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This blog is where we'll post new articles, videos and information about upcoming training programs.

Self-Defense Workshop begins in Glenview June 11th

High School seniors being trained in personal safety before heading off to college.

Act in Self Defense will start the first workshop of a 4 part Self-Defense Course at Fonseca Martial Arts in Glenview beginning Monday, June 11th at 7:00pm and will continue through Monday July 2nd.

Students will learn how to identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations at work, school, home and on the streets.

You will train to defend yourself from single and multiple attackers using a variety of blocks, strikes, kicks, throws/takedowns and submission grappling techniques from Boxing, Catch-Wrestling, Karate, Thai Boxing, Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, French Savate, Jun Fan and Filipino Kali.

Click on this link: Fonseca Martial Arts for the location and contact information to register for this 4-hour Personal Safety/Self-Defense Course.

The number of places is limited so sign up soon.

Thousands of adult men and women as well as high school and college students have learned how to improve their personal and situational awareness and to physically defend themselves using a wide variety of Martial Arts techniques.

Self-Defense Classes for Adult Men, Women and teens age 14 and older are taught Tuesday, and Thursday evenings 7:30pm – 8:30 pm at: Fonseca Martial arts in Evanston

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your child’s high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

Self-Defense Course Begins in Wilmette Saturday, April 14th!

Before you go off to college know how to identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations.

Act in Self Defense will start the first workshop of a 4 part Self-Defense Course at Fonseca Martial Arts in Wilmette beginning Saturday, April 14 at 1:00pm and will continue through Saturday, May 5th.

Students will learn how to identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations at work, school, home and on the streets.

You will train to defend yourself from single and multiple attackers using a variety of blocks, strikes, kicks, throws/takedowns and submission grappling techniques from Boxing, Catch-Wrestling, Karate, Thai Boxing, Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, French Savate, Jun Fan and Filipino Kali.

Click on this link: Fonseca Martial Arts Wilmette for the location and contact information to register for this 4-hour Personal Safety/Self-Defense Course.

The number of places is limited so sign up soon to guarantee yourself a spot.

Thousands of adult men and women as well as high school and college students have learned how to improve their personal and situational awareness and to physically defend themselves using a wide variety of Martial Arts techniques.

Self-Defense Classes for Adult Men, Women and teens age 14 and older are taught Tuesday, and Thursday evenings 7:30pm – 8:30 pm.
You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense
You will learn how to identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations at work, school, home and on the streets.

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your child’s high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

Takedown Seminar: Street self-defense and MMA

The official grand opening and first seminar of Hit2Fit Chicago South Loop is coming soon! Come join us for what will for sure be a day to remember!

Posted by Hit2Fit Chicago South Loop on Monday, January 29, 2018

Sean Tazz Lau has invited me to teach “Takedowns For The Street and MMA competition” at Hit2Fit February 17th 2:00pm.

Much of the time spent training in either BJJ or Submission Wrestling is on the ground. The most often cited reason for this is that all street fights end up on the ground. If we assume this is a true statement then how we end up on the ground is just as important, if not more important, than what we do when we get there.

Learning how to take an opponent off their feet is the gateway to learning how to defend against it!

The first half of this 2-hour seminar will focus on MMA Takedowns, Submissions and Takedown Defense
The second half will deal with Takedowns for the Street where the only rule is: “There are no rules.”

To register for the Seminar or to get more information please contact Sean at 773-910-1995.

Watch out as we fall back. There is danger in the earlier darkness.

Daylight Savings ends at 2:00am. Dangers lurk in the early darkness.
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Daylight Saving Time will come to an end at 2 a.m. this Sunday, Nov. 5, which means it is time to “fall back.” You will be getting an extra hour of sleep, but that extra hour has a price tag associated with it. Here in the Chicago area it means it will be getting dark earlier.

The loss of an hour of daylight means many Americans in the Eastern and Central Standard Time zones will be leaving their workplaces around sunset. And that can spell some danger.

The danger comes in the transition from Daylight Saving time. Our bodies need time to adjust their circadian clocks. Longer nights can induce drowsy driving. Of course, most of us don’t go to sleep the moment it gets dark or wake up the moment the sun peeks over the horizon in the morning, but our internal clocks hardwire us for that kind of sleep cycle.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research shows drowsy-driving crashes most frequently occur between midnight and 6 a.m., or in the late-afternoon — both times when there are dips in your circadian rhythm. About 100,000 police-reported crashes a year are a result of driver fatigue, according to the agency’s website.

With the end of daylight savings time comes an increase of darkness around the time of rush hour, when traffic is at a peak and many are making their way home from work. Drivers aren’t used to the decreased visibility and neither are pedestrians.

“When we change the time by one hour, it throws a monkey wrench into our circadian process,” said Christopher Barnes, an associate professor of management at the University of Washington who researches the impact of sleep deprivation, especially in the workplace.

“The following Monday, we’ve discovered that people have about 40 minutes less sleep. Because we’re already short on sleep to begin with, the effects of even 40 minutes are noticeable.”

This drowsiness can also affect our perception of what is going on around us. You might not be as aware of potentially dangerous people lurking nearby in places that were highly visible the previous week, but now make a good hiding place due to the early darkness.

Being aware of potentially dangerous people, places and situations can help you avoid physical confrontations. You need to be on your guard the next few weeks as you adjust to the time change and the early darkness that comes with it.

Thousands of adult men and women as well as high school and college students have learned how to improve their personal and situational awareness and to physically defend themselves using a wide variety of Martial Arts techniques.

Self-Defense Classes for Adult Men, Women and teens age 14 and older are taught Tuesday, and Thursday evenings 7:30pm – 8:30 pm.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

You will learn how to identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations at work, school, home and on the streets.

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your child’s high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

Are your solar eclipse sunglasses counterfeit?

Safe way to view an eclipse photo by Mark Mathosian / Flickr

The solar eclipse on August 21st will be the first to cross the entire United States in almost 100 years.

Millions of people will be descending on areas of the United States that many people have never heard of before, hoping to catch a glimpse of the full solar eclipse. Some of them may end up being partially blinded due to using counterfeit sunglasses purchased over the internet.

Serious damage to your eyes can result from looking at the eclipse directly, with glasses that aren’t specifically designed for viewing, or with counterfeit viewers that are flooding the market.

Preventblindness.org says that exposing your eyes to the sun without proper eye protection during a solar eclipse can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, also known as solar retinopathy. This exposure to the light can cause damage or even destroy cells in the retina (the back of the eye) that transmit what you see to the brain. This damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs with no pain. It can take a few hours to a few days after viewing the solar eclipse to realize the damage that has occurred.

It is important that you make sure the eclipse glasses you purchased or are about to purchase are the real deal.

How do you know if your eclipse glasses are safe and not counterfeit?

The American Astronomical Society previously advised people to look for evidence that the glasses comply with international safety standards for filters of direct viewing of the sun by ensuring the following was printed on the glasses: ISO 12312-2.

The American Astronomical Society says it is no longer enough to check for ISO certification on eclipse glasses. Make sure they come from a reputable vendor also.

“But now the marketplace is being flooded by counterfeit eclipse glasses that are labeled as if they’re ISO-compliant when in fact they are not,” AAS said. “Even more unfortunately, unscrupulous vendors can grab the ISO logo off the internet and put it on their products and packaging even if their eclipse glasses or viewers haven’t been properly tested.”

Nasa and the American Astronomical Society describe in great detail where to buy your eclipse glasses and from whom. So click on the above link to the AAS to find the names of reputable vendors.

USA Today posted some tips from the American Astronomical Society:

• Don’t search for eclipse glasses on the internet and then buy whatever pops up in the ads or search results. Check the society’s list of reputable vendors before buying: eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters.

• Check to see what you can see through the glasses. You shouldn’t be able to see anything through a safe solar filter except the sun itself or something comparably bright, such as a bright halogen light bulb. If you can see lights of more ordinary brightness, and you’re not sure the product came from a reputable vendor, it’s no good.

• If you glance at the sun through your solar filter and find it uncomfortably bright, out of focus, and/or surrounded by a bright haze, it’s no good.

• If you get your glasses from a friend who happens to be an astronomer, they’re probably compliant. That’s also usually the case with products fromprofessional astronomical organizations, such as college and university physics and astronomy departments, and amateur-astronomy clubs.

• If you suspect that you got bad glasses, ask the seller for a refund or credit and replace them with a product from a reputable vendor.

• Before using your glasses, inspect them. If scratched, punctured, torn, or otherwise damaged, discard them.

• Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.

• Supervise children using solar filters.

Find more safety tips at https://aas.org or https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your child’s high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

Self-Defense Workshop Sunday Aug. 27, 12:00pm

Please join me and 2 time Illinois State Wrestling Champion and Olympic training partner Max Schneider for this Personal Safety/Self-Defense Workshop. You will learn strategies for identifying and avoiding potentially dangerous people, places and situations: and how to physically defend yourself.

This personal safety workshop will focus on personal awareness, situational awareness and self-defense techniques. You will train in a variety of attack scenarios taken from current crime reporting, situations that you might encounter while at work, home, school or while out shopping.

It Doesn’t Matter What Age You Are Or What Shape You Are In!

The class has been designed to take advantage of the strengths and skills you have already developed. You will learn to use your brain, voice and body to avoid potentially dangerous people and situations and to physically defend yourself when necessary using a wide variety of self-defense techniques from a dozen different fighting arts.

In edition you will learn how to…

Control your fear
Deal with verbal and physical threats
Avoid Date-rape drugs
Identify verbal techniques predators use to lower your defenses
Defend against a variety of attacks including grabs from in front, behind and how to fight from the ground.

Register for this Self-Defense Workshop at bit.ly/2vqSwhL

Thousands of adult men and women as well as high school and college students have learned how to improve their personal and situational awareness and to physically defend themselves using a wide variety of Martial Arts techniques.

Weekly Self-Defense Classes for Adult Men, Women and teens age 14 and older are taught Tuesday, and Thursday evenings 7:30pm – 8:30pm.

You will learn how to identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations at work, school, home and on the streets.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your child’s high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

Personal Safety: How close is too close?

Examining boundary setting and understanding the concept of personal space with North Park University incoming freshmen class. August 2016

Examining boundary setting and understanding the concept of personal space with North Park University incoming freshmen class. August 2016

In a series of Self-Defense workshops at several High schools and universities, which included North Park University, Loyola Academy, and GCE Lab School, we discussed the concept of personal space. I asked volunteers to come forward and participate in a demonstration of what personal space means to them. In each case the volunteer walked toward me and stopped approximately 2 and a half to 3 feet away from me. They had selected their personal space in what was a safe environment. I then entered that space, in effect breaking the boundary they had set unconsciously. In each case the student would either lean away or retreat to maintain, what they now understood to be their personal space.

We continued the exercise with all the students standing about 20 feet apart.

How close is too close? What boundary distance would you set between you and someone you don’t know


I asked one group to walk toward the other until their partner located across from them put their hand up indicating they would like them to stop.

In the first scenario they were asked to imagine that they were in the middle of campus on a warm, clear day, with plenty of people around who appeared to be fellow students. I asked them how much personal space they would want between them and someone they didn’t know.

How much space would you want between you and a stranger?


You can see that under that scenario the personal space required by the students is rather close. The same might be expected of anyone in a similar scenario, such as walking along a busy street with a number of retail stores or a shopping mall.

In the second scenario the students were asked to imagine they were walking alone along a street in the evening with mostly closed businesses and apartment buildings. Coming down the sidewalk was someone they didn’t know. They couldn’t tell if they were good or not. They were asked how much apace they would want between them and the stranger as they passed on the sidewalk. In the group below the distance chosen was approximately 6 feet.

in the evening it is just you and a stranger passing each other on the sidewalk. How much space do want between you and them?

How much space would you want? Most sidewalks won’t even allow 6 feet of space while passing someone. What would you have to do to if you wanted more space? The easiest way to create more space is to cross the street.

What should be your response to someone entering your personal space?

That would depend on the environment and the circumstances. If you are walking along a busy street in a shopping district, standing in a crowded bar/restaurant, or taking public transportation during rush hour your ability to maintain your preferred space is going to be hard, if not impossible to do. This is where you need to raise, not lower, your awareness of who is standing or walking nearby you. Pick pockets love to work these types of environments.

The major takeaway here is that when you establish your personal space you have set a boundary. If you allow someone to break that boundary they may feel empowered to take further liberties, such as putting their hands on you.

You are at greater risk of physical injury when alone and a stranger attempts to get too close and breaking the personal space boundary that you have established. Stepping back into a bladed, or guarded stance, with your lead hand extended in front of you as demonstrated below, can in many cases, taking this guarded stance can dissuade a potential attacker from continuing their advance into your personal space. If it doesn’t cause them to stop at least your hands and body are positioned to protect you and to strike if necessary.

Lead hand should extend out away from the body at eye level with the rear hand slightly in front of your face as a 2nd line of defense.

Understanding personal space and how it relates to your personal safety is just one step in the journey to improving your personal and situational awareness and to avoid becoming another crime statistic.

Thousands of adult men and women as well as high school and college students have learned how to improve their personal and situational awareness and to physically defend themselves using a wide variety of Martial Arts techniques.

Self-Defense Classes for Adult Men, Women and teens age 14 and older are taught Tuesday, and Thursday evenings 7:30pm – 8:30 pm.

You will learn how to identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations at work, school, home and on the streets.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your child’s high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

Self Defense Workshop

I will be leading another Act in Self-Defense Workshop at Fonseca Martial Arts in 823 Chicago ave, Evanston, IL 60202 on Saturday February 11th, at 3:00pm.

I have included some previously written articles about important self-defense topics I may not have time to cover during the Self-Defense Workshop. Just click on the links below.

1. Recognizing Pre Attack Indicators

2. Beware of Predators Using Boundary Lowering Tactics

3. Self Defense Advice for Commuters. Continue reading Self Defense Workshop

Self-Defense advice for commuters

Just another day on the CTA. Crowded CTA buses are the perfect environment for pickpockets to work their trade Photo credit:  by Dane Brian via Creative Commons

Just another day on the CTA. Crowded CTA buses are the perfect environment for pickpockets to work their trade Photo credit: by Dane Brian via Creative Commons

I was recently asked by Science of Skill to respond to the question below.

*Q: “My wife commutes nearly one hour to and from work, and she works in the city where I am afraid something might happen. Do you advise women to carry mace? What other women’s self defense advice do you have?”

My response: The first suggestion would be for his wife to take a self-defense class. It should focus more on learning to improve personal and situational awareness, than on physical self-defense. Being able to physically defend yourself is great, but it takes more time to learn than how to avoid putting yourself in danger in the first place.

The use of pepper spray/mace is a good defense tool when you take the time to train with it. This means going outside with the wind at your back and actually firing it. You need to see how it works. Don’t depend on the description on the package or the fact that you just bought it to assume it functions and works the way it says it does.

The husband doesn’t mention whether his wife commutes by car or public transportation. There are different things to watch for depending on which mode of transportation she is using.

Driving into the city usually means having to park in a parking garage of one type or another. Very few parking lots are totally secure so here are a few tips to keep you safe.

1. When you arrive park as close as you can to the pedestrian exit you are going to use.

2. Make sure your car is locked before you leave and have your mace/pepper spray on your key ring where you can use it quickly.

3. Focus on what is going on around you. Try not to use your phone or any other electronic devices that may distract you or attract a robber.

4. If you enter or exit using an elevator, pay attention to who gets on with you, or who is in it before you enter. If you don’t feel comfortable getting on wait for the next one and if someone enters who looks suspicious get off.

5. When returning have your keys in your hand and scan the area near your vehicle. If someone is loitering nearby you may want to leave and alert security. If you decide to go to your car have your mace/pepper spray in your hand and be prepared to use it.

6. Lock the doors immediately after entering, start the car, pull out of your spot and leave the area. You can put on your seat belt before you drive out of the garage.

When using public transportation and walking to and from work:

1. You should minimize distractions by not focusing all your attention on your phone or tablet. These devices attract robbers especially when they see that the owner is focused on the device and not on what is going on around them and who is nearby.

2. Limit the wearing of earbuds or headphones, which would keep you from hearing someone approaching from behind.

3. If you are using your phone or tablet on public transportation look at the faces of the people standing near you. Do they suddenly turn their faces away? When you see this type of behavior you need to start paying very close attention to where they are and what they are doing, especially when your bus or train is approaching a stop because this is when thieves will strike.

To read the entire article at Science of Skill click here.

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

Weekly Self-Defense Classes for Adult Men & Women and teens age 15 and older are taught Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings 7:30pm – 8:30 pm and Saturday from 3:00pm – 4:00pm

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.

Halloween safety: Beware of distracted drivers

It is dark, the weather is bad and drivers are distracted. Halloween by kreg.steppe

It is dark, the weather is bad and drivers are distracted. Halloween by kreg.steppe

Halloween is fast approaching so over the next few days I am recycling several articles on Halloween Safety.

Whether you are taking your kids trick or treating this Halloween or you are out with friends, when it comes time to cross the street, don’t assume that just because you have the right of way, that the oncoming car is going to stop.  They may just keep right on coming. 
Why?  Its’ probably because the driver is totally distracted by the phone conversation they are having or the text they are trying to read. 

The statistics are more frightening than any Halloween costume.

According to Distraction.Gov:

1. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

2. Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of driv­ers who were distracted at the time of the crashes.

3.Drivers in their 20s are 23 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes, but are 27 percent of the distracted drivers and 38 percent of the dis­tracted drivers who were using cell phones in fatal crashes.

A Chicago Tribune article from a few years ago explains it all.

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

A University of Utah study found that a driver using a cell phone while driving, either hand-held or hands-free, delays a person’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol level at the legal limit of .08 percent.

What can you do to keep you and your family from becoming a statistic?

1) Make sure that you keep your eyes on the cars as they approach the intersection.

2) Be sure that the car comes to a complete stop before you step before you step in front of it.

3) Look at the face of the driver and try to make some eye contact.

4) If you can’t see the driver’s face because they are glancing at the text message they are sending or receiving, don’t enter the intersection.

5) If you see the driver with a phone in their ear, even though this is illegal, they are probably paying more attention to their conversation than they are to you.

Just because you have the right to cross the street doesn’t mean you should.  You may be in the right.  You just don’t want to be dead right!

You can sign up for Act in Self Defense classes at: http://www.fonsecamartialarts.com/self-defense

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at ekress@ameritech.net.