Reprinted from the August 1935 issue of Doc Savage Magazine
The Doc Savage Method
as explained to KENNETH ROBESON
Because of thousands of requests for more definite knowledge of the exercises which are part of Doc Savage's daily routine, Kenneth Robeson has prepared this exposition of the means used by Doc Savage to reach his present state of mental and physical development. As explained here, they start from the very beginning of Doc Savage's career with the most elemental tests. They are numbered for convenient reference. It is only because of the faithful daily performance of even the smallest of these exercises that Doc Savage has developed his senses and perceptions to the present high degree.
This exercise Doc Savage usually takes following Exercise II, the cxplanation of which was given.
Doc lies face downward on the floor, arms at side of the body and Icgs straight back but relaxed. Then he lifts the feet and head at the same time, as if attempting to touch the top of the head with his toes. This he does five times, each time relaxing slowly back to position without jerking the body.
He then reverses his position and lies on his back and by lifting his feet and hands at the same time, tries to touch them together in the air.
While performing these physical movemellts, Doc catalogues mentally everything within his range of vision and, on succeeding days, compares the lists madc from the observations to see if his visual development has improved.
It is well to remark here that Doc Savage stresses to himself the importance of the state of mind, for he realizes the mind should be keyed to the point of highest efficiency. whether it be in business, play, or school. This is the really important thing, and it is to the perfection of this that Doc Savage strives. Many men have attained marvelous physical development, but have let mental alertness slide.
Doc, from his study of psychology in trying to find out what men think and do in a given situation, knows that man as a whole uses less than five per cent of his brain power. Thus he realizes what terrific mental power is attainable if thc other ninety-five per cent of the mind were developed.
Another training method used by Doc Savage to keep to the highest pitch his sense of touch, is the following: .
He procures twelve pieces of cloth about four by six inches. These are of various weaves and textures-cotton, wool, silk, rayon, etc., mixed in. A tailor's book of swatches is sometimes used by Doc.
To each piece of cloth Doc pins a small slip of paper bearing the name of the
kind of cloth it is. With eyes closed, he feels each piece carefully, and then puts down on paper wkat he thinks it to be.
Originally, it took Doc about two weeks to get to rhe place where he could name the pieces of cloth without making a mistake. To time himself, he recited the forty-eight States and named their capitals-this taking an equal time with the judging of the cloth.
After the first two weeks, he changed cloths and cut down the judging time to the length it took him to recite Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address."
Doc Savage, in his earlier training, increased from time to time the difficulty of distinguishing various odors. This made his sense of smell more acute.
Doc used ten pieces of clean cloth-strips from a handkerchief, if nothing better was to be had-and poured on each strip a few drops each of the contents of three bottles used in a previously explained exercise, namely:
catsup diluted with water
a few drops of vanilla flavoring
Doc labels the strips as to the names of the different drops each one held. Then, while damp, he mixed them and by smell alone attempted to differentiate the names of the three liquids poured on each cloth.
Doc spent no longer time in distinguishing the strips than it took him to mentally recite the multiplication tables from twelve to fifteen-going from 1 times 12 to 12 times 15.
Doc Savage is cognizant that one of the most difficult feats in the development of the sense of hearing is that of directional sense. One hears a sound, faint and far off, but in what direction? Does it come from the front or back, or from which side? Perfection in this sense, as well as the other senses, comes from constant practice.
Doc takes a stance in the center of the room and not too close to any furniture. He has placed in the room a clock; also a pocket or wrist watch. He closes his eyes and spins himself around, so as to lose his sense of direction. Then listens.
Does the clock tick come from the front? Where is the watch? A door opens. From where did the sound come? Some one enters the room. From which direction?
Doc tests himself with these questions, attempting location of the various noises, then opens his eyes and judges fairly his sense of directional hearing.
Although not in the form of an exercise, it is well to remember that Doc Savage at all times keeps a rigid control over his emotions. He uses his mind to filter out disturbing thoughts much as an oil filter on an automobile engine works. Never in any of his exploits, does he allow a thought of hate, or anger, or revenge, or envy to cloud his mental processes. Doc Savage realizes that while the mind is being burned by anger, corroded with envy, rusted by hate or stagnated with revenge, it cannot attain that smooth swiftness necessary to the split-second decisions of an adventurous life. Constant and rigid control is the price of success in keeping a clear mind.
Another taste exercise of Doc Savage's early training was the following:
Doc prepared a serics of ten powders in small pill boxes or penny match boxes, powders easily distinguished by taste but made difficult to identify by mixing two different powders together in a box.
Into one box was put a mixture of sugar and salt, another sugar and a small amount of pepper, a third salt and powdered alum, a fourth dry mustard and powdered cloves, a fifth powdered cloves and salt, a sixth powdered cinnamon and sugar, a seventh flour and salt, an eighth cloves and allspice, a ninth powdered alum and sugar, and a tenth nutmeg and cocoa.
All of these ingredients Doc could readily find in any kitchen cupboar(l.
Each box was labeled on the bottom as to its contents, and the box well shaken. Doc then moistened a finger tip and dipped it lightly in a box of powder. He tasted it and then wrote on a pad of paper what he thought to be the ingrelients of the box.
He then placed the box on his right in a line, so as to be able to identify its position in the "taste routine." It was necessary to rearrange the combinations of the powders every two weeks to keep from unconsciously memorizing their relations with each other.
While performing this exercise Doc tried to take no longer time than it would take him to recite aloud during the test Patrick Henry's speech "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death," beginning with the line "They tell us, sir, that we are weak," and continuing to the end.
More of these explanaIions of Doc Savage's
exercises will be given
in the next issue of Doc Savage Magazine.
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