If the city you live in fell into dystopia and horror and you had to survive for 72 hours, could you? Many of you, let's face it, will die. Squashed under that Victorian you called home. Kidnapped from your SoMa loft by Occupy comrades. Murdered by an angry mob after you snatch more than your fair share of Charmin during a CVS loot. Or worse. But Rift Recon, a physical security agency made up of researchers, former military and private security detail contractors, and computer and hardware hackers, can and will help you survive.

Rift Recon's Eric Michaud and Kelly Alwood teach classes on how to survive a kidnapping, how to commandeer a boat and navigate out of the Bay, and even how to take a motorcycle or car out of the city. And much more. It's called the Art of Escape and the next set of classes (three nine-hour days) will be at The Armory (1800 Mission), February 27th - March 1st.

SFist talked to Eric Michaud to learn more about surviving a kidnapping, philosophies on looting, and post-earthquake bedlam, among other things.

SFist: How did you become interested in urban survival? How did you become interested in teaching this class?
Eric Michaud: The Rift staff who created Art of Escape (myself included) come from a variety of backgrounds, including military, US government, hacking, private security details, security engineers, etc. We have a lot of fun combining our professional backgrounds to develop the best ways to get out of risky situations, especially for people who have a minimal amount of training. We became interested in teaching for this audience when we came to realize there was no class available to the public that actually deals with the realities of an urban environment failing apart, and how to survive.

SFist: Have you ever been in a quake? If so, which one(s) and how did you react?
Michaud: Yes. I think the epicenter was under San Ramon, back in December. It wasn't that big, so I didn't need to do anything.

SFist: Can you tell our readers the two most important things one should do right after the next "big one" hits?
Michaud: Attain access to food (including water) and attend to any first aid. You can't function or help anyone without fuel for your body, and you can be quite limited depending on how serious any injuries may be. Next would be assessing safety and potential threats, and determining whether to stay put or move out.

SFist: What will people learn in your class?
Michaud: This is the fun part, because it's also really empowering. I love that what we teach will quite literally save your life, or the lives of people you care about. We cover survival basics, like food, water, shelter, and performing emergency triage (including bullet wounds; this is an urban survival class after all). Students learn how to move around the city without being noticed, as well as how to escape when they're being chased. Speaking of bad guys, we teach how to perform threat and safety analysis, and how to defend yourself with and without with weapons (even impromptu weapons). If things go sideways, we also teach how to escape a kidnapping, including getting out of handcuffs, escaping rope and tape, and getting in and out of locked areas (you'll be able to pick locks when we're done). One of the controversial things we teach, but I think it's necessary for Bay Area survival, is how to commandeer a boat, navigate it out of the Bay, and to land it - where we also make sure you know how to commandeer a car or motorcycle. There's more, but these are the highlights.

SFist: How much are classes?
Michaud: Classes start at $950. The education will not only give you life-saving knowledge, but people will also get a significant of amount gear to take home with them.

SFist: Ok, now what about looting? Are you pro/con Walgreens free-for-all in times of melee?
Michaud: At Rift Recon we don't condone looting. However, we all should acknowledge that there may be a time when social order has completely broken down, and you, your family and friends need to survive and get out alive.

SFist: Anything else?
The class we're teaching in San Francisco is for The City, but is designed to be adaptable for peninsula-based cities. Each class we teach is tailored to the city we're teaching in, so each class experience will be different by necessity of location. Of course, due to laws in different cities, states and locales, we have to adjust curriculum accordingly — so I'm sad to say that Tokyo won't be getting any Rift Recon lockpicking lessons.

Also, last week's Art of Escape class at Triple Aught Design was booked solid. After the class, one female student told me, "Everyone needs to take this training ... I am forcing my sisters and female friends to take this class."

We'll continue with classes in San Francisco, and maybe even one in Austin in the near future.


To sign up for Rift Recon's Art of Escape class at the Armory, go here.