It doesn’t take years to learn self-defense, it takes days.” That’s a statement I’ve used to promote my Reality-Based Personal Protection system for many years now, and many traditional-based martial artist scream, “Impossible! Wagner is a fraud.

For over 20 years I have been teaching Reality-Based training to police agencies and military units all around the world, and I’m still convinced that learning “real” self-defense takes only days. If you can’t learn any given self-defense technique in five minutes, then you won’t need it in a real fight. Plus, after having witnessed thousands of fights, and having been in several life-and-death fights myself as a soldier and a police officer, I know that in any serious conflict only four to five techniques will be used.

Going a step further many life-saving lessons for personal protection can be learned in a minute, and I found this out by writing to my students on my facebook page. Yes, I still write long articles, and even thick books on self-defense, but sometimes the truth in combat can be learned in a minute.

To understand what I mean I have selected 10 Personal Protection Tips for you to read, in a minute or less, and the subjects are varied. A lot of “truth in combat” can be contained in a paragraph.

When you keep adding these one-minute tips together, and stringing together one realistic technique after another together, eventually you have what you need for those conflict scenarios you are likely to face.

Whenever you get into a conflict in public (argument or physical confrontation) tell yourself, “I am being videotaped,” and assume it will end up on YouTube for all to see, and in a courtroom of law. Keeping this in mind will keep you from doing something you will regret. You’ll never get into legal trouble if you know the appropriate use-of-force to use for any given situation.

The attack point is 1-meter (3 feet) radius of your car door. Have your car keys in hand, and before you put the key into the keyhole of the lock, quickly do a full circle scan of the area to see if a criminal is approaching you. It takes a mere two seconds. Most carjackings happen in this small circle. You need to make this situational awareness technique a habit, which means do it EVERY TIME you approach your car door, and not just at night or in isolated areas.

An “ego fight” is the proverbial bar fight. In most cases the two people fighting have no intention of inflicting any serious injuries to one another. Serious injuries would be permanent damage to the body such as biting off an ear or finger, breaking major bones such as the skull or pelvic, gouging out an eye, and the like. Sure, somebody may get a broken nose or broken jaw in an ego fight, but even if a person loses an ego fight he usually survives it. On the other hand a life-and-death fight is exactly what it implies, serious bodily injury or death. Usually it’s a fight against a criminal or terrorist. Reality-Based Personal Protection prepares students for both types of fights.

“If you want to hurt someone use a closed fist. If you don’t want to hurt someone use an open hand strike.” That is a quote I learned when training with the Israeli police several years ago when I was a guest instructor at the National Police Academy (Israel Police Operational Fitness Academy Havatselet Hasharon Israel). So, what does that exactly mean? Just that, when you hit someone with a closed fist it is essentially bone-to-bone, and that causes injuries. When you use an open hand strike, such as a palm strike, it is soft tissue making contact, and the top part of the hand is not supported. The riot police officers I talked to use open hand strikes to stun someone; more like a hard slap. Yes, of course, you can injure someone with a palm strike, but would you do that same strike to the opponent’s ribs if you wanted to break them – of course not. A good old balled up fist is what will break ribs. Plus, walk into any bar in the world, be it Mongolia or Brazil. If two untrained men get into a fight what kind of blows will they be throwing? Close fists or open hand techniques. Obviously, most men are hard wired to hit with their fists; it’s just natural. On the other hand, if two untrained women go at it with each other what will they do? That’s right, a catfight: tearing, clawing, scratching, and slapping. Not 100% of women, but most of them. That’s just how they are hard wired. So, when I teach my Reality-Based Personal Protection on what kind of strikes to use I go back to that Israeli quote.

For years I have been saying that various government agencies can listen and watch you through your own phones and computers. A lot of my students thought I was paranoid or misinformed. Then when the NSA story broke a year ago I was proven right again. It’s not just governments around the world that can do this, but other entities as well – like those who may want to steal your identity or black mail you with information they gleaned from spying on you. There are all kinds of reasons why you want to protect yourself. One of the easiest things you can do is stick a Post-It note over your camera lens when you are not using it. Whatever that camera lens is pointed to there is the possibility that it can be sending images back to an unfriendly viewer. That simple Post-It note blinds a possible source turning your device against you. The Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system is not just about “punching and kicking” only, but all “personal protection.”

In an armed robbery never make eye contact with the suspect. If you do you just may get shot; same with a vicious dog, or you will get bit.

Reason one is they think you are trying to remember their face, even with a mask on. Reason two is that if you are a martial artist you give off the same “vibes” as a police officer or a soldier (Type A Personality as we say in America), and he may just shot you thinking you’re a cop. I have been robbed once in Mexico, and twice in Egypt, plus as a police officer for 20+ years I have talked to many robbery victims. Even if you plan to attack you must play the role of a very scared victim. Of course there is much more I could write about, but you get the main point.

As part of your post-conflict training “think forensically.” Like I teach my students in my Crime Survival course, “Preserve crime evidence.”

True “reality-based” self-defense training includes Pre-Conflict, Conflict, and Post-Conflict. Preserving crime scene evidence must be a part of your training. The evidence you preserve may be the very element that connects the criminal to the crime or sends him to prison in a serious crime. You need to know how to fight, but there are many things that happen after a fight that are just important.

A gunman goes for the “center mass” of a group. Therefore, stay on the edges: restaurants, movies, crowds, airports, etc.

This is based on studying many school shootings, office massacres, and terrorist attacks. In my Terrorism Survival I actually have students carry out “terrorist attacks” with Airsoft firearms and certain patterns ALWAYS happen. Then we learn how to use those patterns to our advantage. In school shootings, et cetera, you always hear about the victims killed, but almost never about what people did “right.” Animals like to attack the herd on the edge, because they are only after food. Humans attack the center for mass casualties.

1 1/4″ or 3cm stab to major muscle group can induce instantaneous shock. You could pass out immediately or two minutes later.

Puncture wounds to the body are very serious. Even a stab to a major muscle group may not seem like a big deal to you, even though it may not be life threatening, but any penetration to the body of 3 cm or more can produce what is called INSTANTANEOUS SHOCK. You may feel perfectly fine, then all of a sudden you go unconscious. I always tell a story to my students in my Knife Survival course where I accidentally got stabbed in my left leg with a bayonet. It was a little pain, but other than that I felt fine. There was blood coming down my leg, but that did not make me feel uneasy. A few minutes later as my training partner was getting a dressing for the wound I passed out. It just hit me suddenly. I’ve talked to many knife victims and many have told me they have experienced the same thing. Sometimes it is a few seconds after the stab or sometimes minutes after the incident. YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS because you could pass out while still in the fight, and that is not good. I give a few examples of what one should do in various situations, which I won’t go into here, but just know that this can (but not always) happen to you, and you need to prepare tactically for such an occurrence.

An Algerian Head Butt is where the attacker launches his entire body at you using the top of his head to impact your face.

There are several type of head butt techniques that people use: the Australian Whisper, English Head Butt, Irish Head Butt, and the Algerian Head Butt. Regardless of what kind of technique someone is going to throw at you, if you have your hands in front of you up by your face it is impossible for the attacker to get close enough to you to complete the technique. In situations like a pub you can keep your hands up, or as we in Reality-Based Personal Protection say, “talking with your hands.” It looks natural, but your protection is there. A great tool also for you to practice head butts is the Impact Head.

I first introduced paint guns into martial arts training back in 1981. Then when Airsoft guns came out I immediately started using them and made the first DVD with Budo International about the subject titled: Air Gun Training. As a police and military firearms instructor I treat training guns, even rubber ones, like the real thing. When I am using rubber guns, and especially air guns, all my students know that I follow standard police and military range safety procedures. At a real firearms range there is a red flag flown that indicates that a range is active; or sometimes called “hot.” There is also a sign posted where possible foot traffic could accidentally walk into the danger zone. When I teach air guns I always post a sign at the front door that reads WARNING! AIRSOFT GUNS IN USE. PELASE KNOCK. This way a person wanting to come in won’t get their eye shot out with a 6mm plastic ball if we are doing shooting techniques or scenarios. If I do have an observer come in I will make sure they are given eye protection if the guns are still in use. You may even want the sign to be in the color red to symbolize the red range flag. Reality-Based Personal Protection has raised the standards of training, and this is just one more area.

Be A Hard Target.

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Jim Wagner
Jim Wagner, one of the first self-defense instructor to introduce techniques, tactics, and training methods to survive terrorist attacks and modern crime (active shooters, criminal chemical attacks, drive-by shootings, etc.). His teaching is based on his tactical career as a U.S. Army combat soldier, corrections officer, police officer, S.W.A.T. officer, team leader of a Dignitary Protection Unit for America’s fifth largest Sheriff’s department, a U.S. federal agent counterterrorist during the Global War on Terrorism, Reserve Military Police soldier, military bodyguard, Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO), Security Forces sergeant, and a team leader of a military Special Reaction Team. He worked in the private security and bodyguarding sectors, most notably protecting Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and working for the Walt Disney Company. Since 2003 Jim has been teaching his Reality-Based Personal Protection system around the world and in martial arts schools, where he offers self-defense instructors a way to increase their business by teaching Terrorism Survival, Crime Survival, and other courses. If you want to become certified to teach at your school, you can purchase the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection Instructor Package at a discount through by using the code USARBPP1706.