Forteza Fitness


Registration Open for MidWinter Armizare Swordplay Tournament (28 – 29 Jan 2023)

Registration is live!

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.

This year’s event returns to our home studio…only we will be debuting the Forteza “Rookery” — a 3000 sf additional space upstairs. No more cramming into a single studio space — four lists running at all times!


  • Longsword
  • One-handed Sword (rapier, sidesword, dussack/messer),
  • Sword and Companion (Buckler, Rotella or Dagger)

(Complete rules for the tournament.)


Saturday, 28 Jan and Sunday 29 Jan 2023

Location: Forteza Fitness & Martial Arts 4437 N. Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60640



9:30 – Sign In

11:00 – Introduction: Rules and Demo

11:30 – Longsword

02:30 – Break

03:00 – Single Sword Tournament

06:30 – After Event Party


10:00 – Sign In

11:00 – Sword & Companion Tournament 01:30 – Break

02:00 – MidWinter King Finals Tournament.

3:30 After Event Reception

If signing up for 2 events, we will follow-up to confirm which events you are fighting in.


You MUST be vaccinated and boosted to attend, with a current vaccination within the last six months of the tournament.

Register Now!

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Join us for special Valentine!

Love is an adventure

Together you can become swashbuckling Knights of Hearts this Valentine’s Day!

Reserve a private 90 minute swordplay session for two, for just $120.
You’ll spend the first hour learning how to wield a sword and defend yourself, and the last 30 minutes playing games with each other, and practicing what you’ve learned. (After all, the quickest way to someone’s heart is with a sword.)

Make it a double date for $185!

Safety equipment and swords included and cleaned after each session. 

You can reserve your session at under the Events category, or give us a call at (773) 271-3988. 

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New city COVID Mandates Begin Jan 3!

We hope everyone has had a safe and merry holiday! With the new year rapidly approaching, we want to give everyone an update on our Covid-19 policies. 

Due to the new city Public Health Order No. 2021-2, in order to help stop the spread of Covid-19, all indoor gyms and fitness studios must verify that all patrons and staff are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. This means, effective Monday, January 3rd, 2022, all Forteza Fitness staff, students, and other patrons over the age of 5yrs old are required to provide the studio with proof of full Covid-19 vaccination. This vaccination requirement extends to all parents, guardians, and siblings who will be in the studio for any extended period of time

As some of you are aware, Forteza has had this policy in place for our staff and the students in our adult program since July. We had also started extending this policy to our teens who were participating in our adult classes. You will not need to bring proof of vaccination every time you come to class, just once will be fine! We have been and will continue to keep track of vaccination status via the same system we use to keep track of memberships and attendances. 

You can email us a copy of your vaccination cards to, or show either the physical card or digital copies to Katherine at the front desk the next time you come to class.

In addition, there is also a facial mask mandate still in place for the city of Chicago. Until that mandate is withdrawn, masks must continue to be worn by all persons in the building 

Thank you for your continued cooperation in these strange and unprecedented times. We will continue to follow city guidelines and mandates, and continue to do our best to keep all of our students and staff as safe as possible. 

More information on the new city orders and mandates can be found here. If you have any questions or concerns about our Covid-19 vaccination policy, feel free to contact us at

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KnightCamp 2021: Tales of Robin Hood ~ And YOU!


Session I: July 12 to July 23
Session II: July 26 – August 6

Teen Session: Aug 9 – Aug 20


To an authentic “knight school” for youth (ages 8 – 12) where medieval martial arts and chivalric virtues are taught in an engaging and safe environment by trained instructors. 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.


Our unique, two-week camp combines physical fitness training and swordplay and authentic medieval games, lessons on heraldry, arms and armour and medieval life. This year our theme is “The Legend of Robin Hood” and will add archery and quarterstaff to the mix!

Campers will design their heraldry, paint a shield and have that and their own sword to keep!

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!

Daily Schedule

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

9:30 – 10:00 AM: WARM-UPs & EXERCISE
A unique physical fitness warm-up, taught through games played by medieval children centuries ago!

10:00 – 10:30 AM: SWORDPLAY
Students learn a variety of the martial skills that the knights of old had to know: sword & shield, two-handed sword, and quarterstaff.


NOON – 12:30 PM: LUNCH

12:30 – 1:30 PM: MEDIEVAL LIFE
A daily topic on one aspect Medieval life, accompanied with show and tell or some sort of hands-on project or medieval game.

1:30 -3:000 PM: SWORDPLAY, 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: THE LESSON
Students review the day’s lesson, explain what they learned and nominate one of their number for who best exemplified that day’s virtue.

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!

COVID Preparedness

Everyone’s safety as the pandemic winds down is our first concern. We are devising the camp to combine outdoor and indoor activities, with masks and extensive cleaning protocols. We are happy to share our COVID Preparedness document with parents and answer any questions.

A key part of keeping camp safe is keeping it to small groups (no more than a dozen), so registration is limited.

Spaces are limited, so choose the options that work best for you and JOIN NOW!


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Hate Pushups? Let’s make this October change that forever!

October Training Challenge:
Do 100 Push Ups in 1 week 

You have 4 weeks to get there. We have a plan to get you there!

Each week is it’s own mini-challenge, building up to big strength gains by month’s end.  We Start Monday, October 5th.

Ready? Of course you are! Let’s do this!

Step 1) Commit to a few minutes a day for your health, and join the FREE PUSH UP TRACKER to watch yourself progress.
(Want to be anonymous? Make up a fun nickname.)

Step 2) Monday Night PUSH UP CLINICS will happen during FightingFit! Class at 6:30 PM. We’ll show you variants to challenge any fitness level, and coach your form.   

Worried about your wrists? We have options.
Think you’re too buff for this challenge? We’ll show you more difficult pushups to try.

Step 3) Might as well come to weekday classes to get in your reps 😉.  All our fitness classes will provide an opportunity for that day’s pushups, as well as coaching.

Miss a class? Then pushups are simply homework.

Special Facebook Frame

Excited about what you’re gonna accomplish? Use our special Facebook Frame around your profile picture in October.  Get it HERE.

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Forteza’s Pro-Shop is expanding online!

Historical martial arts are a great deal of fun, but they are also equipment intensive, with a sometimes dizzying array of items to choose from! Fortunately, we’ve developed an on-site and on-line Pro-shop for students. From fencing masks to swords, instructional manuals to exciting, Forteza bling, we’ve got you covered!

Of course, the pandemic has meant that all of the various items in our shop have been gathering dust for most of the year. But now, you can order online with our partners at Historica, who carry our items in the new HEMAWear department of their online store. We will be providing an expanding range of product categories to help you speed up your shopping on our own Store page.

Historica is still setting up the store items, but they are open for business and ready to hook you up, so stop by!

This online store will also be the official pro-shop for the new Swordplay Online project, which many of instructors are involved in, and which launches next month! Even better, we have been working with Historica/Revival Clothing to develop some new, historically-inspired but modern HEMA-focused designs that will hopefully be debuting over the end of the year, watch this space for more!

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Forteza Online is Here!

Classes start Monday, May 4th

COVID shutdown continues. More than ever, we need to practice self-care, and find new and interesting ways to connect with the places and people that matter.

We’ve spent the last month learning about at-home programming, and while we might not be able to bring you back to “The Fort” right now, we can bring the Fort — and the Forteza Family — back to you! 

The expanded, online programming replicates our two most popular programs: Swordplay and Fitness! And if you can’t decide, try both!

If you already have an active Forteza Fitness membership: 

You’ll be granted immediate access to the equivalent online classes. If your membership elapsed, or you are a distance learner, you can get one of our online memberships!

Online Memberships include:

  • Live Classes with instructor interaction
  • Class Recordings, so you can go back and review.
  • An ever-growing library of short Technique Videos
  • Guided Training Videos – workouts and drills you can turn on at your leisure
  • And where applicable, Homework Critiques and Review

To join class, all you need is a smartphone, or a computer with a web camera!

And as special gift to everyone during the ongoing stay-at-home order: SwordFit and Bowie Knife and Martial Blade Concepts classes will still be available to the public after May 4th!

Forteza Online is something we have talked about and brainstormed on and off for the last couple of years, and while the pandemic forced our hand to finally move forward, it won’t be going away once we reopen our doors. Programming will expand to include more beginner’s/distance learning, growing technique libraries and more. Although this wasn’t how we planned on setting out on this road, we look forward to taking the journey with you.

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Forteza Featured on ABC7..Twice!

Our recent feature on LOCALish …pitching us somewhere between Medieval CrossFit and FightClub. I guess that’s about right.

On a somewhat…er…lighter note…ABC invite us back to attempt to teach a little swordplay to Ryan Chiaverini and Val Warner. Take-away — Ryan got a luck shot, but Val plays for keeps…

It was great fun and thanks to the folks at ABC 7 for letting us show off what we do not once, but twice!

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Forteza Holiday Schedule

Whether its Christmas, Hannukah, Yule, Saturnalia, or just a simple celebration that the Winter Solstice means the days start getting longer, December is a time when we celebrate the old year and welcome in the new. It’s a time for reflection and merriment, friends and family. For all of us here at Forteza, it is a time to remember all of you, our family, and all you bring to our lives. May 2018 end happily and 2019 bring you joy!

Christmas Closure — No Classes
Monday, December 24
Tuesday, December 25
Wednesday December 26

New Year’s Closure–No Classes
Monday, December 31
Tuesday, January 1

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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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