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The Self-Resilient Readiness Tests, Part 1. [PT & Grit] by Mark Hatmaker

There is not a Warrior culture, a “preppers” blog, a survival account, or an archetype of intrepid explorers that does not tout and shout the ideal of preparation. 

No one doubts the value of this advice. Preparation is no guarantee of survival, but also, no one doubts that odds increase for the prepared soul.

Chance favors the prepared mind.”-Louis Pasteur

But, to quibble with the illustrious Dr. Pasteur, that quote is only partially true.

Case in point, we all know [ALL know] that one vital aspect of the road to good health is moderated food intake, meals that are more wise than not, and getting in a good level of physical activity that robustifies the myriad physical processes that make up our physical self. These choices go a long way towards making the day to day less grumbling, and in hard times give us a higher baseline to work from towards recovery.

Again, we all “know” this advice to be true, our minds are prepared but…have a look a round you, perhaps have a gander at your own life, despite all the prepared minds how many Louis Pasteurs do you see in your midst?

Let’s add an additional step to Dr. Pasteur’s wisdom…

Skills and drills favor the individual whose mind has been prepared.”

Knowing you should have insurance before something ill should befall you is not the same thing as purchasing the insurance before the chance unforeseen event.

Our preparation is always in our act---awareness, exposure, the viewing of 72 readiness videos on YouTube per day is still 72 steps short of reality.

With that expanded definition of preparation in mind, the definition that reflects reality and not the kind things we like to think about ourselves, I offer the first in a basic battery of self-assessment questions formulated as food for thought.

The crux here is not declaring this list of skills as THE LIST, but to act as prompts, or spurs that provoke the man or woman who has ever given voice to readiness to evaluate their own words-to-deeds ratio.

If you decide to embark upon these tests, give yourself 1 point for each success. If you failed in a test[s], give yourself a half point for each “I gave it a shot” for at least trying.

If you do not perform any tests or skip a test, even if you know in your heart of hearts you could do it—give yourself a big fat zero, because maybe, just maybe, that “prepared mind” assumes something that the body can’t really deliver. And even if you “know” your body could deliver and you don’t do it anyway, well, maybe the body could deliver, but the grit most certainly cannot.


Rather than use an artificial construct such as BMI or a sport-specific definition [“What’s your best Fran?”] or a military test designed for the mission-task of the given unit, it seems that turn of the century strongman Earle Liederman in his 1926 book Endurance provides us with as a good a definition of physical preparedness as any.

Despite his own specialty within his domain he allows us to see the wisdom of a good overall base that requires no herculean effort.

Every man should be able to save his own life. He should be able to swim far enough, run fast and long enough to save his life in case of emergency and necessity. He also should be able to chin himself a reasonable number of times, as well as to dip a number of times, and he should be able to jump a reasonable height and distance.”

[Give yourself 1-point for each one you complete successfully.]

A man should be able to:”

·        “Swim at least half a mile or more.”

·        “Run at top speed two hundred yards or more,”

·        “Jump over obstacles higher than his waist.”

·        “Pull his body upward by the strength of his arms, until his chin touches his hands, at least fifteen to twenty times.”

·        “Dip between parallel bars or between two chairs at least twenty-five times or more.”

“If he can accomplish these things he need have no fear concerning the safety of his life should he be forced into an emergency from which he alone may be able to save himself.”

Allow me to add a few other likely useful factors to Mr. Liederman’s sage guidelines.

Assistance Loads

Emergencies may require that is not only our lives we are saving.

·        Can you drag a 100-pound sandbag 50 yards in under 30-seconds? [Make your drag-weight mimic human body resistance, seldom do fallen companions emulate the smooth runners of a weight sled.]

·        Can you “Buddy carry” another human at least 25-yards?

[If you are small in stature, no worries on the preceding test, but give yourself 2-points if you can perform the next test; it provides a benchmark for the grit required to stretcher-carry with a team or carry-support a small child out of danger.]

·        Can you carry an unsupported 45-pound weight 1-mile in under 12-minutes without putting it down?

[The weight can be a weight-plate, kettlebell, I’m a fan of using an unwieldy empty Olympic-Bar, anything that requires you carry it and not merely distribute it comfortably as in a ruck or weight vest.]

·        Can you hold your breath comfortably for one minute with only a 5-second preparation time? 

[When the car plunges over the bridge guardrail or the loved one beneath the surface that must be saved, our desire to “go to our calm free-diver’s happy place” will not exist.]

Underwater Swimming and/or The Walking Apnea Test

[We are unlikely to require that emergency breath hold in absence of activity. Sitting calmly holding one’s breath watching the seconds tick is one thing, held breath with a task before us is another. Choose one of the two following tests. BTW-If one can’t pass the Liederman swim-test, it is an assumption that one has the honesty to realize that they likely ain’t gonna do well here either.]

Can you either…

·        Swim 25 yards underwater?


·        Can you take your 5-second breath preparation and walk at a moderate pace 50 yards out and back without taking a breath?

Best While Un-Best

·        Do you partake of any substance to a degree that would impinge cognitive or physical performance while under the influence of that substance?

[We all like to unwind, I merely offer that when feces meets oscillating blades it seldom inquiries as to “Is now not a good time? I’ll come back when the party is over.”]

Grit Checks

The following tests, while physical in nature, are more tests of resolve rather than drilled-for prowess.

The 60-Second Cold Shower

·        Can you stand in the full spray of your shower turned to its coldest for a full 60-seconds?

The Temptation Fast

·        Can you fast for an entire day [water is permitted] while at the same time having taken the time to place several of your favorite food items/beverages in plain sight?

The Silent Insomniac

·        Can you for 3-days straight set your alarm for 3:08 AM [or whatever time that fits your shift schedule] wake-up at once [no snooze button] get on your feet and remain standing or walking around for an entire ¼ of an hour?

[No texting, phone checking, reading. Just you facing the prospect of waking up in the middle of the night and simply being up. Curiously, in our surveys this is one of our tests that even the most rock-solid “Hoo-aahs!” hate completing. Which means, it must be important.]

The Epictetus Day

Epictetus one of the sages of Stoicism reminds us that complaining adds to our woes and provides unnecessary burdens on those who must hear our woes. The following test allows us to gauge our tight-lipped grit.

·        Can you, for one day, place a rock/pebble in one shoe. Place it so that you feel its uncomfortable dig into the plantar with each step. Go about your day. If at any point the pebble shifts to a more comfortable position, adjust it to less than fun.

Do not complain to yourself or to any else throughout the day.

If an occasional wince draws a comment such as “Is there something wrong?”

You may reply honestly, “Oh, I have a rock in my shoe.”

That’s it.

If asked, “Why don’t you take it out?” 

Reply simply, “I like it.” No other explanation.

Let’s close with the Test Preamble.

If you decide to embark upon these tests, give yourself 1 point for each success. If you failed in a test[s], give yourself a half point for each “I gave it a shot” for at least trying.

If you do not perform any tests or skip a test, even if you know in your heart of hearts you could do it—give yourself a big fat zero, because maybe, just maybe, that “prepared mind” assumes something that the body can’t really deliver. And even if you “know” your body could deliver and you don’t do it anyway, well, maybe the body could deliver, but the grit most certainly cannot.

[More in the Assessment Battery to come. Subjects include Awareness Tests, Evasion Tests, Day-to-Day Navigation, Perception, Human Evaluation Benchmark Ability, Dexterity, and much more. Squared away is squared away, all else is mouth running.]

[Excerpted from the No Second Chance Book of Drills only available to members of the ESP RAWarrior Service.]


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