RBPP on the front line of counter-terrorism in Europe
“At this moment radical Islamic terrorists are only 15 minutes away from your home.” That’s the sub title of a new book written by Alexandre Mendel, and published this year in France (La France Djihadiste: en ce moment à 15 minutes de chez vous).
I’ve been teaching my 8-hour Terrorism Survival course for 13 years now in Europe, since January 21, 2003. Up until recently it had been one of my least attended courses, but this month French-speaking countries are taking a serious interest in it. In May alone I taught Terrorism Survival near Geneva, Switzerland, Charleroi, Belgium, and Paris, France. Not only did I teach beginners and martial artists alike how to survive the most likely terrorist attacks (small arms attacks, bombs, snipers, chemical and biological weapons, and even dirty bombs and a nuclear blast), but I also certified 10 instructors who will in turn teach others how to survive. There are “force multipliers” who are expanding the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system in Europe.
Of course, I could not have done it alone. I had help from my Directors, Coordinators, and Assistant Instructors who I have been mentoring for years.
Jim Wagner a “charlatan”
A charlatan is a person falsely claiming to have special knowledge or skill. In other words “a fraud.” Before I even stepped foot in Switzerland the newspaper Le Matin (Tuesday, April 12, 2016 edition Number 103) knew of my coming in advance, and printed an article about me and my Terrorism Survival course that I was to teach in the area on Saturday, May 14, 2016. The headline read, IL PROMET LA SURVIE EN CAS D’ATTENTAT, which translates from French “he promises your survival in case of a terrorist attack). The sub headline reads: CONTROVERSE:Un ex-agent américain va donner près de Genève un cours permettant de survive à divers types d’attaques terroristes, which translates “CONTROVERSY: a former U.S. agent will give a course near Geneva on how to survive various types of terrorist attacks. Obviously, it was not an article welcoming me to the area and giving me credit for helping people survive a terrorist attack, which, sadly, are increasing in French speaking European countries. The article took a mocking tone beginning with the headline and the sub headline.
Last month journalist Valérie Duby (click here to email here) phoned by RBPP Coordinator of Switzerland, Gaby Tornaire. The journalist asked very few questions about the upcoming course that I was scheduled to teach. After Gaby hung up the phone she felt very uneasy. Her suspicions were realized when the story came out, and she bought an edition. The moment she read the headline she was furious. She immediately called Christophe Besse, the Reality-Based Personal Protection Director of European French Speaking Countries, and he in turn wrote a scathing rebuttal and posted it on the official RBPP French website.
Le Matin made it seem like I had just created this course recently to profit from people’s fears of terrorism, and to profit from it. What Valérie Duby failed to mention in her article is that I had been teaching the Terrorism Survival course yearly in Paris since 2005, and I had started teaching Crime Survival in Geneva two years ago. The most quoted man in the article, for I was not even interviewed and the story was about me and my course, was Carl Emery, and his claim to fame when it comes to counter-terrorism is that he is a “self-defense instructor and former world champion in kick-boxing.” He stated that he was “amazed that a secret agent, be it a former agent, has a website.” He went on to say, “Without laughing, I’m shocked by the fact that using the recent news of the attacks, regardless of the quality of the course.” He then ended by saying, “Selling an 8-hour self-defense course to survive terrorism is fraud (charlatism).”
If that was not bad enough, Chief of Operations of the Geneva Police Department, Jean-Marie Stutzmann gave his opinion about me and my course without knowing a thing about it saying, “the use of the terrorist phenomenon is a new approach to the public.”
The third man Valérie Duby quoted was Christian Python, founder and director of the Romande Security Company, who said, “This is opportunism.”
Typical of many of my critics who don’t take five minutes to go to my website and check out my background. And, if they don’t believe my extensive counterterrorism training and experience they can pick up a phone and call any number of the world’s elite units I’ve worked with and those I’ve trained. The question is why do people who don’t even know the content of my course make uneducated comments? Who knows? I didn’t bother to contact any of them to ask.
For years police officers from all over Switzerland have been coming to my courses in Cologne, Germany, mostly those from the Zurich area, but Le Matin does not bother to mention this either.
Well, it turns out that the bad press didn’t hurt us at all. In fact, I had one student come up to me, someone who works for the Suisse government in counterterrorism, and he said to me, “It’s because of that article that I am here. I saw your background and I knew you were someone I could learn something from.”
Other people in the course told me that they read the article, but it did not detour them in the least. Yes, I’m certain there may have been some people who may not have signed up because of the negative comments of those interviewed by Valérie Duby of the Le Matin, but I just hope those people never find themselves in a terrorist attack, office massacre, or their children in a school shooting from some crazed active shooter. All of these subjects were not only covered in the “Eight-hour course,” but my students learned by doing it, by undergoing very realistic scenarios utilizing techniques and tactics that I, and my assistant instructors, taught them.
The group that came to the Terrorism Survival course that Gaby Tornaire and I taught, with the help of Julie Duranton, Jérôme Marcasse, and Anne Moeglin, was a very motivated group eager to absorb what took me a lifetime to learn in the military, police, and counterterrorism, and then years to learn how to effectively teach others. I told Gaby to invite journalist Valérie Duby to attend the Terrorism Survival course, for FREE, but she did not respond. I guess the readers will never get Fair & Balanced. It would have been better if she had judged the course for herself.
The next day, Sunday, May 15, 2016 was my course Ground Survival. That was also advertised the same time as the Terrorism Survival course, but I guess in the eyes of Le Matin that was not “controversial.” I guess I am not a “fraud” for that course. It too is an 8-hour course.
The martial artists who’ve had ground fighting training before loved this course, and that is because it is anything but traditional-based or sport-based. It is 100% tactical, like all of my courses.
Taking the Fight to Belgium
On March 22, 2016, only two month earlier, five radical Islamic terrorists brutally murdered 32 innocent people, and 300 more injured, by detonating bombs in the Brussels airport and in a nearby metro station (subway system). Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Belgium was in great need of my Terrorism Survival course, and Reality-Based Personal Protection Coordinator of Belgium, Nicolas Marucci, invited me to teach it there. I have taught for years in Belgium, but in the past nobody wanted my Terrorism Survival course. They wanted everything else but that. The typical comment in the past was, “It’s never going to happen here.” Nicolas had always wanted me to teach it, and he had helped me teach it in other countries (France, Germany, and Italy), but there was just not a market for it prior to this year. Well, better late than never.
Thanks to Laurent Porigneaux, owner and operator of Panthers Sport in the city of Charleroi, the facility he provided was excellent for such a course. The course was filled with all men, and they all were tough as nails. It was quite a mix also: police officers, soldiers, security officers, a doorman, marital arts instructors from a variety of systems, and maybe one or two beginners.
One of my students was Anthony Hardy. He invented the SIOEN Ballistic Flexible Shield (Bouclier Balistique Flexible Sioen), and he had an opportunity to present it to me. SWAT teams for decades have always used ballistic shields to move up to armed suspects and their positions. On every team there is even a dedicated “shield man.” When a ballistic shield is need the command is given, “Shield Up!” and the officer with the shield comes forward to the beginning of the stack. Anthony showed me how his shield system works, and after seeing and practicing with it I fully give my endorsement to this new product. The SIOEN Ballistic Flexible Shield is portable, flexible of course, lightweight (even with the metal or ceramic anti-rifle plates inserted into the carrier pockets), and versatile. It’s not only excellent for SWAT entry teams, and victim rescue teams, but it is also perfect for patrol officers, bodyguards, and security personnel who can easily store it in the trunk of their vehicles in a folded position. The shield has mirrors on the sides to look around corners, handles that make it into a victim rescue stretcher, accessory pockets, illumination system in front, and rigid poles and even be inserted to make the system self-standing. When I practiced with it I used one of Nicolas’ Airsoft pistols and did some tactical movement with it. A couple of men even carried me on it as if I were wounded. The shield is practical and easy to use.
Of course, I am not all work and no play, and so I had a free day with my good friend Nicolas. We went to the Maredsous Abbey. There is a World War I and II memorial there to the fallen, and we also stopped once or twice along the way during the one-hour trip to the area to see other memorials. Nicolas knows about my research, and my desire to visit museums, monuments, battlefields, and other places of interest.
VIGIPIRATE à Paris
Ever since radical Islamic terrorists slaughtered 130 innocent people at five different locations in Paris, and wounded 368 others, in November 2015 (six months ago when I was teaching in Cologne, Germany) the French government has implemented a nation wide alert system called VIGIPIRATE, which essentially translates VIGILENCE AGAINST TERRORISM. The symbol is a black triangle with a red triangle within it. I saw them posted all over France: high schools, near monuments, at museums, and on red painted barricades prohibiting access. Not only that, but there are more patrols of police and soldiers; more than I’ve ever seen before ever since I’ve been visiting Paris on a regular basis since I was 20-years-old. Soldiers even passed by the facility I was teaching at, ProgressForm, a few times while I was teaching. We could see them through the windows from one of the classrooms.
On the evening of Friday, May 20, 2016 I gave an hour and a half lecture at ProgressForm to an audience of 31 people. It was also broadcasted live on the Internet and there were an equal number of people who listened in. The following day I taught my first course Tactical Pen, Light & Stick, which was the first time I ever taught this course in France. It had been a huge success in Cologne, Germany (the tactical light was just added to the logo this year), and so Christophe Besse requested that I teach it in Paris, and it turns out that he was right. We had a great turn out for the course.
On Sunday, May 22, 2016 I taught, with the help of Christophe Besse, the Tactical Pen, Light & Stick Instructor course. The cost of this course is only 200 euro, and the one before that is 100 euro. Good self-defense should be affordable. One is not required to take both courses, but if one wants to become an instructor then 300 euro is a good bargain.
London Becoming A Hard Target again
Before teaching my Terrorism Survival course the following weekend I had to go to London first, making it my fourth country of my trip overseas.
I have been teaching in the United Kingdom since 2001, just before the terrorist attacks in America the same year. It’s been 15 years.
I first started teaching only police and military in the UK, and then in 2003 I started to include civilian courses with my RBPP Director at the time, Dave Shorter. After three years working together, and even teaching together in Finland, Dave stepped down because of his work and studies, and Pete Lee took over. He served from 2006 to 2009. Also due to a promotion Pete stepped down and Gary Dell took over until 2013. We were quite successful, and Reality-Based Personal Protection was getting some traction, and then he decided to hook up with traditional-based martial arts instructor Chris Crudelli. That didn’t work out, and eventfully Gary wrote to me, “There is no better system than Reality-Based Personal Protection.” No matter, we remain friends to this day. However, there was a three-year lull as a result of Gary Dell leaving, and I did not teach any courses in this country during this time. Then came Oli Rawlings to fill the vacuum, and he just recently assumed the leadership role for my system in the United Kingdom. Oli was the perfect candidate, because he had been training with me since he was 17-years-old, and he is now 27. Oli had not only attended most of my courses over the past decade, which includes courses in England, France, and Canada, but he has assisted me on a number of occasions in Paris.
Starting with a new Director basically means starting over in a country. Yet, I was not surprised when Oli did a fantastic job organizing the Knife Survival and Knife Survival Instructor courses that I taught on May 25 and 26, 2016, but not before going to Windsor Castle the day before the seminar. This is the home of Queen Elizabeth II. I joked with Oli, “I’d like to have a spot of tea with her majesty,” but Oli confessed that he did not have her contact information. I continued, “Well then, next time at least invite Prince William and Prince Henry to our next seminar. They’re both military men, and they’d love our courses.” The truth is that they are protected by Britain’s elite bodyguards, and they have the SAS and other fine instructors to teach them and their family if they so desired.
Back to Paris
I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to return to Paris or not. Just days before flying to London there were union workers, who deliver petroleum products, on strike, and fuel for transportation was scarce throughout France. When I crossed over the English Channel 20% of the gas stations in France were closed, and workers threatened to shut down all gas stations, trains, airplanes, and even all the nuclear power plants, which supply France with 75% of their electricity. The government announced that they had only 10 days of strategic reserves for the entire country if all petroleum products were cut off.
I have been warning my Reality-Based students for the past few years that if there were a war in the Middle East, namely Iran going to war with Israel, that oil from that region would be cut off immediately. The European Union receives 53.8% of its crude oil imports from Russia, Norway, and Saudi Arabia and 73.1% of its hard coal imports from Russia, Colombia and the United States. Russia has a mutual defense treaty with Iran, and has strong military ties. I tell my students, should this event happen, “While everyone is in shock fixated on their television watching the conflict unfold you need to go immediately to the gas station and fill up your cars and containers, and then you need to max out your credit cards and buy as much food and water as you can, because when people finally realize the severity of the situation and the worldwide implications. The stores will be empty within 48 hours, and then you’ll be on your own for a few days, if not a few weeks. Trucks need gasoline to deliver your bread, bottled water, and gasoline for your cars.” Well, this fuel crisis in France gave everyone a tiny glimpse of what the future will hold.
I didn’t know what I was going to do if my flight back to Paris was cancelled, for 20% of the flights to Paris Orly airport had been cancelled the night before my return trip. I thought, “Do I have to take the Eurostar train under the English Channel? Do I catch a boat from Dover to Calais if the trains are not running? Even if I get to the other side will there be ground transportation to get me to Paris?” What’s the point if my students can get to my courses?”
I was bracing for the worse. I checked the night before online to see if my flight had been cancelled, and it had not. All was well.
When I got to Luton London airport the next day, right after my Knife Survival Instructor course, thanks to Oli getting me on the right train, I flew to Paris. Although my plane was one hour late arriving Christophe Besse was waiting for me to bring me back to his home.
Terrorism Survival in Paris
On Friday, May 27, 2016 Christophe and I gathered all of the training equipment together, and we even bought a new Airsoft assault rifle and four simulated hand grenades that make a tremendous amount of noise when the CO2 cartridge is activated by the firing pin, which is an exact replica of a real fragmentation grenade.
On Saturday, May 28, 2016 I had a really great bunch of people in the course who were attentive to my every word, and finding each technique easy to master within minutes despite the Swiss newspaper Le Matin indicating that it was not possible to learn how to defend one’s self against terrorism in one day. In the course were Krav Maga instructors, school teachers, martial artists, and quite a few beginners: male and female. As of late, many non-martial artists have been coming to my courses worldwide. When people see my DVDs and YouTube videos they say, “Yes, I can do that,” and its easier than they thought to learn real self-defense. Some traditional martial arts systems over the past 60 years have led the world to believe that it takes years to learn self-defense. In reality one can learn immediately, and get what the need in days. I should know, I’ve trained both the world’s elite and beginners alike.
Helping me teach this 8-hour Terrorism Survival course was Miryana Poljakovic, the RBPP Coordinator of France, and Anabelle Almeida, who does written translations for the organization. It wasn’t hard simulating the terrorists attacks that occurred in Paris in November 2015, for I had been doing the exact same scenarios paralleling this real life event since 2005. Having trained counterterrorist teams since 1991 (17 years now), and worked in CT for the federal government and the military I have been at this for a long time. Needless to say, my students appreciated the realism and all of the lessons that I had to teach them.
Despite the terrorist threat looming over the city of Paris, and the appearance of living in an atmosphere much like one would find in Israel, that didn’t stop me or any of my instructors from going into the heart of Paris and enjoying the sites, sounds, and great food. Yes, I like escargot (snails), frog legs, and creamy sauces. Je suis vraiment français when it comes to food. Obviously, we knew the potential dangers, but we maintained our situational awareness. I even had my Jim Wagner Go Bag with me the whole time ready for a chemical attack, structure fire, if I fell into the Seine River, a criminal attack, or even a dirty bomb spreading radioactive material; I’m speaking of Iodide tablets ready to pop into my mouth if need be.
I did the same when I was traveling throughout Geneva, Brussels, and London. I moved among the masses, but I kept my head on a swivel. In fact, when I was in London I visited an old friend of mine who is a counterterrorism agent for the government. He told me some scary things happening that would make your hair curl. In fact, when his daughter was scheduled to go on a field trip to the Parliament building, the same building where Big Ben stands, he refused to let his daugher to go. He said to me while we ate in a traditional English pub, “It’s not worth it, is it?” Of course, he works in the center of the city, but it’s his job to be in the thick of things, not his daughter.
My friend also made it a point to tell me, “Jim, I am constantly showing my colleagues how to survive a grenade attack, knife attack, and other things you taught me. See! I didn’t forget what you taught me, even after all these years.” He was literally one of my first groups that I taught in London around 2001.
If you are not getting the hint by now, by reading this, I’ll spell it out more clearly for you. The “sheep dogs” of the United Kingdom are bracing themselves for some hellacious terrorist attacks in London.
What was most interesting about my Terrorism Survival Instructor course was the wide variety of students; different races, religion, political opposites, traditional and sport-based martial artists. This course attracts all walks of life. This is why Reality-Based is for EVERYBODY.
On Monday, May 30, 2016 Christophe Besse and I took some shelter from the rain outside and we smoked quality cigars and munched on some Swiss chocolates to celebrate two successful seminars in Paris. We also had a nice chat about future courses and the growth of the RBPP system in Europe.
On Tuesday, May 31, 2016 I flew out of Charles de Gaulle airport and by late evening I was back home in Southern California. I was deeply satisfied with all of the seminars I had taught in four countries for the month of May.
BE A HARD TARGET
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