Reprinted from the December 1936 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.
Doc Savage has to make use of every portion of his body and every one of his faculties to force the successful culmination of his adventures, and so does not neglect any part of the body in his exercises. He often has use for strength in his jaws, and devised a number of exercises to increase this power.
In one of these, Doc took two ordinary flat rubber erasers to be used as mouthpieces, and in one end of each cut a slit wide enough to allow a quarter-inch cotton tape to be passed through.
These cotton tapes were twenty-four inches long, and after having been threaded through the rubber, each one was sewed firmly together in the form of a loop. The strands of each loop were also sewed firmly together, four inches from the rubber mouthpiece. Care had to be exercised in thls sewing, so as to make the strain of the weight to be lifted equal on each mouthpiece.
After the apparatus was constructed, Doc placed books to the weight of twenty pounds in the loops and let them rest on the floor. They were tied firmly into place.
Now Doc stood before the books and bending forward, from the hips, brought his head down and placed the erasers between his teeth, one on each side of the mouth. Crossing his arms on his chest, Doc raised the weights with his teeth and the muscles of his neck. When he had raised the weight as far as he could by forcing his head up, Doc held this position and slowly straightened to an erect posture.
Then lowering the weight by the neck and jaw muscles until his chin rested against his chest, Doc swung the weight around and over his right shoulder, then back to straight up and-down.
He raised and lowered the weight as before, and then swung it over his left shoulder.
Back again to the central posture, he raised and lowered the weight the third time, then bended from the waist and set it on the floor.
At first, Doc did this exercise three times a day; but later increased it to eight. While doing the exercise Doc would give mentally a detailed synopsis of one of Shakespeare's plays. He began with "Hamlet," then "Macbeth," then "King Lear'' and through the rest of them.
One of the reasons Doc Savage is able to hear sounds that the ears of his associates do not catch, is because he has carefully attuned his sense of hearing to the higher pitches of sound.
Doc would take three ordinary drinking glasses and place them on a bare desk top or table. He would lay his watch beside them, and pick up a lead pencil.
He would then notice the second hand of his watch and tap one of the glasses. Now, concentrating on the definite tone of the sound produced Doc would keep time to see how long the sound would last. Jotting this down, he would try each glass in turn, noting in each instance the length of time of the sound. Then arranging the glasses in a straight line, Doc would tap all three at once and note the elapsed sound time.
This exercise was performed five times a day, and before the week was out Doc could hear the sound twenty per cent longer than on the first try.
As sound is produced by vibrations striking the eardrums, this exercise sensitized by constant use the membrane in the ear and increased immeasurably Doc's hearing sense.
Times innumerable, the speed, dexterity and accuracy of Doc Savage's hands have saved his life. His ability to use his hands is almost incredible, and yet all this is but the result of constant training and exercising.
As the basis of one exercise, Doc obtained a cigar box. To the bottom of the box he fastened a sheet of very thin spring steel, four inches wide and long enough to reach from one end of the box to the other. Over one end of the steel spring Doc fastened a one-half-inch square block of wood the width of the box, which would hold down the spring.
The spring was then bent upward, one end coming out of the box at an angle, the other end being held down by the block of wood.
At the opposite end of the box, Doc drilled a hole one-eighth of an inch in diameter, and fashioned a wooden pin to go through the hole.
Next Doc got five cork balls (he has many times fashioned them out of bottle corks, when he was unable to buy them). Two were one-half inch in diameter, two were one-quarter inch and one three-quarter inch. In each ball Doc placed a small feather one and one-half inches long. Taking a piece of sandpaper he then flattened a portion of each ball so that the feathers, when the balls were resting on their flattened surfaces, would all point in different directions.
Doc then bent the spring down into the box under pressure, and held it there by inserting the wooden peg. The cork balls were then placed on top the spring. Holding the box at arm's length, Doc jerked out the peg. The steel would fling the balls into the air in different directions. Doc would attempt to catch all five with his right hand, before they dropped to the floor; the next time with his left, and finally using both hands alternately.
Doc would repeat the complete exercise five times, and has now become so fast he can capture twelve of the balls without allowing any to reach the floor.
More of these explanations of Doc Savage's exercises will be given
in the next issue of Doc Savage Magazine.
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