We teach from a variety of martial arts disciplines, but focus primarily on Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), sometimes called Eskrima, Kali, or Arnis. Our system integrates training with weapons and empty hands, and incorporates both striking and wrestling. Our head instructor, Mike Eugenio, has been teaching for over 25 years. We have a practical, informal, fun, but structured approach to teaching. Our focus is on practical skills and health, rather than on belts or forms.
We can (and do) train in different environments, work with people of different abilities, and can customize training to meet different goals. We strive to make our school inclusive and welcoming while still keeping our art useful. Ours is not a solemn, quiet class. We train hard and we laugh hard. After several years in our own space in Lakeview, we now teach group classes at DePaul University's Ray Meyer Fitness Center, but also teach in parks and at the homes of our students.
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We always speak to a new student to get a sense of what their goals are, so that we can help guide them. Some students are more interested in a fun way to improve their appearance, while others are looking for self-defense techniques, and others are training to compete in martial arts competitions. Some are interested in weapons, others not so much. Once we've clarified those goals, we help our students understand the path to those goals, and work with them to achieve those goals. Depending on the student's experience, early training focuses on basic techniques, building coordination, and simple skills, and once the student gets more comfortable with those movements, we start to work those into practical application of those movements. Further down the line we get more focused on the art and theory of our practice, and (if the student wishes) begin sparring.
Mike Eugenio has over 25 years of training in various styles, and is an instructor of both Garimot Arnis and Temple Style Tai Chi. He is one of the highest ranked instructors of Garimot Arnis in the world, and has trained in other styles including Jeet Kun Do, MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, Fencing, and Boxing.
James Dolbeare has been studying martial arts for over 15 years, and has been an instructor of Garimot Arnis for 5 years, and has achieved the rank of GAT Kuya. He has also trained in Ving Tsun (Wing Chun), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Muay Thai, and has been training under Guro Mike Eugenio since 2010.
Rates vary depending whether the student joins us for group classes ($110 mo/6 months) or for private or semi-private training. Private and Semi-private training depends on the location of the student, frequency of training, and number of students participating.
We have worked with students of all age ranges and of different abilities, genders, and orientations. We have worked with people recovering from trauma, crime, and war. We've trained civilians, police officers, and soldiers. We are not a child-focused program: we teach children, but we are not in the business of belts and promotions. We sell dangerous skills, fun, and fitness.
We recently worked a corporate self-defense seminar, which is some of the most fun we've had in this job, and that is saying a lot. The employees were all really engaged and had a lot of fun questions, and we walked away feeling like everyone was at least a little bit safer and more secure.
Because we focus so much on weapons, we also teach light-saber seminars. We did a demo at the Oak Lawn Public Library, and the kids there were just crazy for lightsabers. It was great to see so many kids excited about what we do.
Make sure you like the teacher and trust them. Style doesn't matter as much as commitment. There's no best "style" of martial arts. If you get a bad vibe, or you don't trust them, you're just not going to stick with it. It takes a long time to get good at this stuff, no matter how good your teacher is, so you're going to have to spend a lot of time with this person if you want to reach your goal. Don't throw your money away on something you're going to quit in 6 weeks because you don't enjoy it.
Also be clear about your goals and expectations. If you want to become an instructor one day, say so early on. Not everybody is on that track, or cares about it. If you want to be an MMA fighter, say so. It helps us help you.
Do you care about belts and rankings? Do you prefer a formal setting with a lot of bowing and ceremony and uniforms, or does that stuff seem silly to you? Do you plan to work out outside of class, or is this your whole fitness regimen? How much can you realistically afford, and do you actually value these services enough to pay market rate for them (because you will get what you pay for)? Do you have any psychological issues that make it difficult for you to train safely (i.e. PTSD)? What are your long term goals? Do you secretly believe that you're going to discover you are the chosen one, and that you're going to become the next Bruce Lee in 6 weeks?