One of the first questions that comes to mind when thinking about Bruce Wayne becoming Batman is whether he could really master all of the necessary skills in the 12 years he was “away”.
In order to explore this further, let’s take a look at how much time it takes to become good at something.
I read somewhere that it takes about 1000 hours to be an “expert” at something. In this sense expert means to be better than about 90% of the population at something.
When you think about it, 1000 hours seems about right. You can learn to fly a plane in about 4, and you can solo around 10. After 40-60 hours you can have your license. But you probably won’t be an expert until around 1000 hours.
If you practice the guitar for 1 hour every day for three years. You could probably be an expert at it.
Not including homework, by the time you have a B.S. degree in an American University you have about 1800 hours of classroom time. If you throw homework in there – it can be around 3600 or higher.
But since a lot of that is General Education requirements and electives and such, your major is only about 900-1000 hours of classroom and study time.
And to discuss something closer to being Batman, if you were to study and practice a Martial Art for two to three hours a day for an hour or two a day for two years – you could probably be a black belt or close to it (depending on the martial art – your instructor, etc.).
Now, to master something – not just be an expert – it is said that it takes about 14,600 hours. I heard this is the average amount of time an Olympic athlete has put into their sport by the time they compete on the Olympic stage (something like 4 hours a day, 365 days a year for 10 years).
So these are good benchmarks – 1000 hours to be an expert and 14,600 hours to master something. And somewhere in between these two we have a mid-level range. This better than an expert but not quite a master.
For instance, the U.S. Military can typically take a brand new recruit off the street and in about 48-52 weeks they can turn them into a Green Beret, Army Ranger or Navy Seal. At 12 hours of hardcore training a day this will be the equivalent of about 4032 to 4368 hours.
When we discuss Batman we know he’s mastered some things and he is an expert in others. My rough breakdown of each skill and his rating is as follows:
Forensics/Criminology/Detective Skills – Master (14,600 hours)
This is the easy one. Batman is the world’s greatest detective. This has to be his number one skill or at least tied for first place.
Unarmed Combat/Martial Arts – Master (14,600 hours).
This is also easy. At least at this aggregate level we know Batman is a Master. This will get more complicated when we start to think of all the known martial arts. But I’m going to discuss that at length during a later post. Right now for the sake of argument let us just think of him as being a black belt or better in about 10 different martial arts.
Strategy & Tactics/Intelligence and Counter-intelligence/Psychological Warfare/Game Theory
This is a rough one. We know Batman uses his intellect to out-think all of his enemies and a few of his allies. So we need to make this pretty high on the list. But is he a master at it? I don’t know. For the purposes of making the numbers work and to give this the proper weight – I’m going to put this at 8600 hours.
And then, to round things out we’ll say Batman is an expert(having trained for 1000 hours each) at the following:
Disguise/Sleight of Hand/Ventroquilism/Escape/Lock-picking/Safe-cracking – 1000 hours
These all seem like things he could learn from a single person or group of people (time with an illusionists or carny folk, etc.)
Computer Science/Electronics/Alarm Systems – 1000 hours
Again, these are similarly grouped items. One skill builds upon the other.
Driving/Piloting – Generic Vehicle Skills – 1000 hours
This is the one I think makes the most sense. As I said before, you can learn to pilot a helicopter in about 40 to 60 hours. How long did it take all of us to learn the basics of driving a car? And now when we combine that basic time with the fact that Bruce would have learned some additional skills for all of the various vehicles – 1000 hours makes sense.
Rock Climbing/Rappelling/Hang gliding/SkydivingVertical Ascent & Descent – 1000 hours.
I thought about calling this something like “extreme sports”. But it really is all grouped together into the “Vertical Ascent and Descent” category. Think of a Base Jumper who spends 5 hours climbing the face of El Capitan in about 20 hours, then skydiving/hangliding or rappelling down it. Now imagine doing the same thing 50 times. This person would be an expert – yes? Of course, Batman would have other methods of ascending vertically – gadgets and vehicles – so he’d be more interested in developing skill to get down from high places quickly and safely, or better yet from one high place to another. Again, 1000 hours makes sense. If it would even take that long.
Gymnastics/Acrobatics – 1000 hours
I think I’m being generous to the Bats on this one. He’s not even that good of a gymast – say when compared to Nightwing. I’m not even sure I should break this out from Martial Arts training or the Vertical Ascent/Descent category. But I do think there is a certain body of physical skills that is separate from anything we’ve mentioned already – and this is where I am putting it.
Bio-Chemistry – 1000 hours
I’m breaking this out from the “Forensics” category because Batman uses bio-chemistry too much in his work that is unrelated to his detective work (think antidotes to counteract the effects of a Poison Ivy kiss).
So there you have it. If you were determined enough you could gain the necessary skills and expertise of the Batman in a grand total of about 43,800 hours.
Even assuming I am a little lenient in some places and a little generous in others – 43,800 hours is a good round number to work with.
And if you were to start training at the age of 12. Training for 10 hours a day. For 12 to 14 years. You’d have enough time to do it all.
Posted by Vinny.