Unarm Yourself, or Martial Arts for Zombies

by Kilo on July 11, 2010

This is a guest post from Dan Cosgrove, who has been doing some serious thinking about zombies.

Life was hard enough when we were at the top of the food chain. But now, with zombies running (re: shambling) amok, what’s a post-apocalyptic martial artist to do?

There’s the obvious and oft-repeated: Stay in groups, be aware of your surroundings, stop bathing in barbecue sauce. But the game’s got a few new rules.

I’m not talking about zombies with martial arts skills. That’s terrifying. Picture being locked up with Royce Gracie when he gets it in his brain to eat yours. That would make the Tyson/Hollifield thing look like an hors d’oeuvre.

Martial Arts Styles

When it comes to what martial art is best, no offense to grapplers, but getting handsy with the undead is always a bad idea. Instead, focus on styles with an emphasis on kicking, such as Muay Thai, Savate or Taekwondo.

You want to stay away from a zombie’s main weapons: their hands and teeth. Legs are longer than arms and produce more power. Also, zombies don’t block, so go nuts.

Kick waist level or lower. You’re not going to knock anything out, and the last thing you want to do is lose your balance while trying to show off to your hot co-star by kicking a shambler in the head. Knock that bastard away, then book.

On Second Thought, Arm Yourself

Sometimes ammo or proper weaponry is scarce. But something I learned playing Fallout 3 is that you never run out of nail-board.

Get a weapon. Keep it close. Know how to use it. Drill, drill, drill.

Above all, avoid flash. I love nunchucks as much as anyone, but if you knock yourself out, you might not wake up.

Your only concern when choosing a weapon should be “Can this crush, or remove, a head?”. Don’t just grab the first broom handle you see. A weapon needs to be durable, and still be light enough to carry around and swing more than a couple of times before you pass out.

I suggest learning crowbar-fu.

If you come across a sword in a pawn shop somewhere, test it out. You don’t want to take on a shuffler and have the cheap ‘wall-hanger’ breaks off or find out halfway through that it can’t cut.

Once you have a weapon, learn how to maintain it. Keep a whet stone around to sharpen that machete, and ditch it when it stops being useful.

Run, or Damn it Feels Good to (not) be a Shambla

Remember Zombieland? Most martial arts worth their salt are going to use Survival Rule #1: Cardio.

Running, mobility, agility, these things will save your life more often than anything else. If you want to be more efficient at it, check out some basic Parkour (sometimes known as the ‘martial art of running away’).

Running can be your most vital skill if up against a herd or zombies.

Even if you have enough ammo, there’s limited supplies. So until Wal-mart opens up again, conserve your bullets and make for the hills. Feeling bad-ass and want to duke it out? How many groaners can you really knock around before you need a break? Be realistic.

Closing – Keep your game face on, literally

Just remember: A zombie won’t buckle at a kick to the nuts, won’t be tricked by feints, and will never, ever tap out. Put them down, and get out of there.

About the author:

Dan Cosgrove is a martial artist and writer living in Toronto, Canada. Visit him at his blog Hapless Lad, where he writes about martial arts, bad movies, the art of the functional haircut, and yes, zombies.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Boris Bachmann July 11, 2010 at 9:26 am

Great post!

I think the idea of using newaza against zombies is pretty funny. We could probably sum it up by saying “If the fight goes to the ground, you’re probably going to come up undead”.


frank roberts July 11, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Fun post – my only quibble is with the title; I’d call it martial arts against zombies – saying it’s for zombies brings to mind the Royce Gracies scenario you mention. Good stuff, and practical.


Kris Wragg July 11, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I always thought the answer to zombies was a petrol chainsaw? Of course, they do get kinda heavy when wielding them for a while so the ability to run is definitely still a good asset!

Perhaps shoes with chainsaws on, then you can kick and chop at the same time!


Dan July 11, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I will be three pairs of chainsaw-shoes RIGHT NOW.

Chainsaws also bring a lot of noise and attention, but sometimes you need to bite the bullet and bask in the cool factor.


Sean Geddes July 11, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Excellent advice. As Kris points out though, chainsaws seem to be a well proven way of dealing with zombies providing you aren’t facing a horde at once.
Also, don’t underestimate the value of a lawnmower.


Boris Bachmann July 11, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Dead-Alive was ahead of it’s time w. regard to zombie killing.


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