From June 7 to 11 I was expecting to just teach my Level 1 courses, which I did at the Dallas, Texas facility in the United States, but a meeting on Wednesday evening gave me the opportunity to present the Reality-Based Personal Protection system to some of the top security companies in not only Texas, but internationally. I sat down with CEOs, Operations Managers, and decision makers for no less than 11 different companies who are looking into the system for their personnel. Not only did I give my presentation, but six of these companies showed up to my Crime Survival and Terrorism Survival courses to see for themselves how I teach and what the students thought about the material presented. It looks like some good business will develop from these contacts, and I am now part of a very influential security network.
The students I had attend my five core courses (Defensive Tactics, Ground Survival, Knife Survival, Crime Survival, and Terrorism Survival) were all very dedicated coming from the West Coast, East Coast, Texas, and Oklahoma. Among the participants was a TSA Bomb Detection Supervisor from Dallas Fort Worth Airport, a Houston Airport TSA agent, a Fort Worth police officer, a nurse who was a Navy Corpsman who served in Special Operations for over 20 years, and a few martial arts instructors from various traditional martial arts systems. My group only had a few beginners, but they took to the material without any problems. I also had my first female instructor from Florida, Brandy Caban, who is a professional martial arts instructor. She was awarded an Apprentice Instructor certificate from me, and everybody attending the seminar was impressed with her fighting abilities; including me.
My oldest student attending the seminar was Weldon Gressett at 68 years old. He is built like a tank, and has the warrior spirit. For the younger guys he was an inspiration, because he didn’t hesitate to mix it up with anybody. The next oldest student was 62 years old.
Helping me teach the courses was my USA Director Frank Mayson and Brian Cole. Brian has been quite active in teaching the Reality-Based system in the Fort Worth area, and teaches large groups.
Brad Brasuell, a Reality-Based Personal Protection partner and the owner of Family Gun Fun, and I had a meeting at his home to discuss future projects and his appearance, along with Frank Mayson, on Channel 8 news. Both are to be taped for television on Wednesday, June 16 promoting both companies. Crime is increasing in the state of Texas and the news media has found out about the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection and how we have teamed up with Brad who teaches concealed carry classes.
My biggest surprise was the attendance of Dr. Jose Hinojosa; an old friend and training partner that I have not seen in 32 years (see following story). We were both students under Dan Inosanto at the Aspen Academy of Martial Arts learning Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Kali. Needless to say it was great having a doctor and a nurse in my seminar, but thankfully their services were not needed. There were no injuries, just the way we like it. Even though we have a “reality-based” environment we follow strict safety protocols and believe in the proper protective training gear like helmets, knee and elbow pads, eye protection, et cetera. Few schools follow this standard which is the norm for police and military defensive tactics and combatives training worldwide.
Old fighting friends reunite Jim Wagner
When I was first getting into the martial arts as a teenager I also convinced my best friend at the time, Bruce Whitaker, to get involved. We both studied traditional Japanese karate together. That was 34 years ago in Newport Beach, California. Back then there was no such thing as Mixed Martial Arts or Reality-Based self-defense.
Bruce and I lost contact in our senior year of high school when he and his family moved to Hawaii. Just when I thought that I would never see him again, several months ago I received an email from him. His teenage son was starting to get interested in art and Bruce remembered that I was quite the artist back in school. Bruce thought that I must have become a famous artist by now and decided to look me up on the Internet. Although I had not become a famous artist I am well known in the martial arts community and tactical community. He instantly found this website and emailed me.
I couldn’t believe it. Bruce was living in California for all these years only an hour and a half drive north of me. I sent Bruce my book Reality-Based Personal Protection and he was pleased to find that I had used a photograph of us in the first chapter. It was a photo of us sparring as teenagers up in Lake Tahoe, California. Bruce still had an interest in the martial arts after all these years so I invited him to my photo shoot with Black Belt magazine, about how to protect people, and he accepted. It was great to see him, and we instantly picked up the friendship where we had left off. Currently Black Belt is editing the manuscript and I am working on the photo captions. They hope to release the book by Christmas. Black Belt has also asked me recently to do a DVD version of the book.
My photo shoot for the book gave Bruce and me very little time to talk, so we decided a few weeks later for each of us to drive half way and meet each other for lunch. It was two hours of three decades of catch up.
Then, on May 29th, Bruce and I decided to meet at the Ronald Regan Library in Simi Valley. Bruce and I were both loved to build model airplanes, and his father would take us to air museums from time to time sparking an interest in aviation for both of us. Later in life I became a private pilot and a pilot in the United States Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol based out of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro and Bruce actually took steps to become a pilot with the military, but through a turn of events that never materialized. I had also tried to become a helicopter pilot with the U.S. Army, but a mistakes made by my recruiter lost me my slot at Warrant Officer Flight Training (WOFT) and I ended up getting an Honorable Discharge as a result after serving for eight months and twelve days. Yet, it was because of this love of aviation me and Bruce decided to visit the Ronald Regan Library because it housed the former Air Force One Boeing 707 aircraft (the same plane that shuttled around Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Regan, George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, and a few trips with George W. Bush) along with Marine One, the presidential helicopter. The experience was just like old times.
Besides the aircraft, the museum had a host of other artifacts that caught my interest. The very suit that President Regan wore when he was shot during an assassination attempt on March 30, 1981 as in a display case, and the bullet hole was clearly marked. It is a sad reminder of what every American president is in danger of. For all Americans the assassination of a president is very traumatic despite one’s political views, because WE THE PEOPLE have placed that person in office.
There were also some interesting artifacts from the cold war, including a large section of the Berlin Wall. Of course, President Regan put so much pressure on the Soviet Union that communism in Europe collapsed as well the U.S.S.R. and the Iron Curtain. President Regan never received a Nobel Peace Prize for his courage and tenacity, but he changed world history. His most famous line was, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
I was serving in the U.S. Army at the time when President Ronald Regan took office, and he and Nancy Regan also sent me an my wife a congratulations card from the White House for our wedding. When he died in 2004 the entire funeral was televised for not only the Californians, but the entire nation. He is buried at the library that bears his name.
Two years ago another man from the past contacted me; my old friend Jose Hinojosa; he now goes by the first name of “Jay-el,” short for Jose Luis. He had seen me on the cover of Black Belt magazine (February 2008 issue) and contacted magazine to get my contact information. They gave him my website address and we reconnected.
Jose and I had been roommates at the Aspen Academy of Martial Arts in Aspen, Colorado in the summer of 1977. We both were enrolled in Dan Inosanto’s Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee’s system) and Filipino Kali (very few Americans knew anything about the Filipino martial arts at this time) courses for an entire month of study. Jose and I, along with our third roommate Mark Jordan, lived, ate, and breathed the martial arts during this modern version of a Shoalin monastery. I was 16 years old at the time and Jose was 18.
After two weeks Mark Jordan, 22, had to return back to Michigan for a professional fight. This left me and Jose without any transportation from Aspen to the training facility in the mountains 25 minutes away. Dan Inosanto volunteered to drive us there and back every day, and me and Jose had the opportunity to question him about everything: his life story, what it was like to train with Bruce Lee, how Bruce Lee died, the history of the Filipino martial arts, and his opinion about other topics.
After I left Aspen I enrolled in Dan Inosanto’s school in Torrance, California; the Filipino Kali Academy and Jose went to Brown University in Rhode Island to become a doctor. Just shortly after Aspen he fought at Madison Square Gardens in New York City and placed first in his category in full-contact fighting.
Like me, Jose has stuck with the martial arts all of his life. He obtained the rank of 7th Degree Grand Master of TaeKwonDo, was the martial arts World Champion in Mexico in 2003 and in Germany in 2005, and was the official Team Doctor for the US TaeKwonDo National and Olympic Team 1993 to 1998 traveling to Korea, Philippines, Hong Kong, and Brazil). He has also had a few books published: Report Card on Rape by Vantage Press, Tae Kwon Do for Everyone by Infinity Publishing, and created the first ever martial arts card game called Grand Champion.
In addition to sports medicine, books, and the study of the martial arts, Jose has appeared in a few Hollywood films about fighting, and he is friends with Cynthia Rothrock (I also appear in a training video with Cyntia), Eric Lee, and Diana Lee Inosanto (I was Diana’s first date at the Aspen Academy of Martial Arts on the last evening when we had a dinner dance). So, it is amazing that both of us have had some of the same contacts and some similar experiences after 32 years apart.
Although we made contact two years ago, and Jose even invited me to appear in a movie he was working on, our schedules never seemed to line up. Well, finally, I invited him to my Level 1 courses in Dallas last week and he was free to come.
When he came through the door it was the same old Jose, but only gray and more sophisticated looking. Yet, at 50 years old he is in great shape and he loved what I was teaching. The students loved his input on the medical implications of certain injuries, especially gunshot wounds. Jose had worked in an Emergency Room during part of his career.
Jose and I had a lunch together, and we also met one evening at a Starbucks across the street. He has just recently retired from medicine and told me that he wants to learn my entire system, which he said, “is the real deal.” Of course, I want to tap into Jose’s medical knowledge and I have invited him to appear in some of my new DVDs that I will be shooting.
After the seminar Jose sent me the following email:
"After more than 32 years apart, I am very fortunate to once again reunite with Jim Wagner, a true visionary and innovator within the martial arena. The Jim Wagner Reality-Based Crime Survival course in Dallas confirmed to me that my good friend, Jim Wagner, has developed probably the best chances for survival for civilians and professionals involved in real-life physical confrontations. Thank you for sharing your passion and knowledge, Jim. You're truly a master's master!"
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