Thanks to David Louis Edelman for pointing me to this article in Scientific American: Dark Knight Shift: Why Batman Could Exist--But Not for Long by E. Paul Zehr, author of the upcoming Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero.Zehr is an associate professor of kinesiology and neuroscience at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and a 26-year practitioner of Chito-Ryu karate-do, and he knows what he's talking about. I particular like his response to the question of why he estimates a 15 to 18 year training period for a human being to be able to fight like Batman:
"Batman can't really afford to lose. Losing means death—or at least not being able to be Batman anymore. But another benchmark is having enough skill and experience to defend himself without killing anyone. Because that's part of his credo. It would be much easier to fight somebody if you could incapacitate them with extreme force. Punching somebody in the throat could be a lethal blow. That's pretty easy to do. But if you're thinking about something that doesn't result in lethal force, that's more tricky. It's really hard for people to get their heads around, I think. To be that good, to not actually lethally injure anyone, requires an extremely high level of skill that would take maybe 15 to 18 years to accumulate."
He goes on to talk about the "reality-based training" that police officers undergo, because, "It takes years and years and years and years to have the poise to be able to perform when somebody is attacking you for real."
As interesting as the article are some of the comments, which take issue with his 2 - 3 year period for how long someone could maintain as Batman before they wore down, and another broader debate on whether "fluff" articles like this help or hurt the cause of science.