4 Popular Zombie Survival Tactics (That Will Get You Killed)
The zombie uprising is a popular fictional trope that has spawned countless movies, books, video games, and online debates. Everyone likes to believe they’d be a survivor, prattling off their carefully calculated strategies to avoid becoming brainfood for the undead. And yet, a good majority of those same people would probably become brain food.
It’s like this exercise we did in the 5th grade. The teacher asked us what supplies we would take if we were stranded at ocean on a raft. We could choose up to 5 supplies from a list provided by the teacher. About 90% of the class ended up dead. I didn’t. Because I’m smart, and bringing a CD-player and magazines instead of an umbrella and duct tape (for sun protection and plugging leaks, duh) is stupid. That’s why you should pay attention to the things I’m going to say.
Now, prepare to be told why all those popular zombie survival tactics are totally wrong and will get you killed.
Using martial arts against zombies
For some reason (natural selection), there are people out there who believe deploying martial arts against the undead is a good idea. It’s not. In fact, it’s a terrible idea.
For starters, striking a zombie with your hands and feet is entirely pointless. Zombies are generally immune to pain, cannot be knocked unconscious (unless we’re talking about UFC’s Chan Sung “The Korean Zombie Jung), and you’ll probably end up breaking your own hand.
Yet there are internet users who seem to think that martial arts could be viable against the undead. See exhibitions A and B:
“Hold on!” You might say. “What about grappling arts?”. Again, no. In fact, here’s an instructional video from BJJ black belt and martial arts practitioner for over 30 years, Stephan Kesting. He explains why most BJJ techniques would get you killed against zombies:
The only martial arts techniques that could possibly be utilized against zombies, while saving your life, would be throws and sweeps, as found in martial arts like Judo. Hip tosses and leg sweeps would allow you to quickly drop a zombie onto its back and give you time to run away (or stomp on its head). And this is highly situational at best, such as if a zombie grabs you from behind, and your reflexes are fast enough to o-goshi that zombie on its head before it sinks its teeth into your neck.
Also, it takes a long time of drilling techniques repetitively to execute them flawlessly without pause. When a zombie grabs you, you have around a second to A: not panic, and B: execute the proper throw based on your position and the zombie’s. Hesitate, and you’re (un)dead. So no, you cannot simply attend a Judo class for a couple of months and become a zombie-hip-tossing machine.
Now, martial arts are great for staying in shape, absolutely. Anything that improves your cardio, flexibility and body strength is going to be highly beneficial during a zombie apocalypse. Parkour, while not technically a combat martial art, would be a fantastic candidate for this. But actually going all Wing Chun rolling punches on a zombie? Worst. Idea. Ever.
Using video games as a training tool
You might’ve played countless hours of Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, Dying Light, Resident Evil, or any other number of the plethora of zombie games out there. You might think this has prepared you for the zombie apocalypse. It hasn’t.
Yes, video games have been proven to have a number of cognitive benefits, such as increased reaction time and split-second decision-making skills. You might’ve even picked up some viable flanking strategies from Call of Duty. How well is all this going to translate into real life, though?
In video games, you have medikits that instantly recover health. Guns never jam. And while video games attempt to simulate gun recoil, they don’t prepare you for the sheer kinetic energy. Firing powerful rifles with improper positioning can dislocate your shoulder, handguns can smack you in the face. You can get messed up from behind a gun. Good luck finding a dentist during the zombie apocalypse.
So yes, video games are educational. But they don’t teach you the muscle memory to properly handle a firearm. If you’re an avid firearms collector who attends the range often or have military training, this obviously doesn’t apply to you. I’m speaking specifically to you basement dwellers who thinks 5000 hours of Call of Duty on your Steam account has in any way prepared you for gun maintenance and safety protocols.
Aiming for the head
It’s common knowledge that zombies are killed by cranial damage, which has led to hordes of movies and video games depicting characters blowing the heads off zombies with ease. Here’s a fun fact - headshots are freaking hard. So hard, in fact, infantry soldiers are typically trained to aim for the chest, AKA “center mass”.
Another fun fact: Army basic marksmanship training is a 2 - 3 week course, and soldiers must only hit around 25 out of 40 pop-up targets, from a range of 5 to 300 meters. Yes, the Army considers a successful hit rate of around 57% to be a passing score for marksman qualification.
So how exactly do you, Mr. Joe Average, expect to squeeze off those perfect headshots that trained Army soldiers cannot?
The good news, however, is that you can cripple zombies without aiming for the head. Depending on your ammunition type, severing the zombie’s spinal cord while aiming for the chest is completely viable. In fact, gunshot wounds are the second leading cause of spinal cord injuries.
The knees are also a potentially good target - they’re smaller than the head, but there’s two of them to hit. A quick burst aimed at a zombie’s legs could leave it crippled, giving you the opportunity to escape.
Holing up in a fortress
During a zombie apocalypse, most people’s instinct will be to head for some type of fortified compound or other suitable area intended for disaster relief. Alternatively, you may be thinking of fortifying your own house. This is all wrong.
During the zombie apocalypse, tensions are going to be high. People will be fighting over precious resources such as water, guns, sleeping bags, and any other type of survival gear. People will get killed over this, yo. In fact, it could be argued that other people will be a real threat during a zombie apocalypse. Don’t believe me? Just yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre and watch everyone trample each other to reach the exit. No, don’t do that, it’s illegal. But hopefully, you get my point.
Now, I could be totally wrong. Humanity could band together against a common threat, the government could maintain peace and order, and people could put aside their differences to kick some zombie ass. It’s idealistic, yet highly unlikely.
“Humans are the real monsters”, and its sub-trope “Beware the Living” are extremely common fictional tropes, for good reason. When crap hits the fan, people generally look out for numero uno - themselves.
All those disaster survival guides you’ve read; head for the nearest school, hospital, evacuation centers,
the Superdome in New Orleans (on second thought…), all perfectly good ideas. During a natural disaster, where relief organizations can bring supplies, and celebrities tweet things like #HopeForHaiti. In a zombie apocalypse, all that goes right out the window. Our politicians will be secure in their underground bunkers, and West Hollywood is the 17th most densely populated city in the United States, so our celebrities will probably be tweeting #Braaaiiiins.
You could spend a couple of months on zombie-proofing your home, but will it be human proof? Probably not. Unless you already live in a fortified compound (who are you, Osama Bin Laden?), you won’t have the time or resources to start erecting barbed-wire trenches and 8-foot concrete walls around your house in the middle of the end of humanity.
So where do you go during the zombie apocalypse? Well, here we have to get technical.
Cornell University researcher Alex Alemi released an interactive model of a hypothetical zombie outbreak in the United States. Users can click anywhere on the map, and watch how fast a zombie outbreak would spread, based on starting location, population density, kill-to-bite ratio (zombies killed per infected humans), and average time for zombies to walk 1 mile.
Based on Alemi’s model, zombie outbreaks started in or near major urban cities would spread quite rapidly (obviously), yet infection rate decreases exponentially once it reaches more rural areas. Based on this model, we could suppose that the safest places to be during a zombie apocalypse would be rural areas, especially low-population, mountainous regions.
Of course, many people might be aware of this, and those low-population areas might suddenly become not so low-population anymore. It’s a bit like waking up early to “beat the morning traffic”. Lots of people have the same idea, so the roads just end up being congested anyway.
Thus, the absolute safest location would be out on the ocean, in a sailboat stocked with plenty of supplies and fishing gear.