Forteza Fitness

From the Blog

Tomahawk and Long Knife Seminar Review and Training Footage

Meredith Lyons has posted a review of our recent Tomahawk and Long Knife seminar. This was the second part of our American Heritage Fighting Arts series, following on last month’s Bowie Knife Wokrshop. Next up: single-stick, both a training tool for the military saber, and a form of self-defense and fencing sport in its own right, and one of the martial arts of choice of the original Rough Rider himself, Teddy Roosevelt.

More on that soon, but for now, here is some video of both the recent ‘hawk and knife seminar, and some bowie knife fencing from the end of our first workshop:

‘Hawk and Knife

Bowie Basics

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And you can find more Bowie sparring clips at the recent after action event review.

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Indian Club Workshop

Join us this Tuesday, August 27th @ 7pm when we welcome Paul Taras Wolkowinski for an introduction to the use of the Indian Clubs. Paul is an Australian instructor and researcher on the use of Indian Clubs, as can be seen at his site .  He will be visiting Forteza next week to check out our Gymuseum, and since he’ll be in town, Paul has offered to teach a short workshop on the use of the clubs.

Paul has a short routine that will work great as a mobility warmup, will help to keep joints healthy and strong, and is an excellent conditioning method for martial artists, particularly those involved in weapon arts.

The class is only $15.  Space will be limited, and we are keeping this in house, so please RSVP to info@fortezafitness.com
Here is a teaser of what you’ll see:
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Bowie Knife Workshop After-Action Review – American Heritage Fighting Arts

Just in time for Independence Day, Forteza kicked off our American Heritage Fighting Arts program with a three hour introduction to the Bowie knife.  While we had originally planned to launch this new program with a seminar on the tomahawk, due to a snafu with one of our distributors, we found ourselves without tomahawk trainers! Oops.

This worked out just fine, as there is no other weapon as  quintessentially American as the Bowie knife.

The Man – the Knife. While Jim Bowie’s knife duels are famous, there is no evidence of any special design of his devising, or a connection to the weapon that would come to bear his name

The Bowie was not so much a new invention, as the inheritor of about two-thousand years of European big knives, beginning with the Germanic saex. Although taught in fencing salles throughout the south – particularly in New Orleans, alongside the sabre and dueling sword, there was little formally written on fighting with the big knife, with the most notable sources being an illustrated newspaper interview from 1890 and  John Styers much later “Cold Steel”.  Our own Bowie knife system comes from Forteza Combatives instructor Keith Jennings’ 14 years of research into the weapon. Keith has at one time or another studied with three of the modern masters of the Bowie: James Keating, Dwight McClemore, and Pete Kautz. The program taught at Forteza reflects the teachings of three instructors, as well as Keith’s own research into the use of the knife in Western martial culture going back to the medieval ages, through the World Wars, and to today.

The seminar focused on the basics of large knife dueling starting with the grip, the basic stance and guards, and the three basic thrusts. After learning how to attack safely using the age old True Times, students worked on defensive actions, including basic parries, stop cuts, classical fencing techniques such as the inquartata and passada sotto.

Next, the students learned the deadly back-cut, taking advantage of the Bowie knife unique blade design. Using the clip point of the blade, students went through the mechanics of a proper back-cut, and how to use it both offensively and defensively.

Finally, with enough basic training under their belts, it was time to pressure test what the students had learned. There were a lot of different training backgrounds present, from historical fencing, to Filipino martial arts, Military knife training, and boxing. All of this showed up in their sparring, and everyone was quick adapt the bowie knife to their pre-existing skill set. There were several nice passes, and all of the fighting looked crisp, deadly, and ended quickly, just as a Bowie knife fight should!


Bowie Fencing Video Clip One

Bowie Fencing Video Clip Two

The next in our line of American Heritage Fighting Arts seminar series with be the Tomahawk and Long knife Seminar on Sunday, August 4th.

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Training with Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena

Training for a Spartan Race Tshirt
As fans and students of Forteza know, we are big believers in the virtues of adventuring racing, especially the “often imitated, never surpassed” Spartan Race – so much so that Forteza’s own Jesse Kulla has been training to become a recognized Spartan Race instructor.

On Saturday, July 13th, the members of Team Forteza attended a group workout with Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena. With just one week before the Illinois Super Spartan Race, we were in the final preparations for the race. For the past two months, the team had been training hard, eating clean (supposedly…), and felt ready and confident. The Spartan group workout promised to be a great measuring stick for how well prepared we truly were. As Joe himself said, if you can get through his workout, the actual race will be a walk in the park.

Bravado aside, we were all thinking the same thing: how much harder can this be compared our weekly group training? What followed was 2 1/2 hours of brutality in the sweltering Summer heat. After a brisk warm-up, the workout started off with a quarter mile of walking lunges. Everyone’s quads were on fire before we reached our destination: an outdoor park that didn’t offer a single bit of shade to protect us from the midday sun. After a bit of bear crawling, we lined up in rows of 22, with each row being about ten people deep. Right away, it was obvious who was actually training for the upcoming Spartan Race, and those who were less prepared. Next came 100 jumping jacks, animal crawls up and down the field, and fireman carries. Not even half way through the workout, and people started to drop out. Then came the 300 burpees.

Getting through an obstacle race takes a team effort, even if that means helping or requesting aid from strangers. Cooperation in the midst of competition, as the saying goes. In ancient Sparta, the mighty phalanx was so effective because the Spartans wouldn’t fight as individuals. Instead, they fought as one, impenetrable unit. Every Spartan protects the the Spartan to his side, Joe emphasized. To hammer in this point, the group had to do all 300 burpees together. If even a single person was out of sync, that burpee didn’t count. So, what was 300 buprees turned out to be a hell of a lot more!

By the time we finished the burpees, and then started the sprints, squats, and planks, the army of would be Spartans had thinned drastically. What were rows of ten, were now rows of two or three. The most any line had left was four Spartans standing strong. And among these elite stood Team Forteza, who stuck it out until the bitter end.

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Congrats to Trey Ptak – new MBC Affiliate Instructor

Trey and Mike J
Last month, Forteza instructors Keith Jennings and Trey Ptak traveled to Detroit for a three day seminar with Martial Blade Concepts founder and head instructor Mike Janich.  In addition to the knife instruction for which MBC is famous, Janich also brought students through the core skills of Sobadiwon Escrima; his direct, no nonsense approach to stick fighting.
On Sunday, there was a special segment dedicated to instructor development.  Trey has been working closely with Keith to get his MBC skills up to par, and has been acting as the assistant instructor for the Forteza Combatives classes. After evaluating Trey’s skills,  Janich  felt confident in having Trey represent MBC, awarding him with an Affiliate Instructor certification, which is described by MBC’s founder as:
 An accomplished student of MBC who has trained directly with me and displayed the skills, understanding, and character to earn my recommendation as a source of training. Affiliate Instructors are typically already certified instructors of other martial arts systems and therefore have teaching experience. At their discretion, they may include as much or as little of the MBC curriculum as they want in their teaching; however, they remain a resource for accurate, authentic inquiries regarding the MBC system.
Congrats, Trey!  Trey hopes to test for full proficiency in MBC within the next year or two, and will continue to assist with the development of the weekly Forteza Combatives classes.

 

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Tomahawk and Long Knife Seminar – July 14th!

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Forteza is celebrating the USA’s birthday in style with a special seminar on fighting with the Tomahawk and long knife!

The Tomahawk is a uniquely American weapon, and has seen service in every armed conflict in our nation’s history. In this unique seminar, we will explore the versatility of the Tomahawk and take advantage of its full potential as a weapon, and how to combine it with the long knife for a truly dynamic paring! Keeping one foot in history, and the other in the modern world, we will look at how the Tomahawk was used historically, as well as modern application.

This is the first in a series of seminars and classes offered through Forteza as part of our American Heritage Fighting Arts program!

When: July 14th, 2013 from 12-4pm
Cost: $40 for members, $50 for non-members

*Preregister by July 1st and receive a free Cold Steel training tomahawk, a $17 value!

(We will also have a few trainers for sale at the seminar.)

To reserve your spot, please contact us at info@fortezafitness.com

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The Founders’ Ball, a Retrospective

Rolling out the red carpet...

Rolling out the red carpet…

The music has gone quiet, the lights have dimmed, and the Founders’ Ball is over. As Edwardian-martial arts researcher, gymuseum curator, and bartitsu instructor Tony Wolf explained to Saturday night’s attendees, Forteza was inspired as a fusion of two, bygone institutions: the antiquarian arms and armour society of the Kernoozer’s Club and perhaps the first fitness-martial arts gymnasium, the Bartitsu Club, which between them had also led the first attempts to reconstruct the forgotten martial arts of Renaissance Europe. So, for one night a window to another time opened, and the studio filled with finely-dressed ladies, escorted by gentlemen of quality (although it is said a rapscallion or two were spotted, as well!) as we celebrated our one year anniversary.

The ribbon cutting for the Capt. Alfred Hutton Lounge

The ribbon cutting for the Capt. Alfred Hutton Lounge

The Founders’ Ball was the celebration and culmination of many different dreams, efforts, occasional misadventures and hard work. It is also our hope that it was the inauguration of a new era at the studio and many new adventures to come. At the center of the event was the opening of the “Captain Alfred Hutton Lounge”. Hutton (1839 – 1910) was a military man, amateur historian, author and renowned swordsman who helped pioneer the “rebirth” of “ancient swordplay” both in the fencing salle and on the stage, and so is a man without whom Forteza would never have been born. Our hope is that the Hutton Lounge will become a fitting tribute to Hutton and his fellow Kernoozers – a place where fellowship, scholarship and good humor will bring to together the many sub-communities of the Forteza family. (If you don’t know about Hutton and his history, you really owe it to yourself to read his Wikipedia entry. )

The Lounge is not quite done – a new ceiling is in the offing and there are more appointments and furniture to come – but we think that those who were at the ribbon-cutting this weekend got a feel for what it will be in its full flower.

A well-dressed lady mingles with a riverboat gambler and his sultry, carnival doxy...

A well-dressed lady mingles with a riverboat gambler and his sultry, carnival doxy…

Although we woke up exhausted Sunday morning, it was clear that the Ball was an unqualified success. Many, many times over the evening, we were told “you guys throw a great party”, and while that is appreciated, it must be clear that the “we” was far more than Keith and Greg, who in the end just OK’d ideas and cut checks. The heart and mind of the Founders Ball (aka as “the Hand”) was Dawn Marcotte, who brought her immense organization skills, energy, cleverness and ability to be simultaneously classy and quirky to create a wonderful event that helped match our Donald Trump ambitions to our Donald Duck budget. Dawn put together an amazing team of ladies, including Rebecca Smith-Cruz, Erin Fitzgerald and Heather Hilchey, who lent their talents to create beautiful invitations, table decorations, gnome hats (you had to be there) and other little attentions to detail that exceeded all of our expectations. As the day drew near, Dawn was also ably assisted by the “Hand of the Hand”, Patricia Murman, who helped coordinate logistics, organize staff and make sure that the construction was done and the space ready to go as the ball drew near. This team of ladies proved that Forteza is blessed with a crew of train hard, fight hard women, but creative, stylish and “get things done” ones as well!

The Mistress of the Ball, sporting her badge as "Hand of the Dean".

The Mistress of the Ball, sporting her badge as “Hand of the Dean”.

Our construction foreman and “man-of-a-thousand-tasks” Treyson Ptak once again spent a little life-blood and a good chunk of his soul getting the lounge floored, painted and ready to go, assisted by Jesse Kulla. Husband-of-the-Hand Jacques Marcotte and Jonathon Cruz served the all-important task of bartenders and “ministers of merriment”, and kept spirits high, just in time for the evening’s entertainment. We had promised “an exhibition of swordplay”, and no doubt, considering what we do at Forteza, folks were anticipating yet another martial arts demo. But since the studio is blessed with a cadre of actors, fight directors and stunt folks, we thought it might be more fun to honor Capt. Hutton with a little theatre, in this case a small vignette called “The Cliffs of Insanity, Or: The Princess Bride, Reduced to One Really Good Scene with Lots of Action, and None of that Kissing Stuff.” Libby Beyreis stepped in to direct and Trey Ptak (Man in Black), Victor Bayona (Inigo Montoya), Joe Rutugliano (Vizzini), John O’Meara (the Grandfather) and Dave Carlin (the Kid) took on their roles with great gusto, and some delightful improvisational flourishes that delighted our guests.

Don't know who that man in black was? Get used to disappointment!

Don’t know who that man in black was? Get used to disappointment!

It was a magical night, and it was a shame to see it end – though had it lasted much longer, the crew would probably have fallen asleep standing up. But it was all of you who have come to class, turned up to train, run races, attended seminars, or just talked about Forteza on Facebook and with friends who made it possible. Truth be told, you can only plan so far how to launch a venture like this and build it into a sustainable dream – it’s working because of the passion, trust and enthusiasm you bring every time you step through the studio’s door. It has been our honor to build this home with your help.

Forteza Mascot Baby Rose does her best gnome impression. Rosie pronounced the ball a great success!

Forteza Mascot Baby Rose does her best gnome impression. Rosie pronounced the ball a great success!

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