On Tuesday, July 8, I arrived in Adelaide airport where Matt Jones, my Reality-Based Personal Protection Director of Australia, picked me up in his white SUV in preparation for our Reality-Based Personal Protection Level 1 and Level 2 courses. I had left the summer sunshine of Southern California and placed myself right in the middle of winter Down Under. The weather was rainy and cold when I stepped off the Qantas aircraft.
After the customary greetings of friends, Matt informed me that some of the Australian martial arts Internet forums were quoting some of the sleazy British and American martial arts websites claiming that I was never a sergeant and that I was never a full-time police officer. Matt said to me, “These Aussies are writing on the forums, ‘If these accusations are not true, then why isn’t Jim Wagner defending himself?’ This is what they are saying on some of the forums mate.”
This all started two weeks prior to my Australian trip when I was in Devon, England teaching my RBPP Level 1 courses with Pete Lee (Reality-Based Director for the United Kingdom). One of my students, now one of my newest certified instructors, Andrew Spencer, came up to me and said, “Did you see what such-and-such website wrote about you?” (I shall leave the particular website nameless since it was found to be an illegitimate website, not to mention the vulgar language they condone).
Some of the Australian forums picked up these “juicy tidbits” about me from a British and American website who have close ties to one another. It turns out that a new up-and-coming martial arts instructor in England was releasing his new “reality-based self-defense” DVD and wanted to lay claim to the fact that he is the one to bring “reality-based” to the United Kingdom despite the fact that my reality-based articles appeared in Black Belt UK magazine in 2001 and I was teaching my same material to members of the London Metropolitan Police, Territorial Army the same year, and brought my first civilian courses in 2003 to London. Of course these unscrupulous competitors put out the accusations in an attempt to deliver a blow to the fastest growing and most complete martial arts system in the world. After all, take down the founder and you take down the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system all together, and just maybe there would be the additional collateral damage of destroying the “reality-based” term that thousands are now using to describe this movement many are following directly or indirectly. It would also put egg on the face of Black Belt magazine (North America) and Budo magazine (Europe) who both credit me with launching the reality-based self-defense movement and Blitz magazine that just ran a cover story on me only two months ago in Australia.
I replied to Matt, “That does not surprise me. But, no, I had not seen it.” I was too busy. Immediately after England I had to fly to Madrid, Spain to work with Budo International on my new book, two more new DVDs, and three new articles. My work was the priority, not addressing the mud slinging. I told Matt, “Now that I have a couple of days to settle down in Adelaide before my next class I can adequately address the accusations circulating around the Internet. I must deal with this, because these liars are trying to take business away from me, from you, my directors all over the world, and put all Reality-Based Personal Protection instructors on the defensive.”
Although only a few of my instructors had heard about the accusations I knew that I had to inform them all by sending out some emails and putting on some announcements on the official Reality-Based website.
The attacks were indeed clever by these competitors because they could not attack the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system directly. After all, elite units around the world swear by my techniques and training methods, and they are right in line with all rules of engagement and use-of-force continuums. The competitors chose to throw out to the public some half truths, a dose of blatant lies, and asinine topics unrelated to self-defense because they knew my civilian students and instructors would only know about my background based upon my books, DVDs, articles, and my website. Unless they chose to call each of the agencies I worked for or trained with, and these places would not release any information to the public anyway, there was no way to verify my claims. Of course some of my Reality-Based students and instructors who have professional backgrounds could verify some of my background, but why would I have them waste any of their time. For example, former Reality-Based Personal Protection Director of Canada Chris St. Jacques assisted me on my first visit to train German counterterrorist team GSG9, Garth Hoffman had me train the corrections officers of the British Columbia Sheriff’s Department in 1999, my former RBPP Director of Germany Dietmar Pohl assisted me training U.S. Army and German Army Special Forces in Germany in 2005, DEA agent Jeff Clancy hired me through the company I owned, HSS International, to teach defensive tactics and protective services courses for his agents in San Diego, and the list goes on.
It was a crappy way to start my trip, but addressing these competitors had to be done. Of course, if they would have actually read my biography on my website, or some of the recent articles I wrote for Black Belt, they would not have been so eager to jump on a public forum… or then again, why should truth get in the way?
On the first day of my Australian training, July 11th, we had a great turn out. For a country of only 19 million people I had 15 Australians who wanted to be instructor certified and some who could only attend for a few days. The group included an Australian soldier, a federal police officer from the capitol, a doorman, security personnel, and a mixed variety of martial arts instructors; three from the traditional Tae Kwon Do school named Iron Tiger in Sydney. Of course I gave my new students a warning about some of the Australian forums, but it did not dissuade any of them from taking the courses. They had already seen the mud slinging with the Israeli martial arts instructors in Australia over the last year so they were used to the tactics. They said to me about those writing on these forums, “They want to be the tallest poppy in the field,” or something like that. I asked, “What does that mean?” They explained that it was an Australian expression where someone cuts down all the flowers around them so they can be the tallest one standing, because they could not stand above the rest any other way. “So true” I responded.
During the week, on our short breaks, I used Matt’s office computer to place a few more facts on my biography, and in just a few short days even my competitors acknowledged through their silence that I had indeed been a sergeant (Reserve Level 1 designate – full police powers) with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and a sergeant (E5)currently with the California State Military Reserve, which is the same rank for the Army National Guard, which is the same rank for the United States Army Regular. On our military base we all wear the American flag on the right sleeve of our Army Combat Uniforms, and that is what truly counts. I’m there to serve. Being an NCO is fine, but I’d still do what I do even with the rank of private. It’s not about rank.
My biography always said that had been a full-time paid police officer, for eight years as a matter of fact, and two years as a corrections before that with the Costa Mesa Police Department – as if that was not enough of a background to teach people about defensive tactics, simulated crimes, and the mind of the criminal. One guy accusing me in England had zero military, and zero police experience, and yet he just enjoyed criticizing my background.
The Australian martial arts forums dropped the silly gossip all together, but some of the British and American ones came up with more new questions and entire lists. It was then that I realized my competitors would never be happy, even if I were to answer a thousand questions. It was never about my background.
The Level 1 group I trained was a tight knit group within hours of day one. They trained together, fought together, and even ate together. After the last course was completed on July 15th, which was Terrorism Survival, those who had earned their instructor certificates were: Nicholas Wyborn, Chris Jobson, Jason Vasilunas, Sam Martin, Darren Turnbull, Phil Intervalo, John Intervalo, Dianne Carn, Leigh Canet, Richard Thorpe, Luke Beston, Darren Wade, Rod Ferguson, and our federal police officer who confirmed my teachings on use-of-force issues and who gave insights to the growing crime problem in Australia.
Dianne Carn, owner of the Iron Tiger Tae Kwon Do School in Sydney, is the first female in Australia to be Reality-Based certified by me, and for now is the only Reality-Based female instructor in Australia.
Dianne has been studying the martial arts since 1987. She was a gold medalist in the Commonwealth Championships and chosen for the rehearsals and pre-fights for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. On her website she proudly lists herself as a Reality-Based Personal Protection instructor on her qualifications.
Throughout the one-week course Dianne was very quite, serious, and absorbing this “revolutionary” system. In her written evaluation of me she wrote, “Jim Wagner is excellent! He is one of the most real and most effective instructors I have ever met.” And, concerning the week of training she wrote, “The impact you get with everything, my heart was beating out of my chest because it was so real.”
Dianne plans on incorporating much of what I taught her into her current courses, and wants to one day be certified in Children’s Survival.
To celebrate most of the new instructors, Matt and I, went to the Ginling Restaurant to have some good Chinese food. It was a good time of sharing.
Immediately following the Level 1 seminar some of my newly appointed instructors got on the martial arts forums to give their opinion since they had first hand experience. Some Australians who had never seen the Reality-Based Personal Protection system mistakenly say that it was born out of Filipino Kali or Mixed Martial Arts, which is erroneous.
The first person to respond was Luke Beston of Beston-Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Royler Gracie Team & Royce Gracie Network). Luke is married to Angela Gracie and he is the first Australian black belt to be certified by the Gracie family. Luke called my system “revolutionary,” which is quite a compliment from someone of his high caliber. Then Leigh Canet wrote in as well totally endorsing the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system. Both of these gentlemen wish to take Level 2 next year.
During my days off Matt Jones had to teach some day courses, so his mother, Barbara, took me out for a coffee at Bravo Express where we talked about Australian and American politics. She then was kind enough to drop me off on North Terrace Street where all of the museums of Adelaide are located. This street is just one street north of Hindley Street, where if there was ever to be a terrorist attack it would be on this busy shopping street.
I spent a couple of hours at the South Australian museum doing some research on Aboriginal and South Pacific weapons. This museum has quite a large collection, and the largest collection of boomerangs in all of Australia. Last year, when I was in Adelaide, Matt and I learned how to throw this stick weapon the correct way. Then to kill some time I went to the Migration Museum, the Art Gallery, and the Botanic Gardens.
For one of the dinners Matt’s wife cooked us a kangaroo dinner finishing it off with ANZAC biscuits for dessert. ANZAC biscuits (Australian New Zealand Army Corps) biscuits, pronounced “an-zak” are sweet cookies that keep for a long time and were first made for the troops and shipped to far away battle fields back in World War I and then later in World War II. To make my stay even more authentic Matt loaned me the Australian movie called Kokoda.
Kokoda was a major battle (July 1942 – January 1943) on the island of New Guinea just north of Australia. Initially with a poorly trained Army Reserve Unit the Japanese experienced their first defeat of the war, and as a result never invaded Australia as they intended to.
On July 18 I started my Level 2 course beginning with Conflict Conditioning. Matt Jones had a lot of good exercises he had developed and I let him show them. I was so impressed with his abilities that we decided to make a DVD with him explaining some of the drills he came up with. This DVD will most likely be out by Christmas time.
The rest of Level 2 was Scenario Training, Control & Defense, Improvised Weapons and Handgun Survival, which was not easy since Australia has made all air guns illegal and you can’t even find toy guns now in any of the stores that shoot plastic pellets or rubber darts. For Reality-Based training this really restricts some of the learning, especially when it comes to firearms. It is literally down to sling shots now. Yet, despite the strict gun laws in Australia there are still shootings and murders.
Those who were instructor certified for Level 2 were Rod Ferguson, Ben Incoll, and our federal police officer. Other students will become certified in 2009.
Toward the end of the week Ben Stone, Managing Editor, of Blitz magazine wrote me and basically told me that he was not impressed with the gossip floating around about me. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Ben wanted more Reality-Based Personal Protection articles submitted. Ben even appeared in a recent issue of the magazine wearing a Jim Wagner Reality-Based t-shirt.
Matt, his wife, and I went out to dinner on July 22 to celebrate a great two weeks. The Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection was definitely rooted in Australia, nobody got hurt, everybody was happy, and my trip was a huge success. The next morning I flew to Melbourne, to Auckland, New Zealand, to San Francisco, and then finally back home to Los Angeles.
I left knowing that I have some well trained Aussie instructors, and that Matt Jones is growing the system. Now, I am turning my attention back on Europe.
My opinion about Matt Jones Jim Wagner
Matt Jones is my Reality-Based Personal Protection Director for Australia. He is my personal representative for this global system in all of Australia.
For the past few years I have both taught Matt Jones and have worked closely with him both in the United States and Australia. He, like all of my directors worldwide, has mastered the RBPP system. He teaches it exactly the way I want him to. However, it is just not just a matter of “imitation,” Matt Jones has internalized all of the techniques and training methods. He is truly a master of the RBPP system, and has contributed many good original ideas himself.
Anyone in Australia seeking instructions from Matt Jones is getting the authentic Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system. I’m proud of him, and I am proud of his accomplishments in presenting the Australian people with a complete self-defence system that incorporates pre-conflict, conflict, and post-conflict, the success of his self-defence school, and his widely popular articles in Blitz magazine.
A tribute to Jeff Clancy Jim Wagner
Occasionally I like to feature a student of mine. This month I would like to give tribute to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agent Jeff Clancy of the San Diego Field Office. When I first met Jeff I was a Sergeant (Reserve) for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department as a Team Leader for the Dignitary Protection Unit (DPU).
Jeff Clancy is the man who hired me, when I was owner of the training company HSS International, at the beginning of this decade to train his fellow DEA agents in various courses: defensive tactics, tactical medic (I taught only the tactical portion of this course and not the medical), and protective services.
Jeff was a very dedicated student who mastered my knife system that later became known as Knife Survival. Jeff was so eager to spread the system that he appeared in my training video called The Jim Wagner Knife Disarm Rule. This video was on the market for a year or two until it was later replaced by my Knife Defense DVD. He also appeared in a couple of articles I wrote for Black Belt magazine.
Jeff Clancy is one of those persons behind the scenes who indirectly helped lay the Reality-Based Personal Protection foundation.