Fight the Bite, Part 3: The second class

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.

Continue reading “Fight the Bite, Part 3: The second class”

Fight the Bite, Part 2: The First Class

The first part of this post series, my interview with The Forge instructor and Fight the Bite organizer Tim, was published on Monday.

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, yo.

On October 22, I attended the first part of the two-part Fight the Bite zombie apocalypse survival/self-defense workshop. The classes are put on by The Forge Western Martial Arts and held at Dynamic MMA in Calgary.

If you’re wondering if I willingly went to a class where I get my ass kicked, the answer would be yes. But! It’s for a good cause! No, not for ICoS. I mean, yes, it’s good that I’m writing these posts, but it’s also good because if a zombie ever comes after me, I know what to do to get away and, you know, run like hell out of there.

You may be wondering how I know I can get away from a zombie. I mean, in theory I shouldn’t know that unless there were actual zombies around, and aside from a few bath salt-induced zombiefication, there aren’t any. Right? Well, yeah. In theory. But lucky for us students, The Forge happened to have some pet zombies on hand, so it was all good.

Let me back up and start from the beginning. After all, the pet zombies didn’t come out of their cages until we’d learned a couple things.

Continue reading “Fight the Bite, Part 2: The First Class”

Fight the Bite: Interview with The Forge Western Martial Arts

At Calgary Horror Con, I met Tim, one of the instructors at The Forge Western Martial Arts. They were promoting Fight the Bite, a zombie apocalypse survival/self-defense workshop. Of course, I was interested. I mean, zombies! Martial arts! Swords! What more do you need?

Note that this is a sponsored post; I was able to take this course at a heavily discounted rate because of my posts here at ICoS.

Hi Tim! Welcome to In Case of Survival! And thank you for letting me take your course and pick your brain (though not at the same time, heh).

We at In Case of Survival would like to learn more about you, your martial arts school, and your course. We’ve got some questions for you (because of course we do, lol). Here they are!

1. What is western martial arts, exactly? How long have you studied it?

Western martial arts (also known as Historical European Martial Arts or HEMA) is the study of combat principles and techniques from ancient European sources. A lot of people think that the Europeans didn’t really have a martial art and simply bashed away at each other with heavy metal swords. This is not the case, there were a number of very complex combat systems that were taught and practiced “back in the day”. These combat arts died out with the advent of gun powder and firearms, but not all was lost as instructors from that time wrote down their teachings with detailed illustrations in what are commonly referred to as “Fechtbuchs” or Fight Books. These manuals detailed their techniques and principles of combat. So, when some guy who has survived over 30 duels to the death with a sword has something to say – I’m going to listen! Over the past 20 or so years there has been a renaissance of sorts wherein these ancient manuscripts have been translated, studied, and their knowledge is now being taught as a living, breathing martial art. We focus on striking, grappling / wrestling, knives, and swordsmanship.

I have been a martial artist for 32 years and have been practicing Western Martial Arts for the better part of 8 years.

2. Tell us about The Forge Western Martial Arts. When did it open? Who are the instructors? What are classes like (ie. are there different levels, like in Karate or Tae Kwon Do)? Are there a lot of western martial arts schools?

The Forge is the Calgary chapter of a larger organization called The Academy of European Swordsmanship that has it’s head chapter in Edmonton and an affiliated group in Madison, WI. The Calgary group was started by a group of us approximately 5 years ago. We used to be quite small, only 6 or so students, but over the past year and a half we’ve grown to a school of 30+ practitioners. It’s worth noting that we are not-for-profit organization. We do this because we love it!

There are three main instructors; myself – Tim Holter; As mentioned previously I have 32 years worth of martial arts experience and hold high ranking belts in Tae Kwon Do, Shaolin Kempo, and a combat form called Combatto Libero (Mixed Martial Art style that combines Muay Thai kickboxing with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). I’m also a certified KAPAP (Israeli martial art) instructor. My main partner in crime is Mark Winkelman who, along with WMA, practices Japanese sword arts – Kageryu battojutsu and Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu kenjutsu. We also have John who is a 13 year vet of the police service who volunteers his time to assist with unarmed instruction, self defence, and urban survival.

The classes generally run 2.5 hours long. We focus on combat conditioning, armed combat and unarmed combat in each class. A typical class would involve a warm up stretch, followed by cardio conditioning, then working on our combat techniques. Generally we would start with armed combat (either longsword, short sword, or knife) followed by unarmed (striking or wrestling) and then we finish the class off with sparring. Recently we have also started teaching urban survival as an interest class every other Tuesday.

We do have different ranking levels, but not to the extent of most Eastern-style martial arts. We have two paths for people to follow; the martial path wherein you can achieve rankings of Initiate, Savant, and Provost in the various armed and unarmed skill sets we practice. And we have an academic path where people can contribute to our overall body of knowledge by researching related topics, writing papers, etc. We have rankings in the academic path of Scholar and Sr. Scholar.

There currently are not a lot of WMA schools out there. There are four to my knowledge in Alberta – two in Edmonton and two here in Calgary. Of those only one is not affiliated to us. In Europe the art has progressed a lot further than it has here. And there are some rather large organizations in the US as well.

3. Let’s move on to the Fight the Bite course (because that’s why we’re all here, right?). Tell us about the class. Why did you decide to offer this workshop? Why use zombies? Do you find that zombies and the zombie apocalypse increases interest in the course?

Right! Let’s move on to Zombies!! Well the class is at it’s core is a self defence class. We will be covering key survival concepts like mind-set and situational awareness, as well as, the hard skills you need to defend yourself. We will be providing really basic hand-to-hand techniques that simply work if you need to defend yourself from the living or undead alike! Along with those unarmed skills we will be touching on some basic knife defences and an introduction to swords. See… if I can teach you how to effectively use a sword… well that translates nicely into how to use a baseball bat, broomstick, piece of rebar… you get the idea. And the best weapon is the one you have… not necessarily the one that’s hanging on your office wall! We will also provide an introduction to urban survival concepts – where to find water, how to get home in the case of a disaster… or Zombie Apocalypse!

Why a Zombie Survival course? Well I was originally putting together a self defence course for women, but had thought that the idea had been done to death (pun intended). I wanted to cover more topics (e.g. swords and urban survival) and reach a wider audience. Being a fan of the zombie genre – the idea just popped into my head! So, I designed the course around basic skills one could use to survive the zombie apocalypse and of course, your daily commute downtown! And to differentiate ourselves even further I have developed fun personas for our instructors and a background story. The course is being taught by The D.U.D.E.S. from The Forge: Western Martial Arts. D.U.D.E.S. standing for Dead / Undead Deanimation and Eradication Specialists. A group of bad ass mercenaries that quell zombie uprisings around the globe and now want to teach YOU how to survive!

I’m hoping that the use of Zombies will provide people with a unique and entertaining class wherein they’ll learn some real world skills. People always want new experiences… and this will be one of them!

4. What do students learn in the Fight the Bite course? For those who haven’t taken any survival or self-defense courses, can you tell us why those topics are important for people to know?

As stated previously we’ll be touching on a number of topics; survival mind-set, urban survival basics, striking basics, self defence (e.g. how to get away when that Zack grabs you by the arm!), a couple of knife defences (for that time when another survivor is trying to steal your stale cheezies), and wrapping up with armed combat focusing on sword techniques and improvised weapons. All of these skills will be applicable to your overall chances of surviving any kind of confrontation. Ideally knowing what to look for and being aware of your surroundings will first of all, allow you to avoid those bad situations. And if the situation can’t be avoided (hey… I thought the old lady was asking for help across the street… I didn’t realize she was a ZOMBIE!) you’ll have something to draw on to help you survive.

At the very end of the course you will be practicing what you’ve learn at a Zombie Smack Down! We’ll be setting up zombie-esque targets for students to wail away on with their go-to Zombie Apocalypse weapons… there will be blood!

5. Do you plan to offer the Fight the Bite course on a regular basis? Will it be offered on a weekend for those who live out of town?

I would love to make this course a regular offering, but it really depends on the public interest. Right now we don’t have plans to offer this past October. We would be willing to host a weekend course if there was enough interest.

6. Are you a prepper/survivalist? Or do you think it’s just a good idea to be prepared in general?

Can I say yes to both questions? 🙂 I think having some level of preparation just makes good sense whether you’re a “prepper” or not. Too many people are reliant on others to ensure their own safety and the safety of their loved ones. And we don’t have to look too far to see the results of little to no self reliance. The ’98 Quebec ice storm was a perfect example of people not being prepared and self reliant. Over 30 people lost their lives due to a STORM! We are statistically the most heavily insured population on the planet. We have hail insurance for our houses and cars, we have life insurance, we have collision insurance, the list goes on… but do you have enough food to feed your family for a few weeks if the trucks can’t get into the city and stock the shelves?

As to the self defence aspect of that question… I think everyone has the right to defend themselves and those they care about. Essential services do a great job of cleaning up and finding the bad guy AFTER the crime occurs. And of course there are great preventative programs out there trying to reduce crime, but lets be real. Things happen. And when seconds count… help is minutes away.

7. What do you think will be the most likely apocalypse? A slow and eventual decline of society? A sudden apocalyptic event? The zombie apocalypse? Evil space monkey pirates?

Have you ever seen “Idiocracy”? Watch that… I see that being the most likely scenario! 🙂

8. Zombies or vampires?

I want to be a Zombie-killing Vampire… that doesn’t sparkle in the sunshine! I’m allergic to sunlight and proud of it!

Thanks for the opportunity to talk about what we do here at The Forge!

Thank you, Tim, for taking the time to talk with me!


Zombie apocalypse parenting class: Part three

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about the zombie apocalypse parenting class I took at Babes in Arms, a local baby store. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. This is the third and final installment to the post series.

Note: Babes in Arms gave me the complimentary seat in the class because I’m writing about it for ICoS.




So, okay. This class was held in Calgary. You know, in Alberta. Where it gets cold and snowy for six months of the year. (Yuck, I know, but such is life.) But since we live in a place where winter takes over for what seems like forever, we always have to be prepared for blizzards. Which are kinda like the hurricanes of the north, if you think about it. I mean, it gets windy, with ridiculous amounts of precipitation—though instead of being flooded out, you get snowed in. And instead of drowning or dying from heat stroke, you could freeze to death when the power goes out.

Either way, it’s pretty bad. And blizzards do happen. So, as always, it’s best to be prepared.

Continue reading “Zombie apocalypse parenting class: Part three”

Zombie apocalypse parenting class: Part Two

General Prep: Just Trying to Stay Alive

Note: This post is part two of the post series about the zombie apocalypse parenting class I attended at Babes in Arms Shop. Babes in Arms gave me a complimentary seat in the class.

All right, so, last time we covered the general overview. Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty. Face it—this is what we all need to know if we want to have a hope of surviving the apocalypse. Or a really bad blizzard. You know.

Now. Even though we may be parents trying to survive the post-apocalypse (or whatever disaster you may be facing), we would, first and foremost, still be people trying to survive. You know, we’d still need food, water, supplies—everything that non-parents would need to survive a world that has just gone to hell.

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So, before you even think about what to put in that diaper bag for little Junior, think about what you’re going to put in your survival kit. Because if you don’t survive, neither will Junior.

Your 72 Hour Kit

The 72 hour kit is the bug-out bag of sorts. It’s got your food and supplies for the first three days—or more if you think you’ll be barricaded in your house for longer.

When you put your kit together, think about what you’ll need for those first three days. Lindsay at Babes in Arms has a long and detailed list of what you need in your kit. It’s a great list. You should find something like it.

However, for those of you who can’t get in touch with Lindsay or another prepper/teacher like her, here’s a basic list from the Government of Canada:
• Water (at least 2L per person per day)
• Non-perishable food, such as canned food, energy bars, and dried food (replace food and water once a year)
• Manual can-opener
• Crank or battery-powered flashlight (and batteries). Replace batteries once a year to make sure they work
• Crank or battery-powered radio (and batteries), or Weatheradio
• First aid kit
• Extra keys to your car and house
• Cash in smaller bills and change for payphones (Char’s note: I don’t know how easy it is to find payphones now, though, so while you may have change, you may not be able to use it)
• Copy of your emergency plan and contact info
• Prescription medication, infant formula, equipment for people with disabilities, food/water/medication for pets
• Additional water for cooking and cleaning (2L per person per day)
• Candles and matches or lighter
• Change of clothes and shoes for each family member
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each family member
• Toiletries
• Hand sanitizer
• Utensils
• Garbage bags
• Toilet paper
• Household chlorine bleach or water purifying tablets
• Basic tools (ie. hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, pocket knife)
• Whistle
• Duct tape
List from “Your Emergency Preparedness Guide” by the Government of Canada, pp 16-17

Lindsay made a good point: consider putting together a separate kit for your car or office. This one won’t be intended to get you through the first three days—that’s for your at-home 72 hour kit. Instead, this kit will be used to get you home.

After all, we can’t always assume the apocalypse will start when we’re at home. And it would seriously suck if you got stuck in your car (or worse, your office) with no supplies, but a fully-stocked emergency kit…at home. You know.

Food Storage

So. You’ve got all your food and water and all that good stuff for the apocalypse. Yay, you can eat! But if you don’t store it properly, it might go bad. Or rats or cockroaches or other fun stuff might decide to eat it for you.

Either way, it’ll be unpleasant for you. Moral of the story: store your food properly. To do this, make sure you keep canned, dried, or dehydrated food. And then store that non-perishable goodness in sturdy, tightly sealed, plastic buckets.

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Or Rubbermaid containers, whichever you prefer.

But! Don’t forget to put away spices and comfort food, for those days when you no longer want to eat canned beans. I’m just saying. (During the class, Lindsay also pointed out something called “appetite fatigue,” where you get so tired of eating the same thing, you just stop eating. Which will kill you. And that would totally defeat the point of all this survival preparedness you’re doing, now wouldn’t it? Exactly.)

Also, make sure you put a can opener in one of those buckets, because it would seriously suck if you cracked your food boxes open on one rainy apocalyptic day and realized you had no way to get into your food. Because they’re all canned. And you don’t have a can opener.

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Make sure you put a water sterilization system in one of your food buckets. Because post-apocalyptic water just might kill you.

One more thing: make sure you have copies of all important documents in your survival kit, and have another set of copies at another location (ie. a friend or relative’s house). Have your documents, along with any survival plans and other notes, in a “survival binder.” Which is exactly what it sounds like: a 3-ring binder full of your survival stuff.

First Aid Kits

A very important part of your 72 hour kit/bug out bag/what have you will be your first aid kit. Well, okay, so all parts of your emergency kit will be important, but my point is, don’t neglect your first aid kit. After all, you don’t want to have enough food and water for three weeks, only to die from an infection you got from a paper cut, right? Because, wow. Holy irony, Batman.

Anyway. You can get wonderful—and wonderfully stocked—first aid kits from places like AMA (the Alberta Motor Association, not the American Medical Association, though they might sell first aid kits, too), Costco, and St.

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John’s Ambulance. Obviously these aren’t the only places you can get first aid kits, so buy yours wherever you feel most comfortable. Of course, you can always make your own. If you do, make sure you’ve got at least one (preferably more) of everything you can find in the most deluxe store-bought kit. The more the better, right? Especially when it comes to your health.

However, most first aid kits will always be missing something. Like, you know, medication. Sure, they might have an aspirin or two, but if you’re in serious pain, an aspirin isn’t going to do much. So make sure you put any medication you’ll need in your first aid kit. This means prescription medications, T3s, anti-inflammatories like prescription Voltaren, Percocet, etc. etc. Make sure they’re in your first aid now, because in an emergency situation, you’re not going to be able to run down to the pharmacy to get more.

If you use herbal or naturopathic remedies, make sure you’ve got a supply in your first aid kit as well. You’re not going to be able to go to your friendly neighborhood health and wellness to stock up on your herbal medication after the shit hits the fan. Well, you might, but it’ll definitely be more hazardous than it is now.

Also make sure you’ve got a defibrillator and a first aid book tucked away in your first aid kit. You never know when either of those could come in handy.

Oh, and, take a first aid course. Preferably a wilderness/backpacking one. This will get you the most prepared for emergency/survival first aid, and will probably be the next best thing to being a nurse or a doctor. (Also, it’ll be cheaper than going to med school. Hey, we’re all watching our wallets.)

And remember, in a post-apocalyptic situation, first aid will be a skill that can save your life. Those marauding bandits? Yeah, they get hurt too, and it’s a good bet they don’t want to die either. I mean, it’s why they go around stealing supplies and eating people. So when they stumble upon you and want to rape/kill/maim/eat you, make sure you scream “I KNOW FIRST AID!!!” as soon as possible, as loud as possible. Whatever saves your life, right?

Next week: the final post in the series! I’ll be talking about cold weather prep and survival parenting.

The zombie apocalypse parenting class: Part 1

Welcome to the apocalypse. You’re a parent. Are you prepared?

Note: I was able to take this class for free because I’m reviewing the class for ICoS.

I’ve written about post-apocalyptic parenting in the past here on ICoS. Being a post-apocalyptic parent is something I think about, albeit a little less often than I think about post-apocalyptic evil space monkeys. (What can I say, I’m really into evil space monkeys. Especially if they’re pirates.

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But I’m not into them THAT way, so get your mind out of the gutter.)

Of course, most of what I’ve written about is hypothetical. After all, I really have no idea what the world will be like after an apocalypse, so I have even less of an idea of what parenting will be like after said apocalypse. It’s really anybody’s guess. (And I’d imagine some guesses are more interesting than others.)

That being said, there are some things we can prepare for as parents. And really, there are some things we already prepare for. Don’t believe me? Think about it: if you’ve ever traveled for any length of time with young children, you’ve packed, prepared, and thought about at least half a dozen contingencies (possibly related to a kid losing a security blanket, getting bored, or running out of diapers). That type of prepping is, at its root, the same thing as preparing for a disaster. Because I don’t know about you, but if my youngest lost her security blanket, I’d probably be hoping for the apocalypse to come around.

If, however, you don’t think you’re ready for a disaster – apocalyptic or otherwise – but want to be, there are actually classes you can take. (I know, right?) And here in Calgary, there’s a zombie apocalypse parenting class.

I KNOW. I never thought I’d see “zombie apocalypse,” “parenting,” and “class” together in any sort of phrase, but there you go.

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Not surprisingly, it’s a class that helps you prepare for the zombie apocalypse. Also disasters and big emergencies, but that’s not nearly as important as the zombie apocalypse, right? Exactly. Now I, as a responsible parent (or something like that), jumped at the chance to take this class, because dude, seriously. It’s a zombie apocalypse parenting class.

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How could I not take it?

It’s a good thing I did, too, because holy chalupas on a paper plate, I am SO NOT PREPARED.

Let’s take a look, shall we? In the opening questionnaire, the first question was, “name five things that you always keep in your diaper bag or car.” I answered based on what’s always rolling around in my van, because I no longer carry a diaper bag (oh thank the gods). So what do I have in my van at any given time? Bottled water, baby wipes (most likely dried out), a stroller, random jackets, and kids’ toys. (I didn’t mention the cheeseburger wrappers, escapee French fries, and the occasional (used) napkin.)

Granted, old French fries might make a good weapon – they’d be hard and crunchy enough to do some damage if I had a whipped it at someone’s head. Note to self: put slingshot in glove box.

And then there was the question about what skills we’d bring to a zombie survival team. Well, crap. Does Google-fu count? No? What about making fun of people? Also no? Well, that means I’m toast. Make sure someone prevents me from snacking on your brains, ok?

On a more serious note, we also discussed how people get their news. After all, in an emergency situation, it’ll be important that people find out what’s going on as soon as humanly possible. Figuring out Little Johnny’s soccer schedule when, say, a tsunami is bearing down on your location is probably not the safest or smartest thing for you to be doing. But if you don’t know what’s happening out there, you’re probably going to prioritize that schedule. Get what I’m saying here?

For fast-developing events, the best source of information is probably Twitter. Love it or hate it, Twitter has a lot of active users, and they share a lot of information. Yes, some of it’s useless, but some of it…isn’t. Of course, there’s also Facebook. Personally, I found out about last year’s Japanese tsunami via Facebook – my brother was updating his status as the earthquake was happening (he was in Tokyo at the time).

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Really, social media can be a good source of up to the minute information, especially when it comes to emergencies or disasters. (It’s also a good source of what people had for lunch, but hey, you win some, you lose some.)

All in all, the class was fun, informative, and lighthearted. Well, as lighthearted as you can get when you’re talking about a scenario when the world has just gone to hell around you. But hey, you gotta laugh, otherwise you’ll cry.

I learned quite a bit from the class, and I highly recommend you take it (or one like it, if you’re not in Calgary). Or maybe at some point in the future, Lindsay will consider offering this via webinar for those who aren’t lucky enough to be in Calgary. (Hint, hint?)

I will talk about the class in greater depth in subsequent posts, but I wanted to get the general overview up for you to read. Lindsay and her co-teacher gave us a lot of information – all of it good information – and I wanted to share the basics of it with you. Of course, this doesn’t take away from the class (and I still think you should take it if you can), because I couldn’t get all the information written down. Also, nothing beats the person-to-person interaction that allows you to ask questions and all that fun stuff.

Basically, this means you have to stay tuned over the next couple weeks while I round off the post series!

Thank you again to Lindsay Ross and Babes in Arms in Calgary for allowing me to sit in on this class!

Twitter: @babesinarmsshop