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Where can you learn filipino martial arts in Chicago? Start at Tandang Garimot.

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Founded by instructors Mike “Tandang” Eugenio (specializing in Filipino Martial Arts and Temple Style Tai Chi Chuan) and Arnold “Sawa” Ibardaloza (Braziian Jui Jitsu and Muay Thai) Tandang Garimot focuses on Filipino Martial Arts but offers much more. Located at 2940 N Lincoln Ave, the place just can't get more accessible.

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1. What arts can one study at Tandang Garimot?

Our name comes from a style of Filipino Martial Arts, which a lot of people have heard called by the names Arnis, Kali, and Escrima. We call this our primary focus both because it's what ties us together, and because it informs our approach to the other arts we teach. We also offer classes in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Tai Chi Chuan, Yoga, Self-Defense, and Capoeira. Our hope from the beginning was to offer a well-rounded, multi-style training package without sacrificing the unique nature of each art and sort of turning it into a general Mixed Martial Arts curriculum.

Our Capoeira program is run by Graduada Succuri, Rhodora Derpo. If somebody is looking for a hybrid of dance and martial arts that will get you in shape, they'd be hard pressed to find a better class for it.

2. Do you have separate classes for beginning and advanced students? Do you have any all level classes?

Right now, we treat most of our classes like all-level classes. You're going to get a lot of different energies from different people in the real world, and we don't want our advanced students getting used to fighting or training with people who practice the same style. So at the moment, switch between having advanced students work with new students and then having students of similar experience work together. It provides a nice balance. We're gradually adding classes tailored for the more advanced students as the need arises.

To clarify, we make a distinction between a beginner and a newcomer. Coming into a martial arts studio can be a pretty intimidating experience for people, and we want our students to feel comfortable and know that they're safe here. We feel very strongly about making sure there are no bullies in our studio.

3. Does Tandang Garimot host any seminars regularly?

We've been hosting Acro Yoga seminars every other Sunday, and those have been popular. Other than that, we mix it up a lot, but we try to have one martial arts seminar every month or so. We have Gat Puno Abon Baet in for weekend-long seminars at least twice a year, which is always incredible for all of us. We also had Kuya Doug Marcaida in for a seminar recently, and we hope to have him come back soon.

We've got a few seminars planned over the course of the next few months, and of course we occasionally host seminars with our own instructors to give a taste of something we don't usually deal with. Mike is planning a tactical pen seminar soon, and we'll be hosting a number of weekend-long self-defense seminars to launch our new HANDA self-defense program. We're hoping to book a few big names in Muay Thai and BJJ later in the year as well, but we're trying not to overwhelm our students with too much at once.

4. What do the training facilities offer?

The main thing we've got to offer is a clean, beautiful space, which is really something we don't think many studios can claim. We wanted a place that looked more like a dojo or an art studio than a gym. We've got about 3500 square feet of space, which is broken up into a few rooms. The main floor is matted and has mirrors, and we keep it pretty clear of anything else. We've got a bag room in the back, combat rope, grappling dummies, and the like. Obviously we keep a lot of training weapons on hand, and padded sticks, fencing helmets, that sort of thing. Rhodora has her instruments for capoeira. The third floor is about 800 square feet of unpadded floor space we like to use for yoga and tai chi. We keep the standard blocks, straps, mats, and blankets on hand.

5. What are the basic price packages for new members looking to join?

We don't require people to be members to train with us. We charge $20 to drop in on any given class, $30 for a day pass to any martial arts class (other than Capoeira), and right now yoga is only $10 per class.

We try to offer as much as we can for one price, but we include FMA, Muay Thai, BJJ, and Thai Chi under the unlimited training package. The unlimited package is $150 for one month, or $130/month for six months. Naturally, the membership comes with a discount on private training and seminars. Right now, we're offering a free two week trial to new students that would include any of those four types of classes. Capoeira is really a separate program, but it's priced the same way: $20 for a drop-in, $150 for a month.

Our youth program is $200 for 8 weeks of classes (2 per week). We incorporate elements of our other arts into the program, but its more focused on building basic skills, coordination, strength, and discipline. The program is for kids from ages 5-12.

We've been attempting to double up our schedule so that couples and parents can take different classes at the same times. For instance, we've been scheduling Tai Chi and yoga during our kids classes so that parents can get a workout while their kids are in class. We know how hard it is to squeeze in time for yourself, particularly for parents of young children, so we try to make it a little easier for people to take care of themselves while taking care of their children.

6. Anything else we should know?

Just that one of our biggest goals is to change the public perception of FMA, and bring it the sort of mainstream recognition that Karate, Kung Fu, and Tae Kwon Do have here in the states. The U.S. military and Hollywood seem to have recognized the value and beauty of the art, but it still isn't on everybody's radar. Even people who do know about it often think it's just stick fighting, and it's really one of the most complete systems out there: grappling, weapons, empty hand, etc.

So, you know, for those people who watch the Bourne movies and think "where do they teach this crazy pen-fu?" come check us out.

What do real people think about this place?

Kai Young has been a student at Tandang Garimot Martial Arts and Wellness since they first opened their school last November and enjoys the relaxed attitude. "It is unlike any martial arts training program/school I have experienced," Young states. "The teachers understand that everyone wants something different out of a place such as this and they demonstrate this by catering to each individual. The variety of martial arts at the school makes for some well-rounded warriors. You get the dirty-technical-beatdown of FMA, the swift sledge-hammer that is Muay Thai, and the relaxation and internal strength that comes with Tai Chi. The principals from each class bleed and meld with one another. Giving the student a martial poo-poo platter from which to choose what works for them. It's a great school, I can say with certainty that I have never had a negative experience there."

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