniors

Self-defense is a crucial self-skill for anyone of any age to learn and is especially useful for senior citizens. Unfortunately, seniors are targets for attacks due to the perception that they are more vulnerable to attacks. It is true that as people age, they lose muscle mass and become more vulnerable, so it is important to develop healthy habits that combat potential criminals. To begin, we will learn how to try and avoid becoming a target, then learn the physical training to protect ourselves. There are a variety of options available for learning self-defense training that will benefit your overall health. Self-defense can be a great way to protect yourself, your community and keep yourself physically and mentally healthy.


While age and ability level can make it challenging to learn a new physical skill, it should not prevent you from defending yourself. Being able to defend yourself can boost your confidence and self-esteem. Someone with confidence carries themselves with bold energy and looks less like a potential victim. This confidence will help deter criminals from scoping you out.

Self defense training can also help build muscle conditioning and improve your balance, flexibility, coordination, stamina, and strength. Awareness is key to safety, and self-defense teaches you how to be alert to your surroundings. There are recognizable signs that may tip you off to criminals that targeting you and may support your ability to escape. Disabling a perpetrator can also be necessary to protect yourself in an emergency.

How to avoid being a target

Being proactive is better than being reactive and preventing a crime should be the first goal. Confidence deters criminals and may prevent them from targeting you.

  • Keep valuables out of sight
  • Be alert and self-aware
  • Keep to well-traveled and well-lit areas
  • Move with physical confidence – stand up straight
  • Be wary of strangers and do not let them distract you
  • Walk smoothly and keep up the same pace
  • Make eye contact to display awareness
  • Do not travel distracted – avoid looking at your phone too long

Basic Techniques

Your safety and health are your main concern, so if a mugger demands your valuables, throw your wallet away from yourself to keep distance and give yourself a chance to escape. You should also make a lot of noise by shouting or using a noisemaker like a whistle. Use tools that you have available: this could be your car keys, cane, or grocery bags. Be mindful if you carry weapons such as pepper spray, stun guns, or sharp objects because in some places in Canada it is illegal to walk with such items. When defending yourself, look for the vulnerable areas to harm to get away from them. Do not forget to SING:

  • Solar Plexus
  • In-step
  • Nose
  • Groin

Depending on your physical position it may be more effective to jab at the face: aiming for eyes, or nose. Or, if you have your legs free, stepping on the feet can trip them long enough for you to get away. The solar plexus is a bundle of nerves located on the upper stomach and can knock the wind out of them so you can try an escape.

Self-defense is best taught by a professional, so you should look into classes that cater to seniors specifically that are hosted at your local community center. Training in self-defense can keep you and your family safe, keep your mind and body fit and boost your self-confidence. Before making any drastic changes to your exercise routine, ensure you discuss the transition with your family doctor to get the support you require. If you still feel unsafe and unable to project yourself, then hiring a personal care worker can help when running errands outside the home as there is safety in numbers, and that may discourage criminals from approaching you.

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