Skip to main content

AQUATIC TACTICS: MYTH-BUSTING EDITION by Mark Hatmaker


Action films and cartoons share a common idea, well, many ideas, but I will call your attention to this familiar situation.

Our hero be he Bugs Bunny evading Elmer Fudd or a warrior on the run encounters a river. To thwart pursuers, he plucks a reed from the surrounding vegetation and submerges himself with only the reed protruding above the surface. He remains stealthily submerged until the pursuers have passed.

There are also more than a few accounts in legend of various feats of escape that utilized this same breathing-though-a-reed trick.

Our surface interpretation of this feat is that it is plausible, after all, the reed is operating as a snorkel and snorkels do a fine job of allowing one to breath while submerged.

But, let’s look at the bare-bones physics behind this.

First-The deeper we submerge the pressure change prohibits us from being able to breathe non-pressurized air—scuba tanks contain pressurized air. When we use a reed, we are attempting to draw directly from the atmosphere, a non-pressurized source. The external pressure on the chest makes it harder to draw [produce the suction] for a substantial breath.

At a depth of a mere one meter it is no longer physically possible to take that reed breath. And this holds for strong-lunged individuals and weak-lunged individuals alike. Most people find drawing a breath at even half that depth is quite difficult.

Second-The air in the reed must be exchanged. As we increase the length of the reed we increase the difficulty of gas-exchange. We add to this the accompanying friction for every bit of length gain increasing our difficulty of draw which is already compounded by the external depth pressure.

Third-Reed diameter. Compare the experience of breathing through a narrow aperture such as a drinking straw and that of breathing through a snorkel. The snorkel’s aperture is far easier on the draw.

But…there’s the snorkel idea again.

Is not a snorkel essentially an artificial reed?

Only in appearance.

Snorkel design takes in the above physical deficits.

One-They have wide apertures for ease of draw.

Two-The have short length to ease gas exchange.

Three-The short length is also to compensate for the known pressure problem. Snorkels are designed to be used while you are face-down in water, essentially skimming along the surface not actually submerged. We see no extra-long snorkels because the designers know of the physical limitations [both biological and mechanical limitations] that would render the product dangerous.

With the above in mind, we can enjoy our cartoons and if ever evading pursuers in water skip the reed. It is wiser to work your combat breath-holding, your “splashless” swimming tactics, and the whole inventory of aquatic stealth.
[For more Old School training practices subscribe to this blog, the RAW Subscription Service and our upcoming book Rough & Tumble Conditioning.]

Comments

  1. Reeds are also sectional, with most sections being only a few inches long.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Warrior Awareness Drills by Mark Hatmaker

THE Primary Factor in self-protection/self-defense is situational awareness. Keeping in mind that crime is, more often than not, a product of opportunity, if we take steps to reduce opportunity to as close to nil as we can manage we have gone a long way to rendering our physical tactical training needless [that’s a good thing.]
Yes, having defensive tactical skills in the back-pocket is a great ace to carry day-to-day but all the more useful to saving your life or the lives of loved ones is a honed awareness, a ready alertness to what is occurring around you every single day.
Here’s the problem, maintaining such awareness is a Tough job with a capital T as most of our daily lives are safe and mundane [also a good thing] and this very safety allows us to backslide in good awareness practices. Without daily danger-stressors we easily fall into default comfort mode.
A useful practice to return awareness/alertness to the fore is to gamify your awareness, that is, to use a series of specific…

Awareness Drill: The Top-Down Scan by Mark Hatmaker

American Indians, scouts, and indigenous trackers the world over have been observed to survey terrain/territory in the following manner.
A scan of the sky overhead, then towards the horizon, and then finally moving slowly towards the ground.
The reason being that outdoors, what is overhead-the clouds, flying birds, monkeys in trees, the perched jaguar—these overhead conditions change more rapidly than what is at ground level.
It has been observed by sociologists that Western man whether on a hike outdoors or in an urban environment seldom looks up from the ground or above eye-level. [I would wager that today, he seldom looks up from his phone.]
For the next week I suggest, whether indoors or out, we adopt this native tracker habit. As you step into each new environment [or familiar ones for that matter] scan from the top down.
I find that this grounds me in the awareness mindset. For example, I step into my local Wal-Mart [or an unfamiliar box store while travelling] starting at the top, t…

Resistance is Never Futile by Mark Hatmaker

Should you always fight back? Yes. “But what if…”


Over the course of many years teaching survival-based strategies and tactics the above-exchange has taken place more than a few times. The “but what if…” question is usually posed by well-meaning individuals who haven’t quite grasped the seriousness of physical violence. These are people whose own humanity, whose sense of civility is so strong that they are caught vacillating between fight or flight decisions. It is a shame that these good qualities can sometimes stand in the way of grasping the essential facts of just how dire the threat can be.


The “but what if…” is usually followed by any number of justifications or pie-in-the-sky hopeful mitigations. These “but what if…” objections are based on unfounded trust and an incorrect grasp of probability. The first objection, unfounded trust, is usually based on the following scenario.


Predator: Do what I say and I won’t hurt you.


Or, some other such promise to the victim.


Now, these sorts of …