ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Cane-Ki-Do works to teach those with canes to see them as not only as a walking assist device but also as a great self-defense tool. 

"The reason why we like the wood cane is because the metal cane can bend and they're designed to collapse, and we'd hate to see it collapse when someone is trying to protect themselves," said safety specialist and co-founder of Cane-Ki-Do, Bryant Harrell.

Once a week on Saturday at the Sunshine Center in St. Petersburg, Bryant, a 10th-degree black belt, along with his wife Leotte Harrell, a sixth-degree black belt teach senior citizen students to various ways to use their cane to perform basic blocks, strikes, jabs and hooks that could protect them in a physical altercation.

"I do a lot of walking and I want to be safe where ever I go, you can't always trust a gun or one of those sprays but you can depend on this cane," said Dorothy Eviota, a Cane-Ki-Do student. 

Canes are one of the only self-defense tools that can be taken anywhere without question. According to the Federal Code of Regulations, the FDA certifies canes as “medical devices,” and can be kept with you at all times, compared to a walking stick that doesn't have the same medical exemption.

The “Ki” in Cane-Ki-Do is about channeling one's energy to turn fear into fuel for personal protection. The inspiration for the Harrells to create the Cane-Ki-Do program came from incidents involving two of their martial arts teachers, Professor Bill Brown Sr. and Grandmaster Joseph S. Harrell Sr., who on two separate occasions had to use ward off attacks from potential thieves using their canes.

"Its really important that all ages, not just us seniors, know how to protect ourselves in unexpected situations in an efficient way," said Cane-Ki-Do student Donna Lee. 

To participate in the Cane-Ki-Do classes membership to the Sunshine Center is required. Classes are taught every Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Sunshine Center, located at 330 Fifth St. N.

For more information, please call 727-893-7101 or visit their Facebook page for class updates.

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