Mike Constantinides, the Reality-Based Personal Protection Director of The Netherlands and owner of Frontline Solutions was the first European instructor to make his training facility truly “reality-based,” modeled after my school in Los Angeles. It was also in his school this month in Amsterdam (Huizen) that the first Scenario Training course was held, now a part of the Level 2 curriculum. In other words, Mike was instrumental in stoking the fires of the Reality-Based Revolution. For you who don’t know what this “martial arts revolution” is all about, it’s time to give you a few reasons why my self-defense system is different than all others, and why it is growing globally.
Starting with my own self-defense school in Los Angeles I was the first one in the martial arts world to have nothing but four walls and paint everything black: the walls, the floor, and the ceilings. Then I made sure that everything was light proof and added some spot lights so I could manipulate the lighting. I view my school as a “stage” in which to create realistic scenarios just like they do in theatrical productions and on Hollywood movie sound stages. Since setting the example in 2003 others have followed me. After Mike made his school Reality-Based my Reality-Based Director of Sweden, Peter Falk, did it also. Reality-Based has grown so fast in Sweden this last year that this month my system is now on Swedish prime time television for the next several weeks and Peter is busy training the Swedish Highway Patrol Department. To top it off the Boker facility (Boker is one of the world’s top knife manufacturer) in Solingen, Germany is dedicating two large rooms in their facility and naming it the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection Training Facility thanks to the president of the corporation Mr. Carsten Felix. One of the rooms of the German facility will be the training hall and will be “blacked out.” Adjacent to this room is another enclosed room that will serve as a modern classroom containing a reception and sign up area, vending machines, tables and chairs to accommodate 20 students, a power point presentation area, and even my own desk and work area. On the walls we plan on putting up some of our best Reality-Based photos and a variety of street weapons for display. Currently other Reality-Based Directors are looking for space to rent and make their facilities Reality-Based like Morne Swanepohl of South Africa, Matt Jones of Australia, and Dallas Johnson of Canada.
Prop and stage sets
On May 8, 2007, as I mentioned before, I taught my first Level 2 course in Europe that contained my new Scenario Training course (Women’s Survival and Children’s Survival are now in Level 3). In this 8 hour course I taught my Dutch students and instructors how to construct realistic, safe and functional props to enhance Reality-Based training. They painted cardboard boxes to look like concrete blocks, Styrofoam chunks to look like rocks, foam pipe insulation to look like iron bars, and a whole host of other projects.
Stage make-up and blood
I grew up around Hollywood, I have appeared in two movies, and I have even been a bodyguard protecting movies stars, such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I have also been a military and police Defensive Tactics for almost 16 years with the duties of setting up realistic scenarios. Therefore, I learned how to do make and apply stage make-up. In my Scenario Training course I teach my students and instructors how to make realistic knife cut wounds, gunshot wounds, bruising, and even bomb blast wounds to make other Reality-Based courses more realistic, such as Terrorism Survival. Like the blacked out training facility I was also the first self-defense instructor to introduce stage blood to contact training. For anyone taking my Knife Survival course they have all experienced what it is like to be all bloodied in a knife fight – even in my Women’s Survival course that I just taught in Solingen, Germany on May 13 and 14. After all, when you stab or cut someone, or they do the same to you, there is going to be blood – lots of it. When I am teaching my people how to do the Jim Wagner Knife Disarm Rule, which has been adopted by many of the world’s top elite military and police units, I pour stage blood on the attacker’s and victim’s hands. Then they have to fight with this slippery and psychologically frightening substance. In fact, one soon realizes that one hand grabs as taught by many other martial arts systems will not work under these conditions. With blood and full speed and full contact attacks the defender must control the weapon hand with two hands – or die. To help spread our revolution even faster and further I was in Madrid, Spain on May 15, 16, 17 taping three new training DVDs and attending a photo shoot for some new articles. In one of my new DVDs I spend 15 minutes demonstrating to the viewers how to apply realistic wounds. This will be the first martial arts DVD giving a how-to lesson in stage make-up. I was in Madrid at the invitation of Budo International publisher Alfredo Tucci (Europe’s most successful martial arts publishing house). Alfredo has been a huge supporter of me and the Reality-Based Personal Protection system over the years, and he wants me do not only these new DVDs and articles, but wants me to work on some more books. The bottom line is that the system is selling, and people are hungry to learn more about the system.
Protecting others and victim rescues
Years ago I created the terms “pre-conflict, conflict, and post-conflict,” and now many have caught onto this concept and are using my terms. Unlike many traditional-based martial arts systems, where one bows to the opponent after a fight, a real-fight does not end so easily. There are many more things one may be required to do after a fight: self-triage and self-first aid, getting a description of the suspect, communicating with the police, appearing in court, and many other things. An example of post-conflict training totally neglected by all systems but Reality-Based is victim rescue. In real conflicts people get wounded, and they go down. In my 8 hour Conflict and Control course, also taught for the first time in Europe in Mike Constantinides’ training facility, I taught my students and instructors how to move a victim out of a hostile or dangerous area. To many it is not as easy as it may sound. Although many people say that they take the martial arts to defend their “loved ones,” few schools actually teach their students how to protect others. With my bodyguard experience and training (I’ve trained with the U.S. government, along with the Israelis, Germans, Finnish, Dutch, and others in bodyguarding) I pass on to my students authentic standard bodyguard tactics.
Once you have learned how to do a punch or a kick there is very little to learn after that. After all, how hard is it to punch someone in the face or kick them in the knee? What everyone needs after they’ve mastered a technique (which in the real-world should take only a few minutes to master any given real self-defense technique) is to learn how to apply it. The only way to do that is with scenario training, or also called conflict rehearsal. In all of my Reality-Based courses that I taught in Europe we set up and played out realistic scenarios. Having worked as a soldier, corrections officer, police officer, Special Operations operator, bodyguard, and counter-terrorist, I know how to make a scenario to look good, and so do the many international instructors that I have certified. Depending upon what course is being taught we did realistic terrorist attacks, prison style knife attacks, gang attacks, armed robberies, and dozens of others. When it comes to Women’s Survival or Crime Survival we don’t just talk about “fighting criminals,” but we actually go out on the streets and learn how a criminal selects his victim. I, and my many instructors worldwide, teach the students how to avoid hidden dangers and how to detect a criminal surveillance.
Another tool that I introduced to the martial arts world was the air gun. I even did the first DVD on the subject with Budo International called Airgun Training a couple of years ago. Now, many other systems who call themselves “reality-based” are using them in their training. I first started using paint guns in my martial arts training in 1981. Ten years later, in 1991, I was using paint guns to train SWAT police officers. I used them extensively in realistic scenarios. Then when air guns finally came on the market I started using them in my Reality-Based Personal Protection courses from the moment my civilian system was born – January 21, 2003. On a historical note I was also hired by the German government, the Budespolitzeischule (Federal Police Academy) in Lubbeck, to introduce Simunition training (a type of paint ammunition using real guns) to the police. Air guns, are replica firearms that shoot a non-lethal 6mm pellet, and they are perfect for realistic training involving firearms. Getting shot with one of those little balls really lets you know if your techniques work or not. With these weapons in Europe we simulated school shootings, office massacres, out-of-reach armed robberies, and terrorist small arms attacks.
For three decades martial artists have been using focus gloves (flat rounded punching pads) to learn how to punch. Then, a couple of years ago, I introduced the martial arts community to the HammerHead invented by American inventor Ray Long. Ray invented a striking target the same size as the human head. In the United States he tried to market it for two years to traditional martial arts schools, but nobody really liked it. Just as he was about to give up he saw one of my articles and decided to contact me. He thought, “I bet the Reality-Based people would appreciate my idea,” and he was right. When he contacted me I fell in love with the product. The very first time I tested the HammerHead was in Malmo, Sweden. My students loved it and said that it was the ultimate in realism. After testing it in a few more countries I started endorsing the product. Now the HammerHead is seeing sales all over the world. Hitting a focus gloves gives one a false feel when doing hand strikes. With the HammerHead I prove to my students and instructors that close fist strikes are superior to open hand strikes, and that most fancy strikes with the hand will only get you hurt. When I was teaching my Defensive Tactics course in Ravenna, Italy on April 30 all of the students at once had a HammerHead to train on. My Reality-Based Director of Italy, Fabrizio Capucci, had me ship out a crate of them to him a couple of weeks before my Level 1 course their. My Italian students were the first abandon the focus glove and work on the HammerHead. As predicted, once they started training on them none of them had a desire to go back to the unrealistic focus gloves. Again, the fires of the revolution were spreading. Even one of my newly certified instructors bought a HammerHead to take back with him to Romania and introduce it there.
Spreading the revolution
With my job I deal with violence on almost a daily basis. As a defensive tactics instructor I enjoy teaching people realistic techniques and training methods to help others survive. Black Belt magazine, Mix Fight magazine, Budo magazine, and even the Defensive Tactics instructors of the Dutch Police who want to go “more Reality-Based,” and all of my students and instructors have all helped me to spread my revolution – the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection. If people copy my techniques and methods, then I have succeeded in my goal as an instructor. At the end of the day it not about me, but saving people’s lives. It’s a revolution that is needed today more than ever.
Copyright Jim Wagner 2003 - 2021 All rights reserved.