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Staying Alive: Systema Survival School Open for Business

Missouri's first outdoor survival school opens for business in St. Louis and Edgar Springs.

St. Louis, MO, October 30, 2013 --( Each year, millions of Americans head for a little exploration and excitement in the great outdoors. Inevitably, however, some will not make it home -- on time or ever -- because they forgot one thing: Where the road ends and the fun begins, you need to know more than "9-1-1."

"People today think they can just grab their cell phones and go," survival trainer Joe Mayberry says. "They don't understand that Mother Nature is the boss."

Compelled by what he has observed over the past few decades in our society, Mayberry decided to officially open Missouri's first full time survival school, The Systema Survival School.

Mayberry explained, "I think in America, especially with the terror attacks, hurricanes like Katrina, and the staggering economic situation, we are starting to see just how bad things can get. How dependent we are on the grid. How fragile it really is. I think that draws up something deeper in us. Something unsettling. And it’s reassuring for people to learn to survive."

What makes Mayberry's school different from other schools, which teach either primitive skills or military survival tactics, is that he also teaches "modern survival skills." "Primitive skills help get you in tune with and live in the environment. Modern survival has to do with getting out of a bad situation alive," say Mayberry. "About 75 percent of what I teach is modern survival because that's what people want. They have practical, valid concerns and want to know how to get out of a bad situation."

"The more you know, the less you need," says Mayberry, repeating the mantra that appears on every piece of his company's literature. He wonders, though, if anyone is paying attention.

"Americans are into gimmicks," he says. "But in the end, there is very little you can buy that replaces knowledge."

Death in three hours
Gadgets and food are not the issue, he maintains. "People think survival is a Leatherman tool and Meals Ready to Eat, when, in fact, it is all about regulating body temperature. With either hypo- or hyperthermia you can be dead in three hours. But then that doesn't sell stuff. What good is gear when you're scared and shaking?"

Mayberry, of late, has come to dislike the mere term survival. "It's a misused word. But fear sells. We have trivialized the whole thing. The fact is, if you don't get out, you die."

Mayberry is a survivalist. He's not one of those guys dressed in camouflage clothing and carrying a gun who believes he has to kill his way to survival (even though his prior training in the Marine Corps, Russian Martial Art, government service and his current job as a St. Louis City Police Officer would have you believe differently). He has more of a gentle approach. He doesn't talk about his spiritual beliefs, but he definitely believes in blending with his environment. He speaks easily and directly, with a good bit of humor.

Mayberry runs two schools in Missouri, the first being his 70 acre private training facility nestled deep in the Ozarks. The property, which has no modern conveniences, sets about a half hour south from Rolla, near the small town of Edgar Springs. Here he teaches everything from winter survival to learning to hunt with primitive weapons. His second school, located in St. Louis city, teaches more urban-based survival techniques.

His overnight workshops teach skills that, he says, derive from all cultures. His workshops have hip names like “The Nothing Course” and, of course, “The Ultimate Apache,” the seminar that, as his website puts it, separates the Neanderthals from the yuppies for the modern-day bargain price of $124.

The students he takes out into the wilderness learn, in various sessions, to make their own shelters, fiber sleeping mats and stone knives. They learn to recognize edible plants and create fire. Beyond the practical skills involved, though, Mayberry wants them to learn a couple of other things in their short time away from the comforts of home–that they shouldn’t take those comforts for granted, and that the world around them can be a generous but fragile thing.

"I wanted to get people away from their comfort zones. No cell phones, internet, electricity or running water," he states firmly. "Five minutes away from Facebook and people start to panic. What mindset would they be in if everything went down?"

For more information about upcoming classes, visit the Systema Survival School website at or call (314) 773-4530.
Contact Information
Systema Survival School, LLC
Joe Mayberry

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