The pocket stick, or the “Kubotan” as it is more commonly known as, is a very popular self-defense weapon in Germany and the Netherlands; much more so than in my home country the United States. As such I taught my very first course in this weapon on Saturday, May 5th. For the second half of the day I taught on the subject of defense pen, also known as the “tactical pen.” The course was completely booked with a waiting list. Unfortunately for those waiting there will not be another Pocket Stick & Defense Pen this year at the Reality-Based Personal Protection Headquarters in Solingen, Germany. There will be one scheduled for 2011.
Although my original intention was to draw in a lot of civilians with no previous martial arts training, I ended up with a lot of professionals attending this course: security personnel from the United Stated Embassy Berlin (U.S. Embassy Guard Force that works closely with the Diplomatic Security Service and the special unit AZK 9), a few German soldiers (including one from the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol from the Special Forces base at Pfullendorf), a few police officers from Switzerland, a few police officers from Germany, and a lot of martial arts instructors from a wide variety of systems. Two of the students that attended this course, Andreas Luttropp and Dominik Klose, of the Military Police Combat System. These two men have taken just about every course I offer, and are some of the toughest guys you will ever train with.
Many people call any short stick that fits into the pocket a “Kubotan” not realizing that the name Kubotan is a registered trademark by Takayuki Kubota. In the 1970s he took the idea of the Japanese Yawara stick (a stick approximately 5.5 inches, 14 centimeters, long), made it a bit shorter to be used as an impact weapon specifically for female police officers with the Los Angeles Police Department. He took his name Kubota and the word “baton” and put them together to form “Kubotan.” Ever since then the pocket stick (a generic name for the shorter Yawara stick) has been a well known weapon among martial artist throughout the world. They come in all shape and sizes, all different materials, and some even with a key ring with keys all around to make a mini medieval mace.
Originally, in ancient Japan, the Yawara stick came from the martial art of Yawarajutsu, which is a form of combat with a sheathed knife. If a warrior were to lose his knife in a battle he would still have a lacquered wooden sheath to fight with.
Although the pocket stick was the primary focus of the course the principles carry over to the tactical flashlight, a folding knife with the blade not deployed (the original Jim Wagner Reality-Based Blade was designed with this in mind by having an extended blade base and a glass breaker on the bottom of the handle), a stapler, spoon, roll of coins, television remote control, medicine bottle, eye glasses, bottle opener, or whatever is of similar shape and size.
The last time I did anything involving the pocket stick was when I helped my former Dutch Director Mike Constantinides create his “Kubotan defense” course on November 19, 2006 in the city of Huizen just west of Amsterdam.
The second half of the training day was dedicated to the defense pen. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, where Al Qaeda terrorists took over four American passenger jets with box cutters and dummy bombs (although one flight was attacked with a deadly chemical weapon – read it in my book Reality-Based Personal Protection), I wrote an article in both Black Belt magazine and Budo stating that people should buy good solid metal business pens or calligraphy pens and use them as an improvised edged weapon (like a prison “shank”) should there be another such similar attack from terrorists. I also included step-by-step photos in my Budo published book titled Personal Defense that was printed in German, Spanish, English, Italian, and French. It wasn’t long afterwards that the tactical pen industry was born. I don't know if my articles had any influence or not, or the time had just come for this new type of weapon, but major knife makers started making tactical pens. A year ago Boker approached me and asked me if I had any original ideas for a tactical pen, and I told them that I did.
After I submitted my design Boker felt that my design was unique enough to put it into the knife and self-defense market. If all goes well with production the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Defense Pen will debut at the beginning of 2011.
The objective of the course was not to promote my upcoming defense pen, but to teach my students that many objects can be used in self-defense just like a tactical pen. For my first demonstration I had a thick cardboard box with a face drawn on it. I then took a small bronze replica of the Eiffel Tower that I had bought in a duty free shop at the Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Paris and punctured the box a few times with a violent stabbing motion with the tip of the “improvised weapon.” I did the same thing for a huge pencil I bought a Schipohl Airport in Amsterdam, another one I bought at Heathrow Airport in London, and brought out similar devices for all to look at.
What a lot of students like about the course was some of the realistic scenarios we had towards the end of the day where they had to fight an attacker with their soft training defense pen in order to have a realistic contact fight.
Joachim Roux, one of my top RBPP instructors in Germany, attended this course as a student. He runs a traditional-based Aikido martial arts school out of the city of Cologne, but he offers the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system for those coming to him for modern self-defense training.
Germany had new RBPP Knife Instructors Jim Wagner
On Sunday, May 6th, I taught a one-day Knife Instructor course to those who already successfully completed my Knife Camp seminar a month earlier. This course is designed to help instructors teach the Knife Survival curriculum accurately and professionally. Towards the end of the course participants were given a student to teach (people that my German director Tobias Leckebusch knows), while Tobias and I observed and corrected. Those who earned their instructor certificates were Ralf Brunner, Dirk Gorcke, Stephan Gross, Norman Hamann, Tobias Hamann, Bjorn Hemmers, Stefan Michel, Pascal Nagel, Jurgen Rautert, Marco Schnyder, Sven Stollenwerk, Carsten Zimmerman, and Alex Casiraghi.
Brand New Material for Level 2 Jim Wagner
The old Scenario Training course (course number 7) is now Situational Awareness and those who attended the Level 2 seminar in Solingen, Germany from May 17 to May 21 were the first to go through the new curriculumn.
This newly revised course went through how to use a mobile phone as a weapon (recording crime and sharing that information with the police), three different K.I.M.S. games (Keep In Memory System), vehicle security, tactical diagrams, forensics, cyber security, how to do an “Advance” like professional bodyguards for personal safety or for others, vehicle security, and home security.
The most intense part of the course was the Compressed Decision Time micro scenarios. Students going through the exercise had a bag placed over their heads, and when it was their turn they were brought into the classroom “blind” and the bag was suddenly removed. Right before them was a scenario already in play and they had mere moments to identify the threat and react. Then after a few examples from me, each student had to create their own CDT micro scenario. For those with police or security jobs were gave them scenarios that they would most likely confront in real life.
Dutch Police Use Reality-Based Ideas Jim Wagner
On Tuesday, May 18th, Investigator Willemsen of the Amsterdam Police (Tactics & Defensive Tactics Instructor) attended my new Situational Awareness course and to discuss my next police course that his department wants me to teach.
This June will mark exactly one year that the Amsterdam police have been teaching 3,000 of their police officers in the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection Knife Survival course; or at least those parts of the curriculumn that pertain to police situations (edged weapons attacks on police officers). Last year around this time I taught all of the defensive tactics instructors of the Amsterdam Police Department, who in turned taught field officers throughout Holland’s largest district. The official name of the course was Mes Program. Of course, I am delighted that I was able to contribute my expertise to help police officers of a major European city stay safe.
After the course I took Sergeant Willemsen out for an authentic Croatian dinner. We discussed the next program his department wants me to help develop. After we discussed dates and details he showed me a report titled Stressmanagement in de politiepraktijk: De methodiek van het stresshuis (Stress Management in Police Training: Stress House Instructions). Inside was a new diagram that the Dutch police are now using, and unbeknownst to me, that I helped to develop. It is a use-of-force graph called the Stresshuis (Stress House). It is what they are using to explain to Dutch police officers the various threats they may face and the appropriate force they may use and the behavior that is expected of them. Sergeant Willemsen told me, “Ja, we got many ideas from your Jim Wagner Use-of-Force Ladder, and incorporated it into this new graph.”
A few years ago, when I first started training the Amsterdam Police at their main training complex (the Politie Amsterdam-Amstelland, and the first foreigner to do so), I showed my Jim Wagner Use-of-Force Ladder to one of the police chiefs. He was so impressed with the simplicity and accuracy of the graph that he had me start teaching it to the police instructors. He told me, “Our graph is not easy to understand.” My Use-of-Force Ladder was also printed in the U.S. Army publication titled Infantry July-August 2007 by Major Mark S. Leslie of the Chief of Training for the Stryker Transformation Team at Fort Benning.
Just about every police agency and military unit has some sort of use-of-force graph. Some are stair steps, some are concentric circles, some are linear models, and some just text. In every agency I’ve worked for there was always a different graphic. Then in early 2003 I introduced the very first civilian self-defense use-of-force continuum; the same one the Dutch police liked. The Jim Wagner Use-of-Force Ladder was first published in my book Reality-Based Personal Protection in 2003 produced by Black Belt Books / Ohara Publications. As a military man, and a police officer, I was exposed to a wide variety of graphs in the various units and agencies I worked for over the years. Some of these use-of-force graphs were easy to understand, while others were somewhat complicated. However, none of them were adequately suited for civilian usage. Police officers and soldiers have a wider selection of weapons than most civilians, and their use-of-force or rules of engagement graphs do not completely comply with civilian situations.
Although my graph is very simple to understand, designing it took me many months. Most graphs are stair steps, concentric circles, or even plain text. I had to start with a blank white sheet of paper and come up with something totally original, and something that everyone would understand and appreciate. Thus, I came up with the ladder concept. Everyone understands the workings of a ladder.
Like a real latter that you would lean up against a building, the most stable place to be is not on the ladder at all when it comes to personal safety. Once you get on, there are risks – even from a foot or two off the ground you can get injured. Likewise, in daily life you are always safest when you avoid conflict. Yet, trouble can sometimes find us, and the people we care about, out without us looking for it.
Sergeant Willemsen named the new graph the Stress House because that is exactly what they have at the Amsterdam-Amstelland; a mock house where they do realistic hands-on scenarios with a lot of high tech cameras recording every action. I have also used this same Stress House to run my police students through various scenarios I created.
The Stress House graphic uses the same color code as my Use-of-Force Ladder, as well as actions and reactions, but what’s new about the Dutch Police Stress House graph is that it indicates Low Stress (LS) situations, Medium Stress (MS), and High Stress (HS) all in one view. Of course, now that I know the new graph, I will start referring to it when I do my next training for Sergeant Willemsen.
After we finished our great meal, two hours later, I sent Sergeant Willemsen off with a gift: the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Blade Urban. This is the small stiletto scalpel type blade I designed for the ultimate in concealment.
Handgun Survival to a Live-fire Range Jim Wagner
The final course of my Level 2 seminar was Handgun Survival taught on May 21st. This course is designed to teach people how to incorporate air guns into their self-defense training and to help them safely conduct realistic scenarios involving armed criminals and terrorists. Once again this course attracted some professionals that kept the bar raised for the rest of the class: two from the Swiss Army, a German riot police officer, and a former Australian SAS commando.
The beginning of the course began with firearms safety and range safety procedures. Then students learned all about “dominant eye,” weapons handling, shooting stance, and how to do a “monthly qualification” just like the police and military. Probably the favorite part of the course for everyone was the low-light training and a few stress shooting drills.
Right after the eight hour course Marc Gotzmann and I drove over to the VSS Solingen live-fire shooting facility in Hilden. For my first weapon I got behind the Krico Sniper rifle. This is a .308 Langwaffen used by the Baden-Wuttenberg SEK (the German version of SWAT). Marc fired the first three rounds from exactly 50 meters and hit two in the 10 ring and one in the 9 ring. The weapon was obviously sighted for his eye, even though it was not his weapon. Once tape was placed over the holes I was given my three only bullets. I fired three times and key holed the 10 ring. If I would have been able to zero the rifle I could have move the grouping over an inch to the center, but none the less, I was very happy with my shots. My years of sniper training paid off at the 1st Marine Division Scout/Sniper School at Camp Pendleton as well as some sniper training from German counterterrorist team GSG9. The shooting club even stamped the target to authenticate the score.
The next rifle I climbed behind was the 1942 Mauser K98 D.U.V. It was an actual authentic World War II bolt action rifle. I had always wanted to shoot one, and I finally got my chance. I fired five rounds using the iron sights, had a good grouping, but it was a little high. I just thought it was because the rifle was not sighted to my eyes, but Marc told me that many German rifles are sighted to where the post of the front sight needs to be below the target point. In other words, to hit the black circle of the bulls eye you need to have the circle sitting on top of the post, and not have the post in the middle of the post as is taught in the American military.
After the rifles we went to the .45 caliber handgun; a Baer Custom ACP. My favorite words were, “Feuer frei!” the line is hot! Literally it means, free fire. After every 10 rounds “Sicherheit!” Cease Fire! was called, and targets were checked from 25 meters away.
That evening I went to my hotel in Dusseldorf, and the next day I caught my flight back to the United States.
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