Meet American Cane Self Defense Certified Cane Leader Dr. Craig Riordan-Head Park Ranger, Winemaker, Book Publisher, and After Recovering From Two Brain Surgeries…Dr. Craig Discusses The Practical and Therapuetic Value of ACSD Cane Training.
ACSD California Advanced Instructor Doc Stull interviews American Cane Self-Defense California Leader graduate Craig Riordan Doc –
Doc: When did you start to use the cane as a mobility device and self-defense?
Dr. Craig – I started using the cane as a mobility device while I started training with American Cane Self-Defense California with you. And it was fascinating because about two months into the training, I went to a new specialist, and a guy named Dr. Berg at UCSF and he said, ‘You’ve got some arthritis in your knees – have you considered using a cane?’ That was just a couple of months after I started training with you, so I got the benefits of the exercise and the enjoyment when my doctor recommended that it was a good idea to use a cane.
Doc – So let’s back up a little – you are a veteran. Talk a little bit about what you did in the military.
Dr. Craig – I served in the 82nd Airborne and also had a chance to go to Ranger School. I was pretty small. So, the impact of carrying a lot of weight and having well over 100 parachute jumps and a lot of the high impact training took a toll. I wasn’t as aware of it at the time, but it was pretty impactful, especially on my knees. And like many veterans and a lot of other people in general, I did developed arthritis in my knees and my lower back. And, in addition to that, I’ve had two brain surgeries for a brain tumor in the last few years. And, related to this, I’ve been dealing with fairly severe migraines now. So, one of the nice things is that when we do our training sessions, first of all, it is the right type of exercise that is helping with the mobility and helping me stay flexible, and then the other thing too just in terms of what’s been helpful in terms of the migraines, it’s such a nice movement based and intuitive art. And then the way you and Joe (ACSD Founder Joe Robaina) teach it, it gives me that nice 30 to 40 minute period where I can focus and keep the other things out. I’m not thinking about my head hurting, not thinking about my knees and back hurting. I truly enjoy the process of learning the American Cane Self-Defense.
Doc – So you were a good athlete, skilled and resilient enough to serve as a Green Beret. Did you do any dance training or anything rhythmic?
Dr. Craig: When we started I told you I had two left feet. And you told me that you were going to help me with my rhythm and make me a good dancer, too. I never really did any dancing or boxing. I studied a traditional Okinawan martial arts – moving from stance to stance, and it doesn’t have the same kind of rhythmic movement that ACSD has. I feel like I’ve developed better rhythm and movement and that my whole life is moving in this way.
Doc – We’ve got a lot of people sharing their stories similar to yours, all kinds of moderate to severe injuries and neurological challenges. What would you tell someone else who was combating the same type of issues? Dr.Craig – What I would say is, first of all, think of that at the forefront, the ability to have time to focus and concentrate is very therapeutic. I’ve realized that there’s no silver bullet that can make my head feel better all the time. So, I’m trying to take up multiple approaches. So paying attention to my body, spending a lot less time in front of screens, staying out of artificial light, and exercising regularly is crucial. Getting outside working is good, but then again, cane training is a huge part of that. I think I described to you that I see cane training as part of my overall approach to wellness. And it’s what I would tell people. You’re going to get more bang for the buck out of the time that you put into the cane training than probably anything else you could do. It’s therapeutic, and it has elements of physical therapy, cardiovascular exercise, light strength training, stretching and rhythmic movement, too. It brings a lot of things together that, again, you wouldn’t necessarily think of because you’re learning self-defense techniques.
Doc – you’ve served in so many different capacities -you taught university for many years, you were a Head Park Ranger at 3 major national and state parks, you’re a winemaker, you’re a book publisher. You’ve done a lot of varied things at different times in your life. Think you’re a Caner for life? Dr.Craig – I can’t see not doing it! I think it’s so intuitive. It’s therapeutic. It’s a great way to continue moving. You and I have had a lot of people come up to us when we’ve been practicing in public areas and be fascinated what we’re doing. There was a woman named Cindy recently from a retirement community that said, “Oh, this will be perfect for many of my residents.” And so, to me, this one of the wonderful things about cane training is it is the kind of thing that you can do for life. It’s almost like you know, golf or fly fishing and the other things that people might go into after retirement, but the way that cane training is set up, there’s there’s nothing wasted. Everything makes sense in terms of cane training. With many other martial arts styles we learned katas, but we wouldn’t necessarily think about how we would use those movements in real applications. But everything in the ACSD is tactically intuitive, I think. Yeah, absolutely. I can’t see NOT doing it because I know I’m getting personally so much out of it, especially with the amount of time I’m putting in. The payoff is extraordinary. Forget the previous (sorry!) Use this and this is in the last email, too. Think it’s 99 percent but I’ve got to drive now!