Knife Camp inaugurates Reality-Based USA Headquarters Jim Wagner
From April 10 to 13 I taught my Knife Camp in the new Reality-Based Personal Protection United States of America Headquarters located in Dallas (Southlake), Texas next to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). Assisting me for the three days in teaching was Frank Mayson, the RBPP Director of the United States.
I arrived in Dallas on Thursday afternoon, April 8th, two days before the start of the seminar. The first thing that Frank did after picking me up was to drive me to our new building practically on the edge of DFW property. Actually, our building is two buildings that we are leasing, and the wall between them had been demolished just days before my arrival.
The new place was virtually empty when I stepped in for the very first time; just the way I like it. In the RBPP system we don’t believe in the traditional-based martial arts look: mirrors, fancy mats, trophies on shelves, weapons racks filled with outdated ancient weapons, and national flags mounted to a wall. Nope, we believe in an empty shell where we can manipulate the environment with props, lighting, and where we can smash into the walls (utilizing the environment as a “weapon”). The sections of the building we do need to fill with stuff is Frank’s office, my office, and the reception area. We had some chairs and tables in there, but the comfort items will come before the next seminar.
Like any business that starts from scratch Frank and I went to the local hardware store to buy bathroom and cleaning supplies. It’s not glamorous, but there is a certain satisfaction in seeing a business venture in the beginning stages. It was the same feeling I had when Tobias Leckebusch, my German RBPP Director, first started our European Headquarters a few years ago; it started with a few pieces of equipment and is now well stocked with all kinds of props and equipment that draws the German military, Federal police, security companies, and hundreds of civilians each year. Bringing in the mops, brooms, and toilet paper to the USA Headquarters was the first humble steps of a great school to come.
That night Frank and I went out to the original Babe’s Chicken Dinner House in Roanoke located six miles from the school. It is a famous local establishment, and I can second the fact that it is the best. It was truly the “taste of Texas.”
On Friday, the 9th, Frank and I had the morning free. We drove to downtown Dallas to visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza. This visit was significant for me because President John F. Kennedy was my president when he was assassinated on November 22, 1963. My mother told me that she was shopping with me at J.C. Penney and an announcement was made over the public address system in the store. She told me, “I was in shock. Everybody was. It’s not everyday you hear about the assassination of the President of the United States.” Not only is this an American historical site, but every American police & military sniper is familiar with the incident. History records that Lee Harvey Oswald took the two fatal shots that killed the president, but anyone familiar with sniping who has actually seen the lay of the land at Dealy Plaza doubts the official record. It was an extreme angle shot on a moving vehicle with only seconds to accomplish each shot before obstacles obscured the target. The question is, “Do I personally believe that there were other assassins involved like some conspiracy theorists have stated?” The answer is yes, I do believe other shooters were involved. This trip is the second time I have studied the site, and I based on all the evidence I have seen I think at least two shooters were involved; one behind President Kennedy from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository and one from the famous “grassy knoll.”
It was a busy day at the museum, but we also managed to hit to other spots we needed to visit. The first was the Army Navy Warehouse in Dallas. This is a big warehouse that was packed with uniformed U.S. Army personnel. This is also the place that supplies us with items we need for our seminars. I had the chance to speak with the owner Natasha. They do not have a website, but they are located on 14015 Suite C North Stemmons FRWY in Dallas, Texas 75234. They sell all kinds of uniforms, military books, knives, and other military equipment.
Our second stop off was House of Blades in historic Fort Worth Stockyards right off the freeway. You can't miss them because they have a gigantic knife sign at least thrity feet high. The owner, Sulee, carries many of my Jim Wagner Reality Based Blades. She was happy to meet me and wanted a photo of me for her store. It is truly one of the largest retail knife shops I have ever seen in the world. She told me that my knives sell quite well in her store.
On Saturday, April 10th, was the first lesson of four for Knife Camp. Although we didn’t have much time to advertise our seminar, most of those who signed up took all three days. To our delight the Southlake Police Department (the police agency that has jurisdiction where our school is located and that has 62 sworn officers) sent one of their police instructors to all three days to be certified as a Jim Wagner Knife Survival Instructor. This particular officer told me, “This is exactly what our department needs, and I’m going to make sure that every officer gets it.” I also had the chance to meet the sergeant in charge of the department’s training. The next time I teach Knife Camp the second training officer of the department will go through the course. A Fort Worth police officer, who has extensive training in Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Kali, signed up for all three days as well as a deputy of the Constable Williamson County; he is also a certified paramedic and gave great medical tips when we covered the topic of knife injuries.
Flying in all the way from the East Coast was a member of the U.S. Army 52nd Ordinance Group who helps keeps our military personnel safer in Iraq and Afghanistan. He received foreign explosives from the battlefield, takes them apart, and finds out how to defeat the devices. Another East Coast attendee flew in from Maryland, a former soldier, and I enjoyed having lunch with him and hearing all about his experiences in Korean on the DMZ. He gave me a private briefing on some of the new enemy devices being used in the war. There were also martial arts students and instructors from various systems as well as a couple of beginners with absolutely no fighting training.
The second day of Knife Camp, called Knife Expert, was just as intense, and just as informative. My students all learned how to fight with an edged weapon in each hand at the same time, but more important, they learned how to defend against double blades. I learned these skills way back in the 1970s when I was one of the original students of Dan Inosanto and Richard Bustillo at the Filipino Kali Academy in Torrance, California. Frank Mayson and I were both students there and we both recall that it was a rare day when we were not training with a weapon in each hand; either it was a stick and knife in our hands, a sword and a dagger, or two knives; we were used to fighting double weapons. There seems to be a trend in some American prisons in the last few years and that is inmates having a “shank” in each hand (an improvised puncture weapon) to injure or kill fellow inmates or corrections officers. This is information I have received from some of my prison guard students. I have also heard from a few police officers that some Asian gang members are attacking with double blades. This is exactly why I have this section in my curriculum.
After double blades training I taught a brief lesson in swordsmanship. In high school I learned European fencing with the foil and the epee. I also learned some Japanese Kendo and in the past decade picked up some medieval sword fighting. Although fighting with or against a sword is unlikely in today’s society the skills are needed against a machete attack or against the mentally disturbed person who attacks with a samurai sword, which unfortunately is a crime police around the world encounter from time to time.
Following the sword play I took my students outside in the perfect Texas spring time air. We have plenty of open space around our new facility, and enough room to have a throwing knife session. I teach people how to throw a knife for only two circumstances. One, is for a distraction for certain escape. Two, as a last resort technique, such as someone about to execute you as you lay wounded on the ground. I also had each student throw throwing stars (Japanese shuriken). Although such weapons are a felony to possess for an individual in public, the skill is to expand their edged weapons knowledge and help them to become an “expert.” Everybody enjoyed the experience.
The last part of Knife Expert was titled KNOW YOUR ENEMY. During this phase of instructions the students learned how different cultures and sub-cultures do knife attacks around the world. Most people tell me after this portion of training, “I didn’t realize that there are so many types of knife attacks, and such brutal ones at that.” These techniques FOR INFORMATION ONLY include the Columbian Neck Tie, Snuffing, Gypsy Stab, Middle Eastern Assassination Stab, South African Spoke Piercing, and dozens more.
At three o’clock that afternoon all the civilians vacated the premises and the third lesson began – Tactical Knife Survival. This two-hour add-on course is strictly for police, corrections, and military personnel only. Each student is required to have current valid government identification to be allowed in this class. The techniques and training methods in this lesson are specifically for professionals and additional information that civilians do not need to know. Of course, as a military police officer myself back in California, I really enjoy teaching this course knowing that it can save lives, and it has. I often get emails from around the world where soldiers or police officers write me telling me that something I showed them helped save them from injury or death. The last day of Knife Camp, the third day, was Knife Instructor. The entire day was dedicated to teaching participants not only how to teach the RBPP Knife Survival curriculum, but how to be an effective teacher as well. Frank and I evaluated and tested each student as they actually taught our curriculum. Students can fail this course, but nobody did in this seminar. They were all very good in passing on the information that we taught them.
I often get criticized by traditional-based martial artists. The gripe goes something like this, “How can Wagner certify someone to be an instructor in only a few days?” The problem is that traditional and sport-based martial artists are often rooted in own civilian antiquated systems. In the police and military world an “instructor” is merely someone who has learned a body of information, and has been tested in their competency to pass that information on to others. Does that mean that he is a “master?” There is no such thing as a “master” in the tactical world. Tactics (I’m referring to combatives or defensive tactics) are constantly changing and no one person can possibly experience the full spectrum of human conflict. I have been in street “battles” as a cop, but not on the battlefield in war. As a soldier and a trainer for the military I have trained men who have been on the battlefield, but none of them have had the opportunity to hit someone with a stick or baton. Many have never been in a hand-to-hand conflict but relied on shooting their enemies. Cops lay hands on people all of the time. The person who says they have “experienced it all” is a liar. The martial arts instructor who claims the title “master” may indeed know a lot of patterns, katas, and some self-defense moves, but do they know how to teach their students how to survive an office massacre or school shooting, do they know what to do if a terrorist lobs a grenade in the airport terminal, or how inmates do a shanking? What are they really a master of? Any self-defense technique should take only five minutes to learn and execute properly. How hard is it to pull the trigger of a firearm? It takes only minutes to learn in the army? How hard is it to curl your fingers up and shove your knuckles through someone’s face? Even toddlers know how to do that. The Jim Wagner Reality-Based system is nothing more than one simple technique after another, easy to learn and easy to teach, and with them all stringed together you have a system. No, I have no problem issuing an instructor certificate to a person that can demonstrate and teach a technique properly. To become a police baton instructor takes only a day or two. To become a United States Marine Range Safety Officer (RSO) takes only three days, and in some cases only one. To become a Reality-Based Knife Survival instructor takes only three days. The average knife fight is over within five seconds. How complex can it be?
After the seminar I met with a couple of representatives from two different Texas based training companies that wish to work with our USA headquarters. Ideas on the table include everything from training bodyguards to helping with knife training for various federal agencies.
Frank and I are excited about our new location in Dallas, Texas. All of our students found the location to be easy to get to and surrounded by business that support their needs: restaurants, stores, coffee shops, and even a UPS store across the street. Starting May 1st Frank Mayson will be teaching evening courses Monday through Friday, and private lessons in the day time when seminars on not being conducted. There will also be some weekend courses as well. I am going to be teaching my next seminar at our facility, Lessons 1 to 5, June 7 to 11 (sign up now to reserve your slot); out of state and foreign students are welcome, and we will help you have an easy and comfortable stay, not to mention having an authentic American and Texas experience.
One of my students who went through my Knife Camp is Brad Brasuell of Family Gun Fun. It’s a strange name for a firearms training business, but it makes sense when Brad explains the reason why he named it that. For those in the Dallas area he is a fantastic firearms instructor to train under. I took a class with him, becoming his student for a morning, before heading back to California, and he is excellent.
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