Posts Tagged ‘Haida Gwaii’

Ottawa Shooting 20141022For those who do not live in Canada, last week there were two separate attacks against Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and Quebec. The one in Ottawa especially hit home for me. The death of Cpl Cirillo of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, Hamilton upset me deeply.

I have worked in a similar position as Cpl Cirillo at Parliament Hill from 2005 – 2007 as I was a member of the Capital Ceremony Gun Detachment. We provided ceremony gun salutes for diplomatic occasions and important events such as Police Memorial day on the right side of Parliament Hill.  For three years, I did that about twice or three times a month on top of my regular army duty as an army reservist. All of the soldiers who work at the Parliament were unarmed and the most dangerous thing to us was the chilly wind of Ottawa during the winter, or the hot sun during the summer. Life was good and peaceful. You felt pride and sense of duty wearing your uniform representing Canada. The dying and pain of our brethren in Afghanistan seemed very far away from where we stood.

The death of Cpl Cirillo changes all that.  A terrorist hits home and we were not prepared; not at our home, not at our nation’s capital. Canada is one of the most peaceful countries in the world. Except for the War of 1812, almost all of our military operations were launched on foreign soil instead of against foreign invaders on our soil. We Canadians do not know what the meaning of being scared is. We do not worry if the bus is going to blow up or if there will be a rocket landing on our roof. We are naive and innocents We live our lives not worrying if someone will deprive us of our lives in the next few seconds. Canadians who dare to venture outside of our comfortable nation know that we Canadians are fortunate and blessed. We live in Elysium.

Everything has changed now, and I have to admit that I am scared. We are facing a new type of enemy who do not wear uniforms and they live among us. They are not criminal. They are not cowards and they have very little regard for other people’s lives. How do you combat that?

 By not giving in, we can be fearful of the events but we do not fear those who wish us harm. If we are fearful of the event then we are aware of the situation. Emotion is normal and those who say they have no fear are either ill-informed or lying. As living creatures we fear death, but that makes us more careful or  allows us to cherish our time on Earth more. Those who train will train even harder and be thankful for everyday we have on Earth. Now we have a purpose for why we train Krav Maga. We do not rely others to protect us and we are the guardians of our safety and captains of our fate. We are not lambs but lions. We fear for our lives but fear will only drive us to move faster, scan wider and punch harder. We want to live, and we want to save lives. That is why we will triumph over terrorism by doing exactly what terrorists expect us not to do; to live under the sun with our chin high. 

Written By: Borki Yony

Edited By: Warren C

In this video there are four of my buddies from Military Krav Maga Instructor course. I have to say this is probably one of the best demo video I ever seen. The quality is superb.

You guys can read about my Serbian adventurous at here.

By: Borhan Jiang

Beyond the Dojo: When the Stakes are High, Martial Arts Discipline Becomes a Valuable Asset.

By Max Birkner

Masset, British Columbia.


Few Canadians will ever see the archipelago called Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. But for 21 soldiers from 39th Canadian Brigade Group, the archipelago became the site in January of a Basic Wilderness Survival Training course run by the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, a component of the Army Reserve. Among the candidates was Krav Maga instructor Borhan Jiang. The 29 year-old martial arts expert was a long way from his dojo, but the city slicker did pretty well for himself, and me, his partner in survival on our final 72-hour skill confirmation exercise.

The site where the training took place is called Rose Spit. Easily found on Google Maps the long spit is a geographical Pinocchio on the North Eastern side of Graham Island. On a clear day you can see Alaska, but there are no clear days, at least there were none when we were there. The place is ideal for survival training. The wet coastal conditions are unforgiving and January temperatures often hover between 5 and -2 degrees Celsius.


What we drink 🙂 Whiskey


This is not a Christmas tree but a signal fire

For the first three days of the exercise the candidates rotated through stands on the beach, each featuring a particular survival skill such as shelter building or food gathering. Every soldier was re-familiarized on the Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun, and learned about bear spray and other predator deterrents. On the first morning of the confirmation phase candidates woke up at 0500 and gathered outside the tents at base-camp to be shuttled out to the areas (sited at intervals of one kilometer) where each group of two would survive on their own for three days. As everyone stood outside waiting to load into ATVs, the sergeant major walked through the ranks and split up the pre-determined partnerships, putting everyone with a stranger. We had minimal equipment for the three days and three nights. Two ponchos, a space blanket, knife, hatchet, lighter and fire starter, plus one ration between us and a small bag of deer meat was all we had to go on. We did not have watches or any way to tell the time, and only a disposable camera to take photos with.

The first two days were largely spent working on and improving our shelter – a lean-to with two wind walls, the fire very close to our sleeping spot. We invented a backpack for firewood out of the panel on an AC unit. There was a lot of useful garbage washed up on the beach. The darkness lasted 15 hours per every 24 and our shelter was 200 meters from the beach because of the sparse terrain, so it was a challenge to haul enough firewood. The last day was spent only gathering firewood. It was humbling to think how much energy it would take to gather any food other than seaweed and other plants if it had been real and we had no idea when rescue would be coming.


Home ! sweet home

On the morning after the third night the Rangers drove by the stands honking their horns. Everyone at their shelters ran out to light their signal fires on the beach and wait for pickup. An hour later we were eating breakfast at a motel in Masset, waiting for the flight out. We learned that over the course of the 72 hours two groups had given up and bailed out early. During our time in the wild Borhan demonstrated constantly the usefulness of martial arts discipline when applied outside the dojo or a combat situation. While he had very little experience in the outdoors, the mental and physical fitness obtained through constant training were important factors in our ability as a team. It made surviving a lot easier that it would have been otherwise.


Max and Borhan ~! oh yes and their manly beards

Max Birkner is a member of the Rocky Mountain Rangers in Kamloops and is enrolled in the Bachelor of Journalism program at Thompson Rivers University.

Additional photos of this training can be find at