Last Thursday, Paramount held a special press event for the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack release of Brad Pitt starer, World War Z.
To thematically correspond with the apocalyptic film, this event featured survival training by some of the foremost experts in military, martial arts, and survival tactics. Upon arrival, journalists were transported to the Safe Zone by uniformed soldiers in Humvees. We were required to give our name and allow inspection of our pupils by soldiers shining flashlights in our eyes. After check in and reception, we were introduced to Sam Sheridan, survival specialist, and author of The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse.
People in disaster think they’re going to rise to the occasion, you hear stories of “Oh, he peed his pants”, or “he was so scared he couldn’t move”. Nobody thinks that is going to happen to them. I’m here to tell you that you will not rise to the occasion. The military always says, You don’t rise, you sink to the level of your training, says Sam Sheridan, who has been a cowboy, first mate, Muay Thai fighter, construction worker, fire-fighter, and now, author of books on fighting and survival. Very, very simple cognitive skills are affected by stress and by fear, which is why you need to practice emergency plans, and be prepared, he says.
Sheridan also detailed the essential contents of a Ditch Bag, Bug Out Bag, or Go Bag, which are all cute names for a survival kit. Living in Southern California and being from North Carolina make me no stranger to an Emergency Kit, but this bag is a little different because you keep it in your car along with a good pair of walking boots, in case you have to ditch the car. He then demonstrated how to set up rock traps to catch small prey, such as rats or squirrels, which looks simple, but after several tries, I discovered that I’d probably starve.
Next up, was knife fighting instructor and Grans Martial Artist, Mark Mikita, who is clearly not a man to be messed with. Makita doesn’t look a day over 40, but has been teaching martial arts for 35 years. He has a unique approach, and teaches his students, not only defensive tactics, but also more effective counter-offensive thinking and training. His technique has elements of the survival training that Sheridan touched on like how to perform under pressure.
He started by talking about fear taking you down to almost a caveman level, to where your fine motor skills are gone, your motor skills are diminished, certainly your cognitive ability has dropped, you have what is called auditory exclusion – tunnel vision. “There is a whole smorgasbord of things that are going to change your reality tremendously. So, what I try to when I’m teaching people is to awaken them to what they already have instinctively as part of themselves, and try to hone that so they know that they can trust it.” He said that even the best fighters could make mistakes when confronted in a real life dangerous encounter. He demonstrated the common mistake people make when attacking their target, which creates an opportunity for counter-offensive measures. This mistake can be described as stepping into the attack, closing the distance to the victim, leaving themselves open to a counter-attack from a victim that is prepared to defend him or herself.
More importantly, he demonstrated how to cut off a zombies head quickly and effectively. There was also a fish cleaning and cactus cooking demonstration by Chef Bryce Waring, and a military tactical demonstration by WWZ technical advisor, Freddie Joe Farnsworth.
All in all, a super fun event for the DVD/Blu-ray release of World War Z, which came out today! There are multiple special features on the Blu-ray edition, including, the unrated cut, production journals, a scientific look at zombie behavior, and an interview with the filmmakers. Check it out in-stores or On Demand.