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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Survival series with Bear Grylls

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Internationally, he is known in the show Man Vs Wild and in the UK the show is known as Born Survivor: Bear Grylls. What do we know about him aside his perilous treks around the world? We do know that he is survivalist expert, who wishes to challenge the elements and precarious environments in nature.

That does tell a bit about him or rather that he has chosen a career that not many men and women would choose. It requires knowledge, grit, perseverance, skills, focus and an acute understanding of the dangers that await when challenging the wild. Bear Grylls is Edward Michael Grylls and he was born in Northern Ireland in 1974. He is married with three sons. Now he takes important celebrities across different terrains to show them various survival skills.



For Bear, survival is not merely an adventure but also perceiving the world we live in. He also released a book about his struggles titled Mud, Sweat and Tears (2012). According to Looper, in his early childhood he was bullied, which made him take up karate.  Three years later he got a black belt and went to train in Japan. He was the youngest member of The Karate Union of Great Britain to do so.



 After finishing school, he did some exploring of the Indian Himalayan region and was tempted to join  the Indian Army after spending some time with them. However, he decided to join Britain's Special Forces reserve in 1994 and for three years was trained how to do multiple things such as driving evasively in dangerous situations, extreme climbing, winter-warfare and how to handle explosives. 

This is not the only testament to his strength, when he was with his the reserves he had a major accident while freefalling in Africa. It was a 17,000 foot fall and he broke three of his vertebrae. He was in bracers, supports for 18 months, and says it was a miracle he could even walk again.

Even before two years of that accident, he decided to pursue his lifelong dream of climbing Mount Everest. After all that, he did manage to make the summit.  And Everest was also a dangerous climb because there was almost an avalanche incident on that trip. Still, the persistence of this man to do what he sets out to do and make his dreams a reality is an inspiration.

Despite all these things, Bear Grylls has come into some controversies. Looper also reported an ex US crew member, survival instructor Mark Wienart, complained that Bear does not do all the harrowing feats of the show. He critiqued that in an episode he made a Polynesian style bamboo raft, behind the scenes, and Grylls just did the final touches and took credit for his work. 

He even explained that though Grylls was supposed to be surviving on the desert island that after the episode concluded he just went to stay in a motel in Hawaii. Bear faced these allegations with tact and maturity. He apologized to the public saying that he had no intentions to mislead the public. His shows are usually shot in over a framework of six days and after the night time footage is captured he and his crew return to a base camp.


 
This is not the only controversy that centered on Grylls.  His family and he are somewhat outré. When they are not living in their house near the River Thames in Britain, they live in a remote island in the Wales' coast. The island also sported a slide into the sea and Grylls explained that the slide is not for public consumption thus not a public hazard. It is for his family so they are comfortable with having a slide emerging from a cliff face to the sea. 

He was also critiqued for leaving his 11 year old son alone on the rocky deserted side of the island to help train the Royal National Lifeboat institution. These aspects are not critical seeing Grllys is a survival expert thus he does necessarily take precautions and plans ahead of doing such things. When one's own professional career is made with challenging such dangers it is safe to say he is an expert who usually takes ample measures to ensure the safety of his own family. 

In 2016, Grylls also came under criticism for Survivors Games, a show set in China with Chinese celebrities, where he is also has massive popularity. Survivor Games had notable Chinese celebrities such as Yao Ming, the former NBA basketball star, Fu Yuanhui, the Olympic swimmer and Robin Li, who is one the richest tech gurus in China.  The show was critiqued by the Chinese audience when Grylls made participants drink their own urine.

Anyone familiar with Bear's work know that on many occasions he had drunk his own urine, drank recently digested camel waste for water and also water stored in a camel and drank water from elephant dung.  In his shows he ate raw yak liver and the eye of the same yak, pythons and even a poisonous spider.

 He even went naked to a river in the Arctic to show survival skills. It is not merely a spectacle of shocking the audience but expert advice on what to do for survival. So, even if he is criticized he is attempting to do what he set out to do: survive dangerous terrains and show people how it is possible to do so.

Man Vs Wild ended in 2011 but Grylls does do survival work with noted celebrities and also trains children in Australia on how to survival difficult environments. He has made a career on advising and informing about how to withstand the wilderness of many countries and continents and he may be doing so for a long time.
 
The lessons in survival depicted in the shows are crucial to learn by people of all ages. However, with proper training as some of these feats are extremely dangerous. The series is meant to inspire you not induce you to perform reckless deeds.


The writer is working with The Asian Age                                      -----------Zarin Rafiuddin

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