85-Year-Old Woman Learns Martial Arts for Self-Defense

She says she doesn't feel 85 and is still young at heart.

A Tennessee woman is proving age is just a number as she learns the art of self-defense from a karate master — at 85.

Martha Gleerup wanted to be proactive in finding ways to defend herself after she moved to Springfield, Tenn., from Cross Plains earlier this year. 

"I moved from the country to the city, and it's a little bit more of a dangerous feeling. It may not be, but it feels like it," she told WTVF.

To help, she sought out karate master Taft Spence at Karakido Karate in Springfield. The situation is a new one for both the student and the teacher. 

Spence, a former police officer who knows that the elderly are often the most vulnerable target of crime, opened the doors of his studio and took Gleerup on as his oldest student. He said he was “very pleased” when she came in, eager to learn about self-defense. 

"There's a need for their safety. They don't feel safe going out in the community to various places night or day," he told WTVF.
Spence taught her how to use simple items like a water bottle or key on an attacker. She says that after taking his classes, she feels more confident about herself. 

"I don't feel 85 in my heart. I'm still young, and I can do whatever the Lord directs me to," Gleerup said. "I feel more confident. I may not win, but I will sure try."  

Since meeting her earlier this year, Spence now teaches additional self-defense courses, specifically for elderly men and women. More will be added in the future.