"Was wondering if you had any self defense advice for an older, short, unfit guy with emphysema?"
- M1-Abrams, New Jersey
M1, I would recommend riding your namesake vehicle around town, but you still have to get from it to the trading post and so much aggression occurs at the entrance to an establishment, on a sidewalk or parking lot.
1. For foot work you just need stability—don't want to be put down and stomped. So have a friend to do a lean and push drill with you, just standing in front of each other and gently trying to unbalance the other. Touch manly the shoulders while doing this, some time's sliding the hand up to the heck or down to pin the elbow to the body. Grappling is too strenuous. This is not grappling and is more like Tai Chi, although it can resemble a pummeling drill by wrestlers or a clinch drill by boxers. Think of this as the push-hand checking drill you do to be able to draw your .45 with the other hand.
2. Develop the checking hand for cuffing and even KOing your antagonist by sitting down, touching your thigh with your closed finger tips [the hand is cupped with no separation between fingers] and then thrusting your palm down into the thigh as the fingers glide forward. When you can get that to hurt get a telephone book and kneel on the floor and/or stand at a table [do both] and practice thumping that thick paper pad. When this gets to be something you would not want to be hit with, go to a door frame and do this drill on the door frame. Advance to putting your hand a six inches and then foot from the frame, fingers pointed at an imaginary opponent's eyes, and slamming your heel hand into the [chin] door frame, with a light touch of the finger preceding the actual hit. You don't just blast these, it takes sensitivity. This is what you hit heads, noses, chins and chests with—straight up the middle from the solar plexus to the forehead.
3. Hang a sheet of paper from the doorframe and practice jabbing it with the speared fingers of your hand. This is for eye strikes—can take anybody out. To condition your hands for this get a bucket of dry rice or beans and practice shoving the speared hand into it, never straightening the fingers, but always keeping a slight bend.
Your tactics should revolve around staying face to face and tearing out eyes and knocking out wind with your right while checking the shoulder and elbow of their right hand with your left. Stepping on the feet of taller, more mobile people is always a good idea. A great move is to step on a foot and push them—shove them hard—staying on their foot. This will blow their knee out as they fall back to the pavement. If you are clinched in a bad way, hook one or more thumbs into his eye sockets and dig inward and rip outward with your fingers on his temples aplying counter pressure.
Good luck, Major Abrams!