Walking canes are not just for the lame any more.
They can also be used as a weapon.
Dave McNeill, an eighth-degree black belt in Goju-Shorei Karate, will be giving a hands-on seminar Saturday on the use of a cane in self-defense.
The seminar is open to people of all ages and physical capabilities, said Jon Yaple, co-owner of The Karate Shop, where the seminar is being held.
Many martial artists will be attending the event, Yaple said. But he also said he hopes a lot of senior citizens show up.
McNeill, a Minden resident, founded the technique of using a cane as a form of self defense in the mid 1980s. He began teaching students in Sparks, where he lived at the time. In 1994, it became an accepted sub-system of Goju-Shorei karate. Today, the Goju-Shorei Weapon System is taught at schools all over the country and in Australia. McNeill said a new school is about to open in Barbados.
The weapon system teaches not only the use of a cane, but also the use of a three-inch knife and a hand-held fan for use in self-defense.
McNeill said the system teaches people to use practical items to defend themselves. While teaching swords or other weapons is useful as a history lesson, he said it is not practical because they are illegal.
Many of the students studying the Goju-Shorei weapons system are senior citizens. McNeill's oldest student is 79. He also has students in wheelchairs. One of his students, who is quadriplegic, is a fifth-degree black belt. It is also popular with martial artists, he said.
"The only requirement is that you are able to grip a cane," he said.
McNeill said the seminar can instill more courage in senior citizens who might be afraid to go out. The seminar will teach them the fundamentals of self-defense with a cane.
McNeill himself has experienced being momentarily crippled. And this is what he said contributed to his idea. When he was a child, he was forced to use crutches because of polio. Then, later in life, he was forced to use a cane because of a spinal disease. He doesn't have to use a cane any more, but he keeps one around for those few times when he needs one.
When he began martial arts in 1971, McNeill said he never imagined what would happen.
"I just had an idea that kind of blossomed,"he said. "I never set out to make money in this."
IF YOU GO
What: Seminar in self defense using a cane
When: 1-3 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Karate Shop, 900 Mallory Way
Cost: $25 a person. Senior Citizens over the age of 60 are free. Bring in the red flyer in Thursday's newspaper for $5 off.
Information: Call Jon Yaple at 882-4008