I began working with fire at a young age. I remember sitting around the bonfire with my older brothers and hearing, "here, catch!" The game was to control the hot coal and put it down rather than bat it away. It helped me overcome any fear of fire (and lead to a large number of childhood burns).
Shortly after that I began fire walking. I never understood the importance of the meditations and body controls necessary to perform these feats (feets? :) on the rest of my life. I've always been a strong meditater, a quick healer, and particularly hearty.
As adolescence hit, I forgot about fire walking as other fires started taking their toll. The meditation helped a little, but I was a pretty typical pubescent boy....
Years later, I began performing with fire at a rave in the Mt Pinos region. The regular fire performers were at a different party, and I'd been practicing with my first staff for a while. I got the idea from the regular performers who noted at an earlier party that I had no fear of fire. Finally, I decided to celebrate the anniversary party with a new beginning.
It sucked. I had a few flashy moves, and a wretched style, but a couple of people liked it. One person complimented my martial style, to which I silently answered: "Style? I have no staff style, I'm way better with...swords...." That idea sprouted a new fire tool idea and lead to my primary performance style - fire sword.
I took my new sword to my first Burning Man and performed there a couple of times. Sunday, after the burn, John Kelly was spinning and I tucked in between the speakers to give the sword another shot. The crowd was particularly receptive to light shows (ahem), and went absolutely crazy. People were throwing underwear at me and generally treating me like Elvis. I was In love.
The sword almost ate itself under the stress I was putting it under, so I had to build a new one. And after that one, came another, then another. Each one increased my building skills, and expanded my performance capacity. Eventually people noticed that I was good at building tools and started coming to me with tool requests.
By the next Burning Man, I was ready to dedicate my life fully to fire. I had been laid off in the first wave of the Dot Bomb, I had a decent following in my tool business, and I was a strong enough performer to become head of the LA Fire Conclave. I started Bearclaw for that burn, ran a village and the conclave, and never looked back. Bearclaw quickly moved to the industry leader in Fire Tools, and I was well on my way to a performance career as well.