Forteza Fitness

From the Blog

Midwinter Armizare: A Renaissance Tournament at Arms

Let it Be Known to All that Profess the Study of Arms, that the Chicago Swordplay Guild does Challenge All Men and Women of Good Character and Keep Blade to Inaugurate the New Year in a Competition of Arms

WHAT
In conjunction with the Midwest Historical Fencing League and Forteza Fitness & Martial Arts the Midwinter Armizare Open is a public display of skill with one and two-handed swords in a relatively rules-light format meant to emphasize the tactical priorities of fighting with sharp weapons in lethal combat.

WHERE & WHEN
Date : Saturday, 27 Jan 2018
Location: Forteza Fitness & Martial Arts, 4437 N. Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60640
Schedule:
10:30 – Sign In
11:00 – Introduction: Rules and Demo
11:30 – Sword in One Hand
1:00 – Break
1:30 – Longsword
5:00 – Awards
5:30 – After Event Party

HOW: Tournament Rules and Equipment Requirements can be found at Midwinter Armizare Open 2018

JOINING: Registration is $50. Register online through the Forteza website.

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Forteza Welcomes Three New Instructors and Two New Programs to the Family!

The Yin & Yang of Forteza

It’s been a crazy busy summer at Forteza, and the fall looks to be even busier, so much so that we have a brand new expansion to FightingFit!, an entirely new *program* and not one, not two, but three new instructors joining the Forteza Family.

Taoism is based on the principle of two opposite, yet complementary energies: Yin & Yang, which comprise everything. Yin energy is soft, feminine, nurturing, while Yang energy is harder, male, more aggressive. What does this really mean? Although they are totally different—opposite—in their individual qualities and nature, they are interdependent. Yin and Yang cannot exist without the other; they are never separate.

What does Ying & Yang have to do with Forteza? We have tried to reflect the idea of complementary training in everything we do, combining traditional martial arts with modern self-defense, old school bootcamps, with innovative training and adventure racing. Although we didn’t plan it this way, the new class expansions we are about to show you really reflect this interweaving energies, both in the classes themselves, and the instructors you will meet. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself!

First the Yin…as in Yoga.

We have offered yoga classes and workshops periodically over the years, and while there has always been interest in an on-going class, either there wasn’t an instructor available for the times people wanted the classes, students couldn’t make the times we offered classes, or in some way things weren’t quite the right fit. We’re happy to say that we feel that we finally have the right instructor, the right program and the right time!

Yin yoga (or “Recovery yoga”) is a slow-paced style of yoga with postures that are held for longer periods of time — for beginners, it may range from 45 seconds to two minutes; more advanced practitioners may build the flexibility and endurance to stay in one posture for five minutes or more.
Yin yoga targets deep connective tissue, applying moderate stress to the body’s tendons, fascia, and ligaments along with certain breathing techniques with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. A more meditative approach to yoga, yin allows you to gain more clarity and mobility in the body, both physically and mentally, making it the perfect complement to more active, explosive training.

The new Yin Yoga class meets Wednesday mornings at 6 AM. Classes start the week of October 2nd. You can attend as part of your FightingFit! membership, via punchard or by purchasing a month of classes through the website.

About the Instructor

Caitlyn Shaver, LMT/RYT found yoga in 2009 while studying to become a licensed massage therapist at the American Institute of Alternative Medicine (AIAM).During this time period, she found that yoga allowed her mind to re-center from studying, and her body to heal after workouts. The combination of these two practices created a synergy and balance which led Caitlyn, upon completion of her degree from the AIAM, to embark on the journey of becoming a 200 hour yoga instructor. She received her training over nine months in Columbus, Ohio with Janice George at the SamYoga Institute, where she was also the program’s student assistant. Certified in multiple types of yoga styles ranging from Yin Yoga to Vinyasa Flow Yoga, she is able to modify poses for each individual student in her class while also catering to advanced practices.

…and then the Yang: Introducing Our New Combatives and Counter Violence

Combatives has been a part of the Forteza course offering since we opened our doors in 2012, with the studio hosting the biggest names in combatives, from Kelly McCann, to Lee Morrison of Urban Combatives and Dom Rasso of Dynamis. But a lot of confusion still remains on how “combatives” and “martial arts differ.

Martial Arts are the formalized training of a set, or subset of armed or unarmed combat skills, in an equal environment. Today, some martial arts are taught for fitness or competitive sports, others as cultural preservation. To survive the test of time, traditional martial arts have to have contained real, practical fighting skills, but they are usually taught in an environment of equals — a duel between warriors — precisely how assaults DO NOT happen on the street. Unfortunately, this means you can spend years developing great skills for sparring in a fair fight or in the ring, and be helpless when sucker-punched by a mugger.

That’s where Combatives and Counter Violence come in.

Combatives is about stripping fighting down to its raw essence: simple, gross-motor skills that can be applied quickly and effectively when under attack. It isn’t a “system”, it’s an approach.

Counter Violence is where martial arts, combatives and combat psychology meet: combining the combative mindset with learning how to read a situation, avoid confrontation, anticipate violence, and then, if necessary, quickly and ruthlessly employ your skills so you go home to your loved ones.

Now, in one of the most exciting developments since we opened our doors, we are pleased to announce a completely new Combatives and Counter-Violence program, spear-headed by renowned Chicago-based instructor, Michael VanBeek of Focus Counter Violence, with the able assistance of Forteza’s own Jesse Kulla. In addition, after a long hiatus, Martial Blade Combatives (MBC) returns in a short-course format, led by full-licensed instructor Thayne Alexander.

This new program  is module based and divided into an Introduction to Counter-Violence class, a small Master-Class, a Combat Conditioning class to refine your striking skills and improve your physical well-being, and an on-going series of short workshops and training camps. Here’s how YOU can be a part of it:

Intro to Focus Counter-Violence (Thurs 7 PM)
Your journey into realistic personal-protection starts here! This 12-week course crushes the stereo-types of martial arts and self defense. You will be introduced to the realities of violence — how to sense its signals, how it initiates, what it takes to respond quickly and effectively, and how to deal with the physical, mental and emotional aspects of this reality.  This course is all inclusive! The physical elite need not attend, and indeed, that isn’t the point. Whether by size or number, attackers are looking for the underdog: Learn a direct solution to a complicated problem in a transformation process that turns the underdog into an angry pitbull! (Includes immediate access to Combat-Conditioning.) JOIN NOW!

Focus Counter-Violence Master Class (Thurs 8 PM)
This 12 week course is for the serious! This is the culmination of Martial arts and Combatives smashed into one course. Simulation and emotional content training will be taught through the best drills and skills module there is! If you have any previous training at all you will love this. The perfect blend! Jeet Kune Do injected straight to the streets using the only Counter Violence training Algorithm in existence. Classes are kept to a maximum of ten students, for maximum student-teacher interaction. SEE YOU THERE! (Includes immediate access to Combat-Conditioning.)

FightingFit! Combat Conditioning
(Tues & Thurs 6 PM)

Get into fighting shape with a blend of pad work, kettlebells, body weight exercises, and fighter conditioning. We will get you in fighting shape…..guaranteed. Besides being a robust, complete fighting system, combatives and counter-violence are designed to be practical, efficient and tactical. You’ll train your bodies hard, but you’ll also hone your minds, learning how to boil empty-hand and weapon tactics down to the critical skills that you really need to survive a violent encounter, while putting a heavy emphasis on skills of tactical awareness, avoidance, and de-escalation.

Special Topics & Seminars
Forteza has also been home to seminars, workshops and monthly gatherings of local, national and international combatives and self-defense experts, covering a wide-variety of topics from metal-preparedness to combat scenario training, stick, knife and improvised weapons use to firearm preparedness and retention. These programs are listed on our Events page, and Facebook and are open to the public.

About the Instructor

Earning several different rankings in various traditional arts, Michael stumbled upon Jeet Kune Do in the late 1980’s. This art, made famous by its founder Bruce Lee, led VanBeek to train with many of the greatest martial artists alive. In the early 1990’s he not only maintained a victorious cage fighting record but also trained with firearms and tactical weaponry as a professional body guard, while finishing his education in Criminal Justice. As a security guard in the greater Chicago land area, Michael was exposed to a side of self-defense/fighting not often seen in the martial arts. After a few years modifying the way he taught martial arts, Michael began creating the “Anatomy of Violence”, a comprehensive breakdown of the workings of violence from an insiders perspective.With a unified goal and service to educate and train people to save their lives from real violence, without the rituals, uniforms or the time required by most training systems, Focus could now offer “Real Solutions to Real Problems for Real People.”

Today, Michael spends most of his time in service working with special needs children, lecturing and presenting seminars on Counter Violence to families, corporations, security firms, organizations and individuals. In addition to running his company, Michael speaks to groups about performance-related matters, using his story to inspire others.

 

Martial Blade Concepts (MBC) and Big-Knife Training Returns!

The choice on whether or not to carry a weapon is a personal one, but even today, many people carry small knives as utility tools and, if necessary, a means of defense. As such, knowing how to successfully deploy and use a knife, and how to defend against it, is useful skill for anyone interested in practical self-defense. Developed by well-known self-defense personal protection instructor Michael Janich, the MBC Self-Defense System is the result of more than 30 years of training, research, and analysis of the world’s most effective fighting arts, emphasizing the development of “all-purpose” defensive skills, and learning how to apply them to literally hundreds of different defensive situations. MBC is a compact, “plug-and-play” curriculum that you an add to any of your other training.

MBC full instructor and life-long martial arts student will be bringing MBC back to Forteza in a series of periodic, thematic short-courses (4 – 6 weeks) as a complement to Focus Counter-Violence, or a stand-alone modern defense system in its own right. Thayne will also be working with us to (finally!) expand our American Heritage/Antagonistics program with short courses in Bowie knife, tomahawk and single-stick. Watch this space for more!

About the Instructor:

Thayne Alexander has been studying and a practitioner of the martial arts, weapons combat and defense, and the modern combative’s world for well over 28 years. Starting with Aikido at age 14, and moving onto and achieving a high rank.   After graduating high school, he became interested in MMA and spent years learning a blend of Muay Thai and Jeet Kune Do.

Thayne found Western arts in 1999, when he began the study of Armizare, and is still active today as a senior Scholar and Instructor of the Chicago and Rocky Mountain Swordplay Guilds.

In 2005 Thayne started Martial Blade Concepts/ Counter Blade Concepts training along with Kali Eskrima Silat and became a MBC Full Instructor under the founder Michael Janich in 2013.

Around the same time of starting MBC. Thayne’s love for the old American melee weapon styles got him involved with Bowie knife and Tomahawk weapons and has been teaching the big knife in on-going classes and a few seminars since 2014.

Today, in addition to Armizare and MBC, he is a student of realistic based defense systems, studying under giants in the field such as Lee Morrison and Kelly McCann’s, and is a practicing savateur  in the system of Boxe Francaise and street Savate.

 

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Forteza is pleased to offer a free demonstration of clashing steel and derring-do, as a part of this year’s Ravenswood On Tap festivities. Best of all, it’s free.

Join us for martial arts demonstrations, a chance to handle swords and armour and to find out what really happens at your friendly, neighborhood Medieval Fight Club!

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Concrete ‘Jitz: Ground Survival Workshop with Michael VanBeek, May 28th!

“Real Solutions to Real Problems for Real People.”

Please join us in welcoming respected self-defense instructor Mike VanBeek to Forteza!

What is Concrete ‘Jitz?

Working from the ground back to your feet, Concrete Jitz covers every thing you need to know about defending against violence while on the ground.

This is not your daddy’s Jujitisu. While Mike’s jitz is strong, he has learned that the game changes when you are facing violence in the street, rather than an athlete on  mat. This workshop is about stopping violence’s ground game cold, and getting you home safe.

While he basic’s of ground-fighting will be covered, there is material here that will benefit grapplers and self-defense enthusiasts of all levels. So, whether you are an accomplished grappler or are looking to add ground skills to your self-defense, this is the workshop for you.

Topics covered:

  1. Why are we on the ground? (getting knocked down)
  2. Defense against a standing opponent.
  3. Defense against a mount.
  4. Defense from your guard.
  5. Getting back up.
  6. When can I access my weapons?
  7. How do stop the other person from getting to theirs?

About Your Instructor:

Renowned practical self-defense and personal protection instructor Michael VanBeek is the man to teach you how to defend against street-level criminals, because he knows their world from both the inside and the out.

Early in life, Michael was enrolled in special-education classes and given the drug Ritalin. As a result, he endured constant bullying. To compensate for his small and skinny stature and the social stigma of being in special education, Michael’s mother enrolled him in his first martial arts class in 1978.

Earning several different rankings in various traditional arts, Michael stumbled upon Jeet Kune Do in the late 1980’s. This art, made famous by its founder Bruce Lee, led VanBeek to train with many of the greatest martial artists alive. In the early 1990’s he not only maintained a victorious cage fighting record but also trained with firearms and tactical weaponry as a professional body guard, while finishing his education in Criminal Justice. As a security guard in the greater Chicagoland area, Michael was exposed to a side of self-defense/fighting not often seen in the martial arts. After spending most of his life in martial arts, working in bars and clubs, body guard training, setting records in cage fighting, earning black belts and obtaining a Senior Instructorship in Bruce Lee’s Art of Jeet Kune Do, Michael VanBeek thought he had it all figured out. He was wrong – almost dead wrong.

His life took an unexpected turn and in 2004, divorce and job loss left him in a severe depression. Within two years Michael VanBeek, the once honorable Sifu, was now using drugs and alcohol to escape his depression and isolation. He very quickly found himself homeless. From the one side of Chicago to the other, Michael’s goal was survival and in many circumstances, fight or die. Whether fighting to stay alive or fighting to feed an addiction, this was not the life of a once respected martial artist. The Cook County Department of Corrections became yet another challenge.

VanBeek turned his life around, re-entered the world of martial arts and reconsidered his career. He chose to dedicate his life to teaching people to defend themselves against the violence of which he became a part – the violence that almost took his life.

After a few years modifying the way he taught martial arts, Michael conducted violence survival seminars throughout the country and met other instructors with similar experiences. Soon, FOCUS opened locations nationwide. With a unified goal and service to train people to save their lives from real violence, without the rituals, uniforms or the time required by most training systems, Michael VanBeek created “Real Solutions to Real Problems for Real People.”

Today, Michael spends most of his time in service working with special needs children, lecturing and presenting seminars on Counter-Violence to families, corporations, security firms, organizations and individuals. In addition to running his company, VanBeek speaks to groups about performance-related matters, using his story to inspire others.

You can learn more about Mike and his work at: http://www.focuscounterviolence.com/

When, Where, How Much:

Sunday, May 28th
11:30 AM
Forteza Fitness
$75 pre-registration $100 at the door.

Register today and save! 

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Knight Camp! — Kids Experience History, Culture and Honor in a New Way!

 

Welcome to the only authentic knight school for youth (ages 8 – 14) in the USA where knightly martial arts and chivalric virtues are taught in an engaging and safe environment by trained instructors.

More than just another martial arts class, our summer camp follows the same guiding principle as our popular Youth Swordplay Program: developing life skills and ethical, self-confident young men and women, through the traditional, chivalric virtues of the medieval knight. Classes interweave physical training with teamwork exercises, lessons on medieval and Renaissance military history, heraldry and arms and armour to hone students’ minds as surely as their bodies.

Camps take place at our beautiful 5,000 square foot facility in Chicago’s Ravenswood art district. We are within one block of the Brown Line and Montrose Ave exit for the Metra.

Program

Our unique, two-week camp combines physical fitness training and swordplay and authentic medieval games, lessons on heraldry, arms and armour and castle life. Underlying all of those activities is a daily lesson on the knightly Code of Chivalry and how the virtues it espouses — Prowess, Courage, Humility, Courtesy, Largesse (Generosity), Mercy and Temperance (Balance) — are relevant to living life today!

9:30 – 10 AM Chivalry

An introduction of one of the seven chivalric virtues and how the students can apply them in their lives today.

10 – 10:30 AM Warm-Ups

A unique physical fitness warm-up, taught through games played by medieval children centuries ago!

10:30 – Noon: Knightly Arts, Part I

Students learn a variety of the martial skills that the knights of old had to know: Wrestling, swordplay, and quarterstaff.

Noon – 12:30: Lunch

12:30 – 1:30: The Lesson

A daily topic on one aspect medieval life, accompanied with show and tell or some sort of hands-on project.

1:30 – 3:00 PM: Knightly Arts Part II

A second martial arts lesson, building on the first, combined with controlled sparring (using padded weapons and protective equipment).

3:00 – 3:30 PM: Chivalric Circle

Students review the day’s lesson, explain what they learned and nominate one of their number for who best exemplified that day’s virtue.

Tournament-at-Arms

The last day of camp ends with a Tournament-at-Arms, where students will show off their skills in a special event that combines all they have learned: martial arts, heraldic display, good sportsmanship chivalric behavior, and will choose a First-Amongst-Equals as the victor of the day. Of course, parents, friends, and family are welcome to attend the Tournament!The last day of camp ends with a Tournament-at-Arms, where students will show off their skills in a special event that combines all they have learned: martial arts, heraldic display, good sportsmanship chivalric behavior, and will choose a First-Amongst-Equals as the victor of the day. Of course, parents, friends, and family are welcome to attend the Tournament!

Before & After Care

To make things easier for parents, we offer before and after care services starting at 8:30am each morning and from 3:30 to 5:00pm each day. Kids are welcome to work on activities provided during the camp, play games we have on site, or bring their own activities from home. Although time is largely self-directed, there is full adult supervision, and we’ll make sure that after each day of camp, there is much to keep their minds occupied as there is their bodies!

Special Needs & Medical Concerns?
If your child has any allergies or other special medical concerns, please let us know before the camp starts so that we can ensure a special experience for all campers and parents.

Registration

We are pleased to present what we believe to be Chicagoland’s most unique and holistic youth summer martial arts program. Please contact us with any questions or better yet, sign your son or daughter up today!

Summer 2017 Dates
Session One: June 26 – 30
Session Two: July 10 – 14

No previous classes or training is necessary. Students need only register for the week in which they want to participate. Registration by phone and in-person also available.

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Old Fashioned Cocktail Party, with a Side of….Murder! (March 11)

 

Get out your be duds, Guys and Dolls, because we’re having and Old Fashioned Cocktail Party.

Saturday March 11th, at 8:00 PM

Forteza Fitness

4437 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago IL 60640

 Dance the night away to our fancy digital band, conducted by D.J. Neil C.

 Hors d’oeuvres and giggle water abound, with special cocktails designed by Brandon P.

If you hear a scream, remember to keep your cool. Willing party guests can help sleuth out who done-it in a dramatic Murder Mystery that will have you chatting the night away.

 Upstairs in the Lounge, we’ll be taking mug shots of suspects and guests, to document the evening.

 Also in the lounge, we’ll be honored with a reading from Christian Cameron’s new book, by the author himself. This is a respectable affair, after all.

Look, Mack, all yo have to do is pull out your wing tips and pony up $10 to get in.  It’ll be a night to remember.

See you there!

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Chicago Self Defense: Helping the Vulnerable Stand Against Bigotry and Intolerance

Forteza is pleased and honored to be home of a new, ongoing workshop: Chicago Self-Defense

Chicago Self Defense is a group of people coming together to strengthen each other against hatred, bigotry and violence. Our main focus is to provide self defense lessons and deescalation tactics to vulnerable populations, regardless of race, gender identity or religious beliefs.

Self-protection, particularly for those who never considered martial training as a way of life, requires developing a combination skill-set that includes awareness, self-assurance, self-determination and knowing the law as much as physical capabilities. These individual workshop sessions will feature a combination of life-long martial arts practitioners from all walks of life, trained psychologists and counselors and legal professionals.

Chicago Self Defense exists outside of our normal martial arts and self-defense programs and is offered as community service. All workshops are completely free to the public, although a donation to an appropriate charity, such as the ACLU is encouraged.

Organizational Meeting and Basic Self-Defense Skills Class: 11/26

CSD will have its first gathering on Saturday, November 26th from 3:30 – 5:30. This first gathering will cover basic self-defense principles and skills for the untrained, but will also be laying groundwork for on-going classes and lectures.

Class space for this first class is limited to 30 attendees, so we request that you register. (Your information will not be shared, you will only be sent mailing about events if you ask to be, and there is no charge.)

For further questions please email Kyle Bice.

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Eat, Drink and Be Scary at Our Phantasmagoric Halloween Evening this October 29th!

 

Calling all Ghosts, Ghouls, Goblins and Children of the Night!

The Mists of Mischievous Merriment are gathering….

Let them sweep you away

for an Evening of COSTUMED

and FIENDISH delights!

 

Schedule of Terrors

Eight of the Clock

The Doors of the Crypt Open — let the Danse Macabre Begin!

Terrifyingly-tasty Treats ~ Mmm…brains!

Cocktails ~ Slake Your Unholy Thirsts!

Fortune-Telling ~ Learn Your Fate

Door Prizes ~ Treat…or Trick????

and

a Phantasmagoric DJ ~ Shamble and Slither on our Dance Floor!

Ten of the Clock
The Menagerie of the Mad

Costume Contest — Categories and prizes to be announced.

 

Midnight, the Witching Hour
Crowning the Lords and Ladies of Darkness

Our Contest winners are chosen!

 

One of the Clock

The Crypt Closes Once Moor

 

Claim your place on the guest list by October 9th for the otherworldly price of $35 

After 10/9, guest reservations are $45

Tickets at the door are $55

Reserve Here …. if you dare!

(No really, reserve!)

 

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