Recently, a celebrity made the headlines for attacking a photographer in an airport seemingly without provocation. The celebrity’s excuse was that, as a result of his participation in a film with undead subject matter, he had mistaken the picture taker for a walking corpse.
While his excuse was summarily dismissed and mocked by the general public, said celebrity brought to the forefront an actual affliction suffered by those who experience long-term exposure to the living dead.
Zombie combat can be one of the most traumatic events an individual can experience. The greater tragedy is that it occurs not just among professional warriors, but with the civilian population as well. Combat with the living dead is also the type of conflict where only one combatant is left standing at the conclusion of an engagement – ideally the living one. For untrained citizens required to eliminate a walking corpse to survive, the emotions felt following a successful combat engagement can be overwhelming, and similar to the post-traumatic stress experienced by warriors after combat. There is also the situation of individuals who have experienced solitary isolation during an extended outbreak, their only interaction with other beings having been undead. These individuals have extreme difficulty relating to the living, and will often launch into an unprovoked attack towards any organism with whom they come into contact, living or undead. This may be what the aforementioned celebrity experienced.
A diagnosis has emerged from the medical community specifically pinpointing these unique types of civilian maladies – PUCT, or Post Undead Combat Trauma.
As much as we try to detach ourselves from the human element of our attackers, there may be times when you experience feelings of extreme remorse, regret, and unhappiness for having to eliminate an undead attacker. These feelings are completely normal, and do not imply weakness, cowardice, or lack of nerve. It is recommended that you confront these feelings honestly and allow yourself to work through them when the opportunity and safety of the situation allows. Discussing these feelings with others that have shared similar experiences, perhaps in your own combat group, can help dissipate these painful thoughts. If the mental trauma does not subside and becomes increasingly debilitating, it is advised that you seek professional help from a physician specifically trained to deal with PUCT.
The difference between having a base foundation of fitness and having a battle-ready physique is like that of day and night. As mentioned previously, without a sufficient level of strength and stamina, defending yourself against the living dead will drain your body’s reserves as fast as a horde of ghouls can strip the flesh from a victim’s bones.
This is not a question of health, youthfulness or vanity. You will not measure yourself against bodyfat calipers, body-tape measurements, or nonsensical Body Mass Index (BMI) ratios. Being combat fit in an undead world means that you are prepared for any situation that involves dealing with the living dead.
With a combat-ready build, you enhance several traits in your physique that will be essential when battling a walking corpse:
Strength - without adequate strength, you will lack the ability to defend yourself from an innumerable quantity of undead attackers, especially if you need to do so without the use of a firearm. It takes a considerable amount of power to deliver a finishing blow to the skull of a zombie. Imagine having to do it dozens, even hundreds of times a day. Strength will be a key factor in your level of survivability.
Endurance - surviving an undead attack is a marathon, not a sprint. The objective is not about destroying the largest number of combatants in the shortest time possible. The objective should always be to eliminate those that pose a clear and imminent threat to your existence.
There have been many incidents recorded where an eager combatant attempted to muscle his way through a horde of ghouls, only to exhaust himself halfway though his attack, losing the ability to both eradicate the threat and escape with his life intact. During an undead outbreak, you may also be required to travel long distances to a potential safe zone, most likely on foot with the undead at your heels. Your endurance level will be critical in such situations.
Accuracy - when engaging in combat with the living dead, the goal is to work smarter, not harder. It may require you five blows to destroy a single zombie, or it may require one. The difference depends not simply on your strength, but moreso on the accuracy of your strikes. Thus, it is often not the strongest who survive in an world of the undead, but the most well-prepared.
As you develop your skill and precision, you will expend less time and energy in every undead combat encounter; time and energy that can be used for other purposes to ensure your survival and that of others in your keep.
Many warriors have acknowledged that the most difficult part of preparing for and winning in battle is not the physical, but the mental factor. Nowhere is this truer than when fighting the undead.
Not only must you overcome the psychological lunacy of defending yourself against a walking corpse, but you may face the unfortunate situation of having to do so against a ghoul that was once someone to whom you had a personal connection.
As a result, it has often been stated that in order to survive in a zombie-infested world, you have to become somewhat of a zombie yourself. It is critical that you detach your feelings and emotions from the threat you face.
Zombies are not friends, not family, not Zen-like otherworldly creatures. The only thing the undead represent is a threat to your life and the lives of the remaining humans in your care. You cannot afford the time or the luxury of waxing philosophic about the zombie in your proximity: who they were, how they were infected, how they ended up in front of you. Your only objective should be to either evade or eliminate the threat.
Disregard specialized “bodybuilding” workouts that overdevelop particular muscle groups, as well as exercises that require any unwieldy or complicated equipment. Your fitness routine should replicate the functional movements you may be required to accomplish during evasion or defense against the living dead. Your exercise regimen should be borne not out of vanity, but of necessity and survival.
Consider what you may have to do in a given day during an outbreak. You may have to:
- run from attacking ghoul mobs
- climb over abandoned vehicles
- crawl under fencing
- reinforce your fortification
- gather supplies
- dispatch a group of zombies with several skull-crushing blows.
It’s no surprise that research has shown individuals with the highest survival rate have been those employed in traditional “blue-collar” positions that require a high degree of manual labor, working their muscles almost daily in practical applications.
Most of the large muscle groups are stressed during a zombie attack:
- Deltoids (shoulders), Pectorals (chest) - pushing attackers, thrusting swords or spears.
- Latissimus Dorsi (back) - pulling/extracting weapons, swinging bludgeons.
- Quadriceps (thighs), Hamstrings (back of legs) - running, climbing, kicking and stomping.
- Abdominals (stomach), Obliques (sides of the stomach), overall core - almost every action listed previously (swinging, thrusting, pushing, pulling) engages your core muscles in some capacity.
These are the muscle groups on which you should focus in your exercise routine. You should also employ movements that require coordination of several muscles groups in unison. Simple, practical movements should be emphasized. Disregard movements that concentrate on small muscles, such as calf raises, concentration curls, and triceps extensions. Stress the large muscle roups aggressively, and the smaller ones will take care of themselves.
Additionally, you need to be able to accomplish your routine with no equipment, (weights, mats, DVD player) silently (given your particular security situation), and in a confined area. This will replicate a possible scenario during a zombie outbreak where you must remain quiet in a small space. Even running becomes a luxury during the course of an undead siege.
Thus, focusing on calisthenics and bodyweight exercises are ideal. Done with regularity at an appropriate intensity level, you will be fit enough to defend yourself quite effectively for a significant duration.
What is considered a base level of fitness? At the minimum, an individual should be able accomplish the following sequence in its entirety without feeling considerably spent:
- Jog five miles without cessation (12 minutes per mile or less)
- 35 consecutive pushups (standard straight-leg version) or 45 pushups (alternative knee version)
- 5 unassisted pull-ups or 10 assisted pull-ups
- 50 jumping jacks
There is a significant difference, however, between “base” and “combat-ready” fitness. Without a sufficient level of stamina, having to fend off multiple undead attacks during a full blown outbreak will reduce an unprepared individual to an exhausted shell of a human being within hours. To be a truly effective warrior against the undead, regular, sustained exercise must be maintained.
You’ve conditioned your physique, studied the combat tactics, and chosen weapons. The only thing left to do is refine your technique. During a large-scale zombie outbreak, this will not be difficult, as your skills and experience will most likely be forged in battle. During peacetime, however, how do you ensure your skills remain as sharp as your battle axe? Through effective combat training exercises and simulations.
Depending on your situation, you may be training alone, with a single partner, or in a group. Each of these different situations has its pros and cons, but if you have the opportunity, you should incorporate all three elements into your training regimen. Also, be careful not to favor one type of training over another. There may be a time when you no longer have a team of individuals with whom to practice, and you will need to be well-versed in all methods of simulation training.
What are combat simulations, and how do they differ from fitness routines and other exercises? While the exercises described in other sections are used to keep your body fit and conditioned, simulations seek to replicate combat scenarios, situations, or interactions you may encounter during a zombie attack. By rehearsing these scenarios in simulation training, you increase your chances of success during an actual attack, and decrease the likelihood that you will experience battle paralysis or a panic attack when facing the living dead.