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Lessons from "The Open Boat" by Mark Hatmaker

Sometimes the misfortune of others provides hearty fodder for reflection in those of us in more fortunate circumstances. Wisdom that we can use to avoid our own calamities, or sage signage as to how to comport our own selves when neck deep in treacherous waters.
In 1896, author and journalist Stephen Crane, recived a commission to be a war correspondent. He was directed to ship to Cuba to cover the hostilities there. His transport ship the SS Commodore sank en route and he and a handful of others were left to chance in a wooden dinghy.
Once ashore he turned this harrowing and uncertain experience into a story, “The Open Boat,” that is deeply infused with trenchant insight.
Often when we hear of another’s plight or dire circumstance, we imagine ourselves in that same predicament and begin the hypothetical role-playing deciding what we would or would not do. The very basis of my main line of work, preparing the self and others for conflict is just this sort of hypothetical hair-splitting …
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Fightin’ Words: “I’m Gonna Clean your Clock!” by Mark Hatmaker

To our ears quaint, in a former time formidable, the expression “I’m gonna clean your clock!” was not a mere amusing gibe heard bandied about in a 1930s film but a bondafide threat with a meaning well understood by all.
Until the 1940s the pre-dominant mode of mass-transportation in the United States was via railway. Indeed, America had embraced the automobile, but railroad tracks spanned and spider-webbed the nation whereas roads, while plentiful, were not quite what we may expect.
In 1927 the first transcontinental highway in the world, Lincoln Highway, was only continuously paved from New York to Iowa. From there paving was intermittent, signage rare, roadside markers almost nonexistent. In the words of one contemporary user of the road, the highway was “largely hypothetical.”
So, while the automobile was on the rise the railroad dominated. Everyone knew railways, had some experience with them and to an unusual degree the railroad was held in a bit of romantic regard as it was the bes…

Training Anticipatory Stress: Part 1 by Mark Hatmaker

Today’s offering will start with a quote from American literature and a word or two as to what that might have to do with our own combat training, then proceed into the physiology of how your body reacts with ZERO training in the shadow of physical confrontation; we will ponder how those evolved reactions are the height of wisdom—and how they can go horribly wrong. 
Next, we have a look at a piece of fascinating research in exercise physiology from the domain of competitive running and offer the mighty interesting implications of how it is most likely a vitally useful attribute to hack our own combat-training and increase our own ability to bear anticipatory stress and to wield mid-conflict stress with greater aplomb. 
We’ll end with two prescriptions for Anticipatory Stress Hacking: The Scheduled Red-Line and The Derring-Do List.
Quite the menu, huh? Let’s get started.
First, the American literature reference, the following is from Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage. Here we have o…

Scoutcraft Notes: Insects & Cold Weather by Mark Hatmaker

A brief series of notes and tips culled from the historical record, indigenous wisdom, and the accompanying science. 
As you read, ask yourself two questions:
One-How much of this have I seen with my own eyes given that I have had ample opportunity over a lifetime?
Two-How much of this wisdom would have been noticed or remembered if the smartphone had been invented 300 years ago? 
Eyes down on screens large or small is a rather limited view of the universe.
To paraphrase a Comanche Warrior teaching, “We must be awake to everything. The good, the bad, the small, the large, if we give only lip-service to spotting the “bad element” in the world we A) Cut ourselves off from the majority which is good and interesting and B) Likely not as aware as we would like to think.”
Kehena ekasahpana punit’u o’yoko.” [“The wise warrior sees everything.”]
·Insects are more sensitive to the sun’s rays than is the human animal [The Heliotropic Scale.] Bees become torpid as the temperature drops and go comatose…

A Combination Man/Rough & Tumbler Challenge by Mark Hatmaker

·Grab a slam-ball [I used a 50#er].
·Throw that mutha as far as you can.
·Trot after it, rinse, wash and repeat for 1/2 mile.
·Think fearless Stanley Ketchel thoughts while doing so.

·2 3-Minute Rounds head-on-the-bag digging body shots like there is no tomorrow.
·Each time you flag or take a step back, ask yourself, “Is that what the Michigan Assassin would do?”
·Put your head down and go back to work.

·2 3-Minute Rounds Drop-Double-Leg Tackle Right & Left.

·After each drop, saddle up, hit your spurs and GRIND the flesh off that throwing dummy or unfortunate soul you call your training partner, your friend.

·1 3-Minute Rounds of adding the “bite” to your Boxing homework.
·1 3-Minute Round of adding the “bite” to your Matwork homework.

·100 Dry-fire Draws your weapon of choice. Firearm, tactical folder, Bowie knife, tomahawk. [I used a six-gun.]
·Extra Credit: Make each draw preceded by a high …

Cold Tolerance: Warriors, Explorers, the Science by Mark Hatmaker

“[I suffered] a succession of shivering fits which I was quite unable to stop and which took possession of my body until I thought my back would break, such was the strain placed upon it.”
That is Apsley Cherry-Garrard writing in his fascinating book The Worst Journey in the World [1922] which is his first-hand account of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated Antarctica expedition.
The Terra Nova Expedition, so named because of the vessel they travelled in, was ostensibly an endeavor for science but, at its heart, it was for man vs. the elements glory in an age of Great Explorers.
Cherry-Garrard’s account is compelling, tragic, and, in more than a few sections, of high pragmatic instructional value. We can learn far more from the wise moves and, in many cases, the mistakes of actual men and women living in the raw than from all the theories and suppositions on the planet put together.
Cherry-Garrard’s tale of enduring the hazards of cold weather is not particular to him. He was a hea…

Define Your Threat: What is it like to Drown? by Mark Hatmaker

In our reality self-protection unit, we use unsanitized Predator Profiles to define the brutal “why” we advocate so strongly for preparedness, flight, or if retaliation is a must, why our responses are based only in savagery and never “martial arts coolness.”
Gorgeous fluidity has zero place in real-world application—I have never come across a story of “rubber meets the road” response that didn’t reek of chaos. We train for perfected fluidity so that situational degradation will allow some training [hopefully] to persist. For more on the NoSecond Chance Street Program see here.]
In the same sprit of “confronting reality” I offer the following “What is it like to drown” snapshot to cast a light on why we give so much thought to aquatic preparation in both this blog and in our upcoming book on Indigenous Ability. It is excerpted from Sebastian Junger’s superlative The Perfect Storm.
“The instinct not to breathe underwater is so strong that it overcomes the agony of running out of air. No …