Bill Wolfe’s Battleschool Camp – Infamous for its discipline and toughness, K.I.S.S./P=C training concepts, but legendary for giving martial artists the ultimate self protection education and qualification in the martial arts world…
Gain insight for Wolfes camps – from a students perspective.
How many times have we heard something like that about some martial art course or a superior instructor? Well a few years ago I decided to find out and went to just such a camp in Hungary just outside of Budapest to find out for myself. I committed myself to attend a Bill Wolfe summer training camp for 5-days. I had heard about the camp from a friend who had been looking at his website and the fact he was having a summer camp in Hungary intrigued me. I remember reading about Wolfe several times in a Black Belt martial arts magazine, about 10 or so years ago, about his Battleschool where they described it as the “Best 48 hours of hell on earth…” reading the story about that Battleschool caught my imagination or I would not have remembered it. I thought about it and wondered how any training could be called the best 48 hours of hell. So when I checked the whwolfe.com website myself it started with a very impressive video introducing RSM Wolfe which encouraged me to explore the site further. I found out Wolfe was ex-army infantry and a Special Forces type before the Canadians had such a thing. He is also a former Police SWAT team commander in his native Canada and he has more than 5 decades of martial arts study. The 5-day camp promised to be a demanding adventure, although not the Battleschool Black Belt reported on, my summer camp was going to be 5 days rather than the civilian Battleschool of just 2-days. When I received the notice that Mr. Wolfe was opening up his 7-day military Battleschool to us, I jumped on the chance to attend. Let me tell you why, based on my 5-day summer camp with Mr. Wolfe!
I don’t know what your life is like as a martial artist but I have had a bit of experience especially when it comes to this new so called reality-based self defense. I have followed this new trend for years but Mr. Wolfe was someone who appeared to drop out of the scene for some time in the last few years. Why I wondered and checked his background again a little closer after receiving the Battleschool notification. I found he had gotten a little fed up with all the “BS and the egos” as he calls it in the business and retired to raise a family. What I found out is that he is still very much respected for his skills and knowledge and still has a pretty strong on-line presence. Wolfe has been studying the martial arts since 1962 under some great mentors and has been teaching for over 4 decades as a master in the military and police world as well. Most of his teaching responsibilities have been within the military and police community hence some very impressive instructor credentials. Why then have I not heard more about him I asked myself?
Every month in the martial art magazines I get there are tons of advertising and stories from martial art instructors wanting to offer us more information on how to best learn realistic self defense or western based martial arts, how to improve our styles and yet remain loyal to our martial art roots. Others tell us what we learn is crap and their system is the only true secret path….. buy my DVD…buy my course. If you’re like me, someone who has been doing traditional based martial arts for about 20 years, I think most of that hype is crap but it is harder on us traditionalists. Mainly because the aspect of the question for too long it eats away at me especially the loyalty “side of the house to my style of martial art”. I felt I needed more skill and practical knowledge missing from my training to better prepare myself for what seems an ever increasing level of violence in the World. The choice was Wolfe the instructor who had the answers.
I believe my feeling of guilt over loyalty is counterproductive so I decided to attend Mr. Wolfe’s training camp and I would try and keep an open mind. I took this opportunity to put aside my doubts and fears to take what was promised to be this incredible opportunity to master skill and knowledge – something legendary. And it was a bit of an adventure as well to travel thousands of miles to a county I knew nothing about.
First: The Arrival
When I arrived at the Camp rendezvous spot on a roadside in this little town just outside of Budapest I found a bunch of fellow campers, about 35 in number, of various ages and physical conditions standing around a folding table filling out paper work. After a short time Mr. Wolfe came running up the road to us. He was covered in sweat and approached the group. Wolfe introduced himself and welcomed us to the camp and asked us, “if we liked to train.” We all sort of stood there not knowing what to say, but most of us gave a timed yes. “Great!” was Wolfe’s reply, “The camp is just a few kilometers down this road, throw your gear in the back of that truck and report over here.” We all looked stunned but put our bags in the truck and reported to the designated spot. “Have we got everyone” Wolfe asked looking around “OK follow me” and off we went running down this country road to God knows where. No explanations just off we went. This was to be the first of many physical and psychological tests Wolfe would pull on us over the next 5-days.
It was a hot day for a run and some were complaining “Wolfe would run up beside them and say, “Stop bitching son, it could be Afghanistan and people would be shooting at you as well!”. By the time we all arrived at this old Hungarian Secret Police training camp we were covered in sweat. At the main gate we waited for everyone to arrive. Wolfe ran back several times to ensure no one was left behind and even kicked a few butts along the route to encourage those less fit to make it. Once everyone was there we had our camp briefing. Wolfe told us he was going to teach us this legendary path – it will not be easy nor will it be FREE – the footsteps you will have to follow are really quite simple and it will not cost you an “arm and a leg” either. But your upfront investment will be sweat equity. This fee includes some pain, bumps and bruises to egos. Does it mean you automatically qualify because you pay? No! You will have to pass the course and he meant it. As the truck with our bags pulled in Wolfe said, “If anyone is afraid to stay now’s your chance to leave” pointing back down the road. “Grab your bag either take it into the barracks or start walking!” was the order. All assembled grabbed their bags and walked towards the barracks a little less confident and lot less cocky.
Who comes to these camps?
A camper did not have to have any martial arts or self defense background. Nor were there tons of black belt/self defense qualified instructor taking part. Most came from a diverse background, some had martial arts others where just interested in self defense and others were European Combatives students of Mr. Wolfe. Not all seemed keen once they learned the day would start at 0600 each morning doing an army style boot camp fitness conducted by Wolfe himself and that we would most likely be working till late each night. When the website said Wolfe was serious about training and loved to do it, from what we were hearing they sure weren’t kidding. It seemed a little too military to me but exciting at the same time because it was taking me well outside my comfort zone. It was also a much different format than anything I had done martial arts’ wise or compared to other reality-based training I have taken. So far there was no doubt in my mind Wolfe was living up to his resume thus far.
Once we got settled in to our barracks we had a more in-depth meeting with Wolfe and he briefed us on the 5-days training in store for us. Wolfe said, “We will be building on whatever current knowledge you have. You guys with no knowledge, good! You won’t have any bad habits to break! I guarantee that by the time we leave this camp you will have more than enough tactics and strategies; mentally and physically including step by step proven self defense to use on a daily basis every day of the year.” Wolfe told us personal fitness was an important component of personal protection and therefore each morning we would start with PT. Fighting skills are also important he said but if we did not have the mind to control our bodies in a crisis all the skills in the world would mean “shit” and that we would be spending time in the evening developing our mind and body connection. This part of the camp was to become one of the strongest themes throughout the 5-days and it was truly an inspiring approach and training at a level I have never experienced in all my years of martial art study – the rubber really met the road in this phase.
You must be a professional.
Wolfe also shocked us when he told us he does not teach amateurs only professional warriors so from this point on we all would be treated like professionals and he expected us to act in that role. “Now, I don’t know what your definition of professionalism is” Wolfe stated, “but to me it means, having the character and conduct of an expert whose practices and methods of learning are what distinguishes him from an amateur”. He warned us this is not a presumption at this camp but he was offering us a real “uncommon warrior” education and when we finished his camp we would be “an uncommon warrior in a common world”. I was now very excited. He also told us we will learn a legendary system with more than 90 years of history and you will learn to create a high perception of value in your knowledge and ability to deliver it. This means confidence in the system and professionalism in how you present yourself for the rest of your life. He also said this may be more than we bargained for but he was throwing it in for free. But of course we found out the hard way that Wolfe was very serious about his life and experience as a soldier and SWAT cop and he was prepared to share this knowledge and skill with us if we were ready to learn. Scary, but I found myself in the hands of an old guy that appeared to be a real warrior and he was not lowering his training standards just because we were not prepared or ready. He clearly expected us to come up to the level he demanded.
You must upgrade and maintain your training daily.
In this camp now as students of the Wolfe System we moved from our current basic martial art level to the real deal level. We went through a system of training put in place by Wolfe over the 5-days that progressively upgrades professional mindset and re-certifies so we maximized our knowledge and skill. It afforded us opportunities to experience skill fad and knowledge lapse while working under the load of fatigue that in the training environment represented fear one would experience in a real crises – fatigue = fear!. Wolfe wanted us to learn how to maintain cutting edge knowledge and be able to apply it when dead tired and the brain was not working just like it might when hijacked by fear. As Wolfe told us in the beginning of the camp, his background is qualifying professionals’ soldiers and police whose skill and knowledge must stand up under the most trying of circumstances – this level of R & D was evident in every phase of the 5-day camp. It prepared us mentally, tactically, physically and even better spiritually. The last half of day 5 “the event called the crucible” pushed everyone further than any of us had ever gone before physically or mentally. Wolfe didn’t just talk to us about the warrior spirit, Wolfe demonstrated to me more clearly than any training I have taken what the “indomitable fighting spirit” looks and feels like. It was very clear Wolfe’s skill and knowledge as a professional instructor is honed by real world experience. An aspect not overlooked by any experienced martial artist in attendance.
Finally: You must have a leadership and a system in place to ensure a successful training camp and be able to maintain the Standards and Motivational Teaching systems over 5-days to ensure it operates consistently and predictably.
After all I don’t know about you but I have been in the martial arts for a lot of years and I take it very seriously. Therefore, I am always looking for that something special and in Wolfe’s training I found it. The Wolfe method has institutionalized skill development with course systemized progression. At this 5-day camp we covered this in-depth and we left with a new modern outlook, not just towards fighting but to the business of personal safety management. For the first time I personally learned mind and body development methods, East meets SAS stuff as Wolfe calls it and I was ready to implement it every day after I returned from this incredible event.
All that really sounds too simple, doesn’t it?
We both know there is more to it than meets the eye. It boils down to this reality-based master’s master Mr. Bill Wolfe and his expertise
For myself, I was so impressed to meet an instructor who has been doing this all his life. Wolfe has some 30+ years of operational military and police experience and in Canada is considered something of a pioneer in the field, even a legend. The body of knowledge he commands and this military system he has inherited has more than 90 years of history attached to it and it is the first western based military-based mixed martial arts of modern times and the most combat proven. Although I have no experience in real combat myself Wolfe does, not only on foreign operations but in the backyards and neighbourhoods in Canada as a police officer as well. And this was clear to us from the very beginning. Wolfe brought to this camp, an in-depth Military old school Special Forces and Police ERT/SWAT training background. One chap from Canada calculated their military and police spent over a million dollars training Wolfe in modern terms for those roles over the years and Wolfe has spent more than 30 years giving back that knowledge to his fellow comrades in arms and people just like us. Yes Wolfe has been written up in Martial Art Magazines like BLACKBELT which told me, “Bill Wolfe is one of the top ten reality-based instructors in the world…” and other European magazines over the years have had similar things to say. Wolfe has even been featured on History Television’s ‘Devil’s Brigade’ and hosted his own TV show ‘History’s Toughest Soldiers’ and more recently Camp X – The Making of WWII Spies but from what I see he still prefers to remain one of the “Quiet Professionals”.
Me I choose Battleschool Hungary
Was the 5-day camp hell? YES and I now understand why Black Belt called Battleschool ‘the best 48 hours of hell…’ this camp was a lot more than 48 hours of training and every minute was a good kind of hell. That’s why I am excited about this 7-days at this new Battleschool coming up and the chance to learn the real military side of Mr. Wolfe’s training once and for all. I have chosen to attend Battleschool in Hungary this October 2nd – 8th and I know I will meet some old campers from my last adventure there. I highly recommend Wolfe’s training to you. Attend either the one in Vancouver September 10th – 16th or join me in Hungary. It’s an adventure!