“And so you make all those decisions now, that way when something bad happens, you’re going to act them out without making decisions.” – Clint Emerson
Mark has a new book coming out in 2020 about the seven commitments of leadership. It is called “Staring Down the Wolf: 7 Leadership Commitments That Forge Elite Teams,” and is available now for pre-order. Commander Divine writes about many of the great leaders he met in SpecOps to give examples of the commitments that one has to make to the 7 key principles of Courage, Trust, Respect, Growth, Excellence, Resiliency and Alignment.
In the second part of Mark’s interview with Clint Emerson, (#100deadlyskills) retired SEAL, NSA operative, and expert in personal security and preparedness. Mark and Clint discuss his new book “The Right Kind of Crazy: My Life as a Navy SEAL, Covert Operative, and Boy Scout from Hell.” Clint is the only SEAL ever inducted into the International Spy Museum and the real life Jason Bourne.
Listen to this episode to find out more about how you can be prepared and the state of national security.
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Mark. Can you tell us a little bit about your recruitment into the secret squirrel side – using your term – and then you know how you got really down into the weeds and becoming an expert at the spy craft side of special operations.
Clint. Yeah, it was once again luck and timing. Came back from a deployment from Iraq. Rumsfeld was the one who coined the term “find, fix, finish.” And it was Admiral Calland at the time – you just mentioned him – he was WARCOM. And knew like, “hey, we need to figure out how to get ahead of this.”
And so he’s a smart admiral, good dude – they did a screening and selection program which was run by a couple of master chiefs and I had just gotten back. I was due to rotate out of team three, cause at that point, I had already been there for like ten years straight. And so I was like, “you know, I’ll go screen for something new.”
So I went over there and did the little selection process that they had. And there was a lot of civilians in the room. That’s kind of something different.
Mark. Was that for the old…? What they originally called the SA program?
Clint. Right. So, it changed names so many times at the beginning. A lot of it was just us, because we didn’t know what the hell we were doing, so you’d name it something, and “oh wait, there’s already something in the navy called you know support activity. We better not call it that anymore.”
Just typical team guys, right? Just kind of fall on your face a whole bunch of times…
Mark. Winging it, right?
Clint. Yeah, yeah. Always.
So anyway, that program grew into a very professionalized system, and it was really cool to see it at Mach speed go from nothing into literally like now today, it has its own group. And it had its own sub-commands under it and everything… Which is really cool.
But me being one of the early guys involved, gave me a lot of slack, and there was like zero leash…
And so I got to be exposed to a lot of great training programs that the inner agencies were running. A lot of our counterparts – the brits – I got involved with them their SRR guys which is their special reconnaissance guys. That were really the pros at this stuff. So we learned a lot from them.
But anyway, we built the program and started pushing guys through it. And the whole intent was really to you know give the seal community something other than kill capture. Because we really didn’t have anything else. And so you know Calland knew that we need to get ahead of this. We need to be able to collect information…
Mark. In other words, when you said find, fix and finish – this is teaching you to find and fix whereas the seals – up until then – were good at the finish part, which is killing or capturing taking a hard target down.
Clint. Yes, exactly. And in typical seal fashion, “we have to be the ones driving the boats. We have to be the one driving the car.” so, of course, with this program it was “hey, we have to be the one going out and collecting the information.”
So we never think about manning, when it comes to this ship. But anyway so now you’re taking we’re taking combat veteran seals, and kind of early doing the operator to operative transition.
Which really – in the long scheme of things became very successful – but at the beginning it was very difficult – because as you know – you can’t just take any guy and say alright “put the penny loafers on, the calculator watch, and tuck your shirt in. Now you’re gonna be something different.”
A lot of guys wanted nothing to do with it. And frankly, there’s a lot of guys that were very interested that just should have nothing to do with it.
Mark. (laughing) It’s a fantasy, right?
Clint. Yeah, you gotta shave the beard, you gotta look the part…
Mark. Gotta blend in and not stand out.
Clint. Yeah, you got to basically have the ability to float around in different environments that have nothing to do with the theatres of war. And you can’t go around boasting your ego, pounding your chest.
You’ve got to just basically be a nobody. And that’s difficult for a lot of guys to do, even though they’re interested in the job.
So me having a foundation in it, I got to do a bunch of great deployments. Being one of the first guys to put it all together. Which gave me some experience in this stuff early on. And it kind of picked up.
Some of the stuff I think were heavily exaggerated and then heard by others. And you know, it’s kind of funny.
Guys like “man I heard what you did in CHINA.”
It’s like “dude, I never been to china. What are you talking about?” yeah, okay, whatever… But so I ended up out at the NSA. And what we learned early on is that “hey, we’ve got to get ahead on this whole tech thing,” right? So we established relationships with the inner agencies and the NSA and everybody…
Mark. Was that like a post? Or was that like you toured through there to establish your relationships and do some ops? Or was it like an assignment?
Clint. There was a billet. We put it there. We put a billet out there, it was the first time ever. Mark. Interesting.
Clint. First thing we had to do… We had to put a Det in Washington, DC. So that was just really creating a UIC for a Det that was funded by WARCOM.
Then that Det is what I was assigned to. And then had the billet through NSA.
So we had to kind of finagle all this stuff. And as an enlisted guy, working on that kind of stuff, I was like “how did I get myself into this?”
I was put out there, and then that just opened up doors for all kinds of stuff, right? Most people don’t know, the NSA is you know 7 to 10 times larger than the CIA. And it really is the powerhouse behind a lot of stuff.
And it’s amazing, truly amazing what they pull off out there. But it’s very tech, tech, tech driven.
So anyway, I got a good education in all that kind of stuff – which made me attractive to the guys down in Virginia Beach. They came up and are like “we’ve heard about this, we’ve heard about that. We want you to come down and kind of do the same thing for us.”
And then before you know it, then I was deploying for them, doing the same kind of stuff but at a more… You know, everything they do is at a national level.
Mark. Right. Were you standing up like a training cadre or an operational unit?
Clint. Yeah, I wore a lot of hats. When I originally showed up, it was to stand up a program and I was like “yeah, all right. That’s cool.”
Then their program was deployment. And then the deployment led to just a whole lot of other stuff. And then I became a department head for all of the techs, so I had 40 guys working for me at one point. I ensured they knew what they were doing. And then made sure they were doing things right.
Mark. For the listeners, the tech is an individual who’s supporting the seals with some sort of technological expertise, or logistic expertise.
Clint. Right. And these particular techs knew the clandestine, covert technology.
But yeah it was really a pretty cool experience. You know, I got not just the operational stuff, but like program management and money.
And as everyone knows, or if they don’t, when you go to a national level command like that – like I said the beginning – there’s no leash. You can truly become as much of an expert in something as you want. The sky’s the limit and no one’s gonna regulate you.
And so that was definitely part of the coolest experience you can have. So I’m always thankful for it.
There’s a lot of drama as you know – I put it in the book – there’s some drama but that’s team guys. Team guys love drama. So I had my fair share of that.
But it was an awesome way to finish off the last half of the career. Having the opportunity, and because it wasn’t redacted I can say the stuff I’m staying out loud. You know, having the opportunity to work against bin Laden’s fleet of vessels. Having the opportunity to work against Anwar al Awlaki, who was once triple A…
So for people that don’t know, once bin Laden was taken off the map – Awlaki became number one. And the most controversial thing about him is he was an American citizen. Mark. San Diego
Clint. Yeah, San Diego. Probably me, you and a whole bunch of other team guys probably sat in the same restaurant with him several times.
But he was the biggest influencer AQ had ever seen. And to this day he still influences people, even though he’s dead. Because of his YouTube videos, that radicalized several Americans here in the United States to go and do bad things. Fort hood being one of the more popular ones.
All of your underwear bombers, your shoe bombers, your Boston bombers – he influenced all of those. So having the opportunity to be involved in removing him off the planet was definitely cool.
Mark. Can you give us any unclassed details about the operation?
Clint. Yeah, I mean, it was a group effort. I sure as hell don’t take any full-on credit for any of this type of stuff, by the way. But it was years and years of information, intelligence gathering… I mean, you’re talking lots of people involved from the inter-agencies, tier one commands – I mean you name it – to track him down.
And what’s interesting about these guys is they’ve become really intelligent and smart with their tactics. They know like get rid of the cell phones. They know like “don’t do this, don’t do that.” they know they can’t even trust their inner circle.
And so, what made him successful at eluding us was that he would feed disinformation to his inner circle like all the time. So that kept him… And so he knew that he couldn’t trust them, so he fed them a bunch of false information that he knew would get back to us. And then it’d be inaccurate, and we’d hit dry targets, dry holes – all that good stuff and he played it.
Mark. So how did we finally get close to him? I mean, what was the breakthrough.
Clint. Well, how do I put this…? So here’s an interesting connection to seals and our being involved in these things. It’s a really small world so people probably haven’t heard of a guy named Brian Hoch. But Brian was a SEAL team 3 guy. Officer. Great guy.
He got out – went to the agency. And he worked his way up through ground branch on that special activity side of the house.
He started seeing a lot of what JSOC was doing in that “wait a minute. We need to get inside the embassies.”
Because even them… They’re attached to the agency, but they had a hard time getting operations, because they weren’t intimately close to chiefs of station overseas.
So anyway, they had a great idea. Brian was like “you know, I’m gonna go be an assistant or a deputy at an embassy.”
And so we started rotating people in to the embassy, so he ended up in Denmark and there’s a book out there called “Agent Storm.” and Brian actually recruited Agent Storm who had access to Anwar Awlaki. He provided triple A hookers and vehicles.
And so it was a great recruitment on Brian’s part. Here’s a seal team 3 guy, right?
And then one day I’m cruising overseas, and we end up like going doing the same meeting together. We hadn’t seen each other in I don’t know how long. And I’m like “hey what are you doing here?”
And he’s like “no, what are you doing here?” he was in the hierarchy of things – I’m like “well, I’m just here to do some tech work. What are you here?”
And he’s like “well, I’m the guy that probably requested your tech work.” and so it was pretty cool.
And so because of that guy, that’s what probably led to the demise of Anwar Awlaki, because then we allowed certain access to a lot of his infrastructure…
Which I know that’s boring, and probably doesn’t really sound sexy, because you…
Mark. Yeah, there’s no shoot-em-up ending in that story.
Clint. Yeah, just to put it, you know… The way it ends is he ends up with you know a hellfire rocket through his front windshield, all right?
Mark. There you go. Okay. Now I feel satisfied.
Clint. There you go.
Mark. So you teach now risk management to corporations and executives, and this is becoming more and more important for everybody. It’s not just the billionaire or the fortune 500 who kind of needs to have that situational awareness.
What are some of the top of mind things that the listeners should think about when it comes to self-defense, self-reliance – you know, having a personal protocol for situational awareness to avoid those kind of threats?
Clint. Yeah, I think what I preach mostly is really… It’s common sense, unfortunately. There is no secret sauce, other than if you know that your brain is not a computer and it cannot aggregate all the information in an environment – that means that you’ve got to have a certain foundation of knowledge, so that now you can tell your brain what to look for.
So I tell people all the time to observeeverything, you will not notice anything, right?
So you have to be familiar with the threats in your environment. And we all live in a bubble – we go to work, we go to our favorite coffee shops, our gyms, and then we go home. And so that little bubble – it should be very easy for you to identify that at those places that you hang out “okay, what are the threats?” you have to ask yourself. “What could potentially happen at the coffee shop? What could potentially happen at my place of work? And what about the routes in between? Okay, I’m driving down the road. What are some of the things that could affect me right now? When I’m driving this road?”
And so you should be able to gather all the answers to those questions inside your bubble.
Mark. Right, because the typical person’s patterns there’s like four or five – if that – places that they go to pretty much every day. While they’re in their routine.
Mark. You got work, you got home, you got the CrossFit gym or you know your yoga studio, you got the shopping mall, pick up the kids at the school. There’s five.
Clint. That’s it. And so we call that a pattern of life. And so once you identify what your pattern of life is – the places and the routes – now it’s very easy to start streamlining what you’re supposed to be paying attention to. Your process of elimination.
Now “do I live in an area where there’s gang violence? Yes or no? Do I live in an area where there’s potential earthquakes? Yes or no?”
And once you do that, now all of a sudden you’ve got all your protocols figured out. And the idea is you want to “what if?” and do these scenarios in your mind. “Okay, if this happens, I’m going to do these three things in order to survive.”
And as long as you’re always doing that, you’re making decisions. And the idea is hey, let’s make decisions right now, while we’re in a clinical setting. When you have plenty of time and zero stressors.
Because the last thing you want to do is make decisions when you have zero time and nothing but stressors, right? And so you make all those decisions now. That way when something bad happens, you’re gonna act them out, without making decisions.
Because you’ve already made those decisions a hundred times before. So now all you got to do is act out those decisions. And that reaction time is what saves your life.
At the end of the day, when it comes to awareness, your job is to get time on your side. And time can be an adversary, or it can be an ally. So the goal is to make time your ally through the proper mental calibration and sensitizing to the potential wrongs you could face at any given moment.
And that sounds like paranoia or that’s prepper shit. It’s like, no, it’s really not. Because it takes a couple of seconds, when you sit down at Starbucks and go “okay, if someone comes through that door right there with a chainsaw, a knife, a gun… Whatever it is. What am I gonna do?”
And you go “huh, well there’s always an exit through the kitchen most people don’t know about. I’m gonna do that.”
Or the biggest thing is what am I not gonna do? I’m not gonna go to the bathroom, because that’s a dead end. And I can’t barricade the door, because there’s nothing in there to move in front of the door, right?
So through a process of elimination, a little bit of knowledge on bad guy tactics and then knowing what tactics you’re going to use, boom, before you know it, you’ve calibrated your mind. It’s ready, and your reaction time ends up being a lot less, which is what saves your life.
Mark. Right. Yeah, basic contingency planning, and then you mentalize it or visualize it, and then you’ve got some structure for if something does go bad.
Clint. Yeah. Exactly right. That’s conditioning, and most people would rather just stare at their phone or you know… But it literally takes seconds… You get in your car, what do you do?
I mean, I always compare it to the seatbelt. These days we put on and we take off a seatbelt dozens of times a day and we don’t even remember doing it anymore. That’s how you need to get safety and security. Is make it automated.
Make it so that you’re automatically doing these things. And you’ll be a lot safer for doing so.
Mark. Yeah, if you’re unwilling to get a concealed carry, and carry a gun around – what’s the best…? Or what tool should you have in your car to deal with any kind of kinetic threat or even just crisis?
Clint. Yeah, I mean it’s a good question. A lot of times for females we always think mace, right? I like to bump it up a notch. Go get bear spray instead. It shoots 30 feet and it’s far more potent, okay?
So bear spray is a good one for females. Single females that live alone, I always tell them “hey put a size 12 pair of cowboy boots out in front of your front door.” (laughing) any sexual predator that shows up at night and sees size 12 cowboy boots sitting outside the front door – it’s probably gonna make them go to the next door.
And more carry type items – everyday carry – that’s become really popular… Your steel barrel pin, your aluminum barrel pin these are pins you can buy anywhere and you can stab somebody in the face with these things. They’re a great penetration tool.
You know, if you’re traveling abroad, and you can’t carry anything that looks a little too offensive, I always tell people a roll of quarters along with a sock. You carry them separate they’re nothing, but as soon as you put them together they are a sap, right? The average fist flies at about 25 miles per hour. As soon as you add any kind of a flexible weapon to your hand, now you’ve bumped them to about 50 miles per hour.
So it can be very devastating if you take that roll of quarters, drop it into a sock and hit somebody in the face with it. You’re gonna break bones, you’re gonna knock them out, without a doubt.
Clint. But there’s a lot of things you can improvise in your environment to defend yourself, without a doubt. And I tell people a good defense is really only one second, because the rest of the time, you’re on the offense. You have to be far more violent than your adversaries these days in order to win or survive.
Mark. Yeah, that’s the old sheepdog kind of mindset, right? The sheepdog is prone to violence, is capable of violence, but is a protector, right? And so I think you’re right, people have to become their own sheepdogs, right? Both to protect themselves and their family, and to be useful in a crisis as opposed to being useless, you know? And you can train that.
Clint. With the number of active shooters, you definitely gotta start being more offensive in thought and your mannerisms. And what you’re gonna do in those situations.
Mark. What about home defense? You mentioned something about don’t go to the bathroom, barricade yourself – you have this thing called the four ds of home defense. What are those?
Clint. Yeah, it comes from the corporate security world. Which is… You’re creating layers around your home. Number one is you want to deter people away from it all together.
Mark. (laughing) That’s the cowboy boots.
Clint. That’s the cowboy boots, but for me that’s even a little too close, right? Ideally, it’s illumination. You want to light that thing up at night.
There is a general philosophy that bad guys that come during the day wants your stuff, bad guys that come at night want you, right? They come during the day to get your stuff, because everybody’s at work. The ones that come at night, knowing someone’s home, that’s a different kind of person. That’s a kind of bad guy.
So deter them – light it up like a Christmas tree, make sure your house is illuminated. Number one – I can tell you from experience, being a guy who was sneaking around bad guys homes – if that thing was lit up, I felt naked standing outside of it, you know what I mean?
So that’s what you want to do to bad guys, make them feel naked. Make it easy for your neighbors to see someone sneaking around your property. Because the whole idea is to get your neighbors to call 911 for you, because you’re not going to see them sneaking around your property. You’re lighting up your property so that third parties can do that for you.
Then as you move in – so that’s deter, right – as you move in, now you’re getting into more of that delay piece, right? So how do we delay them? That could be the cowboy boots, where it delays them for a second. Makes them think. And then they move on somewhere else. Turns into a deterrent.
The ADT signs, stickers on all your windows, all of that stuff is deter and deny and delay.
And then you get to the door itself, right? And doors and windows – I always tell people there’s a 3M product out there that was initially designed for hurricanes in Florida so the windows don’t break. You can put that 3M product on your windows and you can’t even throw a cinder block through it, right? They did awesome.
It’ll stop a log going a hundred miles per hour from going through your window.
Mark. (laughing) Maybe Elon Musk should have used it for his truck last week.
Clint. (laughing) Yeah, he should have. Or… You and I both know this… He should have had a backup, he should have known that even if it’s bulletproof, it’s still gonna shatter. That’s what it’s supposed to do. It’s displacing energy through the glass.
And the biggest thing he could have done is open up the door and go “see it didn’t go through.”
Mark. Exactly. Everyone’s safe.
Clint. And then he came up a week later was saying “yeah, we hit the door with a sledgehammer, and that softened the glass.”
I was like, “dude, that’s a dumb excuse.”
But your doors and your windows, right? 3M product – it’s a film – you put it on there and it’s great.
And heck, now they’ve got films that stop bullets. I mean that’s pretty cool.
And so now you get to the doors… People all the time, they want to focus on these cool locks. And doors aren’t about locks.
I mean, I remember going to, you know… The breaking and entering side overseas. You could see an entire… The colonization of a certain area… There would be an Italian lock, a British standard lock, and then a Yale five pin tumbler lock, right? So colonization on a door.
And so I tell people all the time that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter – the lock doesn’t matter. There’s other ways of getting past those.
So you want to concentrate on your door frames, the doors, and the door hinges, right? Most of your homes commercially built these days in large developments or apartment complexes, they’re using a half inch little screw to hold the strike plate in place. They’re using a half inch screw to hold all of your locking mechanisms in the door. Then they’re using one inch screws on all the hinges.
So I tell people all the time, to go replace all of your screws with three-and-a-half inch wood screws. That’s gonna allow you to reach all the way through the door and actually anchor things to the studs, right? Now when somebody kicks that door if they kick your door today, they’re gonna kick it open in like one or two kicks.
If you change all your screws out, now you’re bumping it up to like eight to ten kicks to get through that door, because that door frame… And then you add three and a half inch wood screws to the locking side of the door frame as well. About one foot apart. Up the door from the strike plate… Up the door frame, and down the door frame. And now you’ve got a door that’s very difficult to kick.
Because that’s what bad guys are gonna do. They’re gonna kick the door open.
Mark. But even – like you said – the door itself has got to be a solid kind of like mahogany door coz a lot of these doors these days are not as solid as they used to be.
Clint. Right, the door… The cheap aluminum ones are great, because that’s aluminum, right? They’re lightweight, they look like wood, but they’re not, right?
And then there are some composite doors that are pretty darn sturdy. So you don’t have to go spend an arm and a leg.
And then of course you’ve got technology. That gets into denial – which leads to the other d which is detain, right? Let’s say they get in. They take all your stuff.
But you want to get them caught. That boils down to all of the technology that is super-cheap and readily available these days.
Mark. (laughing) Or a Great Dane. Who’s trained.
Clint. Or a dog, right? You bring up a great point. Bad guys don’t like things that are unpredictable. So they tend to stay away from homes with dogs and kids, right? So even if you don’t have kids, go ahead and lean a skateboard up against… Just on the other side of the cowboy boots and you’ll be good to go. You got kids, you got the big bad dude that lives there, and it’s gonna keep your bad guys away.
Mark. Yeah. It’s interesting – what’s kind of going through my mind and this is important – going back to the kind of the wolf idea – people don’t really understand that that you know criminals are smart, right? And a lot of them are pussies, too?
They don’t want to get hurt, they don’t want this to be any harder than it needs to be. You know what I mean? They’re looking for an easy hit. And so the harder… The more obstacles you put up in front of it that are gonna scare them, or make them think that they might get hurt or even killed… They’re just gonna move on.
Clint. Well, yeah… And even more so, they just don’t want to get caught. They don’t want to get caught, and so they’re gonna go the path of least resistance. And they’re gonna take the cheapest most effective way in order to get what they want. And if you just make it a little difficult, they’ll move on somewhere else.
Mark. Right. That’s interesting.
Mark. So we’ve been going for a while here. I’d like to break this into two podcasts, which would be pretty cool.
But I would like to hit up what’s your training like right now? And what kind of routine do you have that keeps you fit and focused and on your a-game?
Clint. Yeah, I gotta say… You get out and I’ve had my moments where I go up and down with my…
Mark. Yeah, I saw that you, you know… It’s in the book, so I can say this, but you dealt with your issue of like a lot of team guys you make it 18 years and you realize “holy shit. I put some serious stress on this body and this brain.”
And so you had to go through your own recovery process, right? Healing from all the trauma, and TBI and stuff.
Clint. Right, so that you know NKO and all the things that the military has set up that guys get the opportunity to go through certainly helped… But my physical regimen, you know… I try to keep it as regular as possible, but, as you know, you get on the road and you’re busy and business – money, and this, and that whatever.
Yeah, I do let things get in the way.
But, when I’m home and it’s regular – it’s boxing in the morning – I mean early – like I’m down there at 5:30 and already warmed up and ready to go – and then I get my day started.
And then I have my workout in the afternoon. And that’s more… I keep it super simple. I talk about it in the book and you’ve seen videos all over the internet – the violent nomad workout – which is a push exercise, a pull, a rotation… My rotation exercises usually involve some kind of striking… And then a run. And you do five rounds, and then that’s it.
And usually it sucks, every time. It doesn’t matter how many times I do it, I always feel like I gotta throw up at the end.
So a push exercise, it could be anything you make it. It could be a push-up, it could be a bench press, it could be a military press… Anytime you’re pushing – you and I both know this – it’s a push exercise.
A pull exercise, it could be a pull-up, it could be any kind of machine where it’s a cable pull, it could be you know it could be a deadlift… I mean, it’s whatever consists of a pull for you or whatever you want to do that day.
Rotation, it could be hooks – I’m talking about boxing – or any kind of strikes on a heavy bag whether it’s on the ground or hanging…
Mark. Do you do any loaded rotation? Like kettlebell or anything like that?
Clint. Yeah, I’m a big kettlebell fan. Without a doubt. Pavel and he used to come to the command. And trained with him a lot. And so I respect the kettlebell.
There’s a lot of push-pull, rotate you can do with those.
But anything goes. As long as you pick the one you’re gonna do. And the beauty of it is you can do push, pull, rotate, sprint every day…
Mark. Yeah, yeah… Wherever you go there’s your workout, right?
Say that all the time with our kind of SEALfit methodology… Don’t get seduced by this idea that you had to have equipment with you to train hard. The human body provides a shit-ton of equipment. And so does the environment.
Clint. Without a doubt. Yeah, I mean, when you’re in hotel rooms you’ve got the office chair – you know, I like TRX‘s. I think those things are great too, you know.
But yeah, I try to do two a day. Because I feel like if I do anything less at 46 years old I’m gonna turn into a big piece of shit.
Mark. (laughing) I’m with you on that. I train twice a day. One of them’s my martial arts or yoga – I do aikido now – and then yoga. And then a functional fitness workout.
And I’ll also do some sort of mental training. If I can’t get it in the morning, I’ll get it in the midday. So that would be like the breathing and visualization and meditation exercises.
Do you do you have anything like that? Do you work with those tools?
Clint. I would say the closest I come to that is if I go do any kind of yoga just for my joints and mobility, all that good stuff, that’s where I get it.
When we went through Nayak – which is a TBI, PTSD 30-day immersion at Walter Reed – they did a great job subjecting us and giving us the opportunity to try different stuff and what works for us.
So we did everything from banging on bongos – imagine a bunch of team guys with drums between their legs, and you’ve got this hippie instructor sitting in the middle, you know going “okay guys, now just get to the same rhythm together.”
And we’re all looking at each other, going like, “are you kidding me?”
But it works, right? Once you get going, you get into that rhythm, it does calm you down and brings you down a couple notches.
We did art therapy, where you’re painting and you’re doing all kinds of other stuff. And once again, a room full of special operators and you’re painting together?
You know, so anyway what they do is they give you the opportunity to find what works best for you. And for me, I’m a very simple kind of guy, so I ended up vectoring more towards all of the different breathing drills, right? So I can do those.
You know, the simplest one is slowing it down, right? 10 second in, and 10 seconds out. Especially if you feel any kind of anxiety. It does wonders.
So that’s probably the closest I get to more of that mental side these days.
Mark. Yeah, well I think that what you just described – that slow tactical breathing – I mean, that is mental training. Not only is it doing the arousal control, and calming you down.
But there’s a real aspect of developing a concentrated mind that comes with that. Because you have to take control of the breath.
That’s why they call it breath control. That means you’re focusing on that one thing, and so your mind is just like really kind of getting clear, and concentrated. As well as de-stressed. It’s a powerful practice.
Clint. Yeah, it does work. And just like any other team guy, you show up laughing at this shit, going “what the fuck am I doing this for?”
But then all of a sudden, you’re like, “oh okay, that actually kind of worked, you know?”
Mark. (laughing) Ironically, I’d never laughed at it, because when I started my martial arts training at 21 – I think I was right out of college – my instructor was a grandmaster, who was a Zen master. And I always like to laugh and say he was a Zen master masquerading as a karate instructor.
And so he taught us all the breathing techniques and he taught me how to meditate… And so I did that for four years. I got my black belt like literally the day or two before I got on the bus to officer candidate school.
So I was all kind of hot and heavy into that. I even showed up at officer candidate school with my big stick – you know the Bo. And I got off the bus and I had this top hat look at me, he goes, “man, that is awesome. That’s gonna come in so handy here at officer candidate school.”
(laughing) And he goes “in fact, I know where you can store that stick. Got the perfect locker for it. Turn around behind you and look.”
That’s the last time I ever saw that stick.
Clint. That’s funny.
Mark. But when I went to BUD/S, it was so fresh in my mind that I just started using those tools. And it had a huge effect on my performance. So I trusted him right from day one.
Clint. All the martial arts I did when I was a kid, you know… Every martial art has all the breathing and meditation. I just didn’t take it seriously, you know? I just was like “Aah, just wanna get through this part and like learn how to break a board,” you know?
Mark. Right. That’s awesome.
All right, Clint. Well we could probably chat forever, but we should call it a day here. Super-appreciate your time, and good luck with all your crazy endeavors…
Clint. Hey, I appreciate it.
Mark. This book just came out, right? “The Right Kind of Crazy.”
Clint. It did, yeah. Just came out. We’re waiting for all the impeachment stuff to go to the wayside, so that we can get some bandwidth on the news…
Mark. By the way, I was literally in hysterics reading all of your little footnotes to the redaction. There’s a shit-ton of redactions, and I can imagine like the things that they redacted were probably ridiculous and nonsensical.
Clint. Yeah. Another layer of humor there.
Mark. Yeah, no doubt.
So the book everyone is “The Right Kind of Crazy.” Clint Emerson. Check it out. It’s a great read. Learn lots about spec ops, and secret squirrel stuff. But also it’s just a great story. Clint’s life, and as you’ve heard from this podcast, his style is very matter-of-fact and fun.
So good job with that Clint. I’m sure there’ll be more to come.
Your other book “100 Deadly Skills,” and then you’ve got the survival edition to that right? Clint. Right.
Mark. Yeah, great tools just to have kind of handy. You never know when you’re gonna need a deadly skill.
Clint. That’s right. That’s it. Be ready, be prepared.
Mark. Better be prepared. And that’s the scout’s motto, right?
Clint. That’s right.
Mark. All right, Clint. Well thanks again and hooyah.
Clint. Yeah, thanks for having me. Take care.
Mark. It’s a pleasure.
All right, folks. That’s a wrap. Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks again for your support and for paying attention and for caring. We’ve got to become sheepdog strong. And be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.
Join the discussion One Comment
I wish I had done martial arts before the military, but Krav Maga is now the back bone of my life after several years of martial arts. The direct applicability of each movement, the functional fitness, de-escalation tactics, and situational awareness–all enable me to get to the cafe so I can read my book unmolested. (A challenging feat in San Francisco if you haven’t any training.) Exactly why we do flutter kicks in dive school is readily apparent every time we dive. Krav Maga is like that too, and fun to train and help others learn. I no longer dive, but I do walk down the street everyday; so my training has to optimize my response to those environmental stressors.