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Whether you’ve been practicing martial arts for years or you’re just getting started, chances are you’ll find something new (from the old school) at Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts. Forteza doesn’t just give you an education in martial arts techniques, but also offers a sense of the historical background from where its arts were derived. Co-owner and Chief Instructor Keith Jennings gives Examiner the low down on what you can expect from this Ravenswood studio.
What types of martial arts can one study at Forteza?
Forteza offers three main tracks. Participants in Historical Swordsmanship will study Medieval long sword and Renaissance rapier both from the Italian tradition. If you’re less of a weapons enthusiast, try the Forteza Combatives Method which focuses on practical empty hand combatives (as well as Martial Blade Concepts). And of course there’s a boot camp style workout called Fighting Fit! However, unlike the boot camp classes at your local gym, Fighting Fit! Utilizes swords, boxing and the old school medicine ball and kettlebell training as well as calisthenics. See the entire weekly schedule here.
How are beginning and advanced students divided up?
For the historical swordsmanship classes, Forteza runs six week introductory classes for new students. Classes are then divided up into novice classes, and students with the senior rank of Scholar have separate classes where they are able to focus on advanced techniques in addition to advanced training in spear, armoured combat, rapier and dagger, and more.
Does Forteza ever offer any seminars?
Forteza hosts seminars almost monthly, sometimes taught by an in house instructor and sometimes by a guest from out of town. March 2013 features a "Swords of Shakespeare" seminar aimed at teaching stage actors the basics of authentic swordplay. This past month Jennings himself taught a four hour seminar on personal protection and Martial Blade Concepts.
What do the training facilities offer?
Forteza is a 5,000-square-foot facility with a large training floor, a hands-on Gymuseum with antique exercise equipment, and a fully equipped fitness and personal training area. Changing rooms, massage and body work are also available with a 19th century inspired member lounge coming soon!
What are the basic price packages for new members looking to join?
A six week intro class package runs $125 or punch cards (ten punches per card) are available at $150 those who would like to try a few different classes.
What do real people think of this place?
Student Brendan Hutt originally went to Forteza for a Bartitsu workshop, which turned into a six-week Bartitsu course. He then stayed when the course evolved into the currently ongoing Bartitsu Club of Chicago. “The environment at Forteza is really wonderful,” Hutt says. “Keith [Jennings] and Trey [Ptak] have an amazingly broad knowledge of and experience with all the various disciplines taught, but are also really insightful and patient teachers. The Club members come from a very broad background and it's lead to a very open, collaborative spirit. All of my experiences at Forteza have been much the same way, it's open, respectful, and patient while also being fun, warm, and welcoming.”
Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts is located at 4437 N. Ravenswood Avenue in Chicago. To learn more about their program or to join, check out their website or give them a call at 773.271.3988.