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A Reading and Book Signing with Ellis Amdur and Ben Trissel

Thursday, August 9, 7:30

Price: Free!

Forteza is very excited to present, for the first time, an author signing and reading!
Renowned martial artist and martial arts historian, Ellis Amdur recently turned his skills to fiction with the moody and powerful novella: Girl with the Face of the Moon. 

The Girl with the Face of the Moon is a combination of two of the oldest stories of humanity, the hero’s journey and that of love a driving force with a power that can triumph over death: a mother seeking to save her child from hell.

A young woman of samurai lineage is raised in an impoverished mountain village by bitter parents, identical to the peasants among whom they live, but for their ancestry. Unloved and mistreated, she runs off with a Matagi, a man of a caste of hunters, who were outcast but nearly free from the rules that governed the rest of Japanese society. After a few years of happiness, their child is stolen by a being perhaps human, perhaps not. Bereft, the young woman will challenge death itself to recover her child.

Beautifully and moodily illustrated by Chicago artist, Ben Trissel, both men will be on hand for a reading and signing.

But, of course, Forteza is a martial arts studio, and this novel is a martial arts fantasy, so it only made sense that readings from the novel will then in turn lead to readings from Ellis’ ethongraphic/hoplologic work in studying Japanese martial culture:

Old School refers to Japanese martial traditions that predate the sweeping cultural changes that followed the Meiji Restoration of 1868.  They generally have a very different character and tone from modern martial arts, such as kendō, judō or aikidō which followed. More than the study of antique weapons, self-defense or a form of athletics, these martial traditions are a cultural legacy and a window to another time and place. Ellis brings readers inside the dojōs of a number ancient schools, providing details analysis of the evolution and morphology of uniquely Japanese weaponry, addressing the myth and reality of Japan’s naginata-wielding warrior women, and discussing the modern relevance of the blood oaths, magical ritual and mysticism that often permeate the koryū.  Finally, he looks at the challenge of preservation and transmission, especially as more and more practitioners of the koryū exist outside of Japan itself Writing with a combination of the initiate’s passion for his subject, and the scientist’s rigorous search for the truth, Amdur asks critically: do the ancient traditions still meet the objectives of their founders? Are they successfully passing their ancient legacy down to the next generation?

Hidden in Plain Sight is a discussion of esoteric training methods once common, but now all but lost within Japanese martial arts. These methodologies encompassed mental imagery, breath-work, and a variety of physical techniques, offering the potential to develop skills and power sometimes viewed as nearly superhuman. Usually believed to be the provenance of Chinese martial arts, Amdur asserted that elements of such training still remain within a few martial traditions: literally, ‘hidden in plain sight.’

There will be readings from all three works, some light refreshments on hand, and books available for sale. In addition, we are happy to announce that Ellis will be in town for a few days and teaching a workshop at Forteza on Sunday the 12th, which you can read about here!

There is no cost to attend the signing, but if you are sure you want to attend we would love it if you would register, so we can plan seating accordingly.

About the Author

Ellis Amdur is a writer, an American practitioner of martial arts and a crisis intervention trainer. He has published a number of books on martial arts, on crisis intervention, hostage negotiation,and fiction. He began his study of martial arts in 1968, learning karate and traditional Chinese arts. He started training in aikido in 1973, and after moving to NYC, lived in Terry Dobson and Ken Nisson’s Bond Street Dojo. He also started training daily at the New York Aikikai school of aikido. After gaining a degree in psychology Amdur traveled to Japan in 1976 to further his study of the martial arts, and while there, entered the Toda-ha Bukō-ryū and Araki-ryū, two traditional koryu (‘old school’ Japanese martial arts). He is a shihan (full instructor) in both these arts, one of only a few non-Japanese to attain teaching licenses in any koryu. He has also studied judo, Muay Thai and xingyiquan. In recent years, Amdur has continued his training in several areas: an in-depth study of ‘internal strength’ paradigms, as suited to use within traditional Japanese combative arts; Arrestling, a mixed martial art specifically for law enforcement, created by Don Gulla; Amdur’s ‘new-old’ development, Taikyoku Araki-ryu in which, in collaboration with established groups of expert martial artists, one or more ‘modules’ of Araki-ryu are studied in depth, and applied to the environment where the particular group functions (competitive grappling and law enforcement being two examples). He also maintains a blog, Kogen Budo.

Based in Seattle, Amdur teaches courses for a variety of different venues, from law enforcement and corrections to mental health and families on crisis intervention.He also consults on situations involving stalking, domestic violence or work-site safety.

Ellis is the author of several books on the martial arts (Dueling With O-SenseiHidden in Plain SightOld School) as well as twelve profession-specific books on crisis intervention and mental health which are published under his own Edgework Publishing imprint. In addition, he has also published:

  • Shapeshifting: Effective Scenario Training for Crisis/Hostage Negotiation Teams – two separate works: one for law enforcement & one for HNT teams in prison environments.
  • Body and Soul: Toward a Radical Intersubjectivity in Psychotherapy – a book combining phenomenological psychology and clinical encounters with people struggling to survive in desperate circumstances
  • The Coordinator: Managing High-Risk, High-Consequence Social Interactions in an Unfamiliar Environment
  • Girl with the Face of the Moon – A novel
  • Along with Neal Stephenson, Charles C. Mann, and Mark Teppo, he has also published a graphic novel, entitled Cimarronin
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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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Forteza Challenge Workouts

Ready for a challenge?  The Forteza Challenge Workouts are designed to test both your fitness level and mental toughness via fun, but demanding workouts.

There are plenty of these sorts of workouts online, but as with everything else at Forteza, we’re going to try and make it a little different.  Challenge workouts will combine training themes, combined with our love of old-school training methods and martial arts to make you sweat but crack a smile between all of the grimacing.  Keep watching this space, as the workouts will sometimes include photos, videos or even contests, to see who is out there watching – and training!

Today’s challenge is Fight Gone Bad.  A fight gone well would be a one punch knockout.  A fight gone bad, however, is you going to distance in a brutal, back and forth war of attrition.

Perform 3-5 rounds, depending on your fitness level.  Each station lasts for 60 seconds, with a 60 second rest between rounds.  Try to challenge yourself as much as possible by choosing the heaving weight or most difficult version that you can safely handle for each exercise.  Remember; never sacrifice good form for a few more reps or heavier weight!

Fight Gone Bad

·         TRX or Ring Rows

·         Heavy Two Handed Kettlebell Swings (Men should aim for a 75 pound bell; women 45 pounds)

·         Box Jumps

·         Medicine Ball Slams (Use the heaviest medicine ball that you have.  The less bounce, the better!)

·         Battling Ropes

Enjoy!

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Welcome to Forteza! Welcome home!

Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture & Martial Arts, a unique studio in Ravenswood, Chicago blending cutting-edge knowledge with old school training. 

Forteza is an ancient Italian word meaning “fortress” or “stronghold”. At Forteza we help each person who comes through our door build their own personal stronghold; the stronghold of their body, mind and spirit.

We do that by being far more than an ordinary martial arts school or a gym.  Rather, we are:

  • A fitness studio that combines personal training and functional fitness with modern nutritional counseling, set in a beautiful, 5000 square foot, c.1900 facility;
  • Pioneers in the revival of 19th century “physical culture” – the combined use of calisthenics, Indian clubs, medicine balls, therapeutic gymnastics, body-weight exercises and games designed to create natural strength and grace with athletic performance;
  • The Midwest’s only full-time school for the study of traditional Western martial arts, including the fighting arts of the medieval knight, and Renaissance swordplay;
  • Home to Chicagoland’s only licensed instructor in MBC Self-defense System; a nationally known and respected method of hand, stick and knife defense designed for modern people with limited training time;
  • A gymuseum: a unique “living museum” of antique exercise equipment and an inspirational gallery of 19th century prints portraying combat sport athletes in training;
  • An international center for education on the rich and sophisticated martial traditions of Western Civilization;
  • Home to an innovative and eclectic series of workshops, lectures and unique social events.

Above all, though, we are a fellowship and home-away-from-home for anyone who has ever been fascinated by these subjects and wants to challenge themselves to do more and be more

While our website serves to get prospective students the 411 on what we teach, when we teach it and how to join, our blog and Tumblr page are a growing archive on the Forteza experience in word, photo and video. It is also an ever-growing library of articles, martial arts techniques, old-school fitness workouts, nutritional tips, that we hope you will come to time and time again.

Welcome to Forteza! Welcome home.

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