Many people think that police automatically respond to bomb threats, evacuating buildings and diving into device detection. However, that is not always the case, says reality-based personal protection pioneer Jim Wagner. Would you know where to start?

Bombings are the most favored method of attack by terrorists. In recent years, bombings have only increased, not decreased. The following paragraph was taken from an al-Qaida training manual that was found in a safe house by the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. It reads: Explosives are believed to be the safest weapon for the Mujahadeen (trans.: holy warriors) that allows them to get away from enemy personnel and to avoid being arrested. An assassination using explosives doesn’t leave any evidence or traces at the operation site. In addition, explosives strike the enemy with sheer terror and fright.


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For those of us who live, work or travel through big cities, a bombing or bomb threat is part of our “reality.” Therefore, it is important that you know how to detect a device (pre-conflict), what to do at the moment of attack (conflict) and how to recover from the attack (post-conflict). In this piece, we will focus on pre-conflict device detection. Jim Wagner on Bomb Threats by Phone The most common crime dealing with bombs is a bomb threat called in by phone. Although most bomb threats turn out to be false, many criminals and terrorists will give a warning before detonating their dangerous package. These callers are mainly interested in destroying property, not killing people. Because this form of terrorism is the most common, it is important that you know how to handle such a situation. When you receive a bomb threat, you need not immediately panic. If the caller wanted to blow you up, he would have. The goal is to stay on the line as long as possible with the caller in order to gain intelligence (or “intel”) for the police. Near the phone, especially for high-risk businesses, you should have a bomb threat card that lists the following questions and where you can write down the answers as the caller is speaking: 1. Name of the person who spoke to the caller 2. Telephone number that the call was received on (in cases of multiple lines) 3. Date and time of the call 4. Exact words of the caller 5. Background noises (street sounds, machinery, etc.) 6. Information about the caller:
  • male or female
  • estimated age
  • accent or speech impediments
  • attitude (angry, calm, disguised, etc.)
  • educational level (professional, street slang, etc.)
  • familiarity
Searching for Devices During Bomb Threats If you do receive any bomb threats by telephone, it is important to know how to search for an improvised explosive device. Many people think that the police will automatically come, evacuate the building and put all their resources into searching the building. However, that is not always the case. If the police reacted like this to every bomb threat they received, they would be doing that job exclusively and every criminal, terrorist and practical joker would be taking advantage of the police. In most situations involving bomb tghreats, the police will rely on you to let them know whether it is a credible threat — and they will most likely have you or your associates look for anything suspicious. After all, you are familiar with your surroundings and would know whether something is out of place, whereas the police would not. They will warn you not to touch anything should you find a suspicious object, but you will be the one to find it and alert them to it. Sinister Motivations for Fake Bomb Threats If you are the type to panic and evacuate everyone outside because you think the place is going to blow, then you may be herding people into the “kill zone.” Many terrorists “test” an organization’s security system and evacuation plan by calling in false bomb threats, then doing surveillance on the location to see where everybody goes. Then they may come back at a later time and plant their deadly device. The next time they call in the bomb threat or pull the fire alarm and everyone goes rushing outside to a predetermined location, they have a car bomb or other device waiting for everyone. A Systematic Response to Bomb Threats If you are tasked to search a building, you should have a systematic approach. The one I teach goes like this: Responding to Bomb Threats — Step 1 First, go into the middle of the room, then stop, look and listen. If you have a partner, he can take the other half of the room. If you have not observed anything unusual, then begin a search from the bottom up. Start with items on the floor and work your way up toward the ceiling one imaginary level at a time. Think of searching upward like a three-layered cake until you come to the ceiling. This method is called the sweep pattern. The first layer that you search will be from the floor to your waist. The second layer will be from your waist to your head. The third layer will be from your head to the ceiling. Responding to Bomb Threats — Step 2 After you've completed the sweep pattern, pay particular attention to other areas such as the following:
  • closet areas
  • stairwells
  • trash receptacles
  • removable panels
  • light fixtures
Responding to Bomb Threats — Step 3 Don’t just look for the obvious (like bombs you see in the movies: taped sticks of dynamite, wires and a ticking clock) but for any item that looks suspicious. Bombs come in all shapes and sizes. For those in government positions, you have to be even more thorough in your searches because you will be looking for C-4 (plastic explosives), FOAM-X, Semtex or any other type of RDX or PETN variation, which can be molded into any shape imaginable. (These explosives look like modeler’s clay and are usually gray or brown in color.) Palestinian terrorists have taken fire extinguishers and filled them with explosives and replaced the target area’s fire extinguisher with their own. Of course, explosive detectors or bomb-sniffing dogs should be used if they are available. Responding to Bomb Threats — Step 4 Inspect areas containing classified documents and computers. Such zones are often targeted. Responding to Bomb Threats — Step 5 Conduct a systematic exterior search. Look in containers, around heating and cooling systems, on the roof, etc. Suspicious vehicles parked nearby also should be reported. Car bombs should not be ruled out. Responding to Bomb Threats — Step 6 Do not use radios or mobile phones within a two-block area because some bombs can be activated by remote control, and radio waves may set it off by accident. About the Author: Jim Wagner is the author of two detailed books on subjects revolving around personal protection and survival in the age of terrorism — Reality-Based Personal Protection and Defensive Tactics for Special Operations — as well as two reality-based personal-protection training DVD series.
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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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