Frequently Asked Questions

Up until the time that Tolly first firewalked in 1977, the ritual had never been used as a personal growth technique, nor taught as a self-improvement class for the public. Over the next seven years, Tolly was the only person in the world teaching firewalking classes. During that time, by making many mistakes, he learned how NOT to walk on fire and how NOT to build the coal bed. In 1984, when others who learned from Tolly started teaching firewalking themselves, they all benefited from his mistakes and his many years of experience. It took tremendous courage to be the first person promoting firewalking to the public. Tolly literally created a new paradigm, and later instructors merely had to follow in his footsteps. Also, virtually everyone used, and still uses, Tolly’s format of employing the firewalk as a personal growth technique.

A number of books discuss firewalking history and other relevant topics. However, Tolly Burkan’s book,  Extreme Spirituality: Radical Approaches to Awakening, is the only book that explains how firewalking is used today in current times. Michael Sky’s book, Dancing with the Fire, explores the implications of firewalking. It is out of print, but pre-owned copies are easy to locate. Jonathan Sternfield’s book, Firewalk, gives a broad overview of the phenomenon and addresses the psychology of physical immunity.

Firewalking classes open to the public usually have coal beds between 8 and 12 feet long. The official world record is currently 328′. However, a number of people have walked a 40-foot coal bed, back and forth, without leaving the coals, 13 times: accomplishing a 520-foot firewalk.

Incense cedar or white birch produce the best coal beds. Some other woods either reduce themselves to ash too quickly, produce sharp-edges on the coals, or exude sap and gum that can stick to a person’s foot.

Individual instructors each have their own policy regarding the issue of children attending the class. Participants have ranged in age from 4 years old to 89 years old. Some instructors will allow children to attend, but will not allow them to actually walk. Just being present, and witnessing others walk, can be a life-changing experience.

Tolly Burkan taught Tony Robbins how to firewalk in 1983 and Tony launched his firewalking career using Tolly’s seminar format. As with any other instructors who purchase the rights to the seminar format, once they are on their own, they are independent contractors with no further connection to the Firewalking Institute of Research and Education. It is similar to medical doctors who obtain an education, but do not represent the medical school from which they graduate.

Contrary to the view of many skeptics, there is definitely an inherent risk when firewalking. For this reason, people are advised to only participate in firewalking classes conducted by F.I.R.E. Certified instructors. Before attending a firewalking event, contact the Firewalking Institute for confirmation that the instructor is qualified.

No one has found an answer to that question. Firewalking actually precedes written history. There are accounts of firewalking among the Hawaiian Kahuna, who walked across lava flows. The Vikings are reported to have walked on red-hot steel chains. Native Americans and Fijians firewalked, and a number of Christian saints were said to have firewalked. It seems to be a part of many diverse cultures on a number of continents.

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