Very few traditional-based martial arts organizations ever host Reality-Based Personal Protection courses, but on May 17 and 18 was one of those rare exceptions. The largest martial arts organization in Sweden, the Jujutsu Svenska Budo & Kampsportsförbundet (the Swedish Jujutsu Budo Association) invited me and Peter Falk (Reality-Based Personal Protection Director of the Nordic countries) to train 40 jujutsu students in the city of Jönköping (pronounced Yon-shop-ing). More specifically, it was vice-president Niclas Sjöberg who extended the invitation. Also teaching at this two-day event was Marcelo 'Yogui' Santiago of Brazil and Joachim Thumfart of Germany.
The organization put us up in the very posh Eite Stora Hotel located on the southern tip of Lake Vättern built in 1860 and took us instructors out to a fine Swedish steak dinner.
After two days of teaching a cross section of Reality-Based Personal Protection courses Peter and I taught the Level 1 courses in Malmö, Sweden. Malmö is a costal city across the sea from Copenhagen, Denmark. Each morning I woke up to a beautiful sea view at the Strand Hotel and had a traditional Swedish breakfast in the Frucost Rum: a glass of orange juice, a cup of coffee, toast, cold cut meats and cheese. I didn’t eat the granola and thick yogurt-like milk like many of my students who were staying in the same hotel.
The training went exceptionally well, and the students bonded from day one, which was the Defensive Tactics course. The group included a counselor of troubled youths, a police officer, a prison guard, and a few martial arts instructors coming from Krav Maga and jujutsu, and one from Jeet Kune Do. Those who earned their Level 1 instructor certificates were: Johan Karlsson, Mattias Hedman, Jenny Andersson (the second female in all of Sweden to become an instructor), Jimmy Andersson, Per-Olof Andersson, Christoffer Jonsson, and Pontus Rotter. Veteran Level 1 instructors assisting me and Peter were Jan Larsson, Matts Logenius, and Nicklas Jorgensen.
After the last course of the week, Terrorism Survival, Peter and I kept a promise that we had made a year and a half ago and that was to go see the new Viking display at the Nationalmuseet in Copenhagen. In the past we had tried to see the display but it had been closed for renovations. They told us back then, “Come back in Spring of 2008.” So, on May 17th the display was reopened and on May 24th, after the Level 1 seminar, we went to go see it. The display was in the Danish Prehistory (13,000 B.C. – 1,050 A.D.) section.
The display was quite remarkable and gave me a good sense of the Viking history. Of course, I studied carefully the weapons. They had hundreds of them: knives, swords, spears and shields.
Prior to my teaching trip to Scandinavia Peter had given me a book called The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson published by Harper Collins Publisher This 478 page fictional book was superbly written and translated, and it took my mind into the Viking past when I read it. Of course, there were many graphic descriptions of battles using swords and axes. It gave a great insight to the Viking warrior mentality. This book, coupled with my museum experience, gave me a greater understanding of the Viking history and their influence on Western culture. After all, it was the Vikings who settled all over northern Europe and were the first Europeans to land on the shores of North America in today’s Canada.
When I was at the Nationalmuseet museum I came across the Viking laws that have a few good suggestions for today’s martial artists:
BE BRAVE & AGGRESSIVE Be direct Grab all opportunities Use varying methods of attack Be versatile and agile Attack one target at a time Don’t plan everything in detail Use top quality weapons
BE PREPARED Keep weapons in good condition Keep in shape Find good battle comrades Agree on important points Choose one chief
BE A GOOD MERCHANT Find out what the market needs Don’t promise what you can’t keep Don’t demand overpayment Arrange things so that you can return
KEEP THE CAMP IN ORDER Keep things tidy and organized Arrange enjoyable activities which strengthen the group Make sure everybody does useful work Consult all members of the group for advice
On May 24th Peter and I then walked all around the Christiansborg Palace which houses the Danish Parliament to see if they had beefed up security since the last time we were there in 2006. To our surprise, they had not. It was still possible for Al Qaeda, or any terrorist group, to drive a truck bomb right under the famous Parliament tower and bring it down along with damaging the rest of the building. Just the day before in my Terrorism Survival course I warned my students, “Denmark is a terrorist target, and it will be hit. It may not be today or tomorrow, but I guarantee that it will be hit. Islamic extremists have already sworn that it would be.” Your may remember that on September 30, 2005 the Dutch newspaper Jyllands-Posten printed controversy cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Danish Muslim organizations objected to the depictions and responded by holding public protests. The controversy deepened when further examples of the cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than fifty other countries. This led to more protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence with police firing on the crowds resulting in more than 100 deaths. Fires were set to the Danish Embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran. A number of Muslim leaders called for protesters to remain peaceful, other Muslim leaders across the globe, including Mahmoud al-Zahar of Hamas, issued death threats. Even recently an attempt to murder one of the artists was made, but the culprits were arrested before it was carried out. Many Muslims around the world blame the Danish government for the cartoons despite the fact that Denmark enjoys free speech and free press as a democracy. Therefore, according to the radicals, the government of Denmark is a “legitimate target.” Unfortunately, the Danish government does not want to appear intimidated or worried, thus it appears that safeguards already in place by other western countries (barricades, more visible police presence, vehicle checks, etc.) are absent. Perhaps they have indeed stepped up security measures, but I didn’t see any. Some of my fellow Americans may be asking themselves, “Why does Wagner care about a European capital?” My answer is simple, Copenhagen is a part of Western culture, and Western culture is my culture. I personally think it was rather insensitive to draw disrespectful cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, because there is no reason to insult someone’s religious beliefs. However, I also believe in free speech and a free press at the same time. I can’t tell you how many times I have been offended at some of the content in newspapers around the world, especially anti-Christian or anti-American garbage, but I never once thought that the author or artist should be murdered for it. That stated, I would be deeply troubled if there was a terrorist attack in Copenhagen or anywhere else in Denmark. Whether we like it or not terrorism is going to continue for a while, and all Western governments must be diligent in preventing it. In fact, we all have to be diligent, and that is why the Reality-Based Personal Protection system includes Terrorism Survival in Level 1.
Holland next on the list Jim Wagner
On Sunday, May 25, I flew to Amsterdam, Holland where Mike Constantinides, the Reality-Based Personal Protection Director of Holland, picked me up at the Schiphol International Airport. Mike, being the perfect host, drove me straight away to his home for a home cooked meal. While I was in Holland I worked on a new DVD with Mike, which will be called Conflict Conditioning with Mike Constantinides. We decided to make the first DVD on this subject, the first of a series by that name, based on my Level 2 course by the same name – Conflict Conditioning.
One of my Level 1 instructors, Ali Çabuk, came in to help on the Conflict Conditioning DVD. Ali was in our first joint venture DVD two years ago titled Doorman Defensive Tactics. He played a hostile subject in the project. Ali owns his own security business called Munimentum. His business manages big events and chauffeurs around VIPs. Nicolas Marucci, my Level 2 instructor from Belgium, drove to Amsterdam to help with the DVD. Gerard Willenson, one of the top Defensive Tactics instructors for the Amsterdam Police Department and a Level 1 Reality-Based instructor, paid me a visit at Mike’s school to let me know that Holland’s largest police agency had included many of my teachings into their official curriculum. Gerard said to me, “Your stuff works. It’s realistic. You’ve been out on the streets and you know what works. We have many so-called ‘gurus’ coming to us, but they have never been in the military or police. They have no idea what we are doing.” The Amsterdam Police Department has a big budget and they go to practically everybody’s seminars around the world to see if they can glean any techniques or training methods. For them to tell me that the Reality-Based Personal Protection system is one of their resources is quite an honor and speaks volumes about our realistic, easy-to-learn-and-teach system. Also paying me a visit was Emile Biesheuvel of crimesite.nl, a Dutch website that keeps track of crime in Holland. Emile interviewed me because he had heard about me through the police. We had lunch together and I told him about my system and how it was helping the Dutch police and average citizens. The next day Emile’s story was up on their website. On June 2nd, when I flew back to the United States, a car bomb exploded at 12:10 p.m. outside of the Danish embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan killing eight people and wounding dozens of others. The bomb caused extensive damage to the building and left a huge crater in the embassy parking area. Denmark’s foreign ministry has confirmed that a Danish national was killed in the attack. This attack could be related to the cartoons printed in the Dutch newspaper Jyllands-Posten or for the 550 Danish troops stationed in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province. Although days earlier I had warned of an attack against Denmark, I did not think about Danish assets outside of the country. Of course, this was a tragedy for both the Danish and Pakistani people, and yet in our ever increasing violent world a story like this only makes the news for one day and the following day it is a massacre somewhere else.
Copyright Jim Wagner 2003 - 2021 All rights reserved.