Dutch Police want Reality-Based training Jim Wagner
“Jim, we want you to come to Holland as soon as you can. We are putting together our knife defense program that will be taught to all Amsterdam police officers and we want to include many of the Reality-Based things that you have taught us before. This program will be an official training program for the department. We need your input before June,” Inspector Gerard Willemsen said to me over the phone in March.
I looked at my calendar and told him, “I’m teaching in Germany starting May 9th, and I can schedule it in the week before.” Gerard set the date for May 8 and I immediately booked a flight to Amsterdam via Copenhagen. However, there was more to it than that. Gerard also wanted me to teach his Krav Maga students that he teaches every Wednesday evening, most of them police officers, and then have me assist with an Arrest and Control program he is working on with the Amsterdam Police Harbor Patrol Unit.
I arrived at Schipohl airport on Tuesday, May 5th, in the afternoon. To overcome the jetlag I tried to stay up. I walked around the center of Amsterdam, starting from Damsquare, for a couple of hours and then decided to visit the Torture Museum on Amstel Street. Having served for two years as a corrections officer (from 1988 to 1990) with the Costa Mesa Police Department just south of Los Angeles, and occasionally tasked with teaching corrections officers around the world, I am very interested in historical crime and punishment.
The next day I met with my Director of the Netherlands Mike Constantinides. We had lunch together and discussed future civilian courses. Mike had taken a leave of absence for several months as Director, but is now back representing the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system. Mike was the first certified Dutch instructor to be certified by me, and was the one who brought Reality-Based into the Netherlands. A few years later the impact he has made in that country is evident today. Virtually all martial artists in Holland know about our system, and there are many now trying to incorporate our techniques and training methods into their own programs. Mike was also responsible for contacting the Dutch police years ago and letting them know about Reality-Based. This relationship has only grown stronger over the years with the police at every level; federal, regional, and municipal.
Mike is also more than just a business partner; he is like a brother to me. He is the type of person that would do anything for his friends, and everybody likes his personality and genuine warmth. If he is not your friend, he is not somebody you would not want to mess with. As a London bouncer he has been in over 800 real-world fights, and has had a few intense life-and-death fights while growing up in Beirut, Lebanon during the bloody civil war. Mike has witness a few atrocities himself.
After lunch Mike had to go take of some business and I had a couple hours to kill, so I went to the Amsterdam City Museum (Amsterdams Historisch Museum) on Kalverstraat; a very popular shopping street in the heart of Amsterdam. As part of my continuing research into self-defense and warfare (human conflict) I found quite a bit of good information and I took a lot of excellent photographs.
At 16:00 Gerard Willemsen met me in Dam Square in the very center of Amsterdam and he took me to dinner. We then drove to the dojo where I trained 21 APGS Krav Maga students, with one observer, from 19:00 to 21:30. Gerard, as of late, has been calling his style “Krav Maga Reality-Based.” He told me, “True Krav Maga is using what works, and throwing out what doesn’t. Jim, your Reality-Based system is the same mindset as the original Krav Maga system out of Israel, but I believe it is more complete with pre-conflict, conflict and post-conflict. It is also more police and military centered.”
Of course, Gerard is absolutely right on his assessment. I have had the privilege of training the Israeli police and military as an invited instructor, and I have also taken some of their courses as a welcomed guest. The original Krav Maga, going back to the 1950s and born from KAPAP from the 1930s and 1940s, was never one particular system, but a combination of Western boxing, wrestling, ju-jitsu, and the military components of KAPAP. There is no such thing as “pure” Krav Maga; not even in Israel. Every teacher who teaches it, whether military or civilian, changes it to their own liking. This was also Bruce Lee’s original intention in creating the “concept” of Jeet Kune Do in the early 1970s. JKD was never meant to be a “style,” but a mixture of many martial arts and stripped down of all nonessentials.
In the Krav Maga school I taught some of the fundamentals of Knife Survival, the Jim Wagner Four Box Square Rule for getting someone off of you while mounted, and criminal chemical defense. At the end of the course Gerard asked his students if they wanted some future training from me, and it was a unanimous “yes.” Gerard is also recommending to all of his students that they become at least a Level 1 instructor in the Reality-Based Personal Protection system. Few martial arts instructors in Holland are secure enough to do that, but Gerard is a rare breed. He also happens to be one of the top police defensive tactics instructors in the entire country, and is well known in the civilian martial arts community as well. He just recently returned from a trip from the FBI training center in Quantico, Virginia completing a tactical entry team training course.
The next day, Thursday, May 7th, Gerard picked me up in his police car and we went to a couple of Amsterdam police stations. While going to one location to another he showed me some of the “hot spots” in the city. Our final destination was the Dutch Marine Base, the Koninklijke Marine, in District 1; the center of Amsterdam. This jurisdiction includes 210 kilometers of canals and waterways that must be patrolled. At the Marine Base the Amsterdam Police Department has a Harbor Patrol Unit. I had a chance to meet with the commander of the unit, Inspector Vos, and she was very hospitable and gave me a verbal history of the unit. I then met most of the personnel working in the unit, and I could have not been more welcomed. They treated me like one of their own. Gerard is working on a defensive tactics program for the Harbor Patrol Unit and wanted me to contribute my ideas to the program. I have had a lot of maritime operations training. I have had the privilege of being a student, an assistant instructor, and a primary instructor for many different courses: Tactical Swimmer, Tactical SCUBA, Boat Interdiction, Ship Interdiction, Search & Recovery, and GOPLAT Interdiction (Gas & Oil Platform). I have trained with the U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Honolulu Police SWAT (Maritime), North Miami Police (Maritime), and a dozen others. It had been several years since I was “in the water,” but having a chance to train in the waterways of Amsterdam was like getting back on a bicycle. Of course, I also had a chance to learn a few Dutch techniques and tactics. It is always a two way street in the world of tactics.
The first vessel we boarded was a De Greuns B.V. Kruiplijn-Patrouillevaartuig built in 2003. The vessel is 11.20 meters long and has an enclosed pilot cabin. Gerard and I were transported on this vessel to the training area in open water. A second watercraft, a Duarry inflatable hull single engine patrol boat, followed us to the location. Once there the Maritime officers showed us their arrest techniques and their procedure for transferring an arrestee from one vessel to another. Gerard and I then quickly came up with various solutions to their unique environment, and then actually practiced them.
We then went to a second training location to practice getting a prisoner onto dry land from a vessel. In some areas this is not a problem where there are boat docks, but the problem we were told to solve involved getting them up onto industrial docks that are designed for large ships, not small vessels. It’s not just a matter of arrest techniques, but general water safety as well. In addition, foul weather situations must also be a consideration.
After the training had ended the captain of the small speed boat asked me if I’d like a tour of Amsterdam in the police boat. Of course, I could not turn down the offer. We went right into the heart of Amsterdam on some of the major canals.
The next day I had to report to work at the Politie Amsterdam-Amstelland Complex Over-Amstel at 07:30 hours to teach my course to 17 Amsterdam Police instructors (each of them teach firearms, tactics, and defensive tactics). According to Inspector Gerard Willemsen I am the only foreigner ever invited to teach at this central training facility, even to this day. I was first invited to teach there in 2007, and then again this month. Gerard told me, “We have a lot of people coming to us from all over the world asking us if they could train us here, but we don’t accept them. When I told you the last time, ‘you are in’ I meant that YOU ARE IN.”
For this recent trip I was invited by Gerard with the full approval of the Unit Chief who is in charge of all training. Beside the 17 men and women that I was tasked to train he is also over the additional instructors who teach law course, procedural courses, management courses, as well as a police academy staff, who are also located in the same complex. The facility is big and modern; built in 2000.
I already knew about a third of the instructors I was teaching from my previous trips, and my new students were just as professional and hospitable. What they all wanted from me was to teach them Police Knife Survival course and select those techniques they feel will best fit their new knife defense program, which will be official standard training doctrine. Starting in July 1st, and lasting an entire year, these instructors will teach the techniques and training methods I taught them to 3,000 Amsterdam police officers during this year. They will even have my name listed as one of their top sources on the manual. The official title of the program will be MES PROGRAM (Dutch for Knife Program). I also had two Utrecht Police defensive tactics instructors attend my training, and they will take the information back to their department. One of the trainers is Eric Hein who is also one of my Level 1 instructors, and he has been a big fan of my Reality-Based Personal Protection system for years and has even written articles about it. In fact, a few of the Amsterdam Police instructors in this MES PROGRAM are also my own Level 1 and Level 2 certified instructors. After the debriefing I suspect that the material that will go into the program will be my Knife Avoidance Drill, the Jim Wagner Knife Disarm Rule, and Self and Partner Triage and First Aid, along with some real-world scenarios that we conducted both indoors and outdoors in an urban environment.
All of these instructors were highly competent with the material I taught them, and I know that this program will help make 3,000 more police officers safer.
As soon as I finished my lesson Gerard Willemsen presented me with a Letter of Appreciation and one of the other officers gave me a police sports shirt. I then immediately headed to the Amsterdam Central Train Station and caught a train to Dusseldorf, Germany. I then took two short trips and I finally made it into Solingen Mitte at 22:00 hours. The next day I had to teach a two-day Women’s Survival course at the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection European Headquarters.
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