6 Shockingly Hardcore Skills You Can Learn In Under A Week
You probably think it takes a lifetime of grueling practice to transform yourself into a movie-caliber badass, and to that we say ... yeah, you're pretty much right. Sorry. Your epic revenge quest against Brian, the guy who called you "wiener-monger" in fifth grade, will have to remain but a beautiful dream. But as we've shown you before, in less time than you've spent watching porn this week, you could have gotten a running start on turning yourself into Bruce Willis ... or at least Steven Seagal (the middle years, before he'd gotten too fat and insane).
Flying a fighter plane is one of the most difficult things a person can do, easily pushing pilots to the very limits of human endurance. This is doubly true if the person in question -- namely, you -- isn't a pilot. And while you may not be able to, say, swipe the F-14 keys out of a dish on the counter and tear off on the world's shortest (but most bitchin') joyride, it turns out you can do the next-best thing at Fighter Combat International.
Tucked away in the mountainous desert of Phoenix, Arizona is a flight school with a fleet of planes parked out back. But these aren't just any planes -- they're German-built aerobatic aircraft tricked out with gun sights, smoke generators, and combat sound effects, all to better enable rank amateurs to learn the finer points of good old-fashioned dogfighting. Here are two of their planes blowing the simulated shit out of each other:
Kamikaze attacks, though considered unsporting, are not specifically outlawed anywhere in the promotional materials.
When you arrive in class, you're given your pilot call sign, suited up in flight gear, and briefed on the basics of air combat maneuvers. (There's no mention of whether this occurs in real time or as a montage of jump cuts with a synthesizer rock soundtrack.) Once you're in the air and warmed up, you'll challenge your counterpart to a series of one-on-one dogfights. Successfully out-flying them will earn you the "prestigious 'Top Gun'" award -- an accomplishment which, honestly, will probably only earn you patronizing laughter when you slam it down on the bar and demand free drinks.
"Will you at least sing 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling?'"
We feel it's important to stress that no prior experience is required to sign up. That's right: Without a bit of piloting experience beyond repeatedly murdering the Statue of Liberty in Microsoft Flight Simulator, you could be flying an actual plane ass over teakettle within a week. Because let's face it, that's totally how you're going to be. So it's a good thing you can take...
Downed Aircraft Survival
In the real world, a plane crash is more likely to result in death by smoke inhalation than in spending six seasons confused and ultimately disappointed on a tropical island. Luckily, Stark Survival Training exists to make sure that if it does happen, you wind up more Jack and less Artz.
And, despite their name, less Ned.
Your frequent crasher training begins with a rundown of basic aircraft equipment checks and safety procedures, but it doesn't take long to breeze past flight attendant mundanity and plow straight into Saw movie villain insanity. Before you know it, your instructors have fired up a fog machine and thrust you into a smoke-filled night terror. It's a learning-by-doing exercise in which "doing" means groping for an exit in a plane that's currently being devoured by angry flames. If nothing else, you'll learn exactly how willing you are to trample an old lady to get to an oxygen mask. It's important to know yourself.
Next up, you'll learn how to bail out of a downed underwater helicopter, thanks to a device called the Dunker:
"I really don't see how my seat cushion is going to help here."
After you've learned the dos and don'ts of emergency underwater egress (i.e., do get out of the helicopter, don't stay in the helicopter), you'll learn how utilize a short-term breathing device that you'll be expected to carry on your belt at all times like fucking Batman. The course closes with the simultaneously obvious yet invaluable advice of "Do not reenter the helicopter."
Alligators are flawless engines of predation, honed by millennia to violent perfection. So naturally, upon encountering one, your first thought is "How can I RKO that sumbitch?" The gator wrestling class at Colorado Gators Reptile Park aims to answer your question -- if not the more pressing and valid one of "What is wrong with you?"
Classes start with two-footers, and "if you survive" (that's a direct quote from the class description), steadily progress up to an eight-footer. This could be you:
Or, more likely, the other way around.
As you might expect, safety is of the utmost concern, and by that we mean "the park's website is rife with photos of people who've been proudly mauled during gator wrestling class."
Normally, we'd make fun of her for throwing up gang signs while wearing tie-dye, but she's earned a pass.
The class does serve a purpose beyond "showing Mother Nature what's up." Alligators have a nasty habit of gnawing on each other in close quarters. The steady stream of people willing to drop a hundred bucks to mount up on a toothy throne allows the park's purveyors to examine the animals for injuries, clean up the resulting nasty infections, and then send them on their way. See? You're not "taking out your frustrations on an apex predator." You're helping!
You know what you want to do? You want to ramp a motorcycle through a flaming school bus. That's right, through. Not over. That's been done. You want to be an innovator. And if you don't want to also be a hideous corpse and a lesson to children that "one should never exceed their reach," you need to be a trained stunt performer. Stunt University can make that happen in six short days.
After spending a week with the self-appointed Navy SEALs of Stunt Training, you'll walk away with your head held high, secure in the knowledge that you now hold a position on the Stunt University Live Action Unit Team Roster (which you can presumably flash at cops to get out of ghost riding tickets), not to mention a Stunt University Graduate Certificate signed by bona fide Hollywood stunt god Gregg Sargeant.
Plus, your hair will forever after spontaneously style itself like this.
So what, exactly, will you have learned? Aside from the boring stuff like "safety" and "why 'ride the tiger' is and always will be just an expression," you'll be thrown from a window in High Falls class, fly into the air courtesy of an Air Ram, learn to control the Matrix in Wirework, fall down stairs in the appropriately named Stair Falling, and, assuming you're still able to pick up your crumpled carcass after that, there's Tumbling, Parkour, and Fire Burns 101.
Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like.
Wait. Fire does what now?
We'll let Risks Incorporated sell themselves:
"Long gone are the days when only the rich and famous were at risk of being kidnapped by organized criminals ... today just being from an Western country [sic] or appearing to have a disposable income will make you a target for being kidnapped and terrorized."
"Those shirts aren't doing you any favors, either."
And when that happens, you'll be prepared to do more than cry and strategically soil yourself to make for a less appealing target this time.
Risks Incorporated's course list basically grants you a doctorate in Liam Neeson. They specialize in bodyguard training, tactical firearms training, and general self-defense, but if you're more into package deals, your best bet is to sign up for their three-day kidnapping prevention course, a crash course in all the skills you'll need to avoid, escape from, or expertly hand a kidnapper his own ass.
"Is ... this your ass?"
"It is! Oh wow, how did you do that?"
Their lesson on the utter simplicity of escaping from duct tape restraints, for example, instantly renders a good 90 percent of Hollywood kidnapping scenes null and void:
"Subscribe to see our videos on escaping laser tables and shark tanks!'
Unfortunately, at time of writing, this course is only offered in Florida and Serbia. Which frankly seems more than a bit counterintuitive, because any sane person would want to possess these skills before even thinking about traveling to Florida.
Look, the world can be a dangerous place. Sometimes you can talk your way out of a sticky situation using your vast skills in human interaction. Other times you can avoid a dangerous scenario altogether with good old situational awareness. But we all know you'll inevitably have to knife fight your way out of most problems. The fantastically-named Force Necessary's Knife Combat class exists to ensure you know how to shank a motherfucker properly.
You'll be building your skills in a course Force Necessary describes as "rugby with knives." After an introduction to the "Psychology of Knife Violence" -- which is the only Psychology course we've ever wanted to take -- the lessons follow a Karate Kid-style training regimen. First, you must practice solo knife maneuvers in the air, before progressing with a partner through realistic scenarios against a variety of threats, including sticks, knives, and holy shit, even guns.
"Knife vs. Running and Screaming" had to be removed after complaints to the Better Business Bureau.
The class literally spans the knife-fighting globe, covering "Russian Knife Fighting, South African and Rhodesian knife fighting, as well as Filipino knife fighting, American and European knife fighting" and, in case you thought we were joking with that shanking quip earlier, prison knife fighting. Don't worry, though -- the course wraps up by educating students on the "moral, ethical, and political issues" of knife play, presumably pondering the same stabbing quandaries that have had philosophers scratching their heads for centuries.
"To cut or not to cut, that is the question.
(The answer is always to cut.)"
And knives are just the beginning. Should you prove yourself truly action-movie-hero-caliber in Knife Combat, you may choose to proceed through the entire Scientific Fighting Congress -- a series of armed and unarmed self-defense courses that are arguably the most dangerous Congress this side of the one in D.C.
It's possible to follow Ryan on Twitter @papaskrobe, though he can't in good conscience recommend it.
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