First courses of 2007 held in Los Angeles, California Jim Wagner
The first Reality Based-Personal Protection Level 1 courses of 2007 were kicked off from January 8th to 12th in my own training facility located in Los Angeles (Buena Park), California. The quality of students and instructors coming to the courses was typical of the caliber that the system attracts. We had a corrections officer from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, another corrections officer from the California Department of Corrections, a United States Marine preparing for deployment to Iraq, an oil company executive working in the African nation of Nigeria, instructors from various martial arts systems and a few beginners who have never studied any self-defense.
This particular group had a strong esprit du corps right from the beginning. Uwe (pronounced oo-va) Junemann, a really big guy with a thick German accent, was a celebrity among “the boys” (there were no women in any of the courses this time), and all the students would begin chanting “Uwe! Uwe!” like a Roman coliseum every time I asked Uwe to help me with a demonstration or if I pointed to him that is was his turn to do a technique.
In the Knife Survival course I have a section of training I call “knife attacks from around the world” where I show my students the way that various cultures and subcultures attack their victims with knives or other edged weapons. When I taught this January class how prison inmates attack, which also carries over when they are released from prison and continue on with their criminal career, my two attending corrections officers confirmed to their fellow classmates that I was 100% accurate, and that was precisely why they wanted to learn the Reality-Based Personal Protection system. Their agencies were simply not giving them the training they needed in surviving edged weapons, or in prison speak, “shankings.”
When it came time for the Terrorism Survival course on Friday the oil executive told his story about he and fellow workers were kidnapped and held hostage for two weeks, and how they had to flee for their lives. After the incident the French army had to protect them. This student, who travels all over the world, wanted the most realistic training he could find. He found my system and flew in specifically to train with me. He had stayed in the Hampton Inn Hotel, which is 50 yards from the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection Training Facility. By the time he graduated, as a certified Reality-Based Personal Protection instructor, he said to me, “I got what I came for. This week has prepared me for my job.” Then he half joked, “Maybe I’ll ask for an assignment in Italy this next time.”
I also had Lee Stephens, from Las Vegas, in my course. He is a former nightclub bouncer who has been in hundreds of fights, both light and life threatening. He was by far my strongest and most aggressive student (to be a certified instructor) in the week of courses, but he is one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. From time to time the rest of the students would bust out in laughter when he cracked a joke, laced with a gallows humor tone to it. Of course, for those who had to partner up with him he was their “worse case scenario.” I myself would jump in and fight with him for my own personal training. That’s right, I am still a sworn law enforcement officer, still running missions, and I need to keep up on my own skills as well.
Mike Delio, a Muay Thai, Krabi Krabong, and Kali instructor, out of Southern California, brought in various street weapons to show the class, with my permission of course. He also handed out a kubotan training DVD to all of the participants for free, along with some free T-shirts from his school. Since Mike lives near the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection facility I will be utilizing him in future courses to assist me. His training partner, Andre Bustamante, was also certified by me at the end of the week.
After the diplomas were handed out, and everyone had a chance to pose for a photo with me and each other, Mike said to the group, “It’s too bad it’s over.” Even I had the same momentary sadness when it was time to go because it was such a good group of “hard chargers.”
New Book and DVDs Jim Wagner
Although it was a little sad seeing my Level 1 students go their separate ways on Friday, January 12th (the year’s first Level 1 courses) there was no time to relax. On Saturday the 13th I had to pick up Christophe Besse (my Reality-Based Personal Protection director for France) at the Los Angeles International Airport, and then an hour later Peter Falk (my Reality-Based Personal Protection director for Sweden). They flew in specifically to help me do a photo shoot for my new book for Black Belt magazine / Ohara Publications, and seven new DVDs under my own label WAR Arts.
The book that I am finishing up is about defensive tactics for SWAT teams, SRT teams, military fire teams, and anyone doing high risk operations. This will be the first book of its kind for Black Belt. Photographer Rick Hustead took over 720 photographs for the project and it was a long full day of work.
Sunday, January 14th, was our only “day of rest.” However, I conducted a security meeting for one of the largest churches in America. Peter and Christophe helped me during the hands-on training portion.
At 6:30 a.m. the three of us loaded my Ford F150 pick-up truck with uniforms, weapons, and tactical gear and headed north of Los Angeles. While Christophe drove, and got used to the California freeways, I finished up the story boards for the shoot. For every technique in the book 10 photographs are needed to create a follow along sequence. Planning the photos is crucial to save time during the shoot and to make sure the reader will be able to easily follow along.
At 9:00 a.m. we unloaded, geared up, and Rick started snapping away. John Thibault, Book Editor for Black Belt Communications, was there for overall supervision of the shoot. The day was long, but fun and it turned out to be a huge success. The photo shoot went as planned, and the images I had a chance to see were fantastic.
On Tuesday, January 16th, Chris, Peter, and I began filming my new series of Reality-Based Personal Protection DVDs. For now I will withhold the titles, but when they finally hit the market they will be revolutionary, and unlike any training DVDs out there. Christophe will be the voiceover for the French versions and Peter will be the voiceover for the Swedish versions.
On Friday afternoon we had to cut the filming schedule short so we could work on a full page advertisement that needed to be translated into French and Swedish. From June 11 to 15 I’ll be teaching Level 1 in Malmö, Sweden and from August 20 to 24 I’ll be doing the same in Paris, France.
On Saturday morning we were all up again by 6:00 a.m. and I had to take my directors to the airport so they could return to Europe and spread the Reality-Based Personal Protection system.
Reality-Based has its 4th birthday Jim Wagner
On Sunday, January 21, 2007 the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system turned 4 years old. It was 2003 when I decided to take my military, police, corrections, and martial arts skills and go public. Four years later I have over two dozen DVDs on the market, three books, five tactical knives, and I regularly teach in the USA, Canada, Ireland, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. In February I will be in Australia for my first Level 1 courses there and in March I will be teaching in South Africa. In this brief time I also helped to introduce Avi Nardia (the Israeli KAPAP system) and Moni Aizik (Commando Krav Maga) to the world through my articles in Black Belt magazine and Budo magazine. I’ve also written 48 articles for my monthly column HIGH RISK in Black Belt magazine, which helped launch the Reality-Based movement, not to mention me getting inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Self-Defense Instructor of the Year 2006 and receiving the Achievement in the Martial Arts award from Budo International for creating Reality-Based Personal Protection.
What most of you don’t know is that the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system was born out of conflict. On September 11, 2002 (exactly one year after the terrorist attacks on the United States) I had resigned from the United States Federal Air Marshal Service to go back to training police and military units around the world through my own corporation owned by me and three of “my friends.” I will leave out the real name of this company for this article and assign it the fictitious name of Final Firing Position, or FFP).
It was on the morning of January 21, 2003. I had just finished completing our company’s full color course catalog, and I came home after doing some errands only to hear this message on my answering machine from one of my partners who I had helped to appoint as the president of the company. “Jim, as of today you are not to work on any more company projects. You are no longer an employee of the company. Check your email for an explanation.”
What a gutless, cowardly, act I thought to myself. He wasn’t even man enough to talk to me face to face. To make a long story short my partners were afraid that I would leave them one day and go do my own thing as my popularity continued to grow. So, they got together and forced me out of my own company, which I had helped to put on the map in the police and military training world. If it had not been for me teaching countless hours all over the world the president would have never survived. I helped float his family and mine. I found out that my “friend,” the president, was the ring leader of this coup. This was a man who was one of my police partners back in my patrol days. To be honest, I never saw it coming because I trusted these guys. That was my biggest mistake, but one comes to think that you know someone after 11 years.
I was furious that morning and called the president, who later confessed on the phone that he “needed” my salary for the company’s sake, and was forcing me out before I left them. I had no idea what he was talking about because I had no intentions of leaving, and the company was just starting to turn a good profit. Unbeknownst to the president I still had control of the company’s website server and I was able to get my hands on some of the company’s financial records and documents. That gave me a real good insight to what was really happening: creative book keeping, a drop in safety standards for courses, and general mismanagement. Being completely disgusted by what I discovered I just wanted out.
I told the president that I did not want to be associated with the company any more and offered to sell back my shares. At first the president told me that was not interested in buying back my shares, but when he found out that I was going to bring up an accountant and an attorney to look over the books he quickly called back and gave me my asking price. I had nothing to fear, but he sure did.
Looking back now to that day, as painful as it was, it was the day I said to myself, You’re on your own now. You can teach whatever you want to. So, that evening on January 21, 2003 I made a decision to create the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system. By March I was teaching my first course. What was meant for evil was turned into good.
Had it not been for my ruthless partners I know my techniques and training methods would have not spread worldwide as fast as they did. I had not choice at the time. I had just quit my full time law enforcement job, I lost a company I invested 11 years into (by the way, a California judge told the president he had no legal grounds to force me out), but I loved teaching. For me there was only one option – GO FORWARD! Four years later I love the fact that I have had an impact on the martial arts worldwide. I love the fact that more and more people are turning to this realistic system, and I love seeing that true self-defense take hours and days to learn, not years.
For those of you who have trained in the Reality-Based Personal Protection system with me, enjoyed my articles, read my books, or watched my DVDs, then this day is also a celebration for you as well. We are all linked by a common desire – to find the truth of combat. Or, as my good friend Major Avi Nardia put it, “I’d rather be a student of reality than a master of fantasy.”
Copyright Jim Wagner 2003 - 2021 All rights reserved.