Reality-Based recognized in yet another Martial Arts Hall of Fame
On Saturday, August 15, 2015 I was inducted into the 19th Universal Martial Arts Hall of Fame (UMAHoF) as the Defensive Tactical Instructor of the Year 2015 in Houston, Texas. Although the very large trophy and certificate had my name imprinted upon them I view this honor as not mine alone, but I accepted it on behalf of all of you – the Reality-Based Personal Protection community. For, if it were not for your support, and the reality-based movement worldwide, I would not have been presented with this grand title. It’s because of martial artists, professionals, and beginners coming to Reality-Based Personal Protection all across the world recognizing the need for realistic, effective, self-defense training that has gained attention from the top Martial Arts Hall of Fames in the world.
My very first induction was the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame 2006 as the Self-Defense Instructor of the Year. Then that same year I was inducted into the Budo International (Europe) Hall of Fame for Outstanding Achievement. Next was the Masters Hall of Fame in 2011 for Silver Life Achievement Award, and then the Martial Arts History Museum in 2013 for Excellence in the Martial Arts. This weekend marked the fifth time I have been inducted into a Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
My name was submitted to the Supreme Sokeship Council by newly elected Board of Directors member Doctor Jose Luis Hinajosa MD, and voted on and authorized by Professor Silverio P. Guerra, PHD, who is the President of the Board of Directors. Jose and I go all the way back to 1977 when he was 20-years-old and I just 16 studying under Bruce Lee’s protégé Dan Inosanto, in the arts of Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun, and Arnis at the Aspen Academy of Martial Arts in Colorado. We stayed in contact for a couple of years after that, but eventually lost contact when I went into the United States Army and he went into medical school. It wasn’t until over 30 years later that we reunited when Jose saw Black Belt Magazine’s video biography they did on me for being selected by the 70,000 readers to be the Self-Defense Instructor of the Year 2006. Jose Luis contacted me and then ended up taking my Knife Survival course in Dallas, hosted by my good friend Frank Mayson, in 2011. Of course, Jose Luis had always stayed in the martial arts, and he has quite an impressive resume himself.
On the night of the UMAHoF ceremony Daryl “Big Foot” Stewart presented me with my certificate and said to me, “Thank you for your service,” referring to my past service with the federal government as a counterterrorist fighting the Global War on Terrorism, and my current military service as a Reserve sergeant soldier, and then he gave me a one-arm hug. Then Professor Guerra presented me with a large gold trophy and he thanked me also. I then turned toward the audience and posed for the photograph.
As I was making my way back to my table a man stopped me and said, “Excuse me. I just wanted to say that you have had jobs men want. Thank you for your service.”
I knew exactly what he meant. For just prior to going up to receive my award the Master of Ceremonies announced to the 200 guests that I had been a former corrections officer, a police officer, SWAT officer, diplomatic bodyguard, counterterrorist, and now a Reserve soldier serving in the State of California. The jobs I’ve had, and still have, are what many martial artists fanaticize about, dangerous exotic jobs fighting evil.
Not long after returning to my table with seven other guests to applaud other martial artists being called up and recognized for their outstanding achievements my good friend Dr. Jose Luis Hinajosa was called up to do a unique kata. At 57-years-old he was just as snappy and graceful as a youngster, only in this particular kata he was depicting an old man who was reminiscing about his former martial arts skills of his youth. You see, Dr. Hinajosa went up there wearing an old man Halloween style mask, and slumped over walking with a cane. When the music came on, and an audio sound track as if the “old man” were talking to the audience, he went into his cane kata for a few minutes. When the music had ended the glimpse down memory lane had ended, and he went back to his slumped over position and labored to walk off the performance floor. I was quite impressed with my friend’s performance and I told him so when he returned back to the table. I said to him, “One of these days you have to have that kata professionally videotaped and put onto YouTube.” He agreed, as did everyone sitting around Professor Guerra’s reserved table.
Two days prior to accepting my Hall of Fame induction on behalf of all my Reality-Based Personal Protection students worldwide I had the opportunity to teach my Knife Survival seminar to a group of devoted martial artists, and helping me instruct the course was Jose Luis. The great thing about this group was that I had a bunch of “old salts” like myself (that is to say, instructors who have been in the martial arts for over 30 years) as well as a bunch of teenagers – the next generation to propagate the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system. In fact, three of the young men came up to me after the course and said to me, “We had been shown knife defense techniques by our master, but nothing as realistic as what you taught us.”
Charles Battle, a 20 year veteran police investigator of the Richmond Police Department in the State of Virginia and formerly with the U.S. Navy, come up to me asking me if I’d be able to come to Virginia to teach at his police department, and my answer was, “Absolutely,” for about 10% of my business is training police agencies and military units, and being a former police officer, deputy sheriff, and federal agent I always want to teach fellow law enforcement officers how to survive in the line of duty.
Terry Pointer, a former U.S. Army soldier stationed in Germany and a 10th degree black belt in the traditional-based martial arts, came up to me and we talked for a while. We had “connected” well during my course because he confirmed my teachings based upon his own training and experience, and all of the violence that he had seen in his life. We also talked about the out-of-control murder rate in the city of Chicago (this year so far 266 people were shot and killed, while 1,551 people were shot and wounded, with 27 shot and killed this month alone, and 191 shot and wounded), and I asked him, “You live there, in your opinion, why is the crime rate so high in the city of Chicago?” I could not help but ask this question because the entire country is alarmed at how much killing there is in Chicago.
In one sentence Terry answered, “Because of the police.”
I was ready to engage in a really good argument with him, because there has been a lot of hostility in the last year from the African-American community towards the police nationwide based on recent incidents over the past year (The Ferguson Riots, the death of Eric Garner, and the Baltimore riots) but he quickly clarified, “The majority of police are positioned in the tourist areas of downtown Chicago to make all the tourists safe there, and they are spread too thin in the high crime areas just outside of downtown.”
I was relieved that he did not characterized the quality of the policing there, but just wanted more of it in the black communities. On this point I completely agreed with him. I know from experience, back when I was a patrol police officer with the City of Costa Mesa and Orange County Sheriff’s Department, that police chiefs, sheriffs, and mayors do everything they can to make the rich and tourists feel safe, and they will divert limited resources to maintain that sense of security; they protect the revenue. Its not that they ignore the troubled neighborhoods, its just that there is less tolerance for trouble in wealthy districts and the tourist areas. Bad press means less tax revenue and tourist dollars. Of course, the solution is always to have more police officers and a good community relations program such as citizens’ police academy, neighborhood watch, and the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program for school children. That, and preventing the breakdown of the family structure, and instilling morals and discipline in our youth. The majority of killings are “black on black” in the inner cities, and gang warfare is the norm. In fact, on Tuesday, August 19th, to illustrate my point, a beautiful 9-year-old African-American girl, Jamyla Bolden, was shot dead while she sat in her bed doing her homework in the city of Ferguson, Missouri. Some idiot fired a few bullets into the home, and police are now looking for suspects and to determine the motive.
Much of what is happening in Ferguson, Baltimore, and other hot spots in America are also politically motivated; the riots and agitation that is. Much of the protests we see on television and the Internet have nothing to do with race or the police. There are radical groups, professional agitators, and leftists, who flood into an area to attempt to foment discord. Yes, there will always be a bad cop here and there, and such men and women of authority should always be punished, and racial incidents here and there, which should never be tolerated, but those crying out, “Burn this city down!” or “Kill the police” are only wanting to pit one group against another, and nothing good can ever come from that. The way tensions should be handled is the way the citizens of North Charleston did when white supremacist Dylann Roof went into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015 and shot to death 9 people, including the pastor, and wounded one other. Instead of fomenting more racial tension in the country the parishioners of that church publically forgave the shooter for his acts, and insisted that his act is not a reason to lash out at the white community. Although many activists tried to use this event to create a race war, and even succeeded in having the confederate flag removed from many places, the attempt to push division was stopped immediately. Even Jewish and Muslim organizations helped to quell the rising tension. Their example is the way tragic events should be handled, and not more violence.
On Friday, August 14, 2015 I had the chance to fulfill a childhood dream, and that was to visit the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. When I was seven years old I remember vividly sitting on the living room floor in front of the big boxy black and white television set with rabbit ear antennas watching a live broadcast of the first man, Neil Armstrong, to step foot on the moon. That date was July 20, 1969.
Jose Luis and I each had purchased a Level Nine, VIP, Tour that lasted six hours. It is called a “Level Nine Tour” because Building 1 had nine floors, and special guests, VIPs, had access to all nine levels. Well, we too had access to a lot of areas the general public does not. NASA only allows groups of 11 people for the Level Nine Tour. We not only had supervised access to the 1,600 acres, but we also saw Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano jogging along East NASA Parkway that runs down the center of the compound. We also saw some training going on at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL), and that was the same place where I did some videotaping for an upcoming training video that I am working on for YouTube. Jose Luis was my cameraman, and behind me was the spectacular high tech background of the massive swimming pool with a full-scale mock-up of the International Space Station (ISS). I can’t tell you just yet what my training video is about, because it has to do with a new product I designed, and I am still only in the prototype phase of the project. The NBL backdrop is related to this unique project.
A big thrill was Jose Luis and I going into the Mission Control Center and watching NASA Flight Director Tony Ceccaci at work behind his console controlling the International Space Station. Up on the big screens were live images coming from space, and awesome views of earth. The man sitting at the ADCO (Attitude Determination and Control Officer) console was the one actually piloting the ISS as the OPS PLANNER (Operations Planner) was allowing the astronauts to go on a break and turn in for the “evening.” The current Expedition 44 crew on the ISS is Gennady Padalka (Russia), Mikhail Kornienko (Russia), Scott Kelly (USA), Oleg Kononenko (Russia), Kimiya Yuki (Japan), and Kjell Lindgren (USA). Astronauts and cosmonauts in the ISS begin their “day” at 1 a.m. Houston Time Zone since the ISS orbits the earth 16 times a day, and so they see a lot of sunrises and sunsets in a 24-hour period.
Another exciting thing that we saw was the experimental building for Dragon 1 and 2 being developed by SpaceX (an American private space transportation company based in Hawthorne, California), and the Boeing (also an American company) Crew Space Transportation (CST) system. These two companies, under contract by NASA, are very important to the space program because of the current political and financial situation between Russia and the United States. Ever since the Space Shuttle program was retired NASA has had to buy seats aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get our American astronauts up to, and back from, the International Space Station. However, at $82 million per seat it is more cost effective to have private companies, like SpaceX and Boeing, to develop and transport our astronauts. Therefore SpaceX is working on the Dragon 1 to transport cargo, and the Dragon 2 to transport astronauts. Boeing is working on the CST. NASA has decided to allow private companies to handle Low Earth Orbit spaceflights (between 99 miles [160 kl] to 1,200 miles [2,000 kl]) while they will concentrate on deep space exploration (to the moon and beyond).
NASA has a few goals they wish to achieve. The first is to send astronauts to the red planet Mars, with spacecraft such as Orion, which would be a 3-year mission: 9 months to fly there, a year and a half on the surface, and 9 months to return to earth. If you’re interested to become an astronaut NASA will be soon hiring a new batch of recruits. Another mission NASA is working on is to fly to an asteroid, lasso it, and pull it into the moon’s orbit. Once there they will study it. The final mission is to continue to send up space telescopes, like the new James Webb Space Telescope, and deep space probes.
After the Level Nine Tour Jose Luis and I had two whole hours to visit the Space Museum, watch a NASA documentary, and get a detailed briefing on upcoming space missions. In the museum I had the chance to touch an actual moon rock, which is only one of eight in the world that the public is allowed to touch. The museum was fascinating with so many displays and artifacts. I could have easily spent another day there if I would have had the time, but I didn’t.
I have contributed to the space program several years ago by training the Security Forces of the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California where they launch rockets into space. I was contracted to teach the team Combatives and SWAT tactics, and in turn they protect the base, missiles, and rockets. About five years ago I was lucky enough to see a rocket on its way into space fly directly over my home that had been launched from Vandenberg AFB. Normally they are shot off in a westerly direction, and one can see the plume of smoke and contrail for up to 30 minutes after the launch, but this particular one I saw had a southwest trajectory down the coast of California where I actually saw the rocket itself racing across the twilight sky.
I had to traverse across Houston a few times and I tried a mode of transportation I never took before, and that was UBER. My opinion? I was completely satisfied. The APP was easy to download and use, drivers showed up each time within minutes, the fares were low, and everything was charged to my credit card. I was also able to see my progress on my phone through live feed GPS. There was one time I took a taxi cab, and that was because he was right there when Jose Luis and I exited the Johnson Space Center, and it was just a short drive to the Longhorn Steakhouse restaurant. Texas is know for their good food, and we were hungry for some good steaks, and the Longhorn was the place to go.
On Monday, August 17, 2015 I flew back to Southern California just missing a big thunderstorm rolling into Houston a couple of hours later. The night before I wanted to take a walk to a restaurant down the road from my hotel, but after walking only 50 yards the lightning became fierce, and I didn’t want to be the tallest object on the side of the road next to an empty field. Not wanting to be a lighting rod I wisely turned around and went back to my hotel room, ordered a Papa John’s “the works” pizza, and watched a good movie. I’m glad I turned around and went back to the hotel, because not five minutes after I stepped into the hotel lobby asking for the phone number to “a good pizza place that delivers” did it start to pour rain for a few hours. I would have been soaked, even if I had survived a lighting strike.
My trip to Houston, Texas was a memorable one: teaching my Knife Survival, the Hall of Fame, NASA, but most of all getting to spend some quantity and quality time with my old friend Doctor Jose Luis Hinajosa MD.
Copyright Jim Wagner 2003 - 2020 All rights reserved.