Kupuna Life: Using Aikido to fight falling

Kupuna Life

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Everyone knows that martial arts can teach people to defend themselves, but can it help save kupuna during a fall?

That is what Aikido instructors have been teaching seniors.

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Aikido student Susan Glanstein remembers the day a few years ago when she was walking with a colleague.

“I was not paying any attention, just chatting away. The next thing I know, I slipped,” Glanstein said.

She now has a scar on her arm, but believes it could have been a lot worse had she not done a specific moved she had just learned.

“I had just learned it the week before and it saved me,” she said.

Glanstein learned the move by taking classes at Kupuna Aikido.

“The main goal is to teach our kupuna how to fall in such a way that they reduce or minimize the injury,” said Bill Doi, instructor at Kupuna Aikido.

Doi has more than 40 years of Aikido experience and has taught more than 700 kupuna in this class.

“So if you’ve taken Aikido for any length of time, you get really good at falling because half of the time you’re at the dojo, you’re falling,” Doi said. “When a person falls, they get to a point where they no longer control their balance, rather than try to resist, we tell you, ‘try to go for it, just initiate the fall.'”

Fellow instructor Hiroshi Kato explained what they teach while Doi demonstrated.

“Takes a step, gets as low to the ground as possible, reaches over and turns,” Kato said as Doi performed the move.

People usually put both hands out in front of them when they fall, which leaves their face unprotected. By doing this move, Kupuna are protecting their head and rolling to absorb a lot of the energy. Kato slid a box filled with eggs to further illustrate. He said the box represents a person falling.

“These are ordinary Safeway eggs and they were not cracked because I did exactly what Bill did, went low to the ground and dissipated the force,” Kato said.

Instructors also teach students not to rush off after a fall.

“But stay there, check yourself out, make sure you feel okay, you don’t feel strained, no broken bones,” Kato said.

Click here for a link to take a Kupuna Aikido class.

“The key takeaway is the best fall is one that never happens,” Glanstein said.

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