At 69 years old, sensei Hanifa Leoni Mcfarlane gets her kicks flipping strong young men upside down with her excellent aikido skills. She learned this type of jiu jitsu mixed martial art over half a century ago at the age of 19 years. While living in the UK, Ms Mcfarlane was inspired by her colleagues who were already practising aikido. Her workmates were the only people she knew in the country, so they took her along to their classes. As soon as she started training, the Hobart women loved aikido.
As soon as news hit ABC.net, you could see newspaper articles titled “Hobart woman celebrates the benefits of aikido 50 years after taking up the sport”. During an interview on 936 ABC Hobart Breakfast show, Ms Mcfarlane revealed that she can still do a forward roll and throw young men around. To refine her skills, Ms Mcfarlane has travelled to over 45 countries and made pilgrimage to Japan six times.
“We’ve had some lives saved by what we’ve done.”
Ms Mcfarlane is now a martial arts instructor. She teaches aikido to women for self-defence purposes. In a small way, the master instructor has helped save the lives of many women through her martial art classes, something she is happy about.
When asked about the benefits of aikido, the Ms Mcfarlane claimed the art has both physical and psychological benefits, which she has explained in her book. She added that aikido is a lifelong interest for many people and can be learned at any age. Ms Mcfarlane gave an example of a 74-year old fourth degree black belt martial artist from Japan who took up the sport after retiring, but has now become a master.