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E166: Spy Escape and Evasion with Jason Hanson

In this episode we sit down with Jason Hanson, found of Spy Escape and Evasion. He’s going to share with us some of his CIA training that may just save your life.

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Spy Escape and Evasion Topics Discussed:

  • What is the life of the average CIA agent really like?
  • How did Jason Hanson’s journey start?
  • What is the CIA training like?
  • Why did he leave the CIA?
  • What was the most important thing he learned while working for the CIA?
  • What skills did he get out of his time in the CIA?
  • What kind of people are signing up for civilian escape and evasion training?
  • Is there an increase in people becoming concerned about they’re safety?
  • Why is learning about Escape and Evasion an important thing for the average person who is not a big corp CEO or political figure?
  • What are the main lessons and skills does he teach students for surviving a kidnapping?
  • What are the EDC items Jason recommends and carries himself?
  • What hand-to-hand self-defense methods does he teach?
  • What weapons does Jason recommend?
  • Are tactical pens useful and can they be carried on planes?
  • What are some simple things people can do to avoid being a target of a kidnapping or violent encounter?
  • How can people protect themselves while traveling?
  • Can kids be trained in escape and evasion tactics to survive, or even break free, of a kidnapping?

Quick Takeaways from this Episode:

What’s the most important skill you learned in the CIA and teach?

The most important thing I learned […] and it’s the foundation of everything I of everything else… that’s situational awareness. Because if you’re not aware, it doesn’t matter if you’re a great shot with a gun: You’ll never see the threat coming… you’ll never draw your gun in time. If you’re not aware you’ll never see that carjacker and you’ll be dead and never have a chance to use your evasive driving moves. So really… remaining in condition yellow, which is Jeff Cooper’s color code, having your head up and aware of your surroundings, that’s the most important thing. […] If you’re head is down, if you’re texting, if you can’t see that threat coming nothing else matters.

Why does the average person need this training?

Because it makes you safer in all areas of your life. So the average crime is a crime of opportunity. It’s some criminal, for instance, who has a drug addition. And he’s standing at your local mall and he’s saying “I’m going to watch the entrance and I’m going to target the easiest victim” […] So if you learn spy skills such as knowing if someone is following you or becoming a human lie detector […] if you know these skills you’ll be able to go home.

How hard is it to learn lie detection?

Lie detection is not as difficult as you think. There are many different signals. […] It’s several hours I spend on it in my course, but I can share one of the tips with you today that’s one of the many things you look for: When you ask someone a question, pay attention to the first three to five seconds of their response. So most people are not born to lie. […] But when you ask questions […] honest people doen’t hesitate. […] dishonest people, because we’re not born to lie, they pause and by time because their brain has to come up with a lie.

How do we tell if we’re being followed

In the spy world we have what’s called a surveillance protection route. That’s a very fancy way of saying just don’t go from point A to point B. […] Go from A to B to C so you can see if you’re being followed. […] If you see the same person there that’s a good clue your being followed. […] Exactly, you’re forcing them into a pattern. Your forcing them to get out of a natural state. […] Going to three different sections, the chances that that same guy is going to follow you and do that is very very slim. So you’re probably being followed.

What skills does someone need to survive a kidnapping?

During the two day spy course we teach people how to: escape duck tape, escape rope, pick handcuffs using a hair barrette and bobby pen, lock picking, lie detection, hot-wiring a car, and self defense moves.

We train people, in a way, to become a professional hostage. […] Leave evidence to make yourself easier to find. […] So gag yourself so you throw up. That way you’re leaving DNA and all this trace evidence. You want to cut yourself, if you can. Not so you bleed to death. […] just a little blood. […] wipe it under a table […] not on top of the table, so it’s harder to find […] go to a corner of the carpet, rip it up, and put blood under the carpet. So you want to leave this trail. That way your family can say to the FBI, “Hey, John was professionally trained as a hostage. He knows to leave clues. Make sure your ripping up the corners of the carpet. Make sure you’re checking under tables. That way the FBI doens’t just look around walk out. They actually take a lot of time.”

If you fought like crazy and ended up in that [kidnapper’s] van […] that’s when you switch to looking soft. […] I’m acting sheepish and wimpish […] this guys a wimp. He’s not causing trouble. Just throw him in the corner. […] You clearly don’t want more security on you. […] It gives me more of an opportunity to escape, because there less security on me… they’re paying less attention to me.

Are there cues people give off that attract criminals?

Absolutely. […] That bad guys sees […] He/she is walking around. They’ve scanned. They’ve made eye contact with me. […] A while back […] There was a study [by researches Betty Grayson and Morris I. Stein], […] it showed it doesn’t matter if you’re a four-foot tall women. The guys [criminals] would not attack the person walking tall who’s head is up. They would attack the person who was slouching, who’s head is down, and didn’t look like they were paying attention or knew where they were going.

What can we do to keep ourselves safe while traveling?

There’s so much! […] I’ll give you a hotel tip. […] any time you check into a hotel the hotel representative usually asks you, “Ms Jones, how many keys would you like?” Walks say, “Two keys.” […] criminals will sit there in hotel lobbies […] they’ll case it. And if they see a woman go up and ask for one key, they think to themselves well this woman is probably alone, we know we can go attack her, there’s probably going to be less people to fight off. So… I travel alone the majority of the time, but no matter what I always ask for two keys. That way, if someone is listening they hopefully think I’m with someone else.

[…] try to stay between the third and sixth floor of a hotel. […] Lower floors make it easier for a criminal to go break and quickly run out. […] The reason you don’t want to stay on floor 87 incase there was a hotel fire. Obviously 87 floors is a long way to get down to safety. Plus, here in the US, firetruck ladders only go up to the sixth floor.

Spy Escape and Evasion Resources:

Jason’s book is also available through Audible. You can get a FREE copy of this audiobook book and 30 day free trial at Plus, there are over 180,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player.

Special Note:

The final episode of this season, season 5, will be on May 25. ITRH will return August 1st for Season 6. You will be getting the now traditional summer shorts episodes roughly every 3 weeks while the show is on summer break.

In his free time, he enjoys hogging the remote, surfing, scotch, mental masturbation and debate over philosophical topics, and shooting stuff--usually not all at the same time.

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