Thursday, February 21, 2013

6 Tips for Fighting Zombies

Without being able to see the future, life has very few "spoilers". For some, this is a cause of anxiety and for others it's a source of excitement. Life is an adventure because we never know what's next. At 30 years old, I have been made aware of 2 spoilers. I am absolutely sure about 2 things in my future: I will die (at the ripe old age of 150 years old) and I don't invent the time machine. I know this because at 17 years old I promised myself that if I ever invented or got my hands on a time machine I would go back to that moment with all the relevant information needed to take over the world, which sadly didn't happen (yet).
This means that anything else can happen to me. I have very interesting meditation sessions sometimes when I let my mind consider this. It's good sometimes to explore just how far your mind can work, like all the specific details of what you would do in a zombie apocalypse. Seth Godin once said that anxiety is "experiencing failure in advance" which is a brilliant way to put it. I meditate on worst-case scenarios all the time and it helps remove a lot of fear toward the unknown. This leaves me more mental room and time to get excited about what great things are waiting for me. 
Bear with me, I promise at some point this post will make sense. When I meditate on these possibilities, both good and bad, it helps me stay level-headed in the event that they happen for real. I got over claustrophobia by meditating in small rooms, for example. Over the years I've visualized hundreds of scenarios and sometimes you can break down each emergency to its core and find similarities to other disasters. This correlation is very good for fighting fear and anxiety. 
For those that haven't read Locked On, I like to use these correlations to help make people's training more effective. Each chapter starts with a real life experience of mine dealing with violence and aggression, how I overcame it (or didn't) and then that chapter is dedicated to focusing our training for similar scenarios. It all comes down to the correlation and its associated survival principle. 
For an example of real life experience being translated into my training, I associated an aggressive drug addict to sparring with a wrestler. 

Defining the Zombie
Years ago I was working security at a sporting event. It was located in a terrible part of town, known for its homeless people and drugs. I volunteered to work the outside of building to make sure no one tried to sneak in, leaving the crowd control duties to my very new group of guys to get some experience. In the front entrance, there was the check-in desk with the cash box displayed for any crackhead to spot. Of course, that's exactly what happened. I spent the later hours of my shift fighting off overly aggressive drug addicts making suicide runs for the money. After the first one tackled me to the ground and tried to bite my face off, I spent the next hour using any object I could get my hands on to hold them off and stay away from their yellow teeth and open scars.
Months later, I was at the dojo, sparring with a training partner who was particularly skilled at wrestling. We had trained together for years and had grown especially competitive with each other, bringing out the best of both our abilities. I knew that if I had any chance of beating him I would have to avoid his grappling skills and use any advantage I could find. I needed to avoid what he was better at and use what I was better at. Sounds simple of course. 
I would later meditate on that sparring session (after winning...I think) and realized that that very simple concept was exactly like fighting those homeless drug addicts. Essentially, they were grapplers, only much more violent than my training partner (he never bites me).
Both these situations instantly came to mind while watching a zombie apocalypse movie, not long after. Zombies are the top of the food chain when it comes to grapplers. Allow me to clarify, let's define the zombie (or wrestler):

-Usually has endless cardio, so you can't outrun them,
-Ultimate goal is to take you down, always pushing forward pressure,
-Almost impossible to beat if they establish top position when you're on the ground.

So we've identified the qualities of the zombie. I should mention to all those wrestlers out there that can kick my ass that I mean no offense here. Was just pointing out an interesting correlation, not calling all wrestlers zombies. I think we can all agree that zombies are bad, so here are some tactics we can use to kick their assses:

6 Ways to Fight a Zombie

Move in circles, not in straight lines
When fighting with a grappler or a zombie, whichever applies to you more, always circle out, preferably away from their back hand. If you move back in a straight line you're much easier to catch. As soon as an attacker enters, circle out. By backing up in a straight line, you're still in their sites and all they have to do is continue to push forward to eventually catch you. Try running backwards, even at your fastest you're not moving faster than someone running forward. Also, by circling, you'll avoid ever being pinned up against a wall. 

Go for the head shot
As countless books, movies, tv shows and comic books have made clear is that the key to stopping a zombie is to aim for their brain. The same is true of any attacker, especially grappling enthusiasts. Fighting is simple: the attacker wants to hurt you and you want the opposite. If your attacker, human or zombie, is deliberately trying to wrestle with you, then they are automatically telling you that they prefer that to striking. This could be a weakness. Also by being overly aggressive in entering, there's a good chance that your attacker is exposing their head in the process. Whether you're using a gun, ax, pipe or your hands, that's when you shoot for the head. A knockout is just as good as a head shot, the brain shuts off either way and you can get away safely. 

Don't wrestle
As mentioned above, always do the opposite. If they want to grapple that could mean that they're confident there and good at it. Think of any zombie movie you've ever seen. Any time someone starts to wrestle with the zombie it's usually the end for them. If your attacker is experienced in submission techniques then you'll end up in an armbar just as easily as someone who finds a bite mark on their shoulder and tries to hide it from the rest of the group. Don't be that guy. Protect your personal space, push for room to move and don't leave anything behind. Always bring your arms in and keep your elbows tight. 

Use all available tools
Someone once taught me that the first rule of bar fighting is to cheat. Use any and all available objects. This is the kind of wisdom that has got me out of some bad situations. Back when people could smoke in bars, there was a move called the "slapshot", where you would slap a glass ashtray like it was a hockey puck toward the attacker's face. Worked every time...but I digress. Don't forget your natural tools either. You have your hands and legs at your disposal to defend your personal space. The jab is especially good to gauge distance and well-timed kicks will keep your attacker out of arm's reach. Thrust kicks have great stopping power. Combine this with some good punching and movement and you'll be almost impossible to touch.

Don't turn your back
The first lesson I was ever taught in Jujitsu is to never give them your back. This is usually ingrained in your brain immediately when you train in any grappling system. Wrestlers are extremely powerful when they're on top of you, but life only gets worse for you if they're on your back and on top. When it comes to zombies, this also applies. How many times have you watched someone scrambling to their feet and turn their back to crawl away, only to get dragged right back to the swarm? Or they're running away, but tripped because they turned back to look? Only turn your back when you know it's safe and never look back. As a rule, if they're within kicking range, it's not safe to expose your back.

Control the distance
The first step to controlling the distance is to understand it. Kicks are a good way of testing the waters. Once your attacker is close enough to hit with your jab, you're within their shooting range. When fighting a wrestler or an undead, you need to either be close enough to finish the fight or way too far for them to touch you. Striking is the natural enemy of the grappler so a sound strategy is to move in and out with punches and kicks. DO NOT STAY IN THE POCKET. Never stay within their reach for longer than it takes to punch or kick them (or hit the zombie in the brain with an object). An important tool you need to control distance and move well is footwork. This will help you when you're running from swarm (sure steps, no tripping) or circling out.

With the state of the world now and the growing popularity of bath salts, it's important to consider what it would be like to fight a zombie. Ok, maybe it's not that important but it's always good to know how to counter a grappler. Hopefully you'll never have to use these tips in real life and can bring something to your training!

Jordan Bill
Fight or Die

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