12 countries
12 martial arts
12 months

Trial By Fire


It's only been a couple days in LA and I've met some serious Pyros. Fire! Perfect! Fire is a beautiful and perfect lesson about fear. If you're afraid. You can't touch it. You can't enjoy it. But once you get over it, you can dance! 

On the first day I met three fire peeps: Das, Toge, and Sky. Das is a charismatic French Colombian who I would not introduce my girlfriend to. Toge a young pyro who laughs with glee when a fire is near. Sky a father figure who had patience and took care of the little details. All three of them loved to share Fire. The moment when fire leaves the lips. It changes you. Of note, I also finally met Ben Von Wong, a photographer who I have been communicating with since 2008. Ben was a friend of a friend in Montreal and helped me make a lot of my photo related decisions. He and Das were in town and ended up crashing at my pad. Within a few hours, we were breathing fire, spinning steel wool and playing with weapons under the 1st street bridge near Little Tokyo. At one point security came to talk to us, but ended up staying and watching the show. I learnt a lot about the materials used, the safety protocols, the excitement, and photography.

Good Start. I ruined my pants. Take that how you will.

The next day we got together with a bunch of fire people and filmed a lot of what was in this video. I can't believe the conversations I had with some of them. In particular Andreas and Das. 

Things I learnt that weren't in the video.

  • Use Ultra Pure Paraffin Lamp Oil if you want to breath fire. It doesn't taste bad at all. Almost neutral even. 
  • All those years of clarinet paid off.
  • Fire doesn't do much to you if it's only for a couple seconds.
  • Fire weapons > regular weapons.
  • Kevlar is a great burning material because it burns for so long.
  • Steel wool goes Ape Shit when you light it on fire.
  • Fire is hot (like sexy hot)
  • White Gas (Coleman Camp Fuel) is used for lighting most Kevlar toys. 

The last time I used Naphtha (the coleman fuel) was when I was in Air Cadets and too lazy to light a fire the proper way. I still remember when I saw a cadet drench the wood in naphtha, then carry a lantern OVER it. He was engulfed in flames. Lost ALL the hair on his head. He was okay, so it was hilarious. Remember boys and girls, Naphtha is volatile! 

The more confident I got with the fire, the more things we were able to do. At the end of the day, we were even able to do a flaming Shoryuken. This could not have happened if I were afraid of fire. Nor could this have happened if I were too afraid to start this trip. 

So I say, good start.

Special Thanks to Ben. A lot of this would not have happened without him. 

Dec 12 2012 00:00:00