By Mary Blake, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) – The Ethos SeniorPalooza Luncheon at the Hyde Park Community Center in Boston on Tuesday included a unique demonstration. Several members of the Blake Estates Breakers were on hand to show off their martial arts skills.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake reports.

The Blake Estates Breakers group includes more than a dozen residents of the Blake Estates affordable housing complex in Hyde Park. They have enrolled in a martial arts class that takes place every Thursday afternoon.

These students range in age from 61 to 88 years old. Their instructor, Sensei Tony, is Tony Hanley, who operates the One Step Beyond martial arts school, also in Hyde Park. “I’m getting old. I’m a senior, too,” says Hanley. “If I can do this, why can’t other seniors do it,” he adds.

Hanley says it took more than a year to sell his idea of S.A.M.A, Senior Approach to Martial Arts. “This is really different,” says Hanley. “They all know Tai Chi from watching television. However, Karate is much more practical. I can teach them some defensive moves, too. ”

Hanley begins class by taking his students through several exercises that include balancing on one foot, punching through the air and a popular maneuver that involves the arms and hands, called “Eyestrikes.” His “Eyestrikes” call usually generates a great deal of enthusiasm, as does the maneuver that involves breaking wood with bare hands.

“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want,” chants 82-year-old stroke victim Annette Cheatham, as she brings her fist down on a piece of wood, snapping it easily. She explains why she recites Psalm 23. “I’ve loved Psalm 23 from the Bible all my life,” says Cheatham. I don’t know, it just makes me feel safe,” she adds.

Janet Younis will turn 89 next month. She is a regular attendee and has five children, 19 grandchildren and 29 great grandchildren. “My kids can’t believe it. They say to me, at your age, what are you doing, and I tell them, it’s okay because I love it,” she says.

Barbara Russo, 74, says she would really enjoy taking more than the one weekly class. ” It gets the anger out of me,” she says. “It also brings calmness. I enjoy the punching and the kicking. It keeps me thinking I’m young,” she laughs.

The Blake Estates Breakers group also has a message for everyone. “I just can’t understand why people get a certain age, and sit down and eat and watch television, where there is so much out there for us now that we can do,” says Russo. Several members of the Blake Estates Breakers have been awarded orange and yellow belts, and many hope to receive a full orange belt at their next test session in a few weeks.


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