Jeanne Stancel of the Upper Arlington area had a good reason for receiving instruction on how to avoid or minimize injury in the event of a fall.

Jeanne Stancel of the Upper Arlington area had a good reason for receiving instruction on how to avoid or minimize injury in the event of a fall.

"My husband said, 'You're going to take that class,' " the 66-year-old said last week.

"You get to my age, it's always in the back of your mind that you're going to have a broken hip," said Dublin resident Carolyn Schoenstein, 78, who last week also took a Fearless Falling class taught by Clintonville resident and martial arts coach Mike Grigsby.

Janet Brewer, 71, of the Sharon Woods area, took the class because she suffered a serious injury eight years ago when she fell hard on a tennis court.

"I said, 'You know what, there's going to be a better way to fall than this,'" she said.

There is, according to Grigsby.

"Don't be a victim of gravity!" the 61-year-old instructor urges on the website he created for the class.

The coach of a kung fu club at Ohio State University for the past 26 years, Grigsby offered two sessions of the Fearless Falling class this summer as a pilot project, during which he used his martial arts knowledge to show senior citizens how to hit the floor with minimal damage.

It went well enough and a sufficient number people signed up, Grigsby said last week, that three sessions will be offered during the autumn classes at Whetstone Community Center: one on Mondays at 9:30 a.m., a second one on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. and the third Friday mornings at 10:30 a.m.

Online registration will start on Sept. 4 at whetstonepark. org; for more information, visit

Grigsby, who took his first judo class when he was a student at Whetstone High School, became sensitive to the issue of just how badly people can hurt themselves in accidental falls when a friend took a tumble in her kitchen. Seeking to break her fall, she instead badly broke her arm.

What she should have done -- even though it might go against instincts in the panic of the moment -- is to accept falling onto that cushion with which Mother Nature has provided most of us: our behinds, Grigsby said.

"Falling is the easy part," he told Stancel, Schoenstein and Brewer during last week's class. "It's the getting back up that will wear you out. Half of the training in this class is getting up off the floor. I've been impressed that most of you have figured out how to do that."

Grigsby found teaching the senior citizens who turned out for the first sessions of Fearless Falling to be an enjoyable experience.

"I was not surprised by the phobia aspects of it," he said, referring to their natural fear of falling, even in the controlled environment of the class. "If anything, they were braver than I expected."

Grigsby said it was disconcerting that so many of his students had so little in the way of muscle tone.

"In general, as students they've been excellent, very attentive and seemed focused in class," Grigsby said.

"I know I still need to be working on my balance," Stancel said at the conclusion of the class.

Schoenstein said she's less fearful now of the prospect of what might happen if she fell.

"I know that if I keep my head, I'll be all right," she said.