New Workshop! Hugging the Lion, Slicing the Griffon: Italian Martial Arts from Medieval to Modern (February 20 – 21st)
“Cum li braci vegno acusi ben distese per guadagnar in ogni modo le prese…” “With the arms extended I come to you to gain the grappling in any possible way..” – Fiore De Liberi, Flos Duellatorum, XV century
Forteza Fitness & Marital Arts and the Chicago Swordplay Guild welcome Dr. Marco Quarta of Nova Scrimia for a weekend long immersion in the unarmed combat taught in Italian fencing and gymnastic academies from the late Middle Ages until the early XX century!
Italian Martial Arts can be divided into Zoghi di Concordia – Games of Concord, or combat sports, and Zoghi d’Ira – Games of Fury or Games of Rage, real combat. Based on ruthless efficiency, Abracar developed from the need of surviving in battlefields, as well as quickly defending in dark streets where people could attack armed with daggers at any time. Compared to its combat-sport counter parts Lotta (wrestling), Pugilato (boxing) or Pancrazio, (also called), Abracar shares the use of strategies and techniques (Zoghi), speed (Celeritas and Presteza) and strength (Fortituto). However it is characterized by less elegant and sophisticated actions, focusing instead on quickly escaping, injuring and ending a fight.
This combative approach didn’t disappear at the end of the Middle Ages, but was maintained across the centuries – the XIX century schools of mani libere (“hands”) maintain the same principles, and also focused mostly on self-defense (like in the case of Master Luigi Carmine or Alberto Cougnet schools). Today, similar methods are preserved within south of Italy schools, such as “calci & schiaffi” (kicks & slaps).
Part One: From Abrazare to Mani Liberi – Grappling and Hidden Weapons
In this workshops we will cover basic and advanced strategies for the transition from gioco largo to gioco stretto (long to short measure). We will also focus on the flow of grappling toward striking and back to grappling, including:
- trovar di braccia (finding and binding the arms).
- aprire e chiudere i cancelli (opening and closing the gates), to change measure during actions aimed to finalize an opponent. We will see:
- Prese avantacade e Ligadure (trapping and blocking the opponent’s arms and legs);
- Rotture (breaking joints and weaker bones of the body);
- Percussioni (striking with hands, arms, elbows, legs and heads);
- Lesioni (injuring with pressure and clinching on soft parts such as eyes, genitals, ears, etc.),
- Gambarole, Capofitti and Stramazzi (different actions aimed to throw and take down the opponent on vital parts, such as the head, in combination with striking).
We will also study the actions in the context of hidden weapons. Indeed, Abracar (and the Italian school in general) is an art of unarmed fighting for armed fighters (ex. daggers, knives, sticks, swords). It is designed not only for unarmed combat, but in particular it is aimed to display fencing geometries designed for opening opportunities to grab your own or the opponent’s weapon, if available. By doing so, at the same time trying to prevent him to arm himself. Similarly, living traditions in Italy maintain the same concept in the use of the knife.
Part Two: Hands Against the Knife!
Now that we are armed with a dagger or a knife, the workshop will move into the second part, dedicated to dagger and knife fencing (short range fencing). Translating abracar dynamics into dagger dynamics, we will:
- Translate abracar dynamics into dagger dynamics – two weapons, one method!
- Learn to flow from gioco largo to gioco stretto with short blades, in transitions of opening and closing the gates.
- Study the use of gioco largo to control measure in opposition to gioco stretto aimed to finalize the opponent while neutralizing his weapon.
Date and Time:
Saturday, February 20th (11:30 AM – 5:30 PM)
Sunday, February 21st (11 AM – 5 PM)
Cost: $125.00 prepaid by February 15th, $150 thereafter.
Required Knowledge: None, but experience in unarmed and knife martial arts is helpful
Required Equipment: Comfortable training clothes, long-bladed training dagger, water-bottle, fencing mask. Additional masks and daggers are available at the studio.
Registration is limited to 30 people so register today!Read More »
London, 1914: The leaders of the radical women’s rights movement are fugitives from the law. Their last line of defense is the secret society of “Amazons”: women trained in the martial art of bartitsu and sworn to defend their leaders from arrest and assault.
After a series of daring escapes and battles with the police, the stakes rise dramatically when the Amazons are forced into a deadly game of cat and mouse against an aristocratic, utopian cult…
Learn more about this Edwardian adventure, the almost equally strange true story of suffragettes gone wild, and thrill to seeing Forteza as the artistic inspiration for the Bartitsu Club in Amazon’s guest interview with Forteza Gym Museum Curator, Bartitsuka and Victorian/Edwardian Martial Arts historian, Tony Wolf!
Suffrajitsu debuts this weekend!Read More »
The past twelve months of Combatives training at Forteza has been so epic, we almost feel bad for everyone who didn’t get to train with us. Almost.
In 2014, Forteza played host to literally the who’s who of teachers in the field of Combatives and Reality Based Self Defense training. We kicked off the year with an in house Bowie knife seminar taught by Forteza instructor Keith Jennings. Students learned the basics of American big blade fighting, and with many of the students having some training in historical fencing or Martial Blade Concepts, everyone took right to the weapon, and Bowie knife sparring has been seen at the monthly Fight Night ever since.
In the Spring we hosted an Urban Survival course taught by Johnny Tsai. This informative seminar was one half lecture, helping students with contingency plans and how to assemble a bug out bag in case of a local disaster, and the other half we went out to the woods and learned how to build shelters, how to start a fire with a variety of tools, and even practiced some self defense skills.
In May, Forteza played host to Martial Blade Concepts founder and head instructor Mike Janich for a two-day seminar. Since Forteza instructor Keith Jennings is one of Mike’s senior instructors, and most of the students in attendance had a solid training base, we were able to really amp up the training and focus on the more advanced aspects of MBC training. On the first day, Mike presented a state-of-the-art seminar on the MBC forward grip knife curriculum. Mike tuned up everyone’s basics, and then got everyone rocking out on flow drills, combat applications, and even a bit of knife chess. The second day was a bit treat for all of the attendees, as Mike showed his seldom taught interpretation of classical Filipino machete and sword and dagger training. Mike was able to blend the traditonal aspects of sword and dagger with the logic of the MBC methodology into a brutally effective big blade system.
Forteza was honored to host Lee Morrison for an absolutely epic five days of training in July. Lee is a UK Combatives instructor who is know for both his soft skills training, helping students cultivate the proper Combtives mindset, as well as the hard stills needed to survive a brutal street altercation. And when we say hard, we mean hard. Lee spent two days doing private training with the Forteza staff, focusing on developing explosive power and bone crunching power. Then the two and a half day seminar pushed everyone to the edge. Everyone took some hard shots, and gave just as much as they got. The increase in skill level and overall toughness by the end of the last day was a sight to behold.
Self defense guru Hoch Hochheim taught a two day seminar in October. Hoch is a legend in the field, and was one of the first instructors in the United States to teach self defense removed from the hangups of traditional martial arts. Hoch covered a wide variety of material in his two day seminar. We went over his empty hand striking skills, knife vs knife, and his modern version of traditional Filipino stick fighting. Perhaps the best part of the seminar was hearing Hoch’s war stories of his police days, as well as the many martial arts personalities he’s met over the years.
Lastly, Forteza was extremely honored end the year hosting Kelly McCann for a two day seminar. Kelly is the most sought after instructor in the field of Combatives, but until recently his training was never available to civilians. Thankfully, that has now changed. After Keith trained with Kelly at his Civilian Training Center in Virginia, he had been trying to figure out a way to train with him again ever since. When Kelly announced we was taking his Kembativs training on the road, Forteza jumped on the chance to be one of the first gyms to host him. Students were introduced to Kelly’s boxing training, both in the sportive sense and bare knuckle boxing for the street. We also did some classic Combatives training, doing everything from self offense, to stick and knife, and the dreaded pocket stick. After a weekend full of bare knuckle boxing, chin rips, and combative throws, the amount of pain induced by the little pocket was almost comical, especially to Kelly. It was an epic way to end an epic year of training.
We are only a week into the new year, and 2015 is already shaping up to be an even better year of Combatives training. To meet the demand of our students, we are going to be offering more weekend focus classes on specific self defense topics, and launch our invite-only Forteza Combatives Club. Our first class of the new year is the Martial Blade Concepts Fundaments class. More details to come.
Also, for our first big Combatives seminar of the year will be hosting Dom Rasso of Dynamis Alliance for a two day seminar. We will be covering situational self defense, team tactics, car Combatives, and Dom will be showing the unique reverse grip knife tactics he used when he was an active Navy Seal. To register, please follow this link:Read More »
This past July, Forteza played host to Urban Combatives founder Lee Morrison for a three day seminar. Lee specializes in combining high intensity physical training, with the mental stress of scenario training. The Forteza Combatives classes are integrating many of these training drills and methodology into our weekly classes.
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Sunday 10/12/2014 10am-5pm
Day 2: Military and police stick, as well as Filipino stick fighting. Hoch will cover striking, blocking, grappling and ground fighting. Hock has also organized Filipino single and double stick materials from so many FMA systems and programs down to their scientific, easily digestible essence.
About the Instructor
For more info, contact us at email@example.com
The Chicago Swordplay Guild and the DeKoven Foundation – the same team that have brought you WMAW for over a decade – are please to present an event for students in the Noble Art and Science of Defense: The DeKoven School of Arms. This full, three day event features:
- A roster of leading instructors and experts in Renaissance Swordplay, including Devon Boorman, Puck Curtis, Tom Leoni, John O’Meara and Tim Rivera
- Introductory and in-depth classes in early 16th century swordplay, including Iberian “Esgrima Comun” and Bolognese swordsmanship;
- Expert instruction in the jewel in the crown of Renaissance Italian swordplay: the elegant rapier;
- A chance for extensive training in the mysteries of LaVerdadera Destreza;
- Lectures and demonstrations;
- A Contest of Arms with sword, rapier and their trusted companions, the buckler and dagger.
Located at the picturesque DeKoven Center, home to the Western Martial Arts Workshop, the conference is a retreat with attendance limited to the 60 students that DeKoven can host. Your registration fee includes entry, lodging and all nine, hot meals.
This is a unique event and a unique opportunity to train in a private environment with some of the finest modern teachers of the Art of Defense. Act now, because spaces will go fast. We look forward to crossing swords with you!
Dates: September 5-7, 2014
The DeKoven Center
600 21st Street
Racine, WI 53403
(Details for getting to Racine can be found on the WMAW website)
On campus; all rooms have two single beds. You will be able to request the roommate of your choice when you register, and we will make every effort to accommodate you. Lodging is from Thurs to Sat.
Nine hot meals.
$375. No cancellation refunds after July 1st, 2014
firstname.lastname@example.orgRead More »
The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes is BACK!
Bartitsu and the old Bartitsu Club were key components as we were designing the Forteza studio. Designed as a way to introduce other martial artists to the unique “fusion” and “combat improvisation” of Barton-Wright, the one major request we had from students was a more structured way to introduce new comers to the fundamental boxing, kicking, throwing and stick-fighting skills upon which Bartitsu is based.
We listened, and after a year of fine-tuning, Bartitsu returns to Forteza on May 25th with a five hour workshop taught by renowned Victorian martial arts historian and Bartitsu Club of Chicago founder, Tony Wolf. A highly experienced martial arts instructor, Tony has taught Bartitsu intensives in England, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Canada and throughout the USA. Tony also edited the two volumes of the Bartitsu Compendium (2005 and 2008) and co-produced/directed the feature documentary Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes (2010).
New “Introduction to Bartitsu” Course
But the relaunch does not end with the workshop. Tony will be ably assisted by Forteza instructors Nathan Wisniewksi and Treyson Ptak, who will then be taking the lead with our newly designed Introduction to Bartitsu course. Beginning June 5th, 6-week class is designed to instill basic striking, kicking, cane-fighting, grappling and safety skills. Perfect for those new to martial arts as well as those who are not familiar with the particular art which comprise Bartitsu, this course is high-energy, skills-focused and designed to lay a foundation that students will bring to on-going training in the Bartitsu Club of Chicago. The club meets twice a month for advanced training and “combat integration” – the unique blending of its component arts that makes Bartitsu an unique fighting art in its own right.
A Whole New World of Victorian Martial Arts
But Bartitsu is just one aspect of Forteza’s new Victorian Martial Arts program, which includes a wide-range of antagonistics, the study of fencing, boxing, wrestling and stick-fighting typically combined with physical culture (calisthenics, gymnastics and weight-training) that was popular in Britain and America in the late 19th century. Forteza’s Antagonistics courses include:
- Sabre and Bayonet Fencing;
- Stick Fighting;
- Bowie Knife and Tomahawk combat (most distinctly American weapons);
- Physical Culture; a truly “old school” workout regimen of calisthenics, Indian clubs, and more!
As we have done previously with our wildly popular Bowie and ‘hawk seminars, Antagonistics will be taught in a series of workshops and short courses, allowing students with limited time and busy schedules to get chance to sample the breadth of 19th century martial culture.
How Can YOU Get Involved?
Whether you’ve trained us before or are brand new to any martial arts, there are many ways to jump in to the relaunch of our Victorian Martial Arts program, and the sooner you get involved, the more affordable it is!
Bartitsu Seminar Date, Sunday May 25th from 12-5pm
$60, $75 at the door
Introduction to Bartitsu Course, Starts on Thursday June 5th from 7-9pm:
Length – 6 weeks
Cost – $125, discounted to $100 for seminar attendees!
Pre-register for both the seminar and introduction for $150, a $50 savings!
Continuing Classes: Bartitsu Club of Chicago Starts on Friday July 11th from 7-8pm:
Classes are on the second and fourth Friday of each month
Read More »
This past February, Dan Vigil hosted a three day combatives seminar with UK instructor Lee Morrison. Originally scheduled for last year, the seminar had to be rescheduled due to a training injury Lee received. Seeing in person how hard the man trains, this isn’t too surprising!
I missed the first day of training, but Lee did his best to catch us up. The seminar began with going over the proper mindset needed for successful self defense, or what Lee calls combative psychology. A lot of self-defense instructors teach their students to not become victims; Lee pushes that much further, and instead teaches how to become a worse predator than the one you will potentially face on the street. A lot of emphasis was put on proper mindset in three distinct stages: pre-conflict, during the actual fight, and perhaps most importantly, post conflict. Lee makes it his mission to help develop your inner predator, with an understanding that it doesn’t have to hang on your shoulders like a burden. Instead, it is something you tap into when you need it, and leave it locked away when you don’t.
The structure of the seminar was interesting. There was a lot of downtime between actual physical training sessions, because Lee’s emphasis was on mindset, which required a lot of prepping us for the next training session, and some after action review post training. Lee’s approach was very module based; we would focus on a specific set of skills, recap, and then move on to more training. While there was a lot of classroom learning, when we were on the floor, it was all out, high intensity, and high impact training.
Instead of waiting for trouble to come to you, Lee is all about preempting. As he put it: you hit f@#$ing hard, and even more importantly, hit first. We worked a lot of pad drills, both against a single target, and multiple opponents. The holder would give the trainee feedback. If your hit was judged hard enough to do significant damage, the holder would fade back and allow you to engage the next target. If your strike was full of weak sauce, then the holder would keep the target in play, and you would have to blitz in with multiple strikes before turning your attention to the next target.
Other modules includemultiple opponent tactics, counter grappling/mma, and improvised weapons. Not much in the way of actual technique was covered. Instead, you used your preexisting skill set, and Lee focused his energy on getting the proper attitude and mindset, and working on developing power to all of your strikes. Lee talked a lot about how the guy on the street is going to be hitting you with hurt and anger, and you have to do the same to him. Emotional content, as Lee (both Morrison and Bruce) says.
A few of the drills we did felt as close to a real fight as I’ve felt in a long time. This is where the training got really interesting, as one of the best takeaways from the Lee Morrison seminar was just how hard you can train, and still be ok. Having shorter training segments allowed us to really amp up the intensity, and and then be able to recover as we transitioned to the next topic..
The last thing that really stood out about Lee was how athletic and explosive he was, and how necessary such attributes were if you are going to train in his blend of combatives. In the UK, all weapons have been outlawed, which of course criminals could care less about. When you don’t have guns or knives to rely on for protection, your empty hand skills need to be at the highest level. Lee trains as hard as a professional fighter; spending hours every week hitting pads, and dedicating himself to a rigorous strength and conditioning routine. The athlete in me really appreciated this, and because of my day job, I am able to dedicate a lot of time to training. However, for those with far less free time to train, I honestly don’t think it would be possible to emulate Lee directly.However, between his combat psychology, and the intensity of his training, any student of self protection will get a lot out of training with Lee. Even if you don’t have the physical attributes to fight like him, you’ll still get a lot out of it. Plus, it might inspire you to make a bit more time to train.
I would suggest that if you ever get to train with Lee, you bring your own training partner. That way, you can train as hard or as light as you want. Also, Lee really was one hell of a nice guy. I was able to go out to dinner with him and some of the group on Saturday night, and he was super cool, which makes training and hanging out with him that much more enjoyable.