Introducing the Forteza Combatives Method

Join us tonight for the official first class of Forteza’s newest martial arts offering, the Forteza Combatives Method (FCM).

The term combatives originates with the military close quarter methods of WWI and WWII were men like Rex Applegate and Col. Anthony J, Drexel Biddle devised simple, direct fighting methods with empty hands, sticks, knives and bayonets that soliders ould learn fast and apply in a wide variety of situations. Combatives weren’t about dueling or competition fighting, but about “getting the job done”.

Today, the term combatives has expanded beyond military combat, but still describes eclectic fighting arts aimed at practical self-defense. In this sense it can be seen as the post-World Wars inheritor of Barton-Wright’s “New Art of Self-Defense”, Bartitsu.

Inspired by these predecessors, the Forteza Combatives Method is an eclectic blend of proven fighting arts designed to meet the needs of today’s martial artists and self-defense enthusiasts. We offer a well-rounded approach to take your fighting skills to new heights, by combining boxing, kicking, clinch fighting, ground fighting, edged weapons survival, and physical conditioning into one cohesive system.

  • Closed Fist Combatives: a blend of old school Western bare knuckle boxing, combined with the devastating knees, kicks and elbows of Muay Thai and old school Korean Tae Kwon Do.
  • Ground Survival:  the FCM’s’ ground fighting techniques are a mix of military ground-fighting combatives, jujitsu, and American Catch Wrestling.  Our Catch Wrestling curriculum comes from Dr. Les Moore, in the lineage of Billy “Pops” Wicks.  Ground survival training teaches throws, holds, submissions, and escapes to give you the skills needed when a fight goes to the ground.  This is decidedly not grappling for sports competition, but rather for reality of the street.
  •  Empty Hand Combatives: practical unarmed combatives training focuses on gross motor skills that you can use to brutal efficiency in the chaos of an actual violent encounter.  This includes open and closed fist strikes, joint locks and breaks, throws, and trapping skills.
  •  Edges Weapons Survival:  learn the defensive and offensive use of the knife.  Our edged weapons program is based on the world renowned Martial Blade Concepts system as taught by MBC founder Mike Janich.
  • Combatives Conditioning: get into top fighting shape with a blend of pad work, kettlebells, body weight exercises, and sprints, and more.   You may not be a professional fighter, but you’ll be in shape like one!

If you are like to train hard, this is the class for you! No experience in martial arts are necessary – we’ll train you from the ground up, but the program is also designed to strongly appeal to students coming from a background in Krav Maga, boxing, Muay Thai or MMA who are specifically interested in integrated training and sparring focused on self-defense, rather than competition.

The Forteza Combatives class will be running on Tuesday evenings from 7:30-8:30, right after the Bartitsu class.

Bring a water bottle, a towel and enthusiasm and we’ll see you there!

The Bartitsu School of Arms 2012

The second annual Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture will be hosted by the Bartitsu Club of Chicago between Sept. 8-9. Following the successful model established at the first School of Arms event in London last year, we will be concentrating on Bartitsu as a method of cross-training between fisticuffs, jujitsu, wrestling and Vigny stick fighting via a team-teaching approach.

Highlights will include:

* an optional, but highly recommended field trip on Friday, Sept. 7 to visit the historic Hegeler Carus mansion in LaSalle, IL, which includes the oldest known private gymnasium in the US

* two full days of Bartitsu cross-training at Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts, a full-time historical Western martial arts training studio in the Ravenswood neighborhood

* the Saturday night dinner in the Victorian-themed side room at O’Shaughnessy’s Public House, just a few minutes’ walk from Forteza

* an Antagonisticathlon (Bartitsu-themed obstacle course challenge) on Sunday afternoon (spectators welcome!)

Full details and link to the registration page available here.

The Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture: Chicago, 2012

The Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture: Chicago, 2012

The 2012 Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture will take place at Forteza between September 8-9.

Participants are invited to join a field trip and guided tour of the Hegeler Carus mansion and historic gymnasium in LaSalle, IL on the afternoon of Friday, September 7.  Saturday the 8th will include a full day of Bartitsu cross-training instruction followed by dinner, discussions and socialising, and Sunday the 9th will include a further day of training with fellow enthusiasts, finishing with a fun and challenging antagonisticathlon combat obstacle course event.

Please see the 2012 Bartitsu School of Arms web page for all details, registration, etc.

Captain Hutton writes about his friends at the Bartitsu Club

A portrait of Captain Alfred Hutton, taken at about the time he was teaching at the Bartitsu Club.

Captain Alfred Hutton was among the instructors who taught various branches of “antagonistics” at E.W. Barton-Wright’s School of Arms in London circa 1900.  One of England’s most prominent and respected swordsmen, Hutton was also the president of the Amateur Fencing Association and a pioneering practitioner of revived Elizabethan era fencing with weapons such as the rapier and dagger.

Although Hutton’s specialties do not appear to have been formally included as aspects of Bartitsu, it’s evident that there a good deal of cross-training took place at the Bartitsu Club; for a complete account, see Ancient Swordplay: the Revival of Elizabethan Fencing in Victorian London.

In an article for The Press newspaper (8 February 1904, Page 10), Captain Hutton reminisced about some colourful characters and incidents from his long experience of fencing.  He also offered the following remarks upon his Bartitsu Club colleagues and their methods of antagonistics:

“Before bringing my passing recollections to a close as regards people I have met, and as having been more especially connected with the use of defensive and offensive weapons, I should like to refer to my friend Monsieur Pierre Vigny, a Swiss gentleman, devoted to all athletic exercises, and certainly master of the art of self defence by means of an ordinary walking-stick, a Malacca cane being preferred.  The exercise is most useful in case of attack by footpads, most interesting as a sport, and most exhilarating in a game. It beats single-stick.  However, it would take far too long for me to give further explanations.

There is another new development of athleticism which I strongly advocate, viz., Ju-jitsu, or Japanese wrestling.  I am too old to go in for regular wrestling as it obtains in Japan, easy as it may look, but my good friends Uyenishi and Tani put me up to about eighty kata, or tricks, which even at my age may one day or another come in useful. In modified form the art might be advantageously practised by a small boy when meeting a great hulking bully; indeed, the successful way in which a twelve-year-old friend of mine who knew some tricks of Japanese wrestling floored his parent in my presence was most instructive in spite of its apparent disrespect.

My Japanese friends tell me it is one of the most amusing sights to watch the little native policemen in Japan throwing and capturing huge, stalwart, European sailors who have supped not wisely but too well.”

These anecdotes clearly demonstrate that Hutton took a keen practical interest in the classes offered by his fellow Bartitsu Club “professors”. He occasionally demonstrated the Vigny method of self defence with a walking stick during interviews, and he offered a somewhat more detailed account of the Vigny system in his book The Sword and the Centuries.  It was also in that book that he described the Bartitsu Club as being “the headquarters of ancient swordplay in England”.

As it turned out, Hutton did find use for some of the 80 “kata” he learned from Tani and Uyenishi, beginning when he penned a short monograph on Ju Jitsu, or Japanese Wrestling, for Schoolboys. A few years later, Hutton demonstrated a number of jujitsu “tricks” for a panel of doctors working in one of London’s psychiatric hospitals.  This was almost certainly the first time Asian martial arts had been applied towards the problem of humane self defence and restraint in a therapeutic environment.

Antagonisticathlon! (Or, “Saving Dr. Watson: A Gentleman’s Encounter with Dastardly Evil-Doers”)

On Sunday, March 11th of 2012, members of the Bartitsu Club of Chicago took part in the first ever “antagonisticathlon” event at Forteza. This was their graduation from the recent six-week introductory Bartitsu training course.

Obviously, with a diverse group of students, some with extensive martial arts training, some with none what-so-ever, there is a limit to what a “graduation exam” might entail after a mere twelve classes. Likewise, the Bartitsu revival has been decidedly non-hierarchical, emphasizing the continuation of Barton-Wright’s work over creating ranking systems and standardized curriculum. What to do?

Enter the Antagonisticathlon.

The what???

During the late 19th century, the word “antagonistics” meant all manner of combat sports and self-defence skills. Inspired by this, Bartitsu instructor Tony Wolf came up with an interesting way to test the novice Bartitsuka (students) while having a good deal of tongue-in-cheek fun at the same time!

Antagonisticathlon participants represent Victorian-era adventurers fighting their way through a gauntlet of obstacles and ne’er-do-wells, inspired by Sherlock Holmes’ escape from Professor Moriarty’s assassins in The Final Problem:

The dapper Michael Mauch, right, does not hestiate to sully his waist-coat as he hurls a ruffian to the ground during the Anatagonisticathlon. ((c)2012 Andrew A. Nelles/ For The Chicago Tribune)

The “stations” of the antagonisticathlon (not all shown in the video compilation) included:

  • Charging shoulder tackle to punching bag (“knocking an assassin out the window and into the Thames”)
  • Precision cane thrusts through suspended rings
  • Overcoat and cane vs. dagger-wielding assassin
  • Weight-lifting on antique pulley-weight apparatus
  • “Death Alley”; cane vs. three stick-wielding assassins
  • “Rowing across the Thames” on antique rowing machine
  • “Rescuing Dr. Watson”
  • Walking Cane vs. stick combat
  • Shoulder roll and hat toss to finish

Dressed in either traditional Edwardian work-out clothing (a fitted, sleeveless shirt and loose-fitting pants, such a yoga or gi pants), or in their Victorian best, the students readily got into the spirit of this martial obstacle course; testing themselves and their fledgling skills in Bartitsu, but first and foremost celebrating the esprit de corps of helping to make Barton-Wright’s “noble experiment” born anew.

“I say, Old Bean, perhaps this is more what you were envisioning?” ((c)2012 Andrew A. Nelles/ For The Chicago Tribune)