Reprinted from the October 1935 issue of Doc Savage Magazine

The Doc Savage Method
Of Self-development

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.

Exercise XX

Along with other physical exercises, Doc Savage does not overlook another highly important part of the body; namely, the fingers. Many times the success or failure of one of Doc's feats will depend upon the strength of his fingers.

Doc lies flat on the floor, face downward. He places the palms of each hand on the floor, even with his chest. Then he raises the body so that its weight is resting on palms of the hands, and toes. The body is raised in a rigid position as one unit. When it reaches this position Doc lifts it still more by forcing his finger tips into the floor, so that the weight of his entire body is resting on finger tips and toes only.

Doc performs this exercise slowly, not jerking himself upward, but with a slow, steady push. While doing it he keeps in mind the strength of the fingers and hands-forcing mental power into them. At the same time, Doc repeats aloud the countries of Europe and their capitals; and to make it harder he sometimes adds the principal rivers of the Continent and their lengths.

Exercise XXI

No man desires to act wrongly. He is constantly activated by the impulse of good. Every action, every thought, is guided by the wish to do good in some way for some one. The important thing is to decide what is good and then act upon it. The ancient adage, "Be sure you are right-then go ahead," should be true of every act.

For Doc to spend hours or days in deciding what is good or right would oftentimes destroy the force or good of the act to be decided upon. He has his mind trained to decide the right side at once. One of the exercises he used in training is the following:

He obtained a pad of paper and pencil and wrote down the question to be decided. If he had an important personal decision to make that day he used it as the day's example, but if not, he used more general questions, such as:

  1. If I were manager of a store and found one of my men stealing small change from the cash drawer, but knew he had a wife and baby ill in the hospital and not enough money to stand the costs, what would be the right thing to do?
  2. If I were dictator of this country would it be policy to declare for a large or small army?
  3. If I were head of a sales organization and found one of my men Iying in order to make sales and knew he was not injuring any one by his lies but himself, but could not make him see it, what should I do?
  4. If there were two people going over water falls to certain death-one a young child, the other an old but famous scientist and it were possible to save only one, which one should be saved?

He listed the question at the head of the page and then wrote ten good reasons for each side of the question.

Immediately upon completion of the writing of the reasons, he wrote his decision.

One week after, he reviewed each decision to see if he had changed his mind. If he had, he rewrote the question and redecided it on the ten reasons given.

Exercise XXII

Doc Savage, because of his years of training, can make three and four of his senses obey his will at one time; but it is the result of many years' strenuous training that this is possible. The following is an example of this training:

Doc prepares ten pieces of clean, white blotting paper three inches wide by eight inches long and cuts a one-inch V in one end. This is so he can, at a glance, distinguish which end is which.

Now, he saturates the ends that are uncut with a strong solution of various liquids-salt water, sugar water, vinegar, mustard water, lemon juice, orange juice, plain water, vanilla extract, alum water and tea are ten he uses. These are allowed to dry, and Doc writes on one side what liquid they contain.

Then upon the end with the V cut into it Doc puts ten liquids or substances that give forth a slight odor. For example: one is lightly dusted with talcum powder, on another is placed a few drops of toilet water, wintergreen, peppermint, liniment of two or three kinds and a daub of two or three kinds of a pungent salve. On the back of each blotter is noted what it contains.

Now Doc turns the blotter cards so that their written contents are away from him and shuffles them up so he knows not which is which. He puts the uncut end of the blotter to his tongue, and sniffs-just once-of the end which has the V cut in it. Doc writes down on a pad what each blotter contains. From time to time he adds and changes blotters, so that he does not become too familiar with their combinations.

Exercise XXIII

Doc uses the following exercise to strengthen his sense of touch and at the same time improve his memory.

Doc prepares twenty business cards, such as were used in a previous exercise, by taking a large pin and punching through the cards so that the pin just raises a dent on the opposite side. He makes the dents form a series of small geometric shapes. For instance, on one card he makes a circle and a square of dents, on another card a triangle and a circle, on a third card two circles and so on through the entire series.

Doc also prepares a card about the size of a sheet of letter paper by printing on it forty chemical symbols and their meaning, e. i., Al=aluminum; Fe=iron; P=phosphorus; S=sulphur, etc. Any encyclopedia furnishes him with this information.

The card bearing the chemical symbols Doc places before him on his table, then shuffles the "touch" cards. While repeating and memorizing the chemical symbols and their meanings, he runs the tips of his fingers over the cards containing the punctures and with a pencil writes on the card the first letter of the name of the geometric figures the card contains.

Needless to say, Doc never allows his eyes to wander down to the cards which are designed to increase his sense of touch.

Exercise XXIV

Being ever constant in practice in his many exercises is what Doc Savage declares to be the secret of his phenomenal physical and mental development.

One of the exercises that has developed his exceptional sense of touch is his sandpaper exercise. He procures from a paint or hardware store ten small pieces of sandpaper, beginning with No. 4/0 and going up to No. 4.

Doc cuts these into squares of about two inches, and turning them rough side down on a piece of blotting paper or some soft substance, he makes a series of lines, either straight, curved or in a cross, on the back with a very hard pencil. He does not allow the pencil to break the paper but simply to raise a portion of the sanded surface above the rest of the paper.

Then Doc marks each piece with its proper number and shuffles them up. Now, not looking at the squares and while he recites aloud Richard Henry Stoddard's poem "Though Thou Shouldst Live a Thousand Years," he runs his finger tips across the sanded surface of his prepared sandpaper and marks down the number and a copy of the mark his finger tips can distinguish on the rough surface. This requires very fast work and Doc Savage, when he first undertook the exercise, could go over only five pieces of sandpaper by the time the short poem was finished. Later, however, he was able to add another series of five papers in finer grades and with more intricate designs on the back.

Exercise XXV

At times, Doc Savage finds it necessary to judge the length and weight of different articles by touch alone.

To develop this sense of judging by touch, Doc obtains ten wood screws of various lengths but of the same thickness, and ten sizes of ball bearings.

He then piles them in a heap in front of him and without looking he picks up first a wood screw and judges its length. Laying it down in front of him, he next selects a ball bearing and judges its weight. Then he picks up alternately a wood screw and a bearing and lays them down in such a manner so that the longest screw and the heaviest bearing are to his right and the smallest and lightest to his left.

While doing this Doc takes any number that comes to his mind and works out its square root.

More of these explanaIions of Doc Savage's exercises will be given
in the next issue of Doc Savage Magazine.

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