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Doors, Center-Entry, Odin, & Jack Reacher by Mark Hatmaker

Let’s talk “making an entrance,” Vikings, action heroes and what can be gleaned from these for our day-to-day use.

By “making an entrance” I refer to how we step through any and all doorways. [BTW-This material might best be consumed in tandem with our lesson on The Killing Hand.]

To begin our journey let’s go back over 1,000 years to an Old Norse cycle of poems that in compiled form are known as the Havamal (“Sayings of the High One.”) The authorship is attributed to the God Odin, but we need not sweat the fictional origin of the wisdom to realize that the advice offered is grounded in the pragmatic and the tactical.

The passage we shall consult for today’s lesson is:

Allar dyrnar,

áður en þú ferð áfram,

ætti að líta á;

því erfitt er að vita

þar sem óvinir geta sest

innan bústaðs.

That is:

All door-ways,
before going forward,

should be looked to;
for difficult it is to know
where foes may sit
within a dwelling.”

Here, our fictional God is “writing” at a time when strife was common and offers a practical lesson in situational awareness.

We don’t necessarily know what is on the other side of any door, with that in mind we are wise to exercise caution when the situation warrants it.

Keep in mind, this is all contextual, one need not treat every entrance as a drill in tactical clearing, here we are simply building a day-to-day doorway habit.

Obviously, if a known threat is on the other side of a door, we become different animals.

So, Lesson One is, at the very least, prick up your ears with each doorway entry.

But that sort of advice is too nebulous. Saying “Be aware” is less useful than a pragmatic/practical “How to be aware.”

My measurements of standard doorways ballparks your most common to be 30”-36” wide.

With that in mind, an entry that centers you in the open space allows for—

·        Visual scan down the barrel of the entry and a fairly good scan to either flank as you enter.

·        Center-Entry also allows you evasive footwork if needed—to the fore, to the rear, or a wee bit to either flank. A non-centered entry gives you only 3 avenues of movement.

Now, still assuming we are not at full-on knowledge of threat, that is, we are merely moving through a door and not clearing a room—are there circumstances where we might alter center-entry?

Yep. There may be a middle-ground of “Hmm? That guy going in the bar ahead of me was giving me the eye” or “I’m not certain but I feel a bit flagged as I enter this room.”

In that case, if we have used our lesson from The Killing Hand and have already detected handedness [right- or left-hand dominance] we will cheat to the suspected ambusher’s dominant side.


Let’s move from the fictional action hero Odin to the fictional action hero Jack Reacher to put our lesson in perspective.

The boy stared a minute longer, apparently thinking hard. And then he went. He walked out of the alley and turned out of sight. To the right. Which made him right-handed. He would want to set up his ambush so that Reacher would walk face first into a free-swinging right hook. Which pretty much defined the location. About three feet around the corner, Reacher thought. Level with the edge of the bag shop’s window. Because of the pivot point for the right hook. Basic geometry. Fixed in space.”-Lee Child, Past Tense.

If we substitute door for alley the same principles hold.

If we have the space of an alley, we would cheat to the left to open the range and get a view on if an ambush is actually in the works.

With a doorway, such room is not available, so with a suspected right-handed individual turning right, we should cheat to the right as well to crowd a right-handed attack and/or muffle a weapon wielding right hand. [Reverse our tactics for a perceived lefty.]

In “maybe” ambush cases we would move off-center to a right-crowding entry playing the odds that we have a right hander [70-90% chance.]

There we have it, two works of fiction that can inform non-fiction tactics.

To seat your action-hero bonafides, for the next week use Center-Entry for all doors unless following someone.

If following, watch their direction of turn and crowd to that side upon your entry.

If you follow the advice, you’ll bring tactical thinking to the day-to-day and no one need know you are play-acting as a Viking God or an action-hero.

[For more Rough& Tumble history, Indigenous Ability hacks, and for pragmatic applications of old school tactics historically accurate and viciously verified see our RAW Subscription Service.]


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