Despite the announcement on December 2nd that the United States was officially in recession the Reality-Based Personal Protection Level 1 seminar held December 1st through the 5th was a success in the Big Apple; New York City.
Each year I teach at the Fighthouse on 7th Avenue and 27th Street, practically under the shadow of the Empire State Building, thanks to owner and operator Peggy Chau whom I have worked with the past several years.
This particular group of people attending my New York City seminar was an exceptionally motivated group filled with professionals and great martial artists. Within this group was a Major of the Trinidad and Tobago Army Special Forces, a United Nations Security Officer, a New York City Court Officer, a security contractor from Iraq, a bouncer, a few martial arts instructors, and just a few folks wanting to learn how to defend themselves against modern conflict. Those who earned their Level 1 instructor certificates were: Wayne Loweth, Vondray Brown, Uclides Uribe, Kien Grant, Kenton Vanzandt, Richard Hubbard, Joseph Bazzano, Sarwan Boodram, Jonathan Fugate, Juan Varela Jr., Pascual Evo Jr., and Thomas Smith. Anthony Raymondo came in for the week to take a refresher on his previous training. Also stepping in to visit me briefly was Level 2 instructor Fernando Figueroa of Figueroa Protection.
My job was made easier thanks to my two assistants Carlini Jaramillo and Joe Bates. Carlini saved me a lot of headache by helping me with logistics. He brought all of the necessary equipment needed to teach all of the Level 1 courses: training knives, Airsoft guns, kicking shields, Hammerheads, simulated Improvised Explosive Devices, etc. We met the day before the class at a Japanese restaurant and caught up on the latest happenings, and through around a few ideas to help the seminar run smoother. Carlini is one of my Level 1 instructors who is also an instructor for the Department of Homeland Security specializing in counter-terrorism.
Joe Bates, a lieutenant firefighter Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and also one of my top Level 1 instructors, was a tremendous help in helping students with their techniques, filling in when needed, and keeping track of all of the equipment.
Bill Sullivan, an officer from Massachusetts and a Level 1 instructor, was visiting a friend in New York and stopped in for two days to take a refresher and help out. Also coming in for a refresher course, and playing the role of “terrorist” was Matthew Facus, a former Marine who had been deployed to Afghanistan. On breaks Matt would show me shooting techniques and CQB movements he had learned in that war, which were additional “tools in my own personal tool box.”
Photographing every move we made was Jennifer Osborne of Colors magazine, as in The United Colors of Benetton, Benetton Group. It is a very popular Italian magazine that has heard about the spread of the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system and wanted me and my system as their feature story for an upcoming issue.
While I was in Germany teaching my Level 3 courses I received a call from a Brazilian Editor, Barbara Soalheiro, who asked me if they could do a story on me and the system. I agreed and then received a call from an editor in Italy. They told me that they would be sending Jennifer and a writer named Andrew Smith. They actually enrolled Andy in my seminar so he could experience my teaching methods first hand and report about it. Jennifer also jumped into the training from time to time because she travels around the world and finds herself in some dangerous situations. Her next assignment will be in Columbia.
After the Mumbai, India terrorist attacks a couple of weeks ago Colors magazine decided that combating terrorism was an important subject and the only ones teaching hands on courses were Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection instructors, which naturally led to me. I teach every year in Ravenna, Italy along side my Italian Director Fabrizio Capucci, and the RBPP protection system has been steadily growing in that country for the past couple of years. Many Italian police officers and military personnel have spread the word about its effectiveness and unique approach to personal protection.
A few people took some of the Level 1 courses, but not all of them. The beauty of the RBPP system is that it is modular, and people can sign up for one, two, or more classes at a time depending on their schedule and financial situation.
On Tuesday night I had dinner in China Town with W.R. Mann. He is the one who first invited me out to New York City when I first went public with my system. He showed me all around the city and introduced me to Peggy Chau, and the friendship has stuck ever since. When we get together he is a wealth of information on the martial arts community, as he should be, since he is the publisher of the online magazine realfighting.com. W.R. also stopped in during my Terrorism Survival course, he himself is one of my Level 2 instructors, and even participated in one of our simulated terrorist attacks. He was only shot in the arm with a 6mm plastic projectile. He was ecstatic that he survived the attack. W.R. also plans on doing a review on his website about my Jim Reality-Based Rescue Knife in an upcoming issue.
The final graduation, always rewarding for me, was made even more special when Major Sarwan Boodram, presented me with an appreciation plaque and a Trinidad and Tobago Special Forces unit patch that was issued by his unit’s commanding general. The Major was so pleased with his training that he is going to bring back my teachings to his unit and incorporate many techniques and training methods. I also received a second plaque from the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT).
Major Boodram is no stranger to the United States. He studied at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia and has worked with several American Special Operations units. At 46 years old he is fit and trim, and a supreme fighter. It was obvious that he was highly trained, and held back on several of his fellow classmates in order to prevent injuries. He was truly the “quite professional.” In one year Major Boodram will be retiring from the army and he plans to teach the RBPP system through his own successful martial arts schools known as Master Boodram’s Combat Readiness Program. He owns and operates a martial arts school in his country, and is well known and respected in the martial arts community in South America. Of course, I was honored that he was a big fan of my monthly Black Belt column High Risk and believes that my system is the most compatible with his background and experience.
The last day of training, December 5th, was my Terrorism Survival course. This was also the same day that the New York Police Department and 400 corporate security officers from businesses throughout the city participated in a live exercise simulating scenarios similar to that of the Mumbai, India terrorist attacks. The Mumbai attacks were rather unsophisticated where terrorist attacked multiple locations at once using hand grenades and AK-47 assault rifles. “I think… what happened in India is going to put a new focus on emergency preparations all over,” said Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske who is the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. Of course, I’ve been warning people for that last six years that such attacks were highly likely on our own soil and in Europe. This is exactly why I teach how to survive hand grenade attacks and small arms attacks. Of course we cannot exclude planted bombs, suicide bombers, dirty bombs, and chemical attacks either, so that is why we cover those methods as well.
Besides the Mumbai attacks, New York City has been warned by the federal government of a possible attack on the subway system during the holidays. This fact did not detour me from riding the subway each morning to class during rush hour, but I followed precautions that I later advised my students to do: always get on the last train car, have a chemical protection mask in their GO BAG, position yourself at the rear exit door, scan for packages or bags that are unattended.
Whenever I am in a city that has a museum, especially a large city, I like to continue doing my research on human conflict. At The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, a museum I have visited a few times, I spent my one day off practically all day in the historic halls. This museum has hundreds of weapons and pieces of armor and I took quiet a few good pictures and read up on the history I was interested in. In my opinion this is one of the best museums in the world, especial for Reality-Based Personal Protection students and instructors.
Immediately following the class I hopped into a taxi and raced over to JFK International Airport to catch a flight back to Los Angeles, for I had to be in formation at 0715 hours in the morning with my military police unit.
I will be returning to the Fighthouse in New York City on July 13 to 17 to teach my Level 2 courses, and back again November 30 to December 4, 2009 to teach Level 1. Reservations by signing up for any of these courses can be made online beginning the first week in January 2009.
Going to Kosovo Jim Wagner
1,100 California Army National Guard soldiers left the state on November 25th and are currently at Camp Atterbury, Indiana before being deployed to Kosovo this month as reported by the Army Times December 8, 2008 issue. I am proud of the fact that I, along with my fellow Army Support Group instructors, trained the military police of the 40th Infantry Division who will lead and command Task Force Falcon as part of the NATO led force in Kosovo.
My military police unit at the Joint Forces Training Base in Southern California was tasked with teaching the military police of the 40th Infantry Division in a variety of U.S. Army Warrior Tasks. I was assigned to teach Temporary Fighting Positions for combat operations. To my surprise on December 7th I was awarded a Training Excellence Ribbon for my efforts by my Brigade commander. On CSMR Form 672 the following justification was given:
During a support mission of training guardsmen of Alpha Co. 40th DSTB, SGT Wagner prepared and taught an excellent class on AWT33 Select a Temporary Fighting Position. The class was very well presented and enthusiastically received.
I was surprised because I was just doing my duty and never thought of ever receiving an reward for doing so. Several other instructors at the same formation received the same award for their part who had been assigned to teach other Warrior Tasks: identifying Improvised Explosive Devices, squad movements, and entry team tactics. Apparently the leadership of the 40th Infantry Division was so impressed with the training that we had given our fellow soldiers several weeks ago that they recommended that we be given special recognition.
The Jim Wagner Reality-Based Recurve Blade is featured in this month's issue of the German tactical magazine Kommando.
In the article my knife, manufactured by Boker, is recommended for tactical medics. I was very pleased with this idea since I had helped teach a few tactical medic courses in the past (I taught the tactical portion of the course, and not the medical part).
Unfortunately Kommando magazine is only available in the German language.
W.R. Mann of online magazine Realfighting.com endorsing the RBPP system Jim Wagner
I teach every year in New York City thanks to my good friend W.R. Mann who first invited me out in 2003. He is the publisher of the online magazine called REALFIGHTING. Just a couple of weeks ago he sent me this message and wanted me to post it as a "letter of recommendation" before my seminar:
I know Jim personally and have always found him to be forthright and honest. He teaches a wide variety of interesting and useful programs and has introduced the first comprehensive and cohesive reality-based courses anywhere.
Even though I have studied most, if not all styles of fighting (from time to time), I still found much useful information through his coursework that no one else teaches.
Yes I host several of his articles because they offer valuable insights into the reality-based life. The best thing to do is to call Jim and ask him yourself. Better yet, attend one of his seminars and see for yourself.
I was going through the files of my very first New York City seminar that I gave back in August of 2003 and came across the comments of one of my top students of that original seminar; James M. Hartigan, or Jim Hartigan for short of Yonkers, New York. Not only did Jim give me a “10” on every class in the seminar and praised what he had learned in each evaluation form, but a few days later he took the time to send me a personal email. This letter so represents the ones that I often received that I thought I’d share it with you now:
Sunday, 31 August 2003
I just wanted to say what a great experience it was participating in your reality based courses. The people were great and it was a great exchange of ideas. You are a very good instructor with a good knowledge of the subjects.
Now for the Courses: As a student of the martial arts, with over 30 years in various Martial arts as well as the Military, with a few years in Special Operations, the course was an eye opener as to how actually unprepared I was for an immediate, unplanned attack.
The knife course in particular is an eye opener, although I have trained for knife attacks, the method you have instilled immediacy of action is scary. In classes it is easy to work a move when you plan the attack, but as you demonstrate, the real thing is unplanned and aggressive. Grabs, holds locks, blocks are unplanned and rarely performable, the event is to fast for more than instinctive reactions.
As the Gracie system showed the vulnerability of stand up arts, I believe you system shows the vulnerability of perceived planned attacks, the prevalent method of instruction at most martial arts schools. Your courses made me reevaluate what I thought I knew and could do in a situation. After 30 years it is time to implement some “Reality Based Training.”
Thank you for your courses and I am so glad I was part of the Beginning of this ride. I am sure the people I work with in the future will appreciate it as well.
Thank you again
Here is someone with Special Forces experience who states that my Knife Course was an “eye opener.” This is exactly why professionals are drawn to the Reality-Based Personal Protection system. Most of the curriculum is an eye opener, even for black belts and professionals with years of experience.