Firstly, forget so much about the zombies. Yes, they’re gruesome and a large part of it is Hollywood theatrics and special effects. But what about this point I’m about to make:
What if you removed the zombies and kept the rest of it?
In other words, you could remove the zombies completely and focus on what the characters are facing within the series…an overall apocalyptic collapse, the fight for starvation and the complex interpersonal and micro-societal relationships and events that occur with said collapse.
One could easily remove all of the zombies and supplant them with say, nuclear war, or a devastating plague (sans zombies, which are the results of a hypothetical plague), or a complete series of breakdowns after a collapse of all governments in the world. The zombies (as this piece relates to a training tool) are merely “props” who appear in one degree or another for a small portion or a big scene.
The characters in the movie are from a diverse array of backgrounds and levels of life. The problems they face relating to one another are what can be focused upon. All of the wonderful ailments that torment man in today’s society are present: theft, betrayal, infidelity, two of one gender vying for the same mate of the opposite gender, religious matters…it’s all right there.
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How to train for a ‘Walking Dead’ scenario
There are many matters of survival to be watched and either emulated or renounced, depending on the situation.
- Security is paramount to the character Rick Grimes and his group. When the series first came out, the group was barely more than a fragmented collection of individuals. Now (about to enter its seventh season) they have purpose, drive, and teamwork that has enabled them to perform security functions much more effectively.
- There is a tremendous amount of character development that is worth studying. Some members of the group who were no good in the beginning are turning out to be stalwart pillars that all are relying upon, showing man’s adaptability and willingness to change for the better. The group does not lose its humanity or capacity to be humane completely even in the light of adverse situations that would challenge anyone’s moral compass substantially.
- Methods of gathering food and foraging as well as water procurement, first aid, and leadership techniques are delved into in-depth. Situations that arise within the films do arise in real life and especially during a disaster. Barring your objections to watching such due to religious and moral sensibilities, if you’re able to see it for what it is…a fictitious account…and if you’re not squeamish about the zombies, it can be riveting. In this facet, it can be a good training tool for members of the family who might be bored by standard training films or “Hallmark Card” disaster-flicks…where the neat, clean family on the happy picnic emerges from the disaster without a speck of dirt…picking up their picture-perfect picnic right where they left off.
- Reality is oftentimes grim, and another excellent factor of watching these films is that it helps viewers to mentally prepare for things that may happen…yes, a form of conditioning…regarding the scenarios. In past articles I have mentioned the importance of making your training regular, realistic, and really interesting. How could this be used regarding “the Walking Dead” series, you may ask? How about this?
- Watch the episode with your family. Take notes on things…all of you, just short “bullet” comments about what you’re viewing and what sticks out in your mind. After the flick, conduct an AAR, military jargon for an “After Action Review” to see what everybody thinks. Use the flick as a tool to discuss the situations that arise and what your critiques are on them…the mistakes, the successes, and what you would do as a family differently if in the situation faced by the characters.
- Then, guess what? Spice things up further by maybe taking the family out on a subsequent day out in the woods, or out on a range to practice techniques that would help you in a similar scenario. Working on marksmanship even with air rifles on zombie targets with the kids can be one exercise. Working on signaling techniques and communication, or different methods to rendezvous when hiking or backpacking is another set of exercises.
The best part of all, and the most important part in JJ’s estimation: you’re doing something with your family that combines instruction with participation, and bonds all of you even closer. Because, dear Readers, without those close bonds and the ability to support one another and depend on one another…we’re not maintaining a community. The family is the basic community unit, and family means not just those by birth, but those we love and care about, and that feel the same toward us.
So in conclusion, make it interesting, make it real, and use it as something to make the kids and family look forward to. Another thing I do? For those I instruct in my locale…I note different parts of the series (as well as other series of war and disaster), note down the time it appears on the DVD, and keep it as a sort of “reference library.” I list the topic covered. When I want to highlight a part of training, I use my little portable DVD player and pop in the movie…and scroll right to the scene. One picture can be worth a thousand words, and this is how I use films to train. This article is 1,000 words, and I hope they help! JJ out!