Stepping Quietly

Posted: August 31, 2012 in Bred to the Wilderness

Of Aquilonian rangers of the western provinces:

“…they were wild men, of a sort, yet there was still a wide gulf between them and the Cimmerian. They were sons of civilization, reverted to a semi-barbarism. He was a barbarian of a thousand generations of barbarians. They had acquired stealth and craft, but he had been born to these things. He excelled them even in lithe economy of motion. They were wolves, but he was a tiger.”
“A few moments later the whole band was hurrying southeastward. Conan followed more slowly, keeping just within ear-shot. He cursed the noise they were making; that many Picts or Cimmerians would have moved through the woods with no more noise than the wind makes as it blows through the black branches.”

-Beyond the Black River, Howard, Robert E.

So we have heard that Conan of Cimmeria, and of course the Picts of his age, were wilderness-bred savages and barbarians. When they crept through the dark forests of the Hyborian Age, they made no more noise than a hunting panther.

New flash: You can too!

Try this exercise, taught to me by Tom Brown Jr:

  1. Plug your ears. That’s right, stick your fingers right into your ear-holes.
  2. Now, walk, slowly and carefully.
  3. You hear thunder, do you? What could that be?
  4. It’s the thunder of your clumsy civilized feet, no doubt.

Now try this with your shoes off, assuming you haven’t thrown them off yet. Barefoot, we are enabled to walk differently, as we once did when we were wild. 26 bones in the human foot; pity to keep them cooped up in those prisons we call “shoes”.

At first, you’ll need to walk very slowly. At some point, it will become second nature and it will require effort for you to walk noisily.

When we civilized folk walk, in our shoes, on city sidewalks, we normally have our toes pointed out somewhat.

The American Indians that I know, as well as the more experienced hunters and trackers, invariably walk with their toes pointed forward. I invite you to try this and see what difference it makes.

Notice, also, how your foot contacts the ground. Do you land with your heel first? Do you shift your weight to your toes in a controlled manner, or do you sort of lurch forward?

This is also training that the ninja of Japan receive. The earliest ancestors of the ninja were called yama-bushi, or mountain warriors. Does that sound like a barbarian to you?

For a barbarian, lessons learned through hunting, serve very well in wartime as well.

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