Brent Bingham doesn't believe in zombies. Not the kind that rise from the dead and eat your brain, anyway. But that isn't stopping him from teaching people how to beat the living (or undead, or whatever) crap out of them.
"Zombies are a metaphor," says Bingham, a Denver martial arts instructor. "We utilize the theme of the zombie as a common enemy to create a community that supports each other." Bingham pauses and reconsiders.
"But when and if they do show up, I'm kicking their ass."
He and an army of teenage boys, women, and the reluctant husbands they dragged to Bingham's overly dramatic Zombie Defense Tactics class. Tagline: "Don't be a meatsnack."
Bingham says the whole zombie-defense thing started with a phone call from a friend. "One day he called me and said... 'Would we be willing to teach a zombie self-defense class?' I said, 'Fuck yeah! We're totally going to do that, and we're going to smash some melons!'"
Bingham's Zombie Defense Tactics classes go something like this: A group of twenty-five or more students partake in a round of Humans vs. Zombies, the elaborate "tag" game that caused the University of Colorado to ban Nerf guns on campus last year. Then, once the humans see that it's not so easy to escape from zombies, Bingham teaches them a series of self-defense moves.
"We teach four maneuvers you can use to fend off an actual attack -- whether it's a zombie or some drunk asshole at a bar or a rapist," Bingham says. "We're addressing real world things with a fantasy theme."
Bingham says he's also trying to get people off their butts. "We're trying to identify something for teens and adults who normally wouldn't take a fitness class," he says. "They don't want to go to 24 Hour Fitness. They don't want a personal trainer who yells at them and throws cupcakes at them. They want to have fun. "
And you know what's fun? Smashing melons. "At the end of the class, we dress up melons with zombie costumes and put them on sticks. And we let each participant whack it," Bingham says. "The melon bash is fun because we use real weapons: shovels, baseball bats, crowbars, hockey sticks -- stuff you'd see in your shed or in your garage or in any zombie movie. It's total hilarity."
But so far, only one hundred humans (mostly women and teen boys) have taken part in the faux-zombie-smashing fun. So to drum up business, Bingham is embarking on a free speaking tour. For the low cost of zero dollars, Bingham will show up to your workplace, book club or new moms group and give one of three thirty-minute talks: "Five Keys to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse;" "Zombie Nutrition: A Meatsnack's Guide to Z'pocalypse Preparedness;" or "Fast Fitness and Defense for the Bait-Class Individual."
Bingham calls the lectures Zombie Survival 101. "It's completely off-the-wall, insane, crazy and funny," Bingham says. Not to mention unique. "No one else in Denver is offering free zombie education that I know of," he adds.
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And even if you don't believe in zombies, Bingham argues his classes could come in handy anyway. "If you've ever seen a drunken homeless guy walking down the street with nothing but his own survival on his mind, that's what a zombie is," he explains.
Just cross your fingers that the homeless guy has a melon for a head.
To sign up for an upcoming ZDT class, call Bingham at 866-490-7540.