A lot of martial arts instructors teach their students how to survive a bar fight, but do they actually train these students in a real bar? On Saturday, May 17 and 18, I did exactly that. I trained my Reality-Based Personal Protection students inside of a real bar: loud music, low lighting, small dim spotlights, dark corners, and the smell of alcohol in the air.
A few months ago RBPP instructors Timo Gartner and Sarah Scheu approached me asking me if I would be willing to teach a self-defense course or two if they provided an actual bar for me. Without hesitation I said, “Yes, of course.” What self-defense instructor wouldn’t that for his students; especially when they had approached the founder of the reality-based self-defense movement (a title given to me by the martial arts magazines years ago). Plus, my history is based on training in real environments for conflict. When I was a young 18-year-old private in the United States Army in Boot Camp at Fort Jackson, South Carolina we trained to fight against the Soviets on training fields that looked like real battle fields: overturned charred military vehicles, bomb craters, crashed aircraft with scattered debris, and a lot of distant machine gun fire and earth pounding explosions. When I was in the police academy we trained in a Sheriff’s facility called Laser Village. It was a mock city street with fully furnished homes, a bank, a gas station, liquor store, fast food joint, and a bar (the sign above the door read Crazy Horse and had a bucking bronco logo). When I was selected by my government to fight the Global War on Terror we agents trained in actual passenger aircraft. We had to, for there is no room to miss the targets in a shooting aboard an aircraft packed with innocent people at 36,000 feet. In counterterrorism school we even had a very realistic bar scenario on the ground. After all, counterterrorists have to blow off steam somewhere after duty hours, even if it is in foreign countries. However, in all of my early years training in the traditional and sport-based martial arts my instructors never once took us into a back alley, onto a street, or in a bar for training. This was where the martial arts was severely lacking, and when I started changing that in 1999 with my first article that appeared in Black Belt magazine in the January issue. That was the debut of my system.
My RBPP Director of Germany, Tobias, and I did not know how many students would sign up for this bar fighting c=course, but we took the chance and scheduled it back-to-back with other courses I would be teaching later in the week in Solingen and Cologne. To our surprise we had a great turn out. The bar was SOUNDCHECK ONE located in Waldbrunn surrounded by the beautiful Black Forest 104 km north of Stuttgart. SOUNDCHECK ONE is a Heavy Metal bar located in an old converted factory that once supplied uniforms to the German army in World War I, for the French border is only a 20-minute drive from the location.
When Tobias and I were checking out the bar on Friday night the Los Angeles band Night Demon was practicing for a concert that night. I said to Tobias, “Wow! Listen to that noise!” Then Sarah corrected me, “Jim, that is not ‘noise.’ It is music.” I just laughed. I’m not a Heavy Metal fan, but I knew that this “music” would be perfect for the scenarios. Unfortunately we would not have a live band for the two days of training, but we had a DJ station.
Day One was BAR FIGHT SURVIVAL; although on the schedule it was titled CLUB SURVIVAL. The course curriculum covered all likely conflicts that would take place in a bar, nightclub, discotech, or restaurant. Instead of starting my course with techniques, I started off with four realistic full scenarios. Full scenarios have a beginning, middle, and ending as opposed to a mini scenario that starts at a specific point in time. A student or two were selected as the trainees, who would know the scenario environment but not the type of attack, and placed in protective equipment for light physical contact. Another student or two were selected as the trainer (the bad guys), and everyone else would be “supporting actors;” waitresses, bar tender, doorman, and customers. I’d give the signal for the lights to be turned down and the music up loud, and then the scenario would start.
My students really got into their roles, and at times it was like I was witnessing a real bar fight. For those participating in these scenarios they actually received real experiences that paralleled real life, but the only difference was that nobody got hurt. Plus, not all scenarios were designed to end in a physical fight. Real life situations can be diffused, and so in some of my scenarios students could end a scenario peaceably or add fuel to the fire.
Throughout the day I covered a wide variety of techniques and training methods: everything from a Western style saloon free-for-all fight with everyone involved in it to a revenge shooting (using Airsoft pistols of course) and the patrons caught in the middle of the cross-fire ducking for cover behind tables, bar stools, and getting out of the Kill Zone.
That night Timo and Sarah, along with several other of my students, took me and Tobias out for the region’s traditional Flammkuchen. To read more about this experience, and some tactical tips I posted about bar fights, go to my business Facebook page jimwagnerrbpp.
Day Two was a combination of two courses. The morning session was PROTECTING OTHERS IN A BAR FIGHT, and the afternoon session was DOORMAN SURVIVAL. In the past I’ve taught several Protecting Others courses, but never specifically for fights that break out in a drinking establishment. It turned out to be quite an exciting course for everybody, and only a few students were locals. Most students drove great distances to be there. You can read about how I threw real beer bottles at my students on my Facebook page.
Even those students who had never been a doorman (bouncer) before, nor do they have the desire to be one in the future, there were still many relevant techniques and training exercises that are useful for anyone; like the Protect the Box exercise that I go into detail about on my business Facebook page.
After the completion of the seminar Tobias and I hopped onto the Autobahn, up to speeds of 220 kph (136 mph) on some stretches, until we were finally back in Solingen; the “City of Blades.” The next afternoon I had a business meeting with Carsten Felix-Dalichow who is the president of Boker; the manufacturer of my Reality Based Blade series, and the host of my courses in Germany. The one-hour meeting was about a new exciting product that I recently designed, with the collaboration of others, and that Boker is producing. The project is still “under wraps,” and should be in production by the end of the year. In this same meeting we also discussed the sales of my new RBB Training Tool; the affordable rubber marking knife that will eventually be in every martial arts school, police academy, combat military unit, bodyguard school, and private security school in the world). The rest of the day was meeting with Boker’s Art Director to go over the brochure insert that will be placed in every box of my products, and finishing up training certificates.
The next two days, May 20 and 21, I taught a bodyguard course to professionals. The requirement to attend this course is to have the proper credentials with a local, regional, or federal government. See some of the tactical pointers I put up specifically for bodyguards on my business Facebook page.
I enjoyed teaching this course because I’ve been through a lot of bodyguard training course throughout my police and military career, I was the Team Leader for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Dignitary Protection Unit (DPU) from 2000 to 2002, I’ve protected a few movie starts on some private Close Protection gigs, and I was even the Team Leader protecting a Brigadier General for the military. In fact, just before this trip to Germany I had the privilege of training American troops in Protective Services because this particular unit is often tasked with protecting V.I.P.’s, both civilian and military, from time to time.
When Tobias was dropping me off at my hotel he relayed to me probably one of the biggest compliments I have ever received in my 15 years teaching in Germany. We had been talking about the high caliber of students we have had over the years and he said to me, “Jim, many people have told me that you are of the most knowledgeable instructors they have ever met. And, it is true. Most people stay in one place. They stay in the police, or the military, or are a bodyguard their whole career. You have done many different things, and you know many things.” That meant a lot to me, because I knew it came from some of the top operators in Germany, and Tobias is not one for giving flattery.
On my day off I continued my ongoing research on human conflict, and I visited the EL-DE (pronounced el-dee taken from the intitials of the business man who had it built Leopold Dahman), which is the name of a building, but it is also the NSDOK (Nazi Dokumentationszentrum der Stadt Köln). This was once the location of the infamous Gestapo (Nazi secret state police) headquarters in Cologne (in German Köln) from December 1935 to March 1945.
The museum tour starts in the basement of the building that served as a jail, torture chamber, and execution area (over 400 prisoners were executed). The EL-DE is the best preserved Gestapo jail in the country that is practically in its original condition, because ironically it survived the allied bombings that destroyed 95% of the buildings in Cologne.
Going through the halls and jail cells was a bit eerie, even for me a former jailer, but such places must be preserved in hopes of persuading today’s generation, and future generations, not to repeat such atrocities, and to force us to look at just how depraved human nature can be. Any culture is capable of going to the lowest level. Although I dare not compare any regime of today to the Gestapo, I could not help but think while I was walking in that spiritually dark place about two fellow Americans in captivity who are both innocent of their alleged crimes. Pastor Kenneth Bae is a Christian pastor arrested and convicted for “planning to overthrow the North Korean government” and is now serving a 15 years prison sentence. The real reason for his harsh treatment is trying to help starving North Koreans physically and spiritually through missionary trips. Pastor Saeed Abedini was on his ninth trip in Iran helping to build an orphanage there, and he was arrested by the Iranian government and sentenced to 8 years for “undermining national security.” Supporters say the real reason is because the Islamic Revolutionary Guard does not like the fact that he is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity: an act that results in the death penalty in many Muslim countries. There is no legitimate reason for these two men to be held in prison, but there they sit today. Because I know they are there, I will not forget them, nor will I stop praying for their release and their families to be comforted.
The rest of the NSDOK had interesting historical items, Nazi era photographs and documents, and I got my fair share of information that I was looking for; namely how leaders with evil intentions will work hard to indoctrinate their youth so that when they get older they’ll blindly carry out the doctrine of “re-education” for those not towing the party line, conquest, extermination, and even cold-blooded murder of political and philosophical “enemies.” This was quite evident with the Hitler Youth organization (for boys 14 to 18), German Youth (boys aged 10 to 14), and the League of German Girls (girls of all ages). Similar to the Nazi youth organizations was the Communist Pioneers of the Soviet Union, and we even see it today in some countries around the world in the form of formal indoctrination and informal (such as in “liberal” education institutions). Unfortunately, bad history does repeat itself.
On Friday night my left arm was starting to hurt from the elbow down to my fingertips. I didn’t know why, and I didn’t know from when it occurred. I had never had this feeling of pain before, although it was tolerable, and so I couldn’t figure out what it was from. I’ll jump in from time to time to train with my students, like I did in the bodyguard course, but I didn’t recall any real stress or strain when doing so. It was getting progressively worse by Saturday morning, and by the time I woke up in the morning I knew I’d have to get it checked by a medical expert by the end of the workday.
Saturday, May 24, was my popular course POCKET STICK & TACTICAL PEN. Essentially, this course involves any “tool” or improvised weapon that is similar in shape and size: a tactical flashlight (one of my personal favorites to carry), a bronze Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building souvenir at the airport, iPhone, large bottle opener, etc. I taught this class like I always do, but I didn’t push it with my left arm. After the course had ended Tobias dropped me off at a walk-in medical center. Once I was registered at the front desk I only had to wait about 10 minutes before I was called in. Five of those minutes waiting in the lobby was consumed by watching a nurse kick out a drunk man out of the facility and threatening to call the police if he didn’t go. He almost fell on a lady in his drunken stupor as she sat waiting for a loved one to come out, and she immediately bolted out of her seat to get away from him, and I wondered for a second or two when it looked like he was coming in my direction if I’d end up in a fight with him or not. Fortunately he left without further trouble.
The on-call physician examined me, and 10 minutes later advised me that I had a torn muscle on my left shoulder blade near the spine, and that was what was causing the pain in my left arm. However, just to make sure it was nothing else he checked out my heart and lungs. I was hooked up to an EKG (Electrocardiogram), and the medical technician referred to me as “der Amerikaner,” and after a brief wait the results came back – I was in good health. I asked the doctor for a copy of the diagnostic and a copy of the EKG, and he did it himself right there in the examining room at a computer. “Wow!” I thought to myself, “You’d never see a doctor in the United States print out any paper work or make a copy for the patient.” That type of work in the USA was usually reserved for the office manager. Then when he handed me an invoice for 73 euro I asked him if I had to pay at the front desk. He said, “No, you may me here.”
Again, I was shocked. It was like being back in America in the 1800s where you actually paid the doctor directly for his services. Of course, Germany has insurance and all of the red tape for health care that we do in my country, but I went in there planning on paying cash, and when you pay cash for health services anywhere in the world it is more efficient. Walk-in clinics in Germany are set up to take cash, just like they are in America, but again, who in America actually hands the cash directly to the doctor? I found it very efficient, and it meant less time waiting for someone else to take my money. Of course, my German doctor was worth every euro cent. He gave me a prescription, some advice, and I was on my way. Some pain for a few days or a week wasn’t going to take me off line. I was back to teaching the next day.
My final day of teaching was the one-day WOMEN’S DEFENSE course (CLICK HERE to see a video of one of my Women's Survival courses). Assisting me was Tobias, Sevil Dilbas, and Manfred Hallmann-Jasper of the Kenju-Ryu school run by my good friend Jörg Kuschel. Manfred was the designated attacker for the course, for we always need one or two good instructors to play the role of “rapist,” “sexual assaulter,” “sexual harassment boss,” “a date who doesn’t understand the word ‘no,’” etc. I can’t “attack” my own female students because they must trust me, and “beating” on them one minute, and being their “mentor” the next just does not work. Sevil plays an important role because the students need a good female role model to demonstrate the simplicity and effectiveness of the techniques, and if a woman with uncomfortable past experiences breaks downs and cries, which does happen once in a while, she’s not looking for the male instructors for comfort, the very ones who put her into the situation in the first place, but a nurturing woman. Sevil is only 20-years-old, but wise beyond her years. Although this group was a tough group that maintained a “stiff upper lip,” despite the challenge of the course, one woman confided in me, “I wish I would have taken this course twenty years ago.” I told her, “Better late than never,” for just because a woman gets old does not mean she will enjoy a predator free life. In fact, some sick-minded men prey upon aged women because they are “a soft target,” as opposed to the RBPP motto, “Be A Hard Target.”
When I was demonstrating one particular technique with Tobias I finally felt the spot where the doctor told me the minor injury was located. With that little pain that shot through me during a ground technique I decided to ease up on those demonstrations that would aggravate the area, and let my assistants show them the rest. That’s the great thing about having well qualified assistant instructors that I’ve trained myself. It was the sudden movements on the ground that was not good for me, and teaching everything else was fine. Yet, that is the price I pay from time to time teaching Reality-Based Personal Protection. Over the years I’ve had the sprang wrists and angles, hurt knee, hairline fracture ribs, broken finger, lots of bruises, and the occasional torn muscle I have now.
Upcoming RBPP courses in Germany in November
If you are in Europe, and you’d like to know everything you need to know about self-defense, or you’d like to become a certified Reality-Based Personal Protection instructor, then sign up today for the Level 1 courses and Knife camp. See the flyers for more details.
When Dominik Klose showed up to my bodyguard course last week I was very pleased to see him, for he is one of my most loyal Reality-Based Personal Protection students in Germany. Plus, when I first saw his name on the list for the course I just knew that I’d have a true warrior in my class who could give good feedback based on his real-world conflict experience.
Dominik started his martial arts training at 5-years-old. His father was a boxer who wanted his son to learn how to fight. At the age of 16 he got into Jiu-Jitsu, weight lifting, and even more involved in boxing.
In 2003 Dominik joined the Germany army as a Military Police soldier. This suited him just fine because he got to train in military Combatives, combat fighting techniques, firearms, and impact weapons. In 2004 he started studying the Musado MCS (Military Combat System), which was created by a former Military Police soldier Herbert Grudzenski. The term ‘musado’ is from the Korean language meaning “the way of the warrior.”
In 2007 Dominik earned his black belt in Musado, and that same year he was also introduced to the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system. The German Army Military Police Combatives staff were not only teaching the army’s hand-to-hand combat system, but they wanted all MP Combatives instructors to go through my five-day Level 1 courses. In April of that year Dominik showed up to my school in Solingen and earned his instructor certificate from me, along with other MP soldiers. However, he didn’t stop there. In September of 2008 Dominik took my KNIFE CAMP that included Tactical Knife, which is a must for any police officer or Military Police soldier.
In September 2009 Dominik came back to me again for Level 2, and just a few months later in November he completed Level 3. Even though Level 3 was geared more towards self-defense instructors who want to run a school, Dominik was not planning on staying in the army, but one day planning to teach the martial arts himself. In the German army you have to decide early on if you want to do the few years you signed up for or stay in the army for life.
In 2010 Dominik completed his military service and continued his Musado MPCS and Reality-Based Personal Protection training on his own, and teaching them both. In 2012 he had the opportunity to teach security personnel of the Deutsche Bundes-Bank. They were responsible for protecting the Federal Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble, who survived an assassination attempt on October 12, 1990 by gunman Dieter Kaufmann, but was severely injured in the face and spinal cord putting him in a wheelchair the rest of his life. Wolfgang Schäuble’s bodyguard was injured during the attack.
Earlier this year Dominik came to a few of my courses, and one night after class he took me to his favorite beerhouse in the center of Cologne and we talked shop for a few hours. That’s when he decided to pay an artist who had come up to our table to draw our portraits. Out of friendship Dominik gave me the drawing.
Of course, last week in the bodyguard course Dominik’s performance was superb. His shooting was spot on (using a gas operated Airsoft pistol) when doing scenarios. In one scenario I was actually playing the assassin and popped out from around the corner of a building firing at their principal. We had an awesome training area out of view of the public thanks to Boker. Both Dominik and his fellow bodyguard, also a former Bundeswehr soldier, both nailed me in the face (thank God for wrap-around eye protection) with a 6mm projectile from 7 meters away, and then immediately extracted themselves from the Kill Zone as a third bodyguard evacuated the principal. Although I had quite a stink on my lip and forehead, for I took my chances by not wearing a complete face mask, I was quite proud of both of them, and I was honored that I was the first instructor to teach them the trade of Close Protection.
If you are in Germany, and you’d like some expert training from Dominik Klose, which I highly recommend, then visit his website at: www.SulSa.de
Upcoming RBPP courses in France in July
If you are in Europe, and you’d like to know everything you need to know about self-defense, or you’d like to become a certified Reality-Based Personal Protection instructor, then sign up today for the Level 1 and Level 2 courses in Paris, France. This seminar is just around the corner. See the flyer for more details.