Reality-Based European Headquarters humming with activity Jim Wagner
The German Army, a Dusseldorf prison, local police officers, Spanish and Swiss martial arts instructors, our first Greek student, a British Reality-Based instructor, and several people who have had no martial arts training before came to the Reality-Based Personal Protection Headquarters in Solingen, Germany from April 24 to April 30, 2010 for Knife Camp and Courses 1 through 5 (Defensive Tactics, Ground Survival, Knife Survival, Crime Survival, and Terrorism Survival).
How did the RBPP European Headquarters get its start? I started teaching in Germany in 1999 when I was first invited by world famous counterterrorist team GSG9. That paved the way for me to teach other German law enforcement agencies and even the instructors of the German Air Marshal program. Then in 2005 I was invited to Germany, sponsored by Boker knife manufacturer, to train German and American Special Forces in Pfullendorf, the Bundespolizei, and the AWSS bodyguard school in Waldmuchen in Bavaria. Shortly after that I opened up my school in Solingen in the western part of Germany located between two major cities: Dusseldorf and Cologne. In the beginning of 2009 I decided to make my German school the European Headquarters because it was centrally located in Europe, easy to get to with three major airports nearby, and everything is within walking distance of the training facility.
For the first half of 2009 most of my students were German speaking only. Then in the second half of the year I started getting Europeans from other countries. Now it seems that my European Headquarters is now truly “European.” As such, I will begin advertising in other countries to draw even more students to the Solingen Reality-Based school. Of course, I will continue to teach in other European countries (I am currently scheduled to teach in France, Italy, and Holland for some special seminars) and I will continue to work closely with my directors, but I will also encourage people to come to my German facility. The main reason for this is that my school there is fully equipped. We have everything. We have the best of everything there: a huge training room done up all Reality-Based like (black walls, ceilings, and floor), lots of props for realistic training, a classroom, a break room, our own field the size of a soccer field where we learn countersniper tactics using Airsoft rifles, a huge parking lot to do bodyguard courses, and an outdoor area where we learn how to survive shootings and the ability to throw throwing knives for our Knife Expert class.
At first I wasn’t even sure I was going to make my flight to Germany or not. Two days before my scheduled departure All German airspace was closed due to the volcanic ash spewing from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. Thousands of passengers were stranded and air travel was uncertain. On April 15, 2010 British airspace was shut down, and then Northern Europe. This lasted a few days. On April 17th, still wondering if I was going to make it to Europe or not, I had the opportunity to teach a military unit Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC); basically how to get a wounded soldier out of the kill zone of a battlefield. Fortunately the day before my departure the winds shifted pushing the ash cloud higher north and some towards Canada and a few airlines determined that continental Europe was safe to fly through. Great Britain was still shut down.
The weekend Knife Camp was packed with students. Several Bundeswehr soldiers came from different units to get their training. Even the Special Operations Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol unit (Fernspählehrkompanie 200) out of Pfullendorf sent one of their best instructors to evaluate the program. These soldiers were quite aggressive, but very controlled, and everyone loved working with them because they were a challenge. They helped improve everyone’s knife skills; even mine. I picked a German solider to attack me full speed and full contact to demonstrate how to survive a knife attack while unarmed. The only rules I gave the soldier was, “Just try to kill me. Do anything you want.”
Despite Spain’s crippling economy, with over 4 million people out of work, I had three Spaniards come to my Knife Camp: three from the Canary Islands and one from Barcelona. Olivier Rawlings came out from England to attend the Knife Expert course.
My Knife Camp is actually three different courses. The first day is Knife Survival. Students learn right from the first five minutes how to survive an unpredictable full speed, full contact criminal style knife attack. From there until the end of the day it is one intense lesson after another in knife survival skills. The second day is Knife Expert. On this day I teach skills most people don’t usually learn: how to fight with double blades, sword and machete usage, throwing knives, and knife attack methods used around the world (military style attacks, gang style attacks, Middle Eastern style attacks, etc.). Then at 15:00 hours only those with verifiable government identification as a law enforcement officer or government approved security officer or bodyguard may attend the Tactical Knife course. This course goes over techniques and tactics that the citizen does not need, and ones that will help keep the professionals safe on the job.
On Sunday, with only a few hours left in Knife Camp, I was in the Boker knife shop. One of the German soldiers asked me what I thought about a credit card thin knife he picked out that fits into a wallet. He wanted to know if he should carry it or not. I took a look at it and handled it for a while. I opened and closed it a couple of times and then told him, “Stepan, I don’t think this knife is a good knife for fighting. I think it will fold on your fingers the moment you touch something with the blade.” As I was explaining it I put a little too much pressure on the blade and it snapped shut, right on my right index finger. Instantly I knew I had made a mistake and that I was cut.
The blade had sliced my finger good and blood was all over the counter and my arm. The staff in the knife shop is used to this, from themselves and customers, so I wrapped it up immediately and went back to the training hall and finished up my class. Tobias Leckebusch, my RBPP Director for German speaking countries, took me to the hospital where I received a tetanus shot, a diphtheria shot, special finger bandages for a week, and medication to prevent infection. I refused stitches knowing that they would just open up again as I trained for the rest of my seminar. Sure enough, my bandaged finger opened up again on Monday, even though I tried hard to protect it, but the rest of the week it started healing nicely.
I walked away from the experience knowing a little bit on how the German medical system works, and I was treated well by the medical staff. Like any injury, you don’t realize how important a body part is until you can’t use it for a while. Simple things like brushing my teeth or writing become a chore.
Course number 1, Defensive Tactics, started on Monday the 26th. It was a hard core group of guys who really wanted to work hard. For the duration of the week I had two men in the course who had no previous martial arts training, and everybody was amazed to see the transformation these two men made; from insecurity and self doubt to the WILL TO SURVIVE mentality. One was a German doctor and the other was a 44 year old Greek computer technician who told me, “In Greece we didn’t used to have a lot of serious crime. Now armed robberies are increasing and criminals are getting more violent. I decided that I needed to prepare myself and also get back into shape.”
Two Bundeswehr soldiers, Military Police (Feldjäger) instructors, were sent by their unit to get their first five courses of instruction from me. Later that week their supervisor came in to check on them. He has also gone through my courses, and he helped out several times being the "bad guy" for Crime and Terrorism Survival scenarios. For the past five years now I have been training every single MP instructor in the German Army. They believe my civilian-based Reality-Based Personal Protection courses to be so important that the command makes sure that all of them go through it.
On Wednesday, Knife Survival, I had a spike in professionals: Swiss police, Dusseldorf police, and Dusseldorf corrections officers. I also had a young Swiss woman who is in the process of joining the Swiss Army. Helping me teach on this day was my old Boker Survival Camp partner Samir Doubali. In September 2008 we were assigned to each other and had hours and hours to talk and get to know each other while hiking through the Bavarian mountains and forest on a land navigation forest, carrying “wounded” people, making fire, and building a lean-two shelter out of branches and leaves and sleeping in the freezing cold all night. Samir also assisted me on Friday during the Terrorism Survival course.
It’s interesting that the next day, Saturday, May 1st, that a car bomb in Times Square, New York City, was found but failed to detonate. I was in Manhattan in December and warned my students in my Terrorism Survival course of such a possible incident. For years I have been saying, “If I were a terrorist I’d explode a car bomb right in the middle of Times Square.” For anyone who has ever visited this place it is always jammed packed with people, and the carnage would be considerable. Preliminary reports indicate that the Nissan was filled with propane tanks, gasoline containers, fertilizer, and fireworks, and authorities said that if it would have exploded that people would have definitely been killed. The Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system is one of the few self-defense systems in the world that teaches civilians how to detect and protect themselves against acts of terrorism. The Terrorism Survival course has been taught since January 21, 2003. Few other systems can teach this subject because one must have a background in anti and counterterrorism. I have that background.
On Thursday night I had dinner with the president of Boker, Carsten Felix. He is very pleased with not only the sales of my Jim Wagner Reality-Based Blade knife series sold worldwide, but with the popularity of my courses. It’s a good partnership and we discussed our new marketing strategy for the rest of this year.
I will be back at the European Headquarters on May 15th to teach my Defense Stick & Defense Pen course, May 16th to teach my one-day Knife Instructor course, and May 17 to 21 to teach courses 6 through 10.
The new Reality-Based Blade Outdoors Jim Wagner
When I was in Germany last week I had the opportunity to hold for the first time my new knife the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Blade Outdoors. This knife is specifically for the German market. Current laws forbid the carry of any folding knife on the person that can be opened with one hand.
The Outdoors complies with the one year old law by having the user open the blade with two hands; there is no thumb stud and no automatic opening mechanism. The current German laws does allow people to carry one-hand folding knives in bags, purses, or briefcases. The blade and handle cannot be more then 12 centimeters in length, and it can be only one edged. The current law does allow a person to carry a concealed fixed blade as long as it meets the same standards as the folding knives.
In Fall my new Jim Wagner Defense Pen will be on the market worldwide. It will appear in the next Boker catalog. It will have some new features not found on other tactical pens.
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