Self-defence course aims to capitalize on undead craze to garner wider audience
The current zombie craze, fuelled by major titles across all media, including the Walking Dead, Resident Evil, and World War Z franchises, has infected all sectors of society.
Even martial arts.
“You can’t escape zombies,” said Tim Holter, an instructor at The Forge Western Martial Arts in Highland Park, Calgary. “At least, not without our help.”
It was because of this widespread popularity that Holter picked up on the idea of using zombies to help market a self-defence course he was designing called Fight the Bite.
“A self-defence course is only going to hit a small, targeted part of the population, usually women,” said Holter, a certified instructor in KAPAP, a close-combat martial arts discipline originating in Israel.
To reach a larger population, Holter, 30-year veteran of martial arts, chose to incorporate a “zombie apocalypse” theme into his event.
“Zombies make it all fun,” said Holter. “Who doesn’t want to brain a zombie in the end?”
According to Holter and fellow instructor Mark Winkelman, the results speak for themselves.
“Western martial arts isn’t as well-known as taekwondo or karate,” said Winkelman. “But zombies are interesting to everyone, so even those who would never think of coming out to pick up a sword are calling us and asking about it.”
Western martial arts, also known as historical European martial arts, include a broad selection of sports traditionally practised in Europe. While fencing and boxing are still relatively popular, other forms of the sport, such as stick fighting and sword duelling, have fallen out of favour since the 1800s.
However, thanks to historical and fantasy revivalist movements, these traditional arts are beginning to see a resurgence in their popularity.
Holter attributes his interest in the sports to his fascination with swords. “It’s what my ancestors would have done,” said Holter. “They weren’t Japanese, but Vikings.”
Winkelman was initially a practitioner of kendo, or Japanese swordfighting, but now practises both Eastern and Western techniques. “The similarities are interesting and the differences are very interesting,” Holter noted. “When you have a sharp piece of steel, there’s only so many ways to use it.”
The Forge’s zombie-themed survival course runs periodically and is open to Calgarians wanting to survive the “inevitable” zombie apocalypse.