I celebrated the 15th Anniversary of the Reality-Based Personal Protection system the most appropriate way that I could this weekend, and that was training two different security teams.
The birth of the RBPP system was on January 21, 2003, and today on January 21, 2018, I was on a live-fire range training a Church Security Team in Southern California. Yesterday, I taught another church security team at their church. Lately, due to the attacks on Christian churches worldwide, I have had requests to train up various security teams on everything from handling disruptive people to full blown terrorist attacks.
Starting with Saturday, January 20th, the team was trained in First Aid, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and AED (automated external defibrillator). After that I went over observation skills, bag searches, and using the metal detector wands. This was their third formal lesson from me concerning these three subjects. In between lessons they have actually been doing what I taught them for eleven months now.
It was a good day of training for them, and they caught 80% of the items that I had hidden on the four different actors. In the world of security that is a good number.
After the bag searches I had a fictitious Pro-Life (people who believe that an abortion [taking the life of an unborn baby] is a woman’s “right”) group stand up on cue during the church service and start protesting. Three of the women started shouting down the pastor (an actor), and making noises with cowbells. The male protester ran up a flight of stairs and tried to chain himself to the handrail. In the State of California disrupting a worship service is a misdemeanor, and the protesters were advised of the law, and told that if they did not stop that they were trespassing. Well, needless to say, they would not comply and the church security officers had to take the appropriate actions that complied with church policies and state law.
To complete the training day we ran through lockdown procedures and had a couple active shooter scenarios. Both armed and unarmed teams were in their normal positions. The church facility not only had an office and sanctuary to lockdown, but a nursery and kindergarten through high school classrooms to secure as well. Unfortunately, the active shooter (an actor armed with a Nerf gun for safety) managed to get into the nursery, because an usher had forgot to lock the door. But, that is exactly why real time scenarios are so important. It’s better to make the mistakes in training than during a real incident.
The following evening, the actual anniversary date, I was on a live-fire indoor gun range with a different church security team. I was supposed to have seven armed officers, but two of them could not make it because they were sick. This was a very good excuse, because a severe flu virus (the H3N2 strain) has swept the continental United States, and California was hit the worse with 32 deaths in just one week according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since the outbreak 74 people have died in my state, including many children and otherwise healthy adults. Unfortunately, a friend of mine, Mike McGinnis, had this same flu and on Wednesday, the 17th, he died. It came as quite a shock, because we had attended a Christmas party just a few weeks earlier and he was as healthy as could be, animated, and having a great time. Two days later I got together with some common friends of ours, and we comforted each other.
So, I worked with the five church security officers that I had, and it was a great evening of training. This was my second time training the team in firearms, and it was wonderful seeing their progression and enthusiasm. We started off with their Annual Pistol Qualification, and documented the results, then went right into movement drills. After that I taught them a two-person active shooter formation. This is where an active shooter is still on the property, and the security officers must move to the sound of gunfire or screams, and then engage the shooter. There are safe ways to do it, and wrong ways to do it. The way I teach it is no different than the way I have taught thousands of police officers and military personnel around the world for almost 30 years now. It’s sad that churches and synagogues need paramilitary teams to protect their staff and congregations, but that is the crazy violent world we live in today. Today’s places of worship have to always be ready for mentally disturbed persons, active shooters, and even radical Islamic terrorists. I’ve been training churches since 2003, which corresponds with when I started Reality-Based Protection, and so that means for 15 years now. I remember for years that many church leaders thought that I was a bit “overboard” or “paranoid” for teaching church security team members how to do bomb searches, prepare for chemical attacks, understand sniper tactics, or be ready for mass casualty incidents. Having been in law enforcement and the military, and involved in counterterrorism since 1992, I saw “the writing on the wall” back then, and I stayed the course.
If you read some of the letters written to the editor of Black Belt magazines (Jim Wagner History: Black Belt video) I even had, from time to time, martial arts instructors stating in those letters the same thing about me, and that was that my predictions about active shooters with assault rifles and terrorism hitting the United States, would never materialize. My first article came out in January of 1999 introducing the martial arts community to reality-based concepts. Yet, here we are 19 years later and I’m still teaching the same things. Granted, I’ve added some more material, like surviving Vehicle Ramming Attacks, but most of my courses are unchanged. Long before Homeland Security advised RUN, HIDE, FIGHT for active shooters, I had already had my video Office Massacres and School Shooting out on YouTube showing people the necessary techniques and tactics years before.
Since RBPP started 15 years ago I have taught thousands of civilians, martial arts instructors from every system conceivable, corrections officers, law enforcement officers, and military personnel from dozens of countries. The good thing is that I have also taught many good men and women who are now teaching others what I have taught them. Here are a few comments from RBPP students who posted on the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection Facebook page.
"It has been 15 years since I met my instructor, my friend, and my Christian brother Jim Wagner. Love or hate him, he changed the martial arts world for the better. I am truly honored to be have been his student for so long. I am, for one, glad he started Reality-Based Personal Protection 15 years ago. Since the I have been his assistant, and then an advisor, and now a Director in Latin America. Thank you Jim for sharing all of your years of hard work, dedication, and knowledge you gained around the world. This year, for sure, you'll be coming to the Dominican Republic. BE A HARD TARGET."Fernando Figueroa
"No doubt, he changed the martial arts forever. I can't even participate in a traditional martial arts class anymore. It's tough 'closing my eyes' after they've been opened. I love the arts, but I see combat through a different lens now. Self-protection over self-perfection." Dallas Johnson (former RBPP Director of Canada)
"Congratulations Jim Wagner on 15 years of making people safer, and being a great influence on the martial arts."