SAANICH – Merina started walking with a golf-club as a cane, after forgetting to bring her traditional walking stick one day.

"It worked perfectly," the 73-year-old recalls. "I went to the mall, got my groceries."

But when Merina was walking back to her car, she felt something unexpected while holding the putter.

"Wait a minute," she said to herself. "There's a lot of power in this!"

Merina had been feeling progressively powerless for decades, especially after walking along a wooded trail and being approached by a man exposing himself.

"I felt helpless. I wanted to run," she said. "I didn't know if he was going to rape me."

Luckily a nearby teenager was able to help Merina get back to her car. "I felt like a victim," she said. "I didn't like feeling like a victim."

Her feeling of powerlessness increased during the painful years waiting for a hip surgery and the months that followed.

"While I was healing, I thought I want to focus on something positive rather than living in fear," she said. "So I hired a karate teacher!"

Merina enlisted the martial arts master to create what she couldn’t find – an aging body, new-hip friendly self-defence practise. Inspired by the powerful feeling of walking with her golf-club, the 73-year-old started working with a Jo-Jutsu staff. She says the process transformed her.

"If I was walking down the trail with that guy coming again," she imagines. "Wham! He'd be hurting bad!"

A couple month ago, Merina earned her Jo-Jutsu certificate. She says it helped her physically return to gardening and emotionally release her fears. "Let em go!", she says. "We don't need that baggage anymore."

Merina agrees with the saying "with great power, comes great responsibility."

"I like helping others heal too," she said. Now Merina is planning to share what she's learned with other women and other seniors – to inspire them to feel empowered.

"I feel huge confidence," she said before laughing. "Almost like too much!"