In November of 2003 I opened up the doors of the first Reality-Based Personal Protection school in the world in Los Angeles, California. This was only several months after creating the system on January 21, 2003, and having taught it in other people’s schools across the United States and Europe. In the very first Level 1 Instructor Certification course was Fabrizio Cappucci of Italy. He had read my articles in Budo magazine (printed monthly in Italian), and knew that Reality-Based was what he needed to protect himself better in his police job. Now, three years later, Fabrizio Cappucci is the official Reality-Based Personal Protection Director of Italy.
Over the years Fabrizio and I stayed in contact. I’d hear from him from time to time, and we would let each other know what was going on. During this time period Fabrizio started teaching self-defense more and more on his free time, and even to civilians. He was teaching them the Reality-Based system, and people became aware that this system was different. Then, about nine months ago, Fabrizio began thinking seriously about teaching the martial arts on a more regular basis. He then emailed me and invited me to Italy asking me if was possible for me to teach. I replied to his request, “Yes, it is possible.” We selected a tentative date for the summer of 2006.
After a few months, and seeing that Fabrizio was hard at work promoting the Reality-Based system, we selected a firm date, August 13 and 14, for a two-day Reality-Based Personal Protection introduction course in the city of Bergamo, Italy (located an hour north of Milan). This worked out perfectly because I would be ending my Level 1 courses in Paris, France on August 12.
When I arrived at Milan International Airport Fabrizio was there to greet me and drive me to my hotel room in Bergamo. Fabrizio is one of those people you enjoy being around because of his positive likeable personality. When he saw me first, and walked up to me with a big smile and extended his hand towards me as I cleared the Italian Customs doors, I instantly remembered why he was such a pleasant student three years prior.
The first Italian seminar went great. My students all spoke Italian, but Fabrizio did an excellent job translating my teachings into English. Although I do not speak Italian, yet, my French and Spanish skills helped me to follow along with the translations. The two days went by very fast. Yet, those two days were the foundation for the Reality-Based Personal Protection system on the Italian peninsula. Plus, Fabrizio was the perfect host by showing me around the old medieval walled city of Bergamo, which was just like a post card, and taking me to a restaurant up in the foothills that no tourist ever heard about or would think of going. The restaurant, I don’t remember the name, was situated on a hill overlooking the wine vineyards and the city of Bergamo. The building was rustic with entire Italian families, young and old, sitting around the tables enjoying fresh pastas, meats, cheeses, and wines.
During the two days I was in Bergamo Fabrizio and I had some time to talk. He never came out and said that he wanted to be the director of Italy, but there was no doubt in my mind that he was the perfect candidate. His enthusiasm for spreading the system, and his excellent organizational skills at the seminar, made my choice obvious. During our last dinner together at a pizzeria I asked Fabrizio if he was interested in becoming the director of Italy and turning the martial arts world there upside down. He shook his head up and down, produced his trademark smile and said, “Yes, it would be an honor. Your system is the only system I have been promoting, and the only one I want to promote.” We shook hands, and the deal was official. We then started talking about marketing and possible dates for the first Level 1 courses.
If you ever have a chance to meet Fabrizio Cappucci, and know his history, you will know why I selected him as my director of Italy – my personal representative for the Reality-Based Personal Protection system.
Fabrizio first began his martial arts career at 8 years old studying Wado-Ryu Karate with Master Yokosha near Rome. Five years later he had worked his way up to brown belt in the system and then his family moved to Bologna. Hooked on the martial arts Fabrizio continued with Shotokan Karate with Master Rossetti again working his way up to brown belt in this system.
Fabrizio loved fighting, and especially in tournaments (known as kumite). Twice he was in Regional competition and once in the nationals. Then his family moved again and he started training in kickboxing with Master Zuech who had emigrated from Yugoslavia.
At 19 years old Fabrizio entered the police academy in Rome (1984). This was a rare opportunity because after a series of terrorist attacks by the Red Brigade, and a shortage of police officers to combat the growing threat, the Italian government decided to lower the age limit to become a police officer in 1980.
After the academy Fabrizio’s first police assignment was street patrol in the city of Bologna. He did this for three years and then made it onto the elite counter-terrorist team (D.I.G.O.S. – Divisione Investigazion Generali Operazioni Speciali) in the same city where he continued to work for another five years.
Looking for a change Fabrizio landed a position with the Justice Protection Service (police bodyguards). To learn how to protect diplomats the government sent him to the Italian island of Sardinia for one year for his specialized training at the Centro Addestramento CAISP Sardegna. After graduating he was assigned to the Trento jurisdiction (an area in northern Italy near the Austrian border), although he would be called upon to do mission throughout Italy.
During his time on the detail Fabrizio protected many diplomats and Italian judges, and was once personally assigned to protect former French president Francois Mitterand and United States Secretary of State Condaliza Rice.
In 2003 Fabrizio flew to California to get his Reality-Based Personal Protection training. He had heard about me and the system through Budo magazine. By this time I had been writing for Budo magazine for three years, and many police and military personnel throughout Italy had become loyal fans. Fabrizio knew that the Reality-Based system was just what the Italian police needed, and through a series of events, what the civilian population also needed with the growing crime trend. When Fabrizio graduate from that first-class-in-the-new-USA-school, he automatically became the first name for Italy on the instructor listing on the official Jim Wagner Reality-Based website. For him, this was a great source of pride.
A few months later in 2004 Fabrizio studied a bit of Krav Maga with Rony Kluger, an Israeli, in Venice, and then studied Japanese Ju-Jitsu in the city of Pescara. However, he did not pursue these systems feeling that Reality-Based was more of the direction that he wanted to go. So, in late 2004 Fabrizio decided that the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection would be his primary system and “fight sport” (a mix of American kickboxing and Thai kickboxing) would be a secondary supplement for his school FSW (Fight, Survive, Win established in 2001).
The headquarters for the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system is located in Ravenna, Italy. The first Italian Level 1 Reality-Based courses will be held in Bologna April 23 – 27. Fabrizio is currently working on a new Reality-Based website for Italy, and spreading the word about the upcoming seminar.
As the founder of the Reality-Based system, and the “reality-based” movement, I am proud to have Fabrizio Cappucci as my director for Italy, and I look forward to the upcoming seminar.
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