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Profile in Human Ability by Mark Hatmaker

So, how many pull-ups can you do before you have to come off of the bar?
How about one-arm pull-ups, can you do even one with zero assist from the free-hand?
Prior to the 20th Century the record for one-arm pull-ups was 12 by an Englishman named Cutler performed in 1878.
Flash-Forward to 1918, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mermann’s Gym, a gathering place for old-school gymnasts and physical culturists.
Veteran circus-performer Lillian Leitzel arrives at Mermann’s to refine some work with some acrobats. Leitzel was a noted aerialist [and notorious for her fierce competitive spirit and less than becoming temper.] She causally lets it drop that she could smash the one-arm chin-up record.
Asked to put proof to her claims she steps up to the bar, places her left hand behind her back, grips the bar with her right and knocks out 27 reps.
That not good enough?
Well, how’s this? She comes off the bar, shakes it out and then grabs it with her left hand and hits 19 reps.
At the time Lillian was 4’9” tall…

The Doorway of Wolves by Mark Hatmaker

The following parable is credited to many traditions, I first came across it in the Tsalagi tradition [Cherokee to outsiders.]
A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.
One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery, honesty, service and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred, lies, selfishness and fear.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, “The one you feed.”
This parable seems to strike a chord in many I discuss it with and has led to more than a few fruitful conversations [face-to-face, forum, messages, email, etc.]
Many are quite pleased with the concept of feeding the Good Wolf and see utilitarian value in realigning in this direction.
Some good folk professed the need to feed the Bad Wolf occasionally to keep prime…

Color Blind? by Mark Hatmaker

I have now read hundreds, if not thousands of accounts of aboriginal trackers and scouts, whether they be Native Americans, Polynesian mariners, or the very impressive aborigines of Australia. These accounts are almost invariably written by a western observer who reports their uncanny skills as being on par with the supernatural, but in the end it all comes down to a razor-honed awareness of seemingly everything around the scout/tracker.
It seems all senses are greatly engaged sight, hearing, smell, touch, and even taste. Some of us have experimented with honing these senses within our own training but that is not what I am offering here. I’m passing along an observation from Harold Gatty an esteemed natural navigator who wrote The Raft Book for the US Army Air Force in WWII.
Gatty who made a lifetime study of how indigenous peoples navigate without compass or map has many interesting things to say, but this basic one has stuck with me. He notes that these “primitive” trackers [his wor…

Chances Are You Choose Situational Blindness by Mark Hatmaker

The only fights you truly win are the ones you don’t have.”-Lee Child
Keeping the above quote in mind, along with the fact that crime is a product of opportunity, we go a long way towards being “masters of self-defense” if we simply remove as many opportunities as possible from our behavior.
With that said, let me point to a bit of advice from former CIA operative Jason Hanson, who says that the number one tip he can offer to making anyone and everyone a bit more like Jason Bourne in the modern world, is simply this “always be aware of your surroundings.”
Easier said than done, right? Well, he goes a bit further by offering what he considers the number one concrete tactic to becoming aware of your surroundings-don’t use a smartphone. That’s it.
He says spy craft prohibits the use of smartphones not simply because of the tracking potential but because it encourages absorption, a retreat from where you are to someplace else that is not here.
He points to the numerous instances of car crash…

Surviving a Suicide Bomber: Snowball in Hell Version by Mark Hatmaker

First and foremost, it is a goddamn shame that any human being has to take the time to seriously write an article with the above title, but the world not conforming to decency and honor at all times---here it is.
The very nature of the chosen environments for the majority of suicide bombings [crowded venues] and the added aspect of the scum not caring at all about being able to leave the scene of the crime makes specific measures and predictions tough tough tough to implement.
There are a few general guidelines to keep in mind. We will divide these into three tiers: 80/20 Scanning, Alarmed But Uncertain, Full-On.
80/20 Scanning
If you are in any crowded venue, whether that be sporting event, concert, farmer’s market, airport, mall, hell, all things in life where good people congregate to go about living and having fun, we’ve got to admit the possibility that bad things could potentially happen.
This is not an advocacy of shunning all events that would draw a crowd or living scared, but it …

Lessons in Awareness from a Private Investigator by Mark Hatmaker

I will occasionally feature interviews with security industry professionals to get A) A little insight into what they do, and B) More importantly, look for ideas from their experiences that we can transfer to our own lives. I have an expert Law-Enforcement Interrogator coming up, veteran cops from several municipalities, Military Intelligence cadre, former CIA operatives, and today’s offering an experienced Private Investigator, Michael Gardner.
I will offer that in each of these interviews, that awareness is a running theme. Each professional has stressed that we are one mighty non-observant bunch.
When you hear such a thing from folks ranging from CIA humint resources officers to Native Trackers, to LA Cops, to Photo Intel Analysts we just might need to take them at their word. “Eyes up! Phones stowed! Pay attention!”
I’ll allow Mr. Gardner to introduce himself. I have been a private investigator for 10 years, and caught shoplifters for roughly 5 years before that. I've worked ove…

The REAL Gladiator Diet by Mark Hatmaker

Imagination Time-Call forth images of the lean and mean, jacked and ripped cast of the television show Spartacus. You know the body-type I’m talking about, the taut, toned, chiseled body-fat of 5% physiques that reek of 2-3 HIT workouts per day and scrupulously avoiding all sugars and carbs, while piling on all the paleo-approved goodies that you can choke down.
Got those enviable images in mind?
Terrific!
Before we get to The Gladiator Diet, allow me to ask another question of our Spartacus cast-members.
No matter how jacked and ripped these performers are, no matter how much undoubted discipline and hard work that goes into attaining these forms, do we think this translates to true gladiatorial skill? Actual combat prowess?
Of course, not.
Don’t get me wrong, hard-work is hard-work and we are able to do more with a fit athlete than an unfit athlete, but these performers would be the first to tell you they eat and train to look like warriors not to be warriors.
With this said, what did the…

Facer Your Muzzler by Mark Hatmaker

Facer your wha?”
Today’s titled historical offering borrows a bit of lingo from fisticuffs, or The Fancy [Early Boxing] circa. 1780.
A Facer was a “blow to the face.”
Whereas a “Muzzler” is an early term for an upper-cut.
Today’s historical look-back is less about vocabulary than about a bit of lost tactical advantage when it comes to the use of the muzzler.
First, let’s look to today’s upper-cut. It is crisp, sharp, cleanly-thrown and cleanly landed [if we’re lucky.]
If we are throwing it well we have set it up with a wisely chosen preceding blow that masks our upper-cut intent as there is no punch more unforgiving than a poorly set-up upper-cut, or God forbid, an upper-cut thrown without set-up at all.
The upper-cut of today is primarily an inside tool, that is, thrown from close-quarters, and in MMA, absolutely legal and wise to throw from the clinch.
If we are throwing from the outside, it is wisely thrown from the Bridge, that is, the blurry ground between outside sharpshooter tools an…