It's not uncommon for people to think that martial arts' training is just for those who are younger and have a measure of athletic ability. However, this mindset does not hold true. In fact, there are many older generations of people who enjoy working towards mastery of certain disciplines, and not always for self-defense purposes.
According to The Dispatch, a news publication in North Carolina, the Thomasville Senior Center offers classes in martial arts to older individuals looking to learn how not to become victims in certain situations. The instructor is Nadena Clark who currently holds a brown belt in taekwondo despite being 70 years old.
"Teaching self-defense is rewarding to me, and I enjoy it," Clark told The Dispatch. "I know there are people out there who get attacked, because an avid attacker thinks senior citizens are easy prey. I just like to let (seniors) know there are ways to defend ourselves in different situations. We don't have to be so frightened."
To those who attend the sessions, Clark teaches her students a variety of simple moves that can be used to thwart off would-be attackers. She also offers advice to those attending her class on how to always be mindful of your surroundings and what to do if threatened.
"You need to be alert," Clark explained. "If you're not alert, you cannot think of anything to do. Then your attacker has total control of you."
Kansas grandmother teaches young martial arts students
At 80 years old, Helen Duggan may not appear to be an imposing figure on the surface. However, the Lenexa, Kansas martial arts instructor holds a third degree black belt – she earned her first at the age of 61 – and has been teaching American karate for more than 25 years, according to a report from the Kansas City Star.
Her school, Champs Achievers, trains mostly children who have various special needs, such as autism, which Dugan herself exhibited traits of as a younger girl growing up in Philadelphia. Many of her students have Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and attention deficit disorder. However, these individuals do not represent the totality of her class demographic, and everyone attending her classes finds benefit in having Dugan as an instructor.
While it may seem old that older generations of people are actively involved in martial arts, this is yet another example of how self-defense studies can benefit any individual regardless of age.