The first thing my director of Italy, Fabrizio Capucci, told me when he picked me up at the Bologna airport on April 20th was, “Jim, I have a nice surprise for you.”
When we arrived at my house, yes my house that Fabrizio had rented for me only 300 meters from the Adriatic Sea in Ravenna, he showed me the new Italian Reality-Based Personal Protection t-shirt and belt that was to be sold at the Level 1 Reality-Based courses from April 21 to 25. True to Italian flare for design Stefania Fanta had come up with her own creation, and everyone loved it. She said, “We Italians wanted class. We decided to print our design on nice Polo style shirts and put the Reality-Based logo on the sleeve. We had to be different.” Above the logo is the word “Italia.” There is nothing printed on the front of the t-shirt, and in big bold letters on the back of the shirt reads, DIVENTA UN BERSAGLIO DIFFICLE, which translated means BE A HARD TARGET of course.
The canvas style black pants belt reads, REALITY BASED ITALIA which wraps around the belt in weather beaten letters. I liked the belt so much that I wore it during all five courses, and made sure I wore the RBPP Italia shirt on the first day of training. Then, as tradition dictates, I wore my Reality-Based t-shirts from the other countries that I teach in.
The Level 1 course was fantastic and I certified 13 Italian Reality-Based instructors. Their names are: Gandolfi Davide, Pavan Federico, Nasini Federico, Rossetto Tomas, Gioielli Walter, Gambardella Alfonso, Borroni Giuseppe, Conte Carlo, Colaci Nando, Rolli Antonio, Ambrosio Giuseppe, Cutaia Angelo, and Giovanzana Luca. Italians prefer to have their last names placed first, in case you were wondering.
Besides Fabrizio, assisting me was Nicolas Marucci from Belgium, a Level 2 instructor, who drove down to Ravenna with his wife. Marucci teaches Reality-Based courses in Brussels with the Académie Des Arts de Combat (ADAC). Also assisting me the entire week was three of my Level 1 Italian instructors who I certified last year: Stefano Filippo, Borsetti Andrea, and Vezzali Paolo. The last was our English-Italian translator who did an excellent job. He flew in from Argentina to assist with this course and to look for a building in central Italy for a future Reality-Based school he intends to open when he returns to Italy in September. Andrea, who owns a security company, was a tremendous asset in both the Crime Survival and Terrorism Survival where he rolled played a criminal in the first course and then terrorist in the second along with Stefano who had done some security work himself in Iraq.
This group was strong from the beginning with only one person who had no previous martial arts training. In this course I had two police officers, a criminal trial attorney (who confirmed that the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection graphs and teaching conformed to Italian law), a soldier who had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan with the 29th PsyOps unit and taking my courses on his own time, and a half a dozen martial arts instructors who taught for various martial arts systems. We had one woman in the Defensive Tactics course with her husband, but they could not attend all five days. They plan on attending next year when I am in Italy.
This group bonded rather fast and they all wanted to go out to dinner after the first day of training, and so we did. Italians like to eat their dinner around 7:30 pm and take their time for two hours. Although I normally eat right after training and get some computer work done afterwards I altered my schedule and “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Rome is quite a ways away, but close enough. Good food, red Italian wine, and good conversations made for a pleasant experience for me. The group also went out all together a few days later, and everybody’s spirits were high, and all of them told me that they have never seen such a complete conflict system as mine.
On Wednesday, Knife Survival day, the local newspaper La Voce (The Voice) came and did a story on my class and it was on newsstands the next day. That evening five people called Fabrizio wanting to sign up for next year’s courses.
The Knife Survival course was an eye opener for many. I introduced them to the NO LIE BLADE marking blade, the Shocknife tool that puts fear into everyone, stage blood, and full-speed realistic attacks left the victim defeated in less than five seconds. However, by the end of the day everybody was holding their own ground and surviving most of their fights, but not all. Knife fighting is a dangerous business. For most of the training we used the Boker rubber training knife and the Sharkee hard rigid plastic training knife.
As is my normal habit when in I took one day to do some research on warfare. When in any big city or new place I try to hit the local museum to continue my studies on ancient tactics and technologies. Fabrizio and I went to the small country, 60 square kilometers, of San Marino just south of Ravenna. The world’s oldest republic, that has its capitol atop of a mountain, is home to 30,000 inhabitants that speak Italian and are predominantly Catholic.
A large medieval castle sits on top of the mountain and is one of the best preserved castles in Europe since it never fell to invaders. Inside the castle walls are two museums of importance: The Museum of Ancient Weapons (Museo Delle Armi Antiche) and the Museum of Modern Weapons (Museo Armi Moderne). The Museum of Modern Weapons, found on Strada Villa di Sopra 5 street, houses two thousand items that span from 1850 to the present day. Both collections are excellent and provided me with many incredible photos for future articles and books.
The following day Fabrizio took me to one of Italy’s top targets on the Islamic terrorist hit list, the Church called Basilica di San Petronio in the city of Bologna. This church, right in the middle of the city, is surrounded by barricades and where bags are not allowed inside the building. A guard checks jackets and any object held in the hand. Once inside the nave to the right of the huge wooden doors is a wall covered up by a huge green tarp. Under the tarp is a painting titled L'inferno, by Cappella Bolognini painted in 1410 that depicts the Biblical account of Hell. Satan is in the middle of the wall fresco and his demons are tormenting the sinners who have been sent there after Judgment Day. At the bottom right hand corner, just under Satan’s left foot, is the head of the Prophet Mohammed chained to a wall. The artist believed that Mohammed should be cast into eternal Hell and thus painted him there and publically stated so. Obviously, this is very offensive to most Muslims and threats have been made against this church recently. The church covered it up to quell the controversy. However, the painting is clearly displayed in some of the books that are sold at the small souvenir counter. Around the huge square just outside of the church is a very visible police presence patrolled by the Carabinieri.
In 2009 I plan on teaching both Level 1 and Level 2, back to back, in the month of April. There are already sign ups, and both seminars are expected to fill up long before the year is up.
Copyright Jim Wagner 2003 - 2021 All rights reserved.