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Spreading Modern Defendo around the world and keeping the Legend Alive has been a challenge, and
of course it has not all been smooth sailing. There have been some ups and downs and a few disappointments
which has lead to a lot of sour grapes. But through it all my underlining goal has been to
keep the knowledge of WWII combatics alive and in play to honor my mentors. Therefore I will not
roll over and play dead when former students and associates screw the system, their students or me
over. I have been through too much shit and fighting for too long to let a few ankle biters get away
with that. As I told you I served and saw how the military and police discarded this knowledge and
told me it was redundant. Therefore I knew it was not going to be easy if I were to keep it alive and it
would have to be brought to the civilian marketplace, most notably the martial arts community. Of
course I did not realize at the time how big the ego’s in this industry had become and the BS that
would follow. Laughingly as a result I have come to ask myself where have all the martial warriors
gone because it seems in many cases they have been replaced by hollowed out shells looking for the
next business fad or the guerrillas masquerading as warriors.
This aspect alone has been a huge learning curve and I have learned most
lessons the hard way; I have found the level of current business ethics, marketing
strategies, public relations and so forth tiring. (I found conducting hostage
rescues easier) Like many I learned that just teaching from your heart is
not enough and putting blind trust in people is a ‘fool’s parade’ (I should have
listened more to my street-smarts). In order to make this project work in the
mainstream I’ve taken risks and I’ve had to adjust our image and business tactics
but the substance of the curriculum remains truthful to the core values of Fairbairn’s original
education and research and to my mentors. No one really remembered the system
when I started and the few who did were for the most part the collectors of military
history especially all things Commando/SOE/OSS. These guys can tell you what Fairbairn
had for breakfast on June 20th 1943 but not what his training stood for because
they had no real exposure to it. Others, as I mentioned
‘the Nut bars’ are living an illusion and offering
secret Fairbairn/WWII Combatics societies that
I have traditionally distanced myself from.
For example in the early stages when my associates
and I formed the International Defendo
Federation (IDF), to market the modern civilian
system, I was guilty of allowing some pretty ridiculous advertising
in Black Belt Magazine and other publications. You
know the type ‘More Deadly than Deadly’ and my old associates
at Defendo.com are still trying to run similar marketing concepts
based on fear. You’ve seen the campaigns. Anyway these
types of ad based marketing campaigns with these themes
have been the downfall of getting WWII Combatics recognized
and accepted as a legitimate training vehicle in the
mainstream market place. Therefore proper marketing
and product placement was another learning curve that only took about 15 years
to sink in. For example when I left the IDF it had not met any of its business goals outside of making
me ‘Bill Wolfe’ look like the deadliest ‘nut bar’ on the planet (well if I can’t laugh at myself
who can). We produced a series of training DVD’s which I wrote, directed and help produce
and that became the main focus (remember you saw the ads for them in Black Belt Magazine).
The DVD’s still offer an outstanding self defense program and showcases parts of the system
but not all of it. Instructor training was another focus but after 911 this important growth aspect
slowed. There are many reasons for this but the foremost was that the martial arts were in
transition when reality-based training was in vogue; everyone’s reality system was selling and every
founder or instructor was either an ex Navy SEAL, SAS or Israeli Commando and then of course there
was me who had actually done some cooking in the army
But soon after 911 the focus in the martial arts switched to UFC and later to MMA. I knew it was becoming
laughable and would soon come to an end as real soldiers went off to war. And when the martial
arts industry and its students became fixated on the huge money backed MMA market all of us
‘gods of war’ were left out in the cold having to rethink our marketing strategies. Now we also have
to try and explain the difference between reality and sports training to the world (yes there is a huge
In my opinion this ‘down turn’ has been a good thing and it has been a time to rebuild. Many of the
instructors I had qualified up until this time were what I call ‘camp followers’ so as the focus moved to
MMA so did they. I went from a large cross section of associated schools in North America to a few.
The breakup of the IDF did not help and most members did not realize I was no longer associated with
them because the IDF continued to do business as if I was. This IDF break up occurred due to a huge
difference in ideology and business goals so I moved on. It took time to address but luckily the alumni
who stayed were totally interested in the System and although we are now fewer in numbers we have
more depth from a training standpoint. My mantra has become quality not numbers; not good from a
business stand point you’re thinking and I am sure you’re right, but I believe better for long term success.
At this point I formed Modern Defendo International (MDI) and started over again from the
ground up ‘I will survive, I will never give up’ army mentality. Today I have some extremely great people
associated with me through our instructor alumnus and student alumni…And one day we will save
With MDI I started offering my system of Modern Defendo again, minus the hype, and started planting
its seeds by doing seminars and workshops and later instructor certification around the world; Canada,
USA, Mexico, Australia, India, Finland, Sweden, Germany, UK and this was done slowly with the exception
of the Nordic countries of Finland and Sweden. But as a wise man once said”if it grows too fast
there must be a down side” and here is where the sour grapes come in.
About five years ago I meet a talented martial artist Jyrki Saario from
Finland who invited me to Sweden to do a seminar and present my system
to him and his students. I found them to be very good sports
based martial artists but they had little effective knowledge of what I
call modern reality-based self protection education especially tactically
and mentally. In short order he and others embraced my system
because it filled in the missing blanks they had found with their
current training. Jyrki and I struck up an understanding that he would
head up Modern Defendo operations solely in the Nordic countries
and we would qualify instructors to teach my system. He was allowed to
teach only the basic HARD TARGET level (basic striking, movement, and basic tactical skills) which I
taught him and qualified him on in order to progress. Unfortunately due to his bad neck injury, sustained
in a car accident, Jyrki could not learn the more dynamic aspects of the grappling techniques in
Combat Tech, especially the ground fighting .
I started by teaching the instructor courses to a pool of talented Finnish and Swedish instructors from
various systems but most of them came from Krav Maga.
Modern Defendo spread fast in Finland due to Jyrki’s connections and reputation in the Finish martial
art community because he holds a high instructor’s rank in Krav Maga/Thai Boxing (and just about everything
else). Before long we were cross qualifying all his Krav instructors as Modern Defendo instructors.
I gave him permission to adopted a modified version of the old IDF Defendo triangle logo and
make up some Defendo rank badges, something that we in North America did not normally use but
Jyrki felt was important for the Fins especially those who came out of IKMF Krav. I also allowed him
more leeway in how he would implement the system in the Nordic Countries because of the strong
Krav base where most of the instructor candidates were crossing over from, but when it came to the
physical, tactical and mental awareness training aspects of this system Jyrki was my student.
He received training and we had long talks on every aspect of the training and I allowed him
to film just about every aspect of it for his own edification and he assured me he could maintain
the standards I set.
Over the next five years I would teach programs in Finland and Sweden spreading the System
with Jyrki as the overseer in the Nordic Countries. I even spent three months living and
teaching in Gothenburg Sweden out of his Ironman Club to help make it work (this length of
stay was not new I have done it in other countries to spread the word). Hence today you
will see Modern Defendo being taught in the Nordic countries. A couple of years ago
Jyrki decided he no longer needed to associate himself with me and decided to ‘dead
head’ off on his own. This action occurred after I jacked him up for dropping training
standards that had been brought to my attention by the Finnish instructors themselves.
Once we split there was no shortage of suggestions who should replace poor old Jyrki from
the Finnish instructor pool, none of which I have accepted. Sadly as these things go today he
claims to have created the system he offers now as Finnish Defendo / Defendo Alliance and sold his
people on this message by insulting me and totally ignoring my five year contribution.
I mention this because this is a common effect regarding this business that I have learned as I said the
hard way. Any Founder that has started Associations/Federations/Alliances to represent the system
has experienced this effect and that’s why there aren’t more schools teaching the real Modern Defendo.
The students in Finland and Sweden and the other Nordic countries that attended my training
are good people and some are really good instructors’ and I can only hope they will maintain the standards
they received from me. They all tell me they hate the politics and the ‘back stabbing’ it creates
and just want to train so let’s hope they do not lose that focus as their new Alliance takes hold. Me,
what am I going to do about it... Nothing… I’m going to live on the beach in Mexico because it’s too
cold in Finland and they made their choice of who to follow.
I mention this because the ‘Jyrki effect’ as it has become known in Modern Defendo was a huge shock,
especially after I spent so much energy building him up as a good guy…anyway it was a learning curve
for me and as I discovered , his attitude is very common in this business. One just has to look at how
many variations of Krav Maga there are today and this will become true for Modern Defendo as well. I
even had a meeting last year in Budapest with Eyal, the head of IKMF Krav Maga, about this very subject
and we had a few good laughs because I thought I was the only guy experiencing this. But as we say
in the Army, “Shit happens!” and just as God made little green apples, one day Jyrki will have the rug
pulled out from under his feet by one of his students (and I’ll bet the Finns know which one it will be
too!...don’t you just love the politics boys and girls). And this is not just a Finnish trait ladies and Gentleman.
I have seen my former Canadian IDF associates conducting Defendo instructor certification
training, and Jackson, the lead instructor for those courses, was never qualified to teach instructors in
the first place or any place! When you watch the video footage they post on their site, you hear them
say, “Bill always says this or does that” while he tells one of my war stories he memorized to a tee
from watching me teach. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery but I’m sure you will agree,
not in this case. Even some other former students associated with me in Canada, UK and the USA
teaching Defendo make no mention of where they learned it from except to say a few interesting catch
lines like, ‘I learned my deadly knowledge from a secret army drill Sergeant (ME, THAT WAS ME,
REALLY IT WAS!)’ so our Finnish cousins are not the only ones pulling this off.
So what’s the solution you ask? Well first is to tell you about it. The second; Now, I alone conduct
all instructor certification in this System. No more ‘pretendo’ unless you get tied up with the Bad
Apples! Hopefully they will no longer be using my name or image to help sell it. Nor will they stop
teaching or using the name Defendo because they need credibility, so let’s hope they don’t screw it up
too bad. That’s why it is important to let you the readers know!
I’ll continue to build instructors and hope they represent the training and the history of the system
well; after all, I cannot control people anymore than I can the weather nor do I wish too! Therefore it
is only through legitimate and high standards for instructor qualification that this system will continue
to grow. And this is something the Canadian Army taught me how to do very well and why my instructor
training is so effective. This was the aim I told Harold about and as you recall he was doubtful
about me ever achieving it; the concept of making the system more mainstream.
Truly the Modern system of Defendo (Modern Defendo) and I have come a long way and the time I
have spent on it since retirement has flown by. The bumps in the road and the sour grapes from ‘the
students trying to steal the pebble from the master’s hand’ just makes it more interesting and shows
just how effective this system’s curriculum is in the current market place. Otherwise, ladies and gentleman
they would have made up their own name to describe what they teach. Modern Defendo has
become very market friendly.
Watch out for falling bad apples, people who have never been in the military, served as a police officers
or any form of law enforcement agency; Some are simply doormen checking ID’s for a living (nothing
wrong with being a doorman but…), some feel they have the knowledge and the right to give police or
military education when they have never walked the beat, never strapped on a pair of combat boots to
face an enemy in war and never used firearms in real life but think that they have the knowledge to
share with professional agencies. They are KIDDING themselves and far worse putting these men and
women at risk. Remember old SSgt Joe Glass’s true words ; “How can you explain combat, if you
have never been in combat you know you can’t explain it”
‘Often these bad Apples, we’ll call them, are too proud to take on further education and feel they
KNOW IT ALL. So where do they get their police or military knowledge from… do they watch all
the latest SWAT movies, or tune into History Television to catch military operations and get their
tactical ideas? Now I’m not trying to be a total asshole, but when I watch their training footage
it’s completely cocked up, wrong and badly staged. What would Fairbairn think? He released a
few propaganda based films in his day, like footage from the OSS training, but if he thought people
were watching his footage to gain tactical knowledge he would shake his head and laugh.
There is no way all of Fairbairn’s knowledge was locked in a few books or videos; this was just
the tip of his knowledge.
We the instructors (and I include myself) who have been
operators cannot fit our life’s work into a few publications,
a few training DVD’s or even the courses we offer.
True knowledge comes from YOU taking on a leadership
role in your life and getting out there to learn. Learn with
integrity and then apply that knowledge operationally, and
tactically in your own daily life. If you are a teacher, teach it
from the tactical first hand point of view. For example, please do
not go out there and video tape everything you are learning from us and turn it into your own idea…
that’s called pirating or just plan BS. Remember if Integrity,
honor and loyalty to the people you’re teaching mean anything
at all you would not go down that path. But my experience
is that many do.
It is ok in my mindset when civilian instructors go into
these agencies and teach them CIVILIAN skills like martial
art based skills (assuming they’re any good at it) but it is
NOT ok for them to imply their own thoughts on tactical
knowledge, that’s crossing the line and often their ego
grows into believing they are police/ military instructors.
This is completely unacceptable
You wouldn’t want a person who attended a first aid
course and watched an ER surgery on TV to go in and be
your city's ambulance attendant’s instructors… same concept
different field. …
In the past I have demonstrated arrest and control tactics with
my own students which they filmed (yes I allowed that) but now I hear they’re
offering their knowledge to police units based on that limited time with me. This is NOT appropriate.
Sure I’d love to believe giving them a few hours of demonstrations on police tactics would give them a
true understanding of the tactical needs of police operations. But it does not. Sadly I boosted some
egos and now they’re coming off as the expert from a police officers point of view. If their approach
was, say more humble and they say, I can show you some skills I learnt from a police officer that might
work better. I have no problem with that approach and the police members can judge the value of the
training for themselves. This comes into the area of ‘gifted amateur’ as I already mentioned. The list
unfortunately does go on... example of former Hungarian students who now offer firearms training in
Hungary as part of a Defendo course that was reportedly police or VIP operative based… who have
never taken firearms course themselves.. It was suppose to be police tactical shooting but the concepts
I saw being used was sport target shooting and paper targets do not shoot back ... I wonder if
they know that…
How far will these guys take it?
I guess as far as people will let them? Why police or military allow them in to teach is beyond me. The
Police agencies can save their budget bucks and get the same knowledge these men have by playing
TOTAL RECON too…
As I said I am not alone in this, many System founders, have created ‘hybrid experts’ unfortunately
most of these other founders seem afraid to call them on it; why?
So if you’re into browsing self-absorption! You’ll love these guys by their websites which will be full of
fierce warrior poses and cool staged action videos of them beating the crap out of everybody. They
will have really cool names for their training courses too (I wish I could think up stuff that cool …)
Seriously! you’ve got to love the internet...
I train military and police instructors separately on a contract basis from the professional organizations
themselves. So if someone in Defendo tells you he is a military or police instructor they better be able
to prove service and having attended that course with me and that would have been about the hardest
5 weeks of their life! And I’ll tell you right now I have never taught a police or military course to civilians.
I have only demonstrated some aspects of these curriculums sparingly.
Defendo is a Latin word meaning (I protect) and it is in common usage around the world. Flick on
some Spanish News, you’ll hear the word often. But in the context of self protection training in the
civilian market, there are only two true sources; one is Mr. Bill Underwood and the other is me, Bill
Wolfe. Mr. Underwood has been deceased for some time, so his daughter I am afraid is left to defend
his name and title; me I’m still above ground. Also ‘Defendo’ in this context refers to a Canadian System
- especially my Canadian Army; so others who lay claim to creating it are simply lying YES I can
say Lying. They got it from us Canadians and I’m pretty sure even Mr. Underwood would agree to
that! So anyone using the name Defendo/Modern Defendo was taught by us Canadians or they are just
using what's become a brand name now because it has grown to mean something as a reality-based
system, especially through my efforts around the world in the last 15 plus years!
How will you know these ‘Bad Apples?” well most Everyone
of them will mention Fairbairn/WWII combatics and
then magically jump forward some 60 plus years leaving a
huge void in their linage, magically taking up the knowledge
and name Defendo not Defendu (the name Fairbairn used). They will
also mention programs with names like Hard Target, Combat Tech, S.T.A.R and
so forth…these programs are the civilian versions I created with John Parker
some 15 years ago from the Canadian Army B.R.I.C.K. ‘s (Battle-Reactions-for
Instantaneous-Control-or Killing) which I also created more than 30 years ago.
Call me silly or am I the only person thinking this way?
Good thing John Parker is more humble than I. . .
A smarty pants would wonder why names of the programs
are in English and the ‘Bad Apples’ first language in
many cases is not, so why would they use them? Embarrassing
you say? There are tons of photos, videos, email correspondence….of and from all these ‘Big Bad
Apples’ over the years I shared education with them. I taught them the skills and the programs and
now they claim to have invented it all … the term they’re using ‘Primus Motor’ ("Prime Mover," that
is, God, the unmoved mover who created the universe’… ..ouch.. now that’s not a dig at me... that
one falls a little higher)
The ‘Alliance’ has forbidden students and instructors to have any contact with me WOW! NOW
THAT IS DICTATORSHIP! It is not the concept of this system at all and most definitely not giving the
students that ‘assertive confidence’ I preach.
Now as most betrayals and attacks on personal character… Can be gabbed about for years not to
mention hold you captive. All it does is give these bastards credit in their own twisted way. These Bad
Apples’ will be shot off the fence and new ones will move in to replace them. History lessons learn