My three-week trip to Europe ended with a weekend course called Women's Survival. This intense two-day course is nothing like what is taught in traditional-based and sport-based schools and clubs. This course is based on my experiences as a police officer dealing with women who have been the victims of all sorts of crime, my over 30 years in the martial arts, and easy-to-learn-and-apply techniques harvested from police and military units, criminals, and those familiar with violence.
Like always, most of my students were very apprehensive about attending the course, for they have all heard how realistic the scenarios are, but they all forge ahead for their own reasons: some have been attacked in the past and swear they will never be a victim again, others know it may just be a matter of time until they are targeted by a criminal, while others are looking for overall self-confidence. One of my students was a young police woman who knows that what she learned in the police academy when it came to defensive tactics was simply not enough to survive a real life-and-death fight should she be disarmed of her firearm by a criminal.
In just two days of working with these women I, and they themselves, saw the radical transformation that they had made. They went from not thinking they could actually defend themselves in a real attack to knowing that they had a chance to survive without looking through the foggy glass of a false sense of security. They now know that self-defense is not just, "Kick him in the groin and slam your keys into his eyes!" as many schools teach. In this course they learned how to deal with different type of threats at different distances, how to walk through an urban area by actually doing it with assistant male instructors throughout the city ready to pounce on my students, they became familiar with dealing with a gun or knife shoved in their face, and they had to go through scenarios that make the heart pump rapidly and make the mind race like sparks shooting from a downed power line. Yet all the students got through it, and they were quite thankful in the end. Some even "forgave" me for putting them through such "torture." Probably the most valuable commodity they all left with was a new keen sense of situational awareness. Many of the skills that these women learned can also be taught to their children, especially when it comes to situational awareness.
Helping me teach the course was my Reality-Based Personal Protection Director of the German speaking countries, Tobias Leckebusch. Although he could only manage to walk around and give pointers, due to an injured knee at my Knife Survival course in Bulgaria two weeks prior, he was a tremendous help even in his condition; especially when explaining German law when it comes to self-defense based upon the Jim Wagner Use-of-Force Ladder that has been endorsed by many German police officers and legal experts. Also assisting me were two of my Level 1 certified instructors, "Didi" and "Andy," who are current German Army Combatives instructors who gave up their own weekends to be the "bad guys" for my female students. They also brought with them "Paul's" (another one of my Reality-Based Personal Protection certified instructors) training log that had to be signed by me for a past course he took with me before he is shipped out to Afghanistan to go train the Afghan army before a possible pullout in 2014 (there are current negotiations going on with the Afghanistan government and NATO for a possible extended commitment by NATO forces to guarantee the country's security).
After the women left the training facility and bought a few things in the Messer Shop (our onsite store called the Knife Shop in the German language) Tobias and I hung around an extra hour cleaning up the training hall and classroom and finishing up the paperwork that is needed at the end of every seminar. Then Tobias and I grabbed a bite to eat and then wished each other well until we meet up again in March 2012. Early in the morning I called for a Taxi and it was back to the Dusseldorf International Airport. A full day of travel and I was back in Southern California for the American holiday, and one of my favorites, Thanksgiving Day.
For the three weeks I was in Europe, practically all of November, I taught 15 different courses and over 100 people, and in this time period over 200 new people joined me on Facebook. In addition my Reality-Based Director of the United Kingdom (Gary Dell) and my RBPP Director of France (Christophe Besse) reported that a large number of people have also joined their Reality-Based Facebooks, all while Peter Falk, the RBPP Director of Nordic countries, was busy translating a lot of my material into Swedish. What this all means is that there are a lot of people out there now part of the Reality-Based Personal Protection family with all one purpose in common, and that is to Be A Hard Target.
A Lot More Knife Instructors in Europe
On Friday, November 18th, I taught my Knife Instructor course to those students of mine who have already completed the Knife Survival and Knife Expert courses. The men, and two women, who completed this full day of specialized training are now certified to teach my knife system. Some will teach directly under my name while others will add it to their Krav Maga, Karate, and other martial arts systems.
This was a good class with a lot of highly motivated people; even a few people who could not be shown in photos (those in the group photo wearing masks) due to their connections with some pretty important law enforcement and military units. I went through the curriculum step-by-step with them to make sure they knew the material from an instructor's perspective and after lunch they had to actually teach people who had never taken my knife courses before. Getting volunteers who are willing to be taught by my instructors is not a problem, because they get a free introduction to Knife Survival along with a training certificate.
After my class ended my friend and Reality-Based student Marc Gutzmann and I went to the gun club in Hilden and did some training on an AR-15 (the civilian version of the military M-16 assault rifle) using 5.56 mm ball ammunition. Marc wanted a few pointers on shooting offhand (standing unsupported). Although he is an excellent shooter and now competing, I was actually able to help him get a higher score by taking some sniper tips (a sniper rifle is a much heavier weapon) and applying them to the AR-15. We both shot from 50 meter line (the full extent of the indoor range) throwing rounds downrange. Then we moved onto handguns and I practiced on a Glock 17 using 9 mm ball ammunition while Marc trained for his upcoming competition on some supped up .22 caliber pistol. To the left of me was a gentleman shooting some vintage handguns. He had heard me and Marc speaking English to one another and he asked me in English, "Would you like to shoot my gun?" He pointed to his 1916 Mausser C96 pistol. This historic gun was manufactured from 1896 to 1936 and was used extensively in World War I.Some Mausser magazines can hold up to 20 rounds. With excitement I exclaimed, "Yes, very much so. Thank you. Can you show me how it works?"
For the next 15 minutes my new friend showed me how to load the weapon and gave me some pointers on how to best aim it. After firing a full magazine we walked up to the target after a "Cease Fire!" was called. I didn't do so bad. All of my rounds were in the circle about the size of the width of a human chest. Marc nodded his head in approval and said, "Jim you would have survived in World War I with your shooting." It was nice just to shoot a piece of history.
After some practice Marc had to run through a practice competition and the range master permitted me to go through it with the Glock; the rules state it must be a .22 caliber. However, I have trained at this range a few times and the people there know that I train German police and military units, and so they have confidence in my gun safety and know that I understand most of the range vocabulary in German. When they call out, "Feuer Frei!" I know that I'm allowed to start punching holes in my paper target; although I'd prefer shooting at human silhouette targets rather than concentric circles. It is illegal for German civilians to shoot at human silhouette targets. Being an American soldier on a German civilian range does not afford me any extra privileges. However, as I pull the trigger I have a good imagination and still keep it realistic in my head. I only "train for the mission" or personal self-defense when it comes to firearms. Shooting for the sake of shooting is of no value to me.
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