The last Reality-Based Personal Protection course ended on Friday, December 14th. The final course was Terrorism Survival in New York City. I was in The Big Apple teaching the last Level 1 seminar of the year 2007. The middle of December is not exactly the most convenient time of the year for people to be attending self-defense courses, but I selected these dates, December 10 to 14 so I could take my wife to a Broadway play on Broadway – her first time to NYC. Yes, I was a little selfish in selecting this week. Yet, despite the time of year each course brought an excellent group of guys together, and I had a lot of great experiences.
Supplying the equipment for all five days were instructors Elizabeth Greenman (a Level 3 instructor) and Carlos “Carlini” Jaramillo (a Level 1 instructor). Without their help I would have had to hall a lot of equipment across the United States, but fortunately I did not have to do that. Plus, Carlini was a tremendous help in assisting me with each course, all five days. Also going through as a refresher was Joe Landwehrle who on Tuesday invited me and my wife to enjoy El Salvadorian food in New Jersey. Joe’s wife is Salvadorian, and I must admit, that was one of the best meals I ever had. I also had a chance to meet his daughter Amanda, 10 years old.
While all of us were waiting for our food to come Joe asked his daughter at the table, “What would you do if a gunman came in here right now and started shooting people?” She immediately responded, “I would get down on the floor and play dead if I could not find cover.” Joe then asked her, “What would you do if somebody threw a hand grenade in this restaurant?” She instantly replied, “I would dive to the floor, put my feet toward the hand grenade, put my feet together, and cover my ears?”
I was impressed. Joe had taught his daughter well. Joe is a law enforcement officer in New Jersey and he knows that he will not always be around his daughter to protect her. So, he is preparing her on a regular basis to learn how to get away from stranger abductors, how to survive a school shooting, and general awareness when it comes to crime and terrorism. Of course, I am a big advocate of teaching even children how to survive today’s violence. Obviously it depends on what age the child is to determine what techniques and “realities” they should be taught. Before the dessert came Joe said that Amanda really wanted to observe one of my courses, so I invited her then and there to come to Terrorism Survival. When the time came I even let her participate in several training exercises – a first for me. Normally to participate in any of my courses a person has to be 18 years old or older. Up until Amanda the youngest person I ever taught Reality-Based Personal Protection to was 12 years old, an Israeli girl whose father was one of my certified instructors. The interesting thing was that Amanda performed all techniques just as well as the men in the course.
Why is it that a child can understand and perform Reality-Based techniques just as well as the adult men, minus the strength and power? The reason is because of the simplicity of the system and easy to recall techniques. As I have always said, ‘If you cannot master a technique in five minutes, throw it out.” Amanda was proof to the class that even children can master life-saving techniques quickly.
While I was teaching my Knife Survival course on Wednesday, just a few blocks away three teenagers were stabbed at West 17th Street and Eighth Avenue. According to the police, “Someone decided to be John Wayne and stabbed the other three,” and no arrests were made as of Thursday. The suspect was unidentified and the incident took place at 1 p.m. Of course there were many other violent crimes happening that day all around the area, but it was ironic that this stabbing took place as I was teaching all about knife attacks.
Although I teach in Manhattan every year I noticed a new poster plastered all over the subway stations and on the bumpers of New York Police Department patrol cars and it basically reads $10,000 REWARD FOR ANY TIPS LEADING TO THE ARREST OF SOMEONE SHOOTING A POLICE OFFICER. Unbelievable! There must be such a high number of shootings of police officers that advertisements must be made for people to come forward with information. But, apparently this is exactly the case. First of all, any good citizen should automatically come forward with such information without thought of being rewarded. Second, what kind of society are we becoming where shooting at police officers is happening so often that we must pay tax payers’ money to have people come forward? People are screaming about soldiers getting killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is very tragic, but it is a war. And yet, we are witnessing officers getting shot at on a regular basis and a murder rate across the country that is sky rocketing in peaceful America. Where are the protesters for the killing that goes on in our own country?
Even as I was reading the December 16th edition of the Metro (New York) I came across a story where George Sarvanos was taken into custody earlier this month by U.S. Marshals at a hospital in Ecuador to be extradited for the shooting death of an off-duty city correction officer at a Queens hotel. Sarvanos was in the hospital recovering from gunshot wounds suffered in an unrelated incident. He is scheduled to return to court January 14 and if convicted can face 25 years to life in prison. Back in 2004 Sarvanos approached corrections officer Robert Ross, 39, who was attending a party at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Flushing in order to rob him. Ross identified himself as a correction officer and Sarvanos, 31 years of age at the time, fatally shot Ross in the groin and disposed of the gun at the hotel.
There is no doubt that crime is a problem in the cities of New York. In fact, it is a problem all across the United States. When in just a one week time we hear about a young man going into a Mall in Omaha and blasting away Christmas shoppers or a man who “hates Christians” murders church goers in Colorado, we know that society is slipping. Unfortunately, these things are now accepted as the norm.
Going back to the New York seminar, I also had a chance to visit with Level 2 instructor Fernando Figueroa who took me and my wife out to eat Cuban food, which was excellent. Figueroa works as a bouncer and also teaches bouncers all around New York the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system.
On my days off I didn’t have a chance to do my “war arts” research that I normally do when visiting large cities, such as going to museums to study historical weapons and tactics. Instead I saw the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, walked around jam packed Times Square, went to Liberty Island to show my wife the Statue of Liberty for her first time, and visited Ground Zero where they now have the new foundation and subway station in place. At that site I visited the fire department’s wall memorial for all of the fallen firefighters of 911. It is quite a stirring monument that overlooks Ground Zero. It is also a reminder to me that there are many enemies of the West that would love to take us down or make us impudent, and why the War on Terrorism must be waged without tiring.
The interesting thing about my NYC courses was that it also attracted people from all over the country. I had Allan Dankwerth fly in from Phoenix, Arizona to study with me, Jonathan Anthony come from Kansas, and Amir Wind a physician from Jacksonville, Florida come on up. Of course it also attracted locals from New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
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