In the April/May 2015 issue of Black Belt (on sale March 31), Barry Eisler — the former CIA operative who pens the John Rain series of spy/martial arts novels — wrote a feature titled “Always Ready! Ramp Up Your Reality-Based Self-Defense With a Train-Cation That Teaches Lifesaving Skills.” In the story, Eisler evaluated eight training camps that are sure to be of interest to martial artists.
Space limitations forced the editors to trim the article and, unfortunately, to omit one report. But, as they say, one person’s loss is another person’s gain. Presented here is the review that didn’t fit: Eisler’s write-up on a symposium presented by Cody Lundin, renowned teacher of survival skills and former co-star of the Discovery Channel reality series Dual Survival.
Expert: Cody Lundin
Course: Aboriginal Living Skills School’s Self-Reliance Symposium
You might know Cody Lundin from the Discovery Channel show Dual Survival — although I know him from his awesome books: 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive! and When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes.
Lundin teaches safety not from violence but from natural disasters and the elements. This may be a little outside the typical purview of the Black Belt readership, but I think most martial artists’ goal is to increase safety in general, not safety solely from human attackers. At least, it is for me — which is why I took one of Lundin’s courses and why I hope to take others.
The emphasis in the weeklong Self-Reliance Symposium is on how to survive a grid-down situation in an urban or suburban environment. In other words, what would you do to ensure the safety, the comfort and ultimately the survival of your tribe if you were suddenly living at home but with no heat, no running water and no power?
To that end, the other participants and I spent a week camping in the Arizona desert in July, when daytime temperatures exceeded 100 degrees. During that time, we experimented with different kinds of shelter, different kinds of food, different kinds of water decontamination, different kinds of fire generation and so on.
Barry Eisler making fire under the watchful eye of Cody Lundin.
There was also a lot of lecture and discussion regarding how to be prepared for a grid-down situation — food, water, shelter, medicine, communications, mobility, etc. — which proved useful when I returned home and beefed up my bug-out kit and other disaster-response preparations. (I live near San Francisco, which, as we all know, is earthquake country).
For me, possibly the biggest take-away from Lundin’s course was this: In a survival situation, there’s not much backup. In this sense, a grid-down environment is like a military or intelligence operation. You won’t get a second chance, so you have to plan and prepare with exceptional care. And if something even relatively minor goes wrong, it can quickly cascade into something cataclysmic.
Example: If you and your family get food poisoning on an average day, it’s unpleasant but probably not life-threatening. Likewise, if you break an arm or get an infection, it’s not fun but it is manageable. You can go to the doctor. If the doctor can’t handle it, you can go to a local hospital. If the local hospital can’t handle it, you can get medevaced to a better-equipped facility.
However, if one of those things happens when the grid is down, there’s no backup. What would be not much more than an inconvenience during ordinary times can suddenly prevent you from accomplishing tasks that are critical to your survival. To mitigate all this, planning and preparation are essential, and Cody Lundin’s course provided me with a terrific foundation.
Read the rest of Barry Eisler’s story in the April/May 2015 issue of Black Belt, which hits newsstands and bookstores on March 31. (Go here to subscribe.) In case you’re wondering, the courses Eisler evaluates are Massad Ayoob’s Lethal Force Institute 1, Tony Blauer’s Personal Defense Readiness, Wim Demeere’s private lessons, Tim Larkin’s Target Focus Training, Marc MacYoung’s No Nonsense Self-Defense, Rory Miller’s Chiron Training, Peyton Quinn’s Rocky Mountain Combat Applications Training and Rift Recon’s Art of Escape.
(Photos courtesy of Barry Eisler)