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Rough ‘N’ Ready Challenge: “The Smoke-Jumper” by Mark Hatmaker

In August of 1937 lighting struck some dry tinder in Yellowstone National Park. The fire started small but via a long slow crawl eventually grew to become known as the infamous Blackwater Fire. The Blackwater Fire eventually consumed 1,700 acres and took the lives of 15 firefighters.


After Blackwater the US Forest service came to the conclusion that the only way to combat such fires was to somehow get an advance team to the fire before it grew to monumental proportions. The ideas was to take an elite cadre of firefighters who not only knew the ins and outs of dealing with conflagration, but who had skills in backcountry survival, woodcraft, and who could parachute from a plane. 


After the planning stages were thought over and a few initial trials were made these small units were tested in a literal trial by fire when on July 12, 1940 the first official aerial unit of firefighters were employed on the Marten Creek Fire in Idaho’s Nez Perce National Forest


These small advance units are ess…
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Martial Energy Drills: Mumbo Jumbo or Fire Behind the Smoke by Mark Hatmaker

Cards on the table, I am a card-carrying skeptic, well, former card-carrier. I allowed my actual membership in The Skeptic’s Society to lapse as, true to form, I am skeptical of organized groups, even those who hold many tenets that strike me true or true-ish. In my old age I’m more of a “love ya from afar,” skip the meetings and team-jerseys to simply live whatever eternally roiling credo seems on point at the time.


With that skeptical throat-clearing out of the way, let’s address chi, ki, prana, qui, puha or any of the other labels that have been given to a purported “life energy” or intangible “life-force.”


Many esoteric martial arts and mystical traditions have suppositions for an energy force that has gone by the aforementioned names [and many more besides.] I will not mention these arts by name as the purpose here is not to point fingers but to test hypotheses.



The validity of these “forces” have not survived controlled testing conditions thus far. These poor results at best, or ze…

Walk Like a Warrior: Tests & Drills by Mark Hatmaker

[See our blog entry “Walk like a Warrior” for historical instances of the topic. Our focus here is the mechanics of the indigenous warrior strides and their uses in modern life.]


The human stride has its idiosyncrasies [in general to the species and in particular to the individual.] Modern/ “civilized” humans have developed a plantigrade stride, that is, planting heel first then rolling to the toe. It is surmised that both footwear and prepared surfaces [flat-ground everywhere] fostered this switch from ball-of-the-foot or flat-foot strides commonly used by those who develop strides on sand, gravel, rocks, trails and other natural terrain.


Our world is one of walking-surface regularity, even our elevated steps [stairs and terraced environments] have an engineered homogeneity to them. And this every-day-of-our-lives regularity has grooved a pattern in us.


We have come to be “step-expectant,” that is, to assume that our next foot placement will be quite similar, if not exactly alike, the p…

1,641 Years of Preparation-Readiness Advice by Mark Hatmaker

The deeply-read, those informed by tragic first-hand experience, and those who have existed safely thus far but who still have a watchful eye on reality all seem to agree that the Boy Scouts’ motto, “Be Prepared,” gets it right.


As does…


He, therefore, who aspires to peace should prepare for war.”-Flavius Vegetius Renatus, Institutions of the Romans, AD 378


That single sentence and many like it are touted frequently in self-protection circles and for just cause. 


But…such sentences are often misinterpreted by those who fear emphasis on martial matters, we’ll settle such fears in a bit.


And..the sentence is often interpreted too shallowly or taken too literally by some of the very people who hold such sentiments dear. This superficial reading is in some sense as off-base as those who fear the meaning of the sentence.


Happy is that city which in time of peace thinks of war.”-Inscription in the Armoury of Venice.


Different sentence, same lesson, and often the same misinterpretation and superf…

Rough ‘N’ Ready Challenge: The Bucket Brigade ¼ Mile

Fighting, to a firefighter in the early US was literal in two senses of the word.


A)You fought fires and…
B)You were often a fighter expected to literally “fight” other human beings at the scene of the conflagration.

Let’s turn back the clock to early America when practically all dwellings were made of wood, patched with pitch, illuminated with open flames or rickety vessels of coal oil. 


Let’s add cigarettes and cigars and pipes and a lucifer [striking match] in most every hand. 


Let’s add open flames being the primary source of warmth.


With all of these additions I think we might see just how dangerous early incarnations of the firefighting job were.


Now about that fighting other humans bit of the early job description.


Let’s have a look at the why.


In the early days of the firefighting game the “fire departments” were, shall we say, competitive. They earned according to the number of fires doused. This quota incentive led to a few nefarious practices, among them a bit of salary-yearning act…