The first part of this post series, my interview with The Forge instructor and Fight the Bite organizer Tim, was published on Monday. Part 2, about the first class of the workshop, was published on Wednesday. This post is the last of the three-part series. Note: this is a sponsored post. While In Case of Survival was not paid for this series of posts, I did receive a significant discount on the class because of it. Also note: this post is long. Go grab a coffee. I’ll wait. Back? Good. Let’s begin.
In the first class, we learned basic defensive skills, how to properly punch someone in the face, how to fall properly, and how to avoid getting eaten by the boss-level pet zombies. Congrats! You’re on your way to surviving the zombie apocalypse.
Unfortunately for you, getting into unarmed hand-to-hand combat with brain suckers will probably just guarantee that you’ll end up being a brain sucker yourself. Seriously, you’re going to need a weapon of some sort. Sure, you could carry a gun, but then you’d have to worry about running out of ammo (not to mention attracting every zombie in hearing distance every time you fired a shot). Since the idea is to stay away from the zombies, you’re going to need a different weapon. One that makes less noise.
Solution: a sword! Or a knife. Or…well, a sharp pointy object of some sort. A machete, an axe, you get the idea.
Now, The DUDES at The Forge have thought about the necessity for quiet weaponry, and included basic swordfighting and knife defense into the Fight the Bite curriculum. (Yes, I said swords.)
The second (and last) class of Fight the Bite covers basic knife defense, basic sword skills, the get-home bag, and the “final exam” (which is really just everyone gathering around a zombie-like statue and trying to decapitate it.) (Best final exam ever.)
Here’s a brief overview of what we covered in each section. Warning: I may make errors. If I do, I apologize.
Basic knife defense:
Defense #1: overhand block. Block the knife arm as it’s coming down toward you. Make sure you block the arm as close as possible to the knife. Then twist the arm (remember to work against the thumb) and grab the knife if possible. Then use other techniques to pummel your opponent into submission. Or run like hell out of there. Whichever you prefer.
Defense #2: arm block. Put your hands out to block the knife arm (one hand on top of the other) while simultaneously jumping back and away from the knife. After that, you can use other techniques to disarm your opponent.
Something to keep in mind when fighting unarmed against a knived attacker: you will get cut. Come to terms with it. Carry painkillers. And some gauze and a tourniquet.
Something else to keep in mind when going up against a knived attacker: if you yourself are carrying a knife, then all hell will break loose and you will find yourself in the middle of an epic gongshow. With knives. In this case, make sure you have a direct line to the hospital. And carry a container for any appendages that go flying. You might want to have them attached to you again.
Basic sword skills (with a longsword):
Standing “at ease” but also being ready for anything consists of you standing with your feet roughly shoulder width apart, with your dominant foot back, and your sword resting on your dominant shoulder. Blade side down. Make sure your arms are tucked close to your body, not out like chicken wings.
Note about that blade side down: the blade isn’t sharp, so it won’t slice through your shoulder. (But make no mistake, it will slice through your shoulder if it’s flying through air and your shoulder happens to get in the way.)
Swing your sword outward in front of you, with the sword positioned at roughly a 45 degree angle.
Take a step forward (with your dominant foot) to extend your reach.
Decapitate your opponent.
If you don’t want to have your sword sitting on your shoulder, you can also hold it at your dominant hip, standing at sword rest (see above). Your attack will be an underhand thrust, which is basically what it sounds like. You thrust up and out, toward your opponent. Take a step forward with your dominant foot to extend your reach.
Skewer your opponent.
Remember, when first learning, use a practice sword. I shouldn’t have to tell you why.
The get-home bag:
This is NOT a bug out bag. This is the bug home bag (aka the bag that will get you home from wherever you are when shit hits the fan).
Carry whatever you think you’ll need to get home, but remember to pack light. You still need to carry it.
Pocket knife or utility knife
Dust mask or N95 mask (if you can get one)
Water/water purifying tablets
First aid kit
Map of your city
Remember that there’s a good possibility you’ll have to walk home from wherever you are, so be prepared for that. Depending on how far away your house is, you may be walking 5 or more hours to get home.
It may be more practical for you to bug in at work, so make sure you’ve got supplies in your office/cubicle.
The final exam:
You get to use REAL swords! No, seriously. Real longsword, a machete, other sharp pointy weapons…
You get to slice milk and juice cartons. Be warned: there’s cranberry juice (for blood) inside. Wear crappy clothes so you don’t stain a nice outfit.
Doing this in the winter is really freaking cold, since it’s done outside.
It’s stupendous fun, even if you have an extreme phobia of knives. Like me.
Overall, the second class was very informative and a hell of a lot of fun. It was also exhausting—learning how to use a sword utilizes some seemingly obscure arm muscles. My forearms hurt for two days. Hmm…those medieval knights probably had arms like human tanks, hey?
Of course, the workshop isn’t intended to turn you into an expert. That’ll take years (you know, that whole 10,000 hours thing). But you will have some things to put in your Rolodex of Life. So if you ever find yourself in a really bad situation, your brain can pull out a Defense Card from said Rolodex, and you can save your own ass. (No shrinking violets here.)
Since my goal is to become one of three post-apocalyptic dictators (the other two being Tavia and Anninyn, of course), I need to learn these defensive skills so I can live long enough to take over my portion of the post-apocalyptic world. Which is why I took the class. Also, the class was hella fun. And, you know, it has practical, present-day uses.
Overall, I highly recommend the Fight the Bite workshop. I hope that The DUDES are able to offer it on a weekend so that out-of-towners can take it. But if not, then you’ve got a built-in excuse to visit Calgary :-p.
Anyway. Yes, take the class. Special thanks to Tim, Mark, Gareth, the boss-level pet zombies, and the other participants, who made this workshop incredibly fun and worthwhile.