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Thursday, December 24, 2009

The 6 Most Badass Skills You Can Learn in Under a Week

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How many times have you watched an action movie and thought to yourself "Man, it must take years of training to be able to pull that off?" Real life police officers, soldiers, and spies have to undergo rigorous training before they get to pilot submarines and shoot people, right?

As it turns out, that's... entirely true. Being a real-life James Bond would take a lifetime of learning and practice. But as it also turns out, there are classes you could take this year that could get you half-way to James Bondhood, many of them taking a week or less of your precious, movie-watching time.

Rick Seaman Stunt Driving School

If there's one thing that has become synonymous with James Bond through the years, it's blatant misogyny. A close second, though, would have to be the tragic destruction of fantastically expensive automobiles. In just one afternoon of filming Casino Royale, three stunningly beautiful, brand new Aston Martin DBS's were wrecked, just to film one measly stunt sequence that lasted mere seconds on screen. To put this in perspective, a single Aston Martin costs, at minimum, around four-hundred grand, a figure colloquially known as "more money than you will ever have, ever."

Luckily for us common folk, you can perform crazy stunts in any car, not just laughably expensive luxury sedans. And, with the proper training, you don't even have to total them to do it! But really, if you're not keeping the car, why wouldn't you?

The Coursework:

That proper training is provided at the Rick Seaman Stunt Driving School. Over the three day course, you'll learn everything from Tokyo drifting to speeding backwards through an obstacle course, skills that will prove invaluable if you ever find yourself Tokyo drifting or speeding backwards through an obstacle course.

The class even advertises its ability to teach spinning and sliding either 90, 180, 270 or 360 degrees. Anyone wishing to swerve around in non-quarter-turn intervals is shit out of luck--but if that was your goal, you're probably just a show-off asshole anyway and we hope you never get to take this course.

In addition to the standard two-part stunt driving classes, there is also mention of a special course, called "Anti-Terrorist/VIP Protection," whose very existence is so top-secret that it had to be hidden by placing it slightly further down the page. The exact details in the curriculum are notably left out of the website, likely to keep these undoubtedly hardcore techniques from falling into the wrong hands. The wrong hands, in this case, being defined as "hands that do not contain the several thousand dollars that this course costs."

Advanced Surveillance

Every once in a while, spies have to take some time off from murdering and/or sleeping with all kinds of exotic strange to, you know, get some actual spying done. But how do they learn how to use all of that complex spy gadgetry? And more importantly, how can YOU, the consumer, learn how to set up such equipment for purposes that are only tangentially related to watching your hot neighbor undress?

By taking the "Surveillance Advanced" course at Intelligent Training International Limited.

The Coursework:

The lectures are divided into seven days; one for introduction, one for a final exam, one for closing thoughts and the rest is to teach different ways for surreptitiously observing people who really don't want to be observed.

Interestingly enough, each day of borderline-stalker techniques is split up in to two topics: The first is an overview of the material (from your basic "Eavesdropping" through the more complicated "Covert Video Surveillance" to the downright-terrifying "Telephone Interception"), while the second is how each fits in to the local British legal system.

Now, we here at Cracked are far from experts in UK law (or any kind of law, really... or even basic civics), but unless 1984 was actually a documentary, laws regarding secretly spying on your unwilling countrymen couldn't possibly be that complicated. At the very least, the phrase "don't fucking spy on people, bloke" has to be in the law somewhere, right?


Oh, and they also offer a course called "Counter-Espionage", presumably aimed both at people who have found out that their friends and co-workers have taken "Advanced Surveillance" and former "Advanced Surveillance" students who have hidden their bugs so well that they can no longer find them.

Lock picking School (In A Box!)

In The World Is Not Enough, Bond had a secret lock pick built in to a credit card. Despite this amounting to what would have to be the most unwieldy lock pick device in history, you can still find replicas of it on the Internet.

Of course, if you're in a career that involves picking locks, you probably don't want your identity getting out. Luckily, there is a course that lets you learn to pick a lock from the comfort of your own home dressed in the comfort of your own stained boxers, which is probably what you're going to be wearing when you try to drunkenly pick the lock at the Playboy Mansion anyway.

The Coursework:

The Lock Picking School (In A Box!) is more or less exactly what it sounds like: a series of locks, placed in to some kind of shipping container, then mailed to your door. You then use the included basic set of lock picks, or your own personal set, to whittle them open, starting with simple, one-pin locks all the way up to a standard five-pin lock. You know, the kind of lock on your front door. The one that you count on to keep you safe at night.

What's that you say? You don't have any lock picks?

That's cool, you can buy those, too! That's right, despite the fact that these picks are built with one and only one purpose (namely, to pick locks, although they would probably make decent shanks in a pinch also), the possession of picks and wrenches is legal in most places, especially if you can prove you're not planning on stealing anything with them. Go ahead, check that link if you don't believe us. Yeah, that's Wikipedia, homes. Wikipedia ain't never lied.

Become a Human Lie Detector

Any secret agent worth his hidden cyanide pills is going to have to be prepared for intense negotiations. Whether you've captured a deadly SPECTRE double-agent working as an MI6 janitor, or are just buying a used car, you've got to be able to tell when the enemy is lying through his teeth to you, and how to best disguise the fact that you're lying through your teeth at the same time.

Also you can be like that guy in Lie to Me, for the few of you who watch that show.

The Coursework:

This particular double-oh technique has been cleverly disguised as a business management lecture lasting only a few hours, steeped in the psychology of human information processing and body language. With it, the course website claims, you'll be able to tell when a salesmen is lying to you (hint: it's always), your employees are lying to you (also always) and even when your own children are stretching the truth (again, always).


Then you can watch as paranoia creeps in from the corners of your mind, slowly replacing lesser human emotions like "trust" and "compassion." Become like the masters, believing no one and slowly losing any connection you have to humanity as you realize the innocent gestures of everyone around you are shrouded in half-truths and outright falsehoods, a crippling realization that will plummet you into an endless cycle of despair and alcoholism. Your mother tells you she loves you... and you see the lie in her eyes.

Interesting to note is that at no point does the literature ever mention the moral ramifications of studying, in depth, the physical and conversational gestures that give away lying behavior, and how studying them in this way by definition gives the student an easy way to cover up their own falsehoods in order to advance their own agenda. Happy schooling, you shady bastards!

Stiletto Spy School

We admit we sometimes neglect the ladies in our articles, and just because you lack James Bond's genitals doesn't mean you can't live the life of a super spy.

In fact, there is a class just for you...

The Coursework:

The Stiletto Spy School is an all-in-one anti-terrorism class designed especially for females with extra helpings of "kick-ass" and "hell yes" far beyond anything seen thus far. It is exactly what Sex and the Citywould look like if directed by Michael Bay, compressed into a four-day class and somehow made precisely as awesome as its components are shitty.

What's so special about this school is that, when it comes to being a super secret agent, every base is covered. Need to fit in at a classy dinner thrown by an unscrupulous warlord? You'll spend plenty of time studying "Etiquette," "Wine Pairing" and "Martini Mixology." What about making contacts among shady folks at an underground speakeasy? Classes in poker skills and pool should give you an edge. Locked in a Turkish prison with only a bit of string and a paperclip? Learn how to use MacGyver skills to save the free world. And no, that's not some kind of exaggeration: There is literally an entire section called "MacGyver Skills." Yes, that sentence just happened, and it makes every single year of your normal education seem worthless in comparison.

Certainly no class in spying would be complete without teaching you how to bring down epic quantities of sheer, terrifying violence on your enemies, and holy hell does this one deliver: What starts with simple, conceptual "Threat Elimination" leads quickly to classes in "Hand-to-Hand Combat," "Knife Fighting," "Extreme Firepower" and either "Samurai Sword Training" or "Swat Team Training" depending on which state you take the class in.

We assume this is what Florida's combat training is like.

By the end of this training, any woman will have a hundred better ways to shoot down Creepy Dave from Accounting than awkward silence and made-up prior engagements.

And, of course, no gathering of several women would be complete without mandatory "Salon Time," proving that some things will apparently never change no matter how many coins are emblazoned with the likeness of Susan B. Anthony.

Coins are stupid.

If our overwhelmingly male readership is feeling left out at this point, fret not: The fine folks running the Stiletto School have deemed it fit to host similar training sessions for men. These male oriented classes are mostly the same, with the addition of the highly-phallocentric "Cigar Tasting" but the notable absence of "Seduction and Flirtation," which is, sadly, only available to women. But you didn't need that class anyway. Right, stud?

Urban Escape and Evasion

If you're the kind of person who used this article as a checklist for life skills, then you're going to have to come to grips with the fact that someday, the law will hunt you down. Whether it's because you picked the lock to the Department of Defense headquarters using only lipstick and tampons, or just killed some dudes with a poison dart for lying about bugging your office, by this point your spy chops will be well beyond what is legally defined as "allowably huge."

When that happens, you best be prepared to run and melt away into the vast urban jungle, or, if you weren't fast enough, escape from captivity to the souped-up Honda that you will inevitably use to Tokyo drift your way to freedom. When that time comes, On Point Tactical can help.

The Coursework:

Over the course of two days, you'll learn about everything from forging papers to picking locks to "escaping unlawful custody." It's fascinating how many felonies a person can get away with learning by promising to only use them against terrorists.

The final exam for the course is like most final exams, in that it will cover the material learned, make most people nauseous and be at an ungodly hour in the morning.

"Stay awake, dammit! Focus!"

It is unlike most final exams in that you are stuffed in a shroud, handcuffed, tossed in the trunk of a car and abandoned on one end of a city, all the while forced on a scavenger hunt around town while bounty hunters are unleashed to track you down. Go ahead, read that sentence again. We did the math: It is not possible to put any number of words together in any language and have it come out more staggeringly awesome than that.

Congratulations. You are now Rambo.

All this... for the basic version of the course. There's a more advanced session, for those who have completed the first. This advanced session should come in handy for those times when you find yourself needing to overthrow a brutal dictator while traveling on a bus that can't dip below 50-mph lest it explode all while you have live bomb strapped to your neck set to detonate in 45 minutes.

You never know, that shit could happen.