Forteza Fitness

Events

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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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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Getting our History Geek-On: Reconstructing a Trial by Combat

This past weekend Greg Mele, Jesse Kulla and David Farrel of the Chicago Swordplay Guild were at the International Medievalists Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to present a reconstruction of an early 15th century Judicial Duel in conjunction with members of the living history group La Belle Compagnie. There will be a full write up and video of the event on the Chicago Swordplay Guild website in the days to come, but for now, here are a few teasers:

The First Step: Duel with Spears

The duel began with spears, fought to five blows, afterwhich, if no advantage was reached, the combatants would turn to swords.

Part Tw: A Short Exchange of Sword Blows

Having failed to gain an advantage with the spear, the combatants turn to swords. Note that the fighting in closed visors begins to takes its toll on the fighters’ wind…. (And note that the less-winded is the one who is a regular part of FightingFit!)

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You are Cordially Invited…..Forteza’s Founders’ Ball!

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In Celebration of our First Anniversary

and the reinvention of the noble experiment of Ancient Swordplay, Self-Defense, FitnessPhysical Culture

begun by E. Barton-Wright and the Bartitsu Club over a century ago,

We are pleased to invite our students, friends, family and neighbors to a  night of music, merriment and a taste of derring-d0 – the Forteza Founders’ Ball!

Join us  on May 18th, 2013

at
Forteza Fitness & Martial Arts
4437 North Ravenswood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60640

Price: $30

Festivities will begin at 8:00 pm

Be sure to arrive no later than 9:00 pm  to enjoy the evening’s entertainment,  which will include several performances of  swordplay and action, and a special, theatrical performance of one of Hollywood’s  most famous duels.

We welcome our friends of imbibing age for  cocktails and dainty delicacies.

This is a formal affair, so wear you most dazzling duds, whether they be from modern times, or in keeping with our 19th century theme.

Either way, there will be complimentary photographic portraits available for all guests.

Reserve your spot at:

foundersball.fortezafitness.com

Please RSVP by May 10

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Introduction to Martial Blade Concepts this Sunday at the Nearing School of Wing Chung

To help our good friend Phil celebrate the opening of his new studio, Keith will be teaching an Introduction to Martial Blade Concepts, at Philip Nearing Wing Chung. The seminar will be at 1363 W. Chicago Ave. in Chicago from 12:30-4:30pm. The cost of the seminar is $50. Come and familiarize yourself with the knife and the fundamentals of how to use it to defend yourself with a top drawer instructor. Any questions or inquiries can be made via Facebook email or simply calling me at 312 282 9571. See you there….

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Forteza and the Chicago Swordplay Guild at C2E2

This past weekend the Guild was an invited performer at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo or C2E2. During a one-hour demo we demonstrated longsword, dagger, armoured combat and sword and buckler, followed by Q&A and then a 45 minute lesson for interested attendees.

I don’t think we expecting the size of the crowd – several hundred people, or that we would be in one of McCormick Place’s main halls – a vast, cavernous space. It gave us plenty of room to demonstrate and teach, but the last minute failure to get a microphone made for an interesting challenge! The solution was probably best handled by adhering to the Guild’s motto, Ferrum non Verbum, and getting to the sword play, as seen in this film clip we call “Erin kills everyone”:

Or this clip of Jesse and Trey doing a little sword and buckler fencing:

Guess which one is the sword and buckler fan and which one just plays one at demos! (Our thanks to FireFighter214 for the video.)

All in all it was a fantastic experience and we are looking forward to next year!

 

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After Action Review: Mike Janich and Martial Blade Concepts at Forteza

The Forteza-MBC Family

The Forteza-MBC Instructor Crew

On April 6th and 7th, renowned self-defense instructor Mike Janich presented a two day workshop on empty hand combatives, and empty hand vs. knife tactics.  Mike is the founder and head instructor of Martial Blade Concepts, which is described on the MBC website as:

Martial Blade Concepts (MBC) is an edged-weapon system specifically designed to meet the needs of today’s concerned citizen and armed professional. Based on Michael Janich’s extensive analysis of the Filipino martial arts and many other systems, MBC takes combat-proven tactics and adapts them to modern tools, threats, and legal concerns. The result is a practical, easy-to-learn system that is ideally suited to modern self-defense.

Mike Janich’s Martial Blade Concepts, as well as the adjutant systems of Counter Blade Concepts and Damithurt Silat (Practical Unarmed Combatves), is the base system four own Combatives program taught at Forteza.  Students were very excited to train with the founder of the system they train in, most of whom had never met or trained with Mike before.  Forteza instructor Keith Jennings also ran a prep seminar two months prior, so by the time Mike arrived in Chicago, all of the students in attendance had a solid base level of skill, which allowed us to skip right past the basics, and jump right into the good stuff.

Mike Janich takes Thayne for a big ride!

Mike Janich takes Thayne for a big ride!

Day One was dedicated to empty hand skills.  Mike focused on taking the instinctual startle response, and educating it to make for a functional tool that can be used under stress.  Students were brought through variations of the cycling drill, Hubud, and shoulder stops.   Saturday ended with a look at Junkyard Aikido, his expression of joint-locking techniques.  Focus was on how to apply joint locks in an actual combative situation, and to use them to either viciously stop the fight, or use the lock to transition to either a weapon or escape.  Special shout out to visiting MBC alum Thayne Alexander for taking so many hard falls on the hard wood floor!  It was an impromptu school of hard knocks style clinic on how to fall properly.

Day two was Counter Blade Concepts, and how to transition from empty hand into knife deployment.  Mike started with his signature video presentation which shows footage of actual knife attacks, and the aftermath of such an assault.  The message was clear: knife attacks happen suddenly and violently, and seen over and over again in the footage were pre-fight indicators, off hand probing, and aggressive gross motor forehand thrusts and slashes predominately coming from right handed attackers.  This reality check helped to bring a very serious tone to the day’s training, and with the problem clearly defined, Mike brought people through his counter-blade system.  Rather than flashy disarms done against static attacks, focus was on shutting down the attack using a split X-defense, compression locking the attacking limb, mobility kills using low line knees and kick.

The MBC patented "Yojimbo" and its Chicago-legal little brother. Porkmen beware!

The MBC patented “Yojimbo” and its Chicago-legal little brother. Porkmen beware!

After lunch, Mike set-up his famous “Porkman” demo: a pork roast attached to a PVC pipe and rigged with twine and Ceram wrap to provide a model of bone, muscle, tendons and skin. Forteza instructor Keith Jennings did the honors with his newly acquired “Chicagojimbo”, a modified Yojimbo 2 with the blade ground down to the legal Chicago length of 2.5 inches.  Even with the shortened blade, and with very little effort, the knife had no problem cutting straight to the bone.  This impressive demonstration showed not only how capable even a small carry knife can be, but also how dangerous it really is to face off against a knife attacker.  With the demonstration fresh in the students’ minds, everyone trained with newfound enthusiasm and respect for what even a small blade is capable of.

There were over forty people training on the floor, with room to spare.  The positive feedback from the seminar was overwhelming, with everyone asking when we’ll have Mike back out for a follow-up seminar.  The answer: as soon as we can! Thanks to Mike for making the trip out to Chicago, all of the MBC alumni from all over the Midwest who came out in support, and for all of the students in attendance who trained hard.

Full house!

Full house!

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