Falling can become a major threat to our quality of life. According to Hawai‘i’s Department of Health, it is the No. 1 cause of fatal injuries in seniors. The DOH reports that one in three people over 65 will fall this year. While there are a number of precautions you can take, you can also protect yourself by learning how to fall safely.

What does falling safely mean? It means falling in a way that helps to protect your head and body from injury. Learning how to fall is one of the skills being taught at the nonprofit Kupuna Aikido Hawaii. Its mission is “to empower Hawai‘i’s kūpuna with aikido-based philosophies to preserve and protect their mobile independence.” The techniques are based on the Japanese martial art aikido, which often translates to “the way of the harmonious spirit.” This marital art is a method of defending yourself while displacing the energy of your attacker so no one gets injured.

The Safe Falling classes consist of two eight-week sessions — the Foundation Course and the Continuation Course.

The Foundation Course teaches safe falling techniques and an introduction to low-impact aikido. Attendees will also learn about the importance of stretching, different breathing techniques and understanding balance.

The Continuation Course is more advanced and includes an introduction to defense techniques, such as escaping the grasp of an attacker.

Each course is $25 for those 65 years and older. The courses are held a few times a year at the Higashi Hongwanji Mission in the Liliha neighborhood of Honolulu and at Mililani District Park.

Kupuna Aikido Hawai‘i recommends using the ABC prevention method:

A for awareness. Look where you are going, walk heel to toe, and lift your feet and legs as you walk. Always pay attention and do not be distracted by smartphones or conversation as you are walking.

B for balance. Exercise regularly to develop strength and flexibility. Tai chi and yoga are other good activities that can help build muscle and brain connection.

C for control. Take the safest path — even if it’s longer. Use handrails. Install handrails and add grab bars in your bathroom.

Contact Kupuna Aikido Hawaii for class registration information and schedules.

KUPUNA AIKIDO (501(c) 3 nonprofit)
Two locations:
♦ Higashi Hongwanji 1685 Alaneo St., Honolulu, HI 96817
♦ Mililani District Park 94-1150 Lanikuhana Ave., Mililani, HI 96789