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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Firewalking class warms up for spring

The art of walking on fire has been around for thousands of years. From prehistoric to present times humans have planted their feet upon everything from heated up chains to hot coal beds. Now, a class at the Experimental College at UC Davis is walking on fire.

“If you don’t respect fire, you’re going to get burned,” said Anthony Flores, firewalking instructor.

Flores, along with Nicole Divens – a master firewalk instructor through the Fundoor International School of Firewalking – has been teaching the class for almost three years. The class includes a motivational workshop and ends with a walk through a 4 to 5 foot long bed of hot coals.

Before walking on fire can begin, every student is given some general safety rules and guidelines. Some of which include a no stopping rule, “consciousness rule,” which emphasizes an awareness of what the body is doing, and a written intent.

The intent is a statement written by the student and can include a personal goal such as “to be more loving” or “I just want to get through medical school,” Divens said.

This written statement is burned and students then walk through the fire, symbolizing their commitment to their intended goal.

“I teach people on how to walk on fire but through an extension of that is teaching people how to trust their inner voice,” Divens said.

Like Divens, Flores thinks of the intent as an integral part of the course and believes it is a metaphor for students answering questions in their lives such as “why I am here.”

“It’s about, ‘I’m going to use this experience [walking on fire] to break this pattern.’ It’s mental and physical,” Flores said.

Flores, a firewalker since 1996, called himself the “perfect candidate” for the fire walking experience. It took three separate attempts before Flores himself was able to walk on fire.

“I went from being introverted to being able to stand and talk in front of a room of 100 people,” Flores said.

Flores and Divens both agree that the fire walking experience can be intense and emotional for some, but an overall enjoyable experience.

After their first round walking across fire, many of Flores and Divens’ students will want to walk across again during the same class. The instructors said they have seen people run, jump, skip and cartwheel to get to the other side.

The instructors take part in creativity walking across the fire. Flores said he successfully crawled on all fours in one memorable fire crossing.

But among the most interesting ways Flores said he has seen students get to the other side was when one student walked across the coals so slowly, it took her a full minute to reach the other end.

People of all ages have attended the class – from children as young as 10 to adults as old as 70. Manuel Mussen, a senior food science major, has become a firewalking regular.

“Getting up the next morning and realizing you just walked on hot coals, you realize you can do anything after that,” Mussen said.

Mussen recommends the class but cautions that no one can be forced to walk across.

“If you’re not prepared you might end up burned. You have to really decide this is what you want to do,” Mussen said.

For Flores and Divens there are two reasons to come to a fire walking class.

“Number one, it’s a great time. Number two, you get to see what you’re afraid of and apply that to the rest of the world,” Flores said.

Divens said the purpose of the firewalk is for people to realize that there are ways of moving around life’s obstacles.

“They can remember, ‘If I can walk on fire, which is the most outrageous thing, then I can get through this,” Divens said.

The next firewalking class will be on April 10. Registration is recommended by March 26. Additional information about this class and others is available at the Experimental College.

JESSY WEI can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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