Archive for April 22nd, 2010

As you know I’m physically out of action for a few weeks and trying not to turn into a sedentary slug.  Still, all this bodily down time may explain why I’ve developed an odd habit:

I’ve been searching for action hero-type schools on the Internet.


A few of them really do exist.  No, they’re not glamorous and I highly doubt that any of them have produced a James Bond.  Still, it’s fun for me to investigate their classes and check off the ones I’d take if I ever had enough money (dream on!) or could be on leave from my day job long enough (can’t happen).  Maybe it’s precisely because I am so inactive that I find myself living vicariously through the pumped-up promos these schools offer.

At the top of the local list is Executive Security International right here in Colorado.  It’s just outside Durango (not on anyone’s list of exotic places) and boasts that it gives “Intelligence Based Protection Training.”  Apparently this means “Approved Certification Programs for Protection and Security Specialist in Special Operations, Executive Protection, Protective Intelligence and Investigation.”

In less fancy schmancy words, the school educates agents on how to protect corporate executive clients while traveling through the world’s most dangerous hotspots.  Of course this begs the question, why would I want to protect your typical corporate executive?  In all honesty I’d much rather see the heads of, say, Goldman Sachs, AIG, Citibank, and so many others fall into the clutches of a rampaging mob.  But that’s just me.

Soldiers steps

Anyway, what I’m talking about here is action fantasy come to life, because there really would be something cool about learning to be an agent “willing and able to work in high risk protection details.”  This tough stuff includes anti-kidnapping skills, protective shooting, protective driving, bomb threat planning, technical surveillance and countermeasures, and other thriller novel-type goodies. 

Then there’s the enticement of hobnobbing with square-jawed, scar-faced, muscle-bound instructors who “have extensive experience in Iraq and Afghanistan where they were the targets of insurgent tactics and strategy in the streets of Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul, and Kabul.”

Can’t you just smell the testosterone?

But enough macho chest-beating.  If you’re instead drawn to a more subtle, rather devious kind of personal power, I’ve got a school that’s at the other end of the spectrum.

And I mean WAY at the other end.

As in the Arthur Findlay College.

Inside Findlay

It’s in England and compares itself to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.  Of course that’s just clever marketing, because Hogwarts teaches kiddies how to develop and control their inborn magical powers, whereas the Findlay College merely trains muggles how to act like wizards even though no wand or broomstick will ever to tricks for them.  Findlay, you see, teaches psychic courses that include mystical arts like healing, shamanism, “progressive practical mediumship,” hypnosis, experimental trance, and other challenges. 

Now you may be asking what on earth does such airy-fairy, Victorian-type pastimes have to do with modern-day action heroes.  But think about it.  In some action movies and novels the hero has a handy-dandy supernatural-type ability gleaned from years spent in a Himalayan monastery or up the Amazon with a wise old native.  Either that or the hero, somewhere in the story, consults or encounters a shaman/ monk/ gypsy/ witch (think Pirates of the Caribbean) or whatever who conveniently adds a twist to the plot and a dash of suspense and foreshadowing.  And if that’s what you’re after in a story or in your life, then Arthur Findlay College is the place for you.

And here’s a little surprise.

Gwrych trees

Even a unique-seeming school like Findlay has competition.  Seems that an English businessman called Horkin (a name J.K. Rowling would love) with way too much time and money on his hands will be opening his own “Psychic School in a Castle” which needless to say he’s modeling after Harry Potter’s digs.  To this end he’s bought the derelict Gwrych Castle (note the cool witchy name) in North Wales.  It cost him over a million bucks and he’ll be spending several million more renovating the 19th century castle where psychics will “connect with the spiritual world.”  Oh, and for “ordinary people” (muggles) there will be convenient hotel accommodations on site.  Conveniently too, Horkin is already claiming that a ghostly image has popped up on photographs he took at Gwrych Castle.

castle ghost

So if you wannabe an action hero along the lines of Harry Potter, you know where to go.  But if your inclinations are more muscular and fuel-injected, then head to Durango.

Me, I’m staying in Denver for the time being.