PK Podcast 044: John Hudson, UK Military’s Chief Survival Instructor

PK Podcast 044: John Hudson, UK Military’s Chief Survival Instructor

John Hudson is Chief Instructor at the UK military’s DSTO, that is the Defence SERE Training Organisation, SERE being Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Extraction. In simple terms John is the UK military’s chief survival instructor.

John has also been involved in TV work, appearing in several Discovery channel shows, including Dude You’re Screwed. In the conversation recorded for podcast 44, we delve into John’s background, how he became fascinated by survival, as well as discussing what his current role involves.

There is lots of survival information out there, there are many survival manuals, old and new. There has been a tonne of survival entertainment TV shows in the last decade and there is no end of people offering survival tips and advice on YouTube, not to mention putting survival in the title of their channels.

John, however, is the real deal. Originally an RAF helicopter pilot and now the survival instructor responsible for training all the survival instructors in the UK military, and by extension responsible for the content of the survival training of all branches of the services.

So, I wanted to learn more about John’s approach, what he thinks is important to impart in survival training and how he teaches people to prioritise in survival situations. Given his background in teaching real survival skills to people who may well have to rely on them, I was also interested to know John’s thoughts on survival TV shows, particularly since he has been involved in the making of some. Towards the end of the conversation I ask John what myths around survival need killing dead. So make sure you stick around to the end.

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John Hudson directing sea survival training
John Hudson training aircrew. Photo courtesy of John Hudson.

Connect with John Hudson

John Hudson on Instagram
John Hudson on Twitter


RAF St Mawgan
Dr John Leach
Survival psychology: the won’t to live
‘Give-up-itis’ revisited: neuropathology of extremis
Jim Collins
Marcus Aurelius
James Stockdale
Personal Outdoor Plan (POP)
The Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award
Dude, You’re Screwed

John Hudson’s book How To Survive, takes survival lessons from the extremes and helps you apply the principles to your everyday life. Photo courtesy of John Hudson.

Buy John Hudson’s Book – How To Survive

Other Books Relevant To This Podcast

Thanks For Listening!

Thanks for joining me on this podcast. If you have any comments about this episode, please leave them in the comments section below.

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Related Material On Paul Kirtley’s Blog

PK Podcast 043: North American Titans Of Bushcraft

PK Podcast 004: Tristan Gooley And The Beauty Of Natural Navigation

PK Podcast 001: Survival Psychology With Dr Sarita Robinson


22 thoughts on “PK Podcast 044: John Hudson, UK Military’s Chief Survival Instructor

  1. Hi Paul – that was an excellent episode and I’ve already listened through it twice. Just crammed full of thoughtful, interesting and relevant info and questions. Great stuff! It occurred to me that with the military edging away from PLAN and STOP it might be something for you to cover in a future video if/as relevant to civvy street or maybe just to compare the approaches and their value. Many thanks and good luck with the book. Cheers Steve

    1. Hi Steve, thanks for your comments. I think PLAN is still valid, with the caveat for civilians that N is a last resort. A covers the W and F of PLWF. What I particularly like about John’s teaching is the question of “what will harm me first?”. Brilliantly simple, easy to remember, but powerful in its application and flexibilty to be applied in any circumstance.

      All the best,


  2. Another great podcast Paul very interesting stuff

  3. Fabulous again Paul. I really enjoyed this episode and have bought the book which I am finding excellent. Got it today and half way through already. Some fascinating aspects of survival covered in the podcast with much food for thought. I see John is presenting near me in November so I shall attend that. Great the power a podcast has, to spend my money and fill my diary. Thanks Paul, really appreciate your efforts.

    1. Hi Mick, as always it’s great to hear from you. I glad you enjoyed this podcast in particular as well as benefitting from the book and finding a talk near to you.

      All the best,


      1. even worse, i now keep watching “dude your screwed”

  4. Hi Paul
    Really great conversation with John Hudson; I love his open minded take on survival and the mental aspects involved, particularly with reference to classical Stoicism.
    As always you’re spot in with your questions and the whole feel of the conversation. Top stuff!

    1. Thanks for your feedback Alex. Glad you liked the Stoicism part in particular 🙂 Warm regards, Paul

  5. Paul,once again a really good podcast,this one i think was so real, and clearly explained what/how to think about these situations.
    I shall buy the book too.!

    1. Hi Terry, good to hear from you. Glad you liked the reality of the subject. You’ll definitely like John’s book.



  6. That was a quality podcast. Full of excellent and thought provoking information.

    I’m currently reading John’s book. I was also interested to hear of your own book in progress. I look forward to reading that too on publication.

    Best regards


    1. Thanks Matt. I’m happy you found this valuable. Thanks also for your interest in my book. It’s nearly finished…

  7. Hi Paul

    Thanks for another podcast. This one was really fascinating. A great conversation. I will definitely be buying John’s book.

    Thanks again


    1. Hi Alex, thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked this one. Enjoy John’s book.

      Warm regards,


  8. Really interesting podcast. Another vote for his book and yours when it comes out!
    I was particularly struck by the way John has simplified information and taken it away from the hard edge of operational military survival to presenting it in a more accessible manner for the the civilian world.

    1. Hi Steve, thanks for your feedback on this podcast and for your vote of confidence in our respective books. Yes, John’s book is very accessible yet nonetheless still contains very powerful concepts.

      Warm regards,


  9. Realistic optimism is definitely key to success in anything. Don’t bullshit yourself, look in the mirror and get off of Mount Stupid. (To paraphrase a brilliant Instructor I know) ;-).
    I anxiously wait for your book. I will definitely buy it (yes, I am realistically optimistic that it will be well written, informative and useful.)
    I may look into John’s book as well.

  10. Long-time listener, first time commenter. I’m a big fan of all of your work. Really appreciated this discussion with John Hudson. Lots of great insights.

  11. I thoughly enjoyed this Podcast. John Hudson, was both extremely knowledeable and very entertaining, The questions Paul, asked were on point. The psychological aspects of survival that John discussed, were very thought provoking, and apply to not only being in wild but for every aspect of life, no mater the environment. I look forward to reading his book.

    1. Hi Paul, thanks for your feedback on this podcast. I’m very glad you thoroughly enjoyed it as well as found the conversation thought provoking. I think you’ll definitely find John’s book valuable too.

      Warm regards,


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