MGU 326 Clint Emerson | Survival


Are you ready to survive a crisis? The pandemic and recent disputes between Russia and Ukraine have made many people uneasy. What would you do if catastrophe hit close to your home? In this episode, Whitney Lauritsen sits down with Clint Emerson to chat about becoming self-reliant during a crisis. Clint is a retired Navy SEAL with over twenty years of experience. He boils down his survival knowledge to ten big pieces of a self-reliant lifestyle in his latest book, THE RUGGED LIFE: The Modern Guide to Self-Reliance, on sale May 10th. Clint touches on basic survival tools, growing your own food, managing fear, using a weapon for safety, and choosing to be an asset, not a liability. Don’t miss the incredible life skills that he imparts in this episode.

This episode is sponsored by Zencastr. Visit to try it out for free. And when you’re ready to up level, enter the code “wellevatr” to receive 30% off your first 3 months of the Pro plan!

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Are You Ready To Survive? With Clint Emerson

Becoming Self-Reliant During Crisis

This episode is going to focus on survival, self-reliance and purposeful living. I’m looking forward to this conversation with the guest, Clint, because I want to learn more about those subject matters. More and more, I find myself wanting to better understand how to be more self-reliant and prepared. Life is always unpredictable, but there are a lot of things going on, especially in the last few years, that had me thinking that I want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, to be frank, but also simple and more pleasant things like my road trips and camping experiences.

It was revealing to me that I didn’t know basic survival and a lot of self-defense. I still don’t. That’s something I’m very interested in. I didn’t even know how to start a campfire. There was this primal feeling of, “I need to figure these things out.” For some reason, they have gone on the back burner. I grew up on a small farm. My parents were into gardening, but I never learned how to garden or grow food. In the past few years, a lot of concerns around food sourcing has been coming up.

There’s that panic I felt when the shelves were empty at the grocery stores and thinking, “If I don’t even know how to grow my food, what do I do?” It’s building shelter and thinking about, “What if things got to apocalyptic points? Do I have protection?” I don’t know how to shoot a gun. I don’t even know how to use any self-defense at all. Even when I’m traveling, especially by myself, that crosses my mind a lot, “What would I do if I was threatened in either that more abrupt way or a long-term perspective?” Clint, that’s why I was interested in bringing you on.

There’s a quote on your website from someone else who said, “The past few years have reminded us that society is fragile. As citizens, it is our responsibility to be as self-reliant as possible.” I imagine there are a lot of people who have not even thought about that, like me. This responsibility angle is super interesting. Thank you for coming on the show and doing the work that you’re doing to educate people. I wanted to start with, do you feel prepared? Given your background, do you feel like you feel safer with that knowledge? Do you feel like it’s a never-ending feeling of needing to learn more and always be on your toes?

First, Whitney, thanks for having me. To answer that is simple. For me, I always feel like a student, never an instructor, a master or an expert. I feel like anybody who labels themselves that are getting ahead of themselves. I am consistently and constantly learning. Putting these books together is a great way to stay on top of skills that every citizen should have. If you can’t learn all of them, learning some of them will certainly take you to the next level. We should always be learning and taking in new knowledge, especially new technology, because it changes so fast.

Both technology and old-school ways that you brought up building a fire, a lot of it can be combined to make it a lot easier on people. The books that I’ve been doing are focused on that. It’s giving you the easy way because sometimes, all of these worlds of self-defense and self-reliance can be overwhelming and maybe even feel complicated. I like to dumb things down, not just for the readers but for myself, because I don’t consider myself the smartest guy in the room at any given moment. Everyone should know this stuff at a minimum and start looking more into it, especially after this pandemic.

I always feel like a student, not a master. Share on X

Let’s talk about the dumbing down and this beginner’s mind. Where do you start? For me, I had to learn about building a fire. I didn’t have to, but I was camping and I wanted to have a fire. At these campsites, everyone has got these roaring fires. It was humbling because I didn’t realize what it took to build a fire. Some people think it’s easy, but when you’re a beginner, you realize it’s not that easy to make a fire.

I’m looking around, seeing all these people with these huge flames and I could barely get it started. I had to go and ask some friends with experience to teach me how to build a fire. I’m still not great at it yet. It’s taking a lot of practice. That felt like an important step for me in the camping realm. When it comes to surviving and self-reliance, what else is important for beginners? What basic foundational things do you need to learn?

Immediately, what comes to mind is what I call your life support-oriented stuff. When we think about survival, we think about food, water and warmth. Those are the basics. You take another step into it. You have your medical, both trauma and medication-related stuff. When you put it all together, those become the items that you should have on you at all times. In the everyday carrier or EDC world, which has become popular, one of those things they talk about is the go-bag.

A go-bag is something pre-built, ready to go and, at a minimum, has your life support items. You can add an extra change of clothes, warmies and a bunch of stuff into it, along with weapons, flashlights and shortwave radios. You can get carried away with it. I like to keep it small and compact and have multiple bags in multiple locations that are always ready to go, knowing that they can provide me with what I need to survive 24 to 72 hours.

What do you put in there? What are the basic items in your go-bag?

I have variations. The smallest one has fire for different forms. People tend to go, “You need a magnesium rod.” Some people call it a flint stick. That’s great, but you can also put a lighter in there. Let’s take modern and combine it with that old-school stuff. You don’t have to limit yourself to these magnesium rods in creating sparks. Spark fuel and oxygen create fire. I’ll just carry a lighter. A lighter is not a bad idea. There are emergency blankets, the kind that is reflective on both sides. There are different variations of those.

MGU 326 Clint Emerson | Survival

THE RUGGED LIFE: The Modern Guide to Self-Reliance

Having at least 1 or 2 of those is a good idea for warmth and beating the elements. For food, I usually take MREs and break them down to just the meals, so it’s a much smaller and lighter package. You want the calories, so you pull all the extra goodies out and put the calories in your bag. The shelter is another thing. It is as simple as some 550 cord. It’s any kind of cordage. Parachute cord has become popular. You can get them on Keller’s or Amazon for super cheap. You can take a big rain poncho and combine that with a 550 cord. That’s a shelter. You can do a lean-to or a typical tent style.

It’s a line from tree to tree. You drape that poncho over it and sleep under it. That keeps you out of the elements and the weather. If you take it low enough to the ground, it can even insulate you, keep heat in and keep the bugs out. There’s a lot of stuff out there that you can buy and put in your little go-bag. The big pieces I would think about are food and water. Water is all about, “How do I contain it and make it drinkable?” There are a lot of filters out there. Some are bigger than others.

The Sawyer is what I like. It’s super small. You fill up a very flexible canteen, hook the Sawyer onto it and squeeze it. The Sawyer in itself is the filter. You’re squeezing it into a different container like a Nalgene bottle. It passes through the Sawyer, and then it’s in your Nalgene bottle. You’re good to go. You could go old-school and make sure you have a fire-resistant container like a titanium cup or something. You can heat up and boil the water before you drink it, which is always a good idea.

As you’re noticing, for every piece of survivability like water, food, heat, shelter and medical, the gear requirements for each of those categories start to stack up. The beauty of technology and the evolution of all of those items out there is that there are nice and small compressed parts and pieces that allow you to build this out and still keep it relatively small. If you have it in your vehicle or at home, you can grab it and go. You don’t want to be lugging around a big trunk full of stuff with you everywhere. It’s keeping it simple.

I’m finding this very exciting and stimulating from the camping side. Years ago was my first venture into camping in a significant way. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with all of this gear that you’re listing out, but I found that I started to get the basics. Once I started camping, I realized what else I needed and where my ignorance was so I could educate myself and buy more along the way. Everybody has got all these opinions about what to buy. It can certainly be expensive. Sadly, some of the survival stuff is marketed for that fear mindset. The same thing goes with survival in general.

Living in a place like Los Angeles, as I do, we always have this concern about earthquakes. The first time I started to think about survival in this way was being urged to create an earthquake emergency bag. A lot of the things that you’re describing are what would go into that. I still have the remnants of it, but I remember thinking, “Some of the stuff expires.” Even the waterproof matches expire and food and water. It’s feeling like you have to constantly stay on top of it. Talking about that makes me overwhelmed. It’s interesting. It also reminds me of a big story about how a winter storm trapped a bunch of people on the highway on the East Coast.

There was a big accident. I forget exactly what happened, but some people were stuck on the highway in their cars for about 24 hours. That led to a lot of discussions around having a go-bag in your car because these people were running out of gas, so they couldn’t stay warm in the car. They didn’t have food. They were nowhere near rest stops or anything. They’re stuck on the highway in the winter and feeling helpless. That was a trigger in my head. I want to keep this stuff in my car like you’re describing. Most people haven’t even faced that experience in their life and had to confront it. That makes them even more prepared.

Self-reliance is part of your lifestyle. Share on X

The work that you’re doing feels important for the everyday person. One thing that you talked about in the overview of your new book, but I’m sure this comes up in all your work, is learning how to grow food. I would love to go to that. Once you’ve got the basics set up for a true emergency, you can start to think of your day-to-day life and having plants in your backyard or even on your windowsill. As you pointed out, if you’re in an apartment or something, you don’t have to have a yard, but you could sustain yourself with some food that you grow. I’m curious to hear more about that.

You hit some good points. What we consider survival when you talk about food, water, shelter and the medical aspects are your big priorities. There are a ton of subcategories. That’s preparedness for the worst-case scenario. One of the things I’ve been stressing for a very long time is the big umbrella of self-reliance, meaning it’s part of your lifestyle. It’s not, “I got to have all this stuff when a good day goes bad.” I’m doing all these things that are part of my lifestyle organic to my world.

No matter what happens, I know I’m good. I don’t necessarily need a special bag or a bunch of stuff to then be able to survive. With the pandemic and wars kicking off in Europe, it’s crazy to say that we can never underestimate what’s going to happen next. Who would have thought that we would have a pandemic? Who would have thought that Russia is invading a sovereign European country, all of which have global effects? The more self-reliant you are, the less global crisis will affect you. In essence, you are insulating yourself from the rest of the chaos in the world the more self-reliant you become.

With this book, The Rugged Life, that is its number one goal. Here we are in the middle of a pandemic and I thought to myself, “The world put all of its importance on toilet paper and hand sanitizer.” It makes you wonder where is everybody’s mind at. Why is toilet paper becoming the priority? There was still rice and beans on the shelves. It’s crazy to me. I wanted to take the world of 100 Deadly Skills, which is all about surviving bad guys, crises and those natural disasters, and broaden it.

What were the things that every American man, woman and child all knew when this country was stood up? It was how to live. We call it survival skills, but back then, those were daily tasks to live each day. We have forgotten it. I wanted to put together a book that highlighted the ten big pieces of a self-reliant lifestyle in a simple fashion. That is what The Rugged Life is. You mentioned growing your food. We will use it as an outline instead of me regurgitating. You go to the chapters. Number one, be your own builder. Chapter two, be your own farmer. Let’s go over and check it out.

Being your own farmer is your interest. It’s also an interest of mine. I traveled to the United States to homesteaders. Some of them are off the grid and on-grid. For those of you that don’t know what a homesteader is, it’s a small farm. In everything they do, they provide for the family whereas, on a traditional farm, they grow everything to sell it. A homesteader grows everything to use for themselves. Everyone should know a little bit of this stuff. Being your own farmer requires land, at least a little bit. I wanted people to be able to dip their toes into self-reliance without having to take the full jump.

MGU 326 Clint Emerson | Survival

Survival: Your personal awareness and situational awareness really will prevent you from being a victim in 95% of those issues out there.


If you are in LA or you live in an apartment in New York, you can do a vertical garden or a windowsill garden. There are cheap kits on Amazon that allow you to do these beautiful vertical gardens that take up very little space in an apartment. As long as you position it where it gets some sunlight, you can start growing your food in the middle of the urban jungle. It’s so cool how easy it is. The requirements are pretty straightforward. You got to have water and sunlight. A lot of times with farming, whether it’s food, plants or animals, you have to be there all the time.

If you enjoy taking long trips, short trips, vacations or you’re gone on business trips, then that little farm you’re creating in your windowsill may not be successful. In any of this self-reliance stuff, you have to be there for it and be present. Some people don’t have the time for that. As they do with their dogs, they have people come and watch, walk and feed them. You might have to do that with your gardens if you happen to live in urban America. I’ll stop there because I could keep going once again. I’ll let you ask the questions that you’re interested in.

What you’re sharing is humbling because it points out a lot of privilege that people have to not even have to think about these things. In most US cities, at least you might think, “Why do I need to grow my food? The market is right down the street. I can walk to at least one market and pick up lettuce. I don’t need to grow it. I don’t need to store rice and beans.” Maybe that’s exactly what happened during the pandemic. You couldn’t grow your toilet paper. That’s what people went for.

I maybe had the privilege of taking things like rice and beans for granted. They left them on the shelf and figured they would always be there. I remember the store down the street and the first time I went in there at the beginning of the pandemic and saw the empty shelves. It was this sense of overwhelming panic that I had never quite experienced. I remember that even the energy of the people in the grocery store felt so on edge.

In another grocery store that I went to, the long lines were sometimes wrapping around the store. There’s that feeling of, “What do I do if they run out of food?” That was a big awakening. It also reminds me of how in June 2020, Black Lives Matter riots were happening. Speaking of privilege, it was the first time that I had ever felt physically unsafe. From my window where I’m sitting, I could see smoke and helicopters and hear them.

That was because there were all these big riots and things were being burned in the city. I had the news on. The stores were being broken into. A lot of that was happening right down the street from me. Some of the worst things in Los Angeles were blocks away. I remember feeling another sense of panic months after that first one during the pandemic of, “Am I prepared to defend myself?” The answer is no. What do I do if someone breaks in?

We can never underestimate what's going to happen next. Share on X

What if I happened to be walking down the street and got myself in a bad situation? All of those things were crossing my mind for the very first time. Many people have the privilege of not having encountered those things. The next part of your book that I’m curious about is self-defense, even the physical survival side of things and the basics of what do you do to protect your body, not just from what you’re putting in it with food and shelter to protect it. What about other people?

All these different threats we face are insane. In the middle of a pandemic where the virus is the threat, we had the human threat that escalated. It’s a ripple effect. It’s this accordion. It’s the economies where money becomes the threat. All these things are going on. These are crazy times that we’re all living through. It’s person versus person. I like to keep it as simple as possible. One of the books on the 100 Deadly Skills series is the Combat Edition.

Combat might sound scary but what it does is it breaks down hand-to-hand, knife, pistol, rifle and some other tools that you can use to protect yourself. With that book, I went around the nation and visited all the experts in different verticals. There are hand-to-hand, pistol and rifle guys. They gave their top 5 to 10 skills that they thought every person should know, which comprises 100 skills that every person should know. It’s not about whether you like guns or not.

The reality is it’s good to know how to use them so that if you find yourself in a situation where a bad guy has a gun and all of a sudden you’re wrestling the bad guy for it. Whether you’re a gun guy or an anti-gun person, it’s a good idea to know once you wrestle that gun away from them what to do with it next. One of the things I always put out and it’s the first subject of that book is the non-violent posture. It is something as simple as my are hands up and open.

I’m patting the air and saying, “I don’t want any trouble.” This posture though allows me to get my hands up to protect my computer or my head. I don’t want anything coming and knocking me out because if I’m unconscious, then anything else can happen after that. My hands are up, protecting my face. It’s an innocent posture. It’s crazy to say this, but if the video cameras are running, this posture protects you and shows that you’re not being violent.

The beauty of this posture is it’s a Trojan horse. From here, I can palm strike someone in the face quickly. It’s a ready position without looking like a ready position. It’s a non-violent posture. There are many of them. You can do the negotiation stance, which is your hands up. You can do the thinker pose with one arm across and one under the chin. I can still, from this position, strike you in the face as quickly as possible. At the same time, I can get my hands up and protect myself.

MGU 326 Clint Emerson | Survival

100 Deadly Skills: COMBAT EDITION: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Crushing Your Enemy, Fighting for Your Life, and Embracing Your Inner Badass

There is no right or wrong on your non-violent posture as long as you train to one of them. I like the negotiation. It looks very innocent, but it’s a Trojan horse ready to strike and defend at any given moment. It puts your hands in between you and the threat and allows you to push danger away. You can use whichever one you want. After that is when you start using true skills and techniques. I do recommend people to go to your local MMA gym or studio and learn striking.

Striking is hands, elbows and knees. It’s leveraging all your extremities, including headbutts, to then create pain and get yourself out of a bad situation. You should also learn a little bit about the ground game because 99% of the fights or struggles end up on the ground. If you know what to do on your back, which is a lot of people’s worst-case scenario, being on your back in the jiu-jitsu world has a whole lot of advantages. Most of your bad guys aren’t going to know that.

Being comfortable on your feet and back certainly are priorities as it relates to hand-to-hand in that self-defense world. The biggest takeaway here is you want to create pain and increase distance because increasing distance increases survivability. You do not want to end up in some five-minute Jason Bourne fight. Create pain and get away. All that Hollywood John Wick stuff is cool to watch, but I can assure you that you don’t want to be part of that.

I’m thinking I have a lot to learn because that basic summary is so good. It’s helping me recognize that if these basic tips are new to me, then I need to learn more. That experience in June of 2020 had passed. I look back and think, “I was pretty safe.” I was in my home. They weren’t trying to come into my home at that point. What was happening was mostly rioting against all the awful things that were happening in the country, the frustration and wanting to rebel against it. It was targeted towards businesses and governments, but it wasn’t necessarily trying to go after the citizens.

The more cases I need to use, especially as a woman, unfortunately, is when traveling or walking around the city by myself. Parts of Los Angeles feel scary for a woman because they’re more unpredictable. Maybe you don’t know the neighborhood. That’s also what I’m curious about to your point of these basic things about distance. What do you do when it’s surprising you or taking you off guard? In summer 2021, there were so many stories about people camping and getting killed.

That all happened while I was doing one of my camping trips. I found myself feeling unprepared. I had pepper spray. That’s all I was prepared with. I kept thinking, “Do I need to get a gun? I don’t know how to use a gun. Was that putting me in more danger? Should I bring a knife?” I did not know what to bring and also what to do physically with my body, given everything you shared. What are the basic options for people, whether they’re traveling, going about their day-to-day life or thinking about worst cases like a more apocalyptic war-type situation?

There’s a whole lot of answers I could fill in with on that one. First of all, readiness is a mindset. This isn’t something you watch on the news in the morning, “Today, there’s traffic.” We look at traffic, weather and all these things before we walk out the door each day and then make decisions on how we’re going to handle those things. If it’s raining, then I’m taking an umbrella. If there’s traffic, maybe I’ll get 2 Starbucks instead of 1 because I’ll be sitting there for a while.

It's not about whether you like guns or not. It's just good to know how to use them. Exposing yourself to gunfire is a healthy thing. Share on X

Rarely do people go, “What if I run into a bad guy? What if there’s an earthquake?” You brought up living in California. Readiness needs to be more holistic in people’s minds. That starts with skills. You got to go out, sign up for some courses and get educated. Start at the basics or the bottom no matter how much you think you know and then level up over time. This isn’t something you’re going to be able to fix about yourself by buying some cool tool or a gun.

You got to go out and put yourself in some training scenarios that show you how vulnerable you are. Those vulnerabilities create a task list for yourself that you start checking off. For every person, it’s different. To keep it basic and general, start taking a look at your personal awareness. Look in the mirror before you walk out the door and ask yourself, “Is there anything I’m wearing that makes me a target?” If there is, remove it. A lot of times, this is based on where you’re traveling.

Personal awareness can be the difference between a bad guy deciding to attack you or not because of how you dress, how you handle yourself, and your general demeanor. That’s number one. Number two is your situational awareness. You have to get your head out of your phone or the cockpit of your vehicle and make sure it’s up looking around and paying attention to what I call the alligators in the boat, the alligators outside the boat and then the alligators inbound.

You got to look at things in those order. It’s the 3-meter, 7-meter and 15-meter targets because anything close to you is a potential threat. You want to make sure you’re aware of it sooner than later. Your personal awareness and situational awareness will prevent you from being a victim in 95% of those issues out there. You rolled into guns. Everyone, regardless of whether you like them or not, should know how to use them. It’s a whole lot safer for everyone if everyone would learn the basics.

We have a saying in the SEAL teams, “What makes us advanced is the fact that we master the basics.” It’s not that we’re trying to go out, create all these advanced tactics and ways of doing things. It’s that we spend a lot of time on the basics. That’s how you get good at something. Over time, when you’re mastering the basics, then a lot of other little techniques and skills you didn’t even know you were doing to become efficient at the basics then become these advanced skills that you concentrate on.

With guns, everyone should know the basics. You go to a shooting range and rent a gun. First, you’re going to have to get comfortable with the bang that you’re hearing next to you and the other people shooting guns. I remember my first time as a kid going to a shooting range. It was the other bangs of guns that made me jump. Right off the bat, that little bit of a sensory overload is good because it’s training you that gunfire indoors is far louder than gunfire outdoors.

MGU 326 Clint Emerson | Survival

Survival: You better make sure you know how to maintain positive control of your weapon because the last thing you want is for it to be used against you.


Gunfire indoors is also omnidirectional. You can’t tell where it’s coming from. This is why in active shooter situations, some people inadvertently run towards gunfire instead of away from it because they think it’s coming from one direction than the other. You can’t tell when you’re inside a building or a mall. I tell people all the time, “Make sure when it’s an active shooter situation, you got to try and get your eyes on that shooter so that you know confidently which way to run.”

That’s a whole other world, but it’s a reason why going and exposing yourself to guns and gunfire is a healthy thing. It sounds crazy, but it is because if a bad guy is using it against you, then you’re not going to inadvertently run the wrong direction and get yourself killed. If guns are of interest as it relates to self-defense and you’re okay with that, then by all means, get every bit of training you can and make sure you sustain that training.

There are a lot of great people out there teaching how to shoot and use your gun in self-defense. One of the big things that people don’t think about is drawing that weapon. If you’ve got concealed carry or you live in a state where you can constitutional carry, meaning you can carry without going and getting training and a license, by all means, do it. Get the training and sustain the training. For me, when I walk out the door each day, I do 5 to 10 draws from concealed carry.

For me, most of the time, it’s an appendix. Sometimes I’ll put it at 3:00 on my hip. I stand in front of the mirror and safely draw that gun 5 to 10 times before I walk out the door. It keeps that muscle memory alive. It keeps me fast and quick and forces me to always check my clothing, the holster, how the holster is being retained to my waistline, the gun and its retention inside the holster, the gun setting against my body and so on.

It’s this whole chain reaction of checkpoints by doing it 5 to 10 times in front of the mirror. That way, I know if I have to pull this thing that everything is working. The last thing you want to do is pull your gun out and the holster is on the end of it. That’s not a good day because you’re not going to be able to shoot that weapon. If you’re not doing these things, then you don’t know if they work or not. Drawing becomes an important piece to this whole carry-a-gun world.

The next one is retention. I don’t want the bad guy to get that gun. You better make sure you know how to maintain positive control of your weapon because the last thing you want is it to be used against, as you brought up. There are great courses out there that I highly recommend everybody go to that will take you from those basics and allow you to master them over time. You can then get comfortable enough where you’re carrying it every day and doing your little habits and tricks so that you are a much more prepared and ready citizen, which is what we should all be.

You’ve inspired me to make that a priority in 2022. After thinking this through in 2021, I said, “Sometime in 2022, I want to take a self-defense class.” I also would like to go to a shooting range because I’ve never shot a gun to my recollection and barely been around them. As you described some of these situations, I thought it’s incredibly important to have more exposure because I imagine that one of the challenges you need to overcome is the fear of the unfamiliar.

Readiness is a mindset. It needs to be holistic. Share on X

Seeing the gun even in an innocent situation brings up some fear in me because I’m ignorant and I’ve associated guns with fear. I know some people who have guns and use them recreationally and people who collect guns. I’ve seen them in those innocent situations. In general, I find myself feeling very unfamiliar. That exposure, to your point, feels important. Practicing something regularly will make it less threatening for our brains.

Now that it’s familiar, we don’t have to overcome that obstacle versus if it’s unfamiliar. I imagine if I see a gun, my brain is processing, “It’s a gun. It’s unfamiliar.” That’s wasting some time. I imagine in a lot of these situations, you don’t have that time. You need to act right away and be prepared. I imagine with self-defense, you’re training your body to be more automated so that you’re not wasting time thinking through what to do next. That in itself is compelling for me.

I’m going to make that a priority. Thanks to you. This is a good reminder. That also ties into a subject matter that I’m curious about, which is paranoia. There’s seemingly this fine line between being prepared because we should be. It’s our responsibility to be prepared. What about people that are almost overly prepared? Is there such a thing as being overly prepared and super paranoid? The different levels of paranoia are interesting to me too.

I noticed when I was camping, and this ties back into being in an unfamiliar setting, I felt so on edge when I slept. I was like, “Where am I? Who’s around me?” I was so hyperaware that it felt unpleasant because I was feeling this paranoia of, “Am I safe?” the whole time. I don’t know if paranoia is going to benefit me. The awareness benefits me, but I don’t want to be at that state of constantly stressed out about surviving. How do you manage that?

What you’re talking about is managing fear. Fear is interesting because it can be a great tool and a source that you can leverage. Fear can keep you safe and increase your performance. That’s only if you control it. If you let fear control you, then it turns into paranoia, panic and these things that will cause you to make bad decisions and underperform. You will freeze. You won’t do anything. It will cloud any of your capabilities if you let it. As a twenty-year plus SEAL, I can tell you that there was always fear driving any of us in anything that we were doing.

When you control that fear, then now it’s a great tool. It’s like this extra boost of energy and focus. Interestingly, it also has this extra boost of cautionary thoughts that keep you safe. It allows you to make better decisions about whatever it is you’re encountering. It will get you killed in a heartbeat if you let it take over. That’s a bad day. The key is going out, experiencing things, identifying when you’re feeling that fear and using it to then focus on what’s important at that moment in time. You will realize, “It’s okay to feel it. It’s not a big deal.”

If you’re about to jump out of an airplane or if I’m carrying around explosives, that little fear is going to make me go, “How do I want to pack this stuff so that it doesn’t cause me, my buddies or the mission any problems or damage?” If I’m going to jump out of an airplane, I’m using that fear to double-check my equipment and my buddies’ equipment and make sure everything is good to go. It’s a good thing. Fear is good. You just got to know how to harness it and use it to keep yourself safe and perform better. I’ll leave it there.

MGU 326 Clint Emerson | Survival

Survival: Choose to be an asset rather than a liability.


It’s so interesting because you have a very matter-of-fact, calming approach, which I appreciate. It has me leaning into wanting to learn more. One of the things I saw on the list of what your book covers is how to make your own coconut oil. I was like, “Did I read this right? Can you make your own coconut oil?” You had dental floss and soap. I know you could make soap. Dental floss could be anything and maybe even that 550 rope that you’re talking about. That could be dental floss.

Coconut oil is a pain in the ass to make, to be honest with you. It is the ultimate base. If you have coconut oil and beeswax, you can make shampoo, pomade and candles. There are so many things you can make with those two ingredients. You got to add a couple of more items. For the most part, coconut oil is this universal tool that you can use for countless things. I felt like in The Rugged Life, it’s important for people to at least know how to make it even though it’s easier to go buy it.

It is this foundation for so many different products that we all use every day. When you talk about being self-reliant, you might know how to make the major ingredient to all these things that we rely on. The process is in the book and I try to make it as simple as possible. To anybody who already knows my style, there are usually more illustrations than words because I don’t like to write even though I’m an author.

I’ll be checking out that part. Coconut oil is such a staple in the plant-based diet, except some people don’t eat oil. To your point, you’re not using it to consume, I imagine. You’re using it to make other things as well. It’s not just for food. What else would you use coconut oil for in survival?

You can use it for lubricating your weapon. Most people don’t think. If you’ve got weapons and whether you’re at altitude or in freezing weather, certain lubricants don’t do well in cold weather as it relates to your, let’s say, bolt-action rifle where coconut oil is unaffected. You can use coconut oil for all kinds of skin issues. I had a big chunk of skin cancer cut off on my face. For the scar, I kept putting coconut oil on it each day to keep it moist and flexible.

It helps with the healing process as well, other than hair products and soap. It’s countless. There are several items that I’ve listed here. There’s a reason why I write things down. It’s because I’ve got a horrible memory. The perverted people are thinking. I wouldn’t say you’re perverted. You’re normal. The other uses for coconut oil are pretty apparent as well.

If you let fear control you, it turns into paranoia and panic. Share on X

It came up in my mind after I said that. I was like, “There are a lot of things that you can do with this.” I didn’t even think about it in the other context that you brought up. It’s so cool because if you don’t want to make it, you could certainly bring a jar. It’s so accessible. I never connected that with survival. Even for energy, I imagine oil is so concentrated calorically. You could probably survive off of having some coconut oil throughout the day if you had to. Is that another perk of having that around? After this conversation and all its different uses, I will be looking at coconut oil differently. I love that you included that in there.

I was surprised. That was one of those things. I drove around the country and talked to all these interesting homesteaders that are on-grid and off-grid about how important coconut oil was. I didn’t know either. That’s why I was like, “I’m going to throw that in here and give a touch of its many uses.” It’s such a powerful little ingredient that you can use for so many things.

I could go on with all of these questions because my curiosity is so piqued. One final question I have is how do you figure out what classes to take? That’s where I got stuck. I didn’t know if I should take a martial arts class for self-defense. I’m wondering about taking what gun classes would be beneficial for me from a survival standpoint. I got a bit overwhelmed. Do you recommend watching online? I would think taking them in person is ideal. To start, are there channels? Do you cover these things in any of your videos? Where do you begin down this path of training yourself from a very basic standpoint?

Any of the 100 Deadly Skills books are a great starting point because it gives you the narratives and illustrations in a do-it-yourself fashion. From there, you can decide where your interests are and what you think are the priorities for you, where you live or your family. In Combat Edition specifically, every illustration has a QR code. You can put your phone on it and it will take you straight to a video on how to do that particular skill with the expert that I interviewed. It’s me and that person going through how to hold and shoot a pistol. It’s basic marksmanship or how to throw a punch. It happens to be an Olympic medalist teaching you how to throw a punch or a boxer.

The reason I did that is that I had that question so many times, “Where do I start?” Most people are embarrassed to go into a facility and go, “I don’t know how to do any of this stuff. What do I do?” The book is a nice little guide to give you a little bit of that edge before you walk in. That way, you know what to expect. It also gives you a cadre of guys that teach this stuff. Not only is it giving you instruction. It’s a catalog of experts that you can go to. There’s Bill Rapier and Dom Raso. You get to know the guys and what they teach. You can go online and sign up for any other courses.

There are almost twenty guys in the book to choose from teaching all these different things. I hate to plug it, but the main reason why I put it together was that so many times, people are like, “Where do I go to learn this stuff? How do I get started?” It’s that simple. You go to the book, read the narratives, look at the illustrations, watch the videos, get with your family or a friend, practice some of them and then go, “I’m ready to go to a course.” You will show up to the course with at least a little bit of education so that you don’t feel so dumb when it’s your first time. All of that is at

You also have your podcast. What do you talk about on your podcast for those who might want to listen to that too?

Fear is good. You just need to know how to harness it. Share on X

It’s Can You Survive This Podcast? In my lane, I label crisis management. On the podcast, I have all and any guests and I put them through hypothetical crisis scenarios. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure-type game where I give them, “Do you want to answer A or B?” Depending on how they answer decides whether or not they survive the podcast. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a fun way to keep safety, security and survival at the forefront of people’s minds without all that prepper paranoia put-foil-on-your-head stereotyping that has come with it. I am not a prepper. I’m not a guy that puts foil on my head in case there are aliens, but I do believe that we should all be ready. What it’s all about is readiness and self-reliance so that you can get through the day for yourself, your family and friends. That’s the goal.

I can’t wait to listen to that. I remember two of my big road trips were because I was trying to think of survival. I listened to some audiobooks that were centered around there while I was driving from campsite to campsite. It was helpful because it put me in that mentality and gave me some tools, but they haven’t covered quite what you do. That is going to be on my playlist for the next big road trip that I do or maybe even before I leave, so I feel extra prepared. I can’t wait to read your books.

I’m so grateful for the work that you’re doing to support people that don’t know where to start or maybe haven’t even considered this. That awareness of even knowing that it’s important is the very first step because a lot of people might consider it paranoid, “I don’t need to learn that.” They might not even be aware of their privilege and think they don’t need to learn it because they have never been faced with these situations before. It benefits everybody to know this. It helps perhaps ease some stress and fear when you’re more prepared and aware. It helps you support others, too, in reminding them of these important tools.

Most people in my life don’t seem to be that concerned, but I can lead by example by being prepared. That gives me a lot of peace of mind for whatever is ahead of us in this crazy time that we live in. Thank you for all these resources. I’m so grateful that you have books, videos and podcasts and that you’re covering all these bases. Thank you for taking the time to share some of the overviews of all of that to encourage people to dive in deeper.

I appreciate you having me. You asked some big questions and I tried to keep it as simple as possible.

You did an amazing job.

There are books and books on some of those subjects we covered. My goal has always been, “How do I simplify all that information?” That’s what I hope everyone gets out of it. I hope everyone chooses to be an asset rather than a liability and be capable so that you’re not dragging someone else down.

That is a fantastic point to end because even that framework is an inspiration for starting because true of anything, you need somebody like you who says, “This is the reason why. Here’s where to start.” For someone like me who feels overwhelmed but also needs a little convincing, I need to know the why and where to begin. Otherwise, I won’t do it at all. You are going to be the next step for me. I’m so grateful for that. Thanks again for being here. Thanks so much for reading. Thank you, Clint, for being here.

Thank you.

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About Clint Emerson

MGU 326 Clint Emerson | SurvivalClint Emerson is the author of THE RUGGED LIFE: The Modern Guide to Self-Reliance, on sale May 10th. He is a retired Navy SEAL with twenty years of service with the Special Operations community. He served as a SEAL operator at SEAL Team Three, the NSA, and SEAL Team Six. He is the founder of Escape the Wolf, which focuses on crisis management for global companies both large and small. He’s the bestselling author of the 100 Deadly Skills series.



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