Forest Knights Chief Instructor and our good friend Wally were featured on BBC1's Flog It.
We discuss bow making with Paul Martin in our teaching space at Amberley Museum.
Forest Knights is proud to support SARDA. We are hopeing that Bramble and Aspen our Bushcraft hounds will one day become search dogs.
They are doing well in their scent class.
After a lot of persuading I ran a beginners workshop on stick weapons.
The guys did very well having no experience of martial arts and little practice moving.
The main focus was to keep them moving slowly to ensure no broken fingers.
This is a great clip showing intelligent bird behaviour. The joy of bushcraft and nature awareness is our ability get close to the action without causing disruption to the worlds wild places.
There is always plenty to do maintaining our woodland base. Today though we had more ambitious plans. The up coming Bow Making courses require a lot of fresh Ash Trees for our students to craft their own bows.
We would love for them to be able to fell their own tree to really understand the entire process of crafting a Primitive Bow from tree to shooter, however tree felling is potentially dangerous and an entire course in itself.
Whilst we try to do as much as possible from first principles sometimes a little modern technology gets the job done.
Sadly I didn't get any shots of the trees coming down as I was too busy using the chainsaw.
Stihl MS261 Chainsaw
The Ash trees ideal for bow making in our experience are around 6-10 in diameter.
Forest Knights are very fortunate to have 250 acres of woodland to practice bushcraft and remove some fire wood.
David contemplating carrying the logs out the woods.
We prefer to source our wood from the national trust and the local forestry commission rather than remove trees from our woodland unless absolutely necessary for safety or conservation.
Some of our wood stored at Amberley ready for the next few courses.
Whilst we were feeling particularly productive at the museum we decided it would be a good time to start on a new wood rack.
Our new wood rack in progress. The posts are in just the cross beams to add. We haven't decided if this rack is going to have a roof. We filled it should hold a cord of wood or approx 4000kg so needs to be robust.
As you would expect after we had finished in the woods there was little trace of our activities.
Why is Forest Knights tag line Wilderness, Wildlife and Warrior Arts?
Forest Knights was asked to travel to Cheltenham to teach a group of 20 young people self defence.
We feel that having a good knowledge of self defence principles buildings self confidence and enables young people to make wiser choices about the people they associate with etc. This knowledge gives them sense of pride and self control.
Knowing when to react and how to deal with a potentially life threatening situation is an essential life skill, the ability to defend your self not only enhances your self worth but gives you a sense of responsibility. All power is a double edged sword and the ability to cause discomfort to others must be used wisely.
The course was structured to focus on the principles of movement timing and balance. It was important to instil a high moral compass to ensure that the young people understand that using the skills taught were for a very limited number of situations, 99.99% of the time it is wrong to harm anyone. Much better to walk away and avoid conflict. If someone is being abusive and a bully allow them their space and maybe over time you may show them that they were wrong. Lead by example and try to be a positive influence on those around you. If you are being robbed and you are certain that the thief is only interested in your possessions then let them have them. All objects can be replaced. Phones can be blocked and traced, your photos recovered from the cloud. Hardly worth a potential conflict for a phone you're likely to upgrade soon.
When is it right to fight?
In our experience the only time it is right to fight is to protect yourself or those you care for from physical harm. Being a pain in the rear is not sufficient a reason to harm someone and will undoubtedly cause the authorities to take a very dim view of your behaviour. In other words you're the one likely to end up with a criminal record. Bye bye DBS and your career choices.
So now you have considered when it's necessary to act you are free from making that decision when the time comes. Now when a person invades your personal space you can move instantly from a passive response to actively defending yourself.
Once the decision is made there is no turning back. There is little middle ground in a real life threatening situation. The real world is an ugly place and violence is painful and brutal. It is much more productive spending 30 years learning to paint than 30 years practising martial arts.
However should you need those skills that 1 minute of time will be the 1 minute that defines your future. Act swiftly and decisively. Keep your techniques simple and effective. Forget the movies. In real life when you're tired and afraid perfection goes out of the window.
We worked with the young people on the Principle of Move Pain Go.
Avoidance. Move into safe space away from the threat. This can be away from the attacker or in close and personal. We worked on how to avoid getting hit by movement of the whole body especially the feet.
All counters should give the attacker or attackers some form of stimulus to engage their brain. To interrupt their flow and create doubt. This will give you the time and space to go. Only do what it necessary and keep it simple. Economical violence.
The next and most important part is to leave at the earliest opportunity. Once you have disabled your attacker and created space to move then go. Get away from the conflict and seek help from the emergency services or a responsible adult. Never wait for applause or support. Move on with your life do not give that minute any more power over you than necessary. Once you are safe you can call the police and report the incident.
The young people really enjoyed the various situations, we had them working hard sparring with plastic bottles to defending against multiple attackers. There was little need to give them specific techniques for they would be unlikely to remember then in 6 months in a pressure situation. However we worked on simple movement that began to develop muscle memory and a heightened situational awareness. Getting them to read a situation before it becomes a crisis is far better.
Prevention is better than cure.
Once they stopped falling over their own feet we could add a few extra tools to their armoury. How to punch and block effectively using the whole body. Understanding that their likely opponents may well have studied mixed martial arts and try to take them to the ground. We worked on simple counters.
To finish we had a question and answer session with the young people discussing the issues they faced and feared and how we could develop stratagems to avoid problems in the future.
As always we learn as much from our students as they learn from us and it was a privilege to help them feel a little safer in their everyday lives. Whilst the likelihood of facing a potential abduction is low understanding that you never get into the car is important. Fight tooth and nail to avoid getting into the vehicle make yourself too inconvenient a target as possible. Anything to get you noticed and slow an attacker down and give you a chance to flee. Once in a car the search area for the authorities looking for you increases dramatically and your changes of escape are reduced.
Forest Knights believe knowledge is power and with the application of knowledge and a positive attitude then any situation should be managable. Having a sound knowledge of Bushcraft and Survival is a great foundation but to be truely prepared one must also have a solid understanding of human behaviour and be able act effectively in a crisis.
Forest Knights instructors run training courses in self defence, conflict resolution and can provide training solutions for all your travel needs into hostile environments.
Contact us for bespoke courses to meet your organisations needs.
Forest Knights is more than just another Bushcraft and First Aid School. I like to try and keep as many traditional skills alive as possible from Greenwood working and Flint Knapping to Canoe and Coracle building.
Several of our instructors are pretty good at using a pole lathe and we run courses from time to time on Pole Lathe construction and Bodging.
Joel removing the surface rust.
Beth our latest recruit is a rather talented power lathe turner. She turns some amazing bowls and goblets etc. That can be purchased at various shows.
So not to be outdone the chaps have all gone and got themselves a power lathe. Nothing like a little competition to inspire one.
Not that any of us are going to become as good as Beth any time soon.
Joel was lucky enough to be able to collect his deceased grandfathers lathe. We spent the day giving it some tender loving care.
For the tool enthusiasts it is a Tyme Cub manufactured from the 1960's until 1990s.
The bed is much longer than my own hobby lathe and should be great for turning legs for our show shave horses.
Checking the motor.
Check out the craft section of our website for a selection of our bowls and hand carved spoons etc
If you do not see anything you like. The team accept commissions and will be adding more stock as time allows.
Tonbridge Canoe Club First Aid Course.
Once again the Forest Knights team headed over to Kent to run a First Aid Course for our friends at Tonbridge Canoe Club. We have been training their canoe coaches for a number of years. It's always great fun to train like minded enthusiastic students that really enjoy learning new skills and who may put those skills into practice effectively should they ever be needed.
We had a full course of 12 students and 2 staff to keep them on their toes with a range of increasingly complex scenarios.
What would you do if one of your party injures herself whilst out walking? How should you react? There are very few absolutes in the outdoors and a lot will depend on your location and the conditions you are faced with.
In this case the weather whilst cold and damp is not particularly challenging. The ambulance response time is going to be pretty quick if Beth's condition worsens. What equipment are you carrying to help you. You should always have a First Aid Kit for example.
I carry a Sam Splint in my day pack and the Evac Pack Field Kit.
The groups first priority is to do a proper assessment of the situation and then make the best decisions possibly to ensure the safety of everyone in the group including the casualty and rescuers.
The first rule of First Aid is do not become a casualty yourself.
It is all too easy to want to rush in and start treating a casualty before you have done a proper risk assessment of the situation.
Is it safe for the rescuers to approach?
Can I safely offer any useful assistance?
Your best course of action maybe just to let the victim know you are there and you will go for help. Remember mobile phones may not have a signal and you may have to travel some distance to contact the emergency services.
In this case the injury is not life threatening and at first glance should be simple to self rescue. We need to consider how we are going to evacuate the casualty and how long that will take consultation with the emergency services.
Remember our role as first aiders is to treat our casualties and to prevent harm whilst ideally transferring them to the hands of the emergency services as soon as is practical. It is terribly lonely treating a seriously ill person waiting to hear the sound of the ambulance approaching. 5 minutes feels like an hour and remember response times in more remote locations can sometimes be measured in hours.
Back to Beth. She looks happy enough for someone with a badly twisted ankle. It's the end of February and we are in the outdoors so we must consider that Beth is suffering from Hypothermia, Hypoglycaemia and dehydration. All outdoor casualty's must be treated for these conditions. The group have quickly got Beth onto a mat to stop heat loss from the ground and wrapped a spare jacket around her shoulders.
Never give a casualty your personal kit.
Spare group clothing is fine but remember the first rule and do not become a casualty yourself. It would have been nice to have given Beth a spare hat and perhaps got her into a Bothy bag whilst the first aider on scene did a proper assessment of her injuries and the group leader formed an action plan.
What other considerations are there for the leader?
Once it is determined that her only injury is a twisted ankle and this wasn't caused by some other underlying issues. The group leader determined it was safe for Beth to be supported and self rescue was appropriate.
As the day progresses the casualty injuries become more complex and the number of causalities increases to ensure all members of the course are challenged and given an opportunity to practice not only their first aid skills but also consider issues of communication and leadership.
It's easy to become too focussed on the problem before you and to lose sight of the bigger picture.
This picture shows our chief Instructor playing the role of a casualty fallen out of a tree wedged between the two of the willows trunks. Complaining of headache, back pain and having difficulty breathing. This is was the least accessible location for me to be in a depression on the river bank amongst brambles in the mud. Typical of the the banks of the Medway.
You're paddling the river with a group of friends and you hear my cry for help what would you do?
Keep it simple.
Once again the first rule applies do not become a casualty yourself.
Once its safe to approach and you know there is no risk from the river or from falling branches I may have dislodged in my fall we need to do a quality rapid assessment of the casualties medical needs. A thorough examination of the injuries and a good medical history needs to be taken in case the casualty loses consciousness. My signs and symptoms are pretty clear. I have fallen out of a tree whilst searching for eggs. I have banged my head on the way down injured my chest and have an odd numb sensation in my left leg. I am otherwise physically healthy but I have recently stopped taking Amisulpride.
The mechanism of injury suggests that the casualty is likely to have suffered a possible head and spinal injury. The examination has determined that there is a large bump on the back of the head some discomfort in the chest and loss of sensation in the lower limb. Ideally one would choose to keep the casualty calm offer lots of TLC and await for the emergency services to arrive. On an outdoor first aid course life is never that simple and casualty's breathing is becoming more laboured and his pulse is becoming much faster. The outcome is looking bleak. The options are discussed amongst the rescuers. Life over limb, the chest injury is more severe that first thought and they may need to perform CPR. The casualty's level of conscious is decreasing I am unable to communicate. The decision is made to move the casualty to place of safety where CPR etc can be safely administered.
This was just one of the casualties being treated at the time. There was a crush injury whilst someone was trying to lift a heavy kayak onto a high rack and another woman running for help had fallen over and gashed her scalp.
We had a blast demonsrating a range of first aid skills and there was lots of discussion on the right and wrongs of one particular treatment over another. Our roles as coaches is to enable our students to learn and retain as much information as possible but also to give the the skills and confidence to apply their knowledge and equally important to understand the limitations of their training and know when its better to stand back and wait for the professionals.
First Aid in the Outdoors
Responsibilities of the First Aider FPOS.
Action in an Emergency
Casualty Care. Movement and handling.
Breathing & Circulation
Principals of Resuscitation
Hypoxia (wilderness setting)Airway Obstruction
Removal of helmets
Disorders of Circulation
Shock recognition and treatment
Wounds & Bleeding
Effects of Heat & Cold
Fractures & Spinal injuries
Evacuation Incident Management
Burns & Scalds.
We look forward to returning next year.
Cry of the Wild.
Whilst we all try to spend as much time in the outdoors as possible, it is somethimes difficult, to free the time from our busy lives to enjoy the freedom nature has to offer.
When work and our family commiments conspire against our need to escape into the woods we can at least jorney to the back woods from the comfort of our homes via the computer and television screens. I spend hours looking at google earth planning trips and looking at far vast strtches of wilderness wondering what adventures and wildlife can be observed should I get the opportuntity to one day visit.
Fortunately we can also exerience some of the joys of the worlds wild places following the exploits of intrpid film makers that enable us to get a real flavour of the environment and the wildlife they encounter. Many us dream of snoeshoeing through the mountains of Alaska and paddling with Narwhales and walrus. The distances and expense of such expeditions means that for many this adventures must remain a dream.
One film maker that has inspired my own adventures is Bill Mason through his books and films he imspired a generation to seek adventure and some inner peace through the tranquility of paddling the back waters in an open canoe and taking the time to really observe the beauty of our surroundings.
Here is a documentary about the Wolf. A creature that inspires strong emotions in us all. For many the cry of the wolf symbolises the rugged beauty of the wilderness and reminds us that we but a small part of nature. I fondly remember my first encounter with wild wolves whilst paddling in Canada. A brief moment but one that I shall forever treasure.
Here is a video created by our good friend Bob Iles during one of our courses at Amberley Museum.
Forest Knights are preferred suppliers to Sky news for things outdoor and survival. After a young walker was found in Australia after 3 days of being out in +35C temperatures and unprepared,
David our senior instructor live from the woods.
Our extensive experience leading courses in the UK and worldwide means that we understand the demanding nature of the world's wild places and the outcomes of equipment failure. This can be a missed photo opportunity or a life threatening emergency.
The objective is to give an objective assessment of all the equipment and services we use.
The Independent Article
We had great fun making various shelters in the woods and practising various bushcraft skills.Forest Knights were very pleased to host two writers from the Independent News Paper recently.
HUNGRY SAILORS VISIT FOREST KNIGHTS AT AMBERLEY MUSEUM.
Last summer David and I hosted the Hungry Sailors at Amberley museum in West Sussex.
It was great fun showing Dick and James Strawbridge around the museum looking for everyday wild food. It was important that for the ITV show that we concentrated only on plants that could be found locally and would be easy for anyone to identify. Dick and James proved to be pretty knowledgeable foragers and together we found a surprising range of foods within the museum grounds despite the summer being a traditionally lean time of year.
The plan had been to collect some food for a salad, cook a trout over an open fire and then help them carve their own spoons and spatulas for use in the rest of the series. Then the dark spectre of fire by friction reared its ulgy head.
The best plans only last so long. Dick and James were determined to create fire. Luckily I had some old bow drill sets stashed as a museum exhitbit. A quick demonstration of proper technique off camera and it was over to the Hungry Sailors. The red mist of the prmitive hunter gatherer was apon them. Several Bow drill sets later and many hours had past and still no fire.
David setting a possible speed record carving new spindles and the chaps created dust. Lovely black dust so near to an ember yet so far. Despite our recommendadtions to take a break and rest the chaps were determined that honour demanded fire. At this point fire was impossible as the sailors we just too exhausted for proper technique and there continued effort had polished the bow drill beyond use.
At last we decided to cheat and use a gas torch to get the fire going as lots of filming still needed to be completed and I was fast becoming a very hungry sailor.
Fire by friction is far more about technique than brute force. Start slow and steady to gently warm the set and get your muscle memory set. Once you are creating dark black dust and a thick smoke its time to gently increase pressure on the spindle and pick up the pace. Once you have your ember glowing treat it gently for it is fragile and needs time to grow. Take your time before transferring the ember to a tinder bundle that you have prepared in advance.
WEMSI WEMT Training.
Forest Knights chief instructor Wayne Jones attended the WEMSI WEMT training at Glenmore Lodge Aviemore.
The course was very enjoyable and really stretched his knowledge of advanced trauma care.
Wayne is looking forward to applying some of the new techniques on our own First Aid Courses. He is also looking forward to practising as a Wilderness medic on several expeditions.We would like to thank the instructors and volunteers at WEMSI for their hard work and excellent training.
During the course BBC Scotland filmed some of the casualty simulations. Wayne was chosen to be interviewed and some of the footage was used on The Adventure Show.
That makes 3 TV appearances in 2009