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

Self Defense & Personal Awareness Part-1

What does personal awareness mean to you? Could this be you walking along the street focused on your phone and little else? by Pixabay via free images.com

What does personal awareness mean? In some Self Defense training courses and workshops it refers to how you present yourself in public.

1. Do you walk with purpose with your head up scanning the area in front of you for potential danger or are you distracted by your phone, e-Reader, smart tablet or music playing through your headphones or earbuds?

2. Does what you are wearing obscure your vision or hearing? Maybe what you have on will impede your escape, or hamper your ability to physically defend yourself?

3. Are you keeping a safe distance from potentially dangerous people and places?

Do you ever take these things into consideration when going out in public?

In all of the Personal Safety – Self Defense Courses and Workshops we role-play different street situations. One of these role-plays involves having 3 participants walk across the room, while the others observe.

– The first will walk with an erect posture and their head will be moving from side-to-side scanning the area around them.

– The second will be walking with their hands in their pockets and looking down, sometimes with a hoodie pulled up over their heads.

– The third will be walking with a smart phone in their hands as though they were texting.

I explain to the participants who are watching the other 3 walk that they are predators looking for their next prey. After they have observed the 3 possible victims walk back and forth a few times I ask them to choose who they would attack. They can choose more than one target.

– The first one, who is paying attention to their surroundings very seldom gets chosen as a potential victim.

– The second one, who is walking with their hands in their pockets looking down and or with a hoodie up, is often chosen as a likely target.

– The third, walking with the phone and texting is always the first choice of the class as you might expect.

When I ask why they chose the person texting as their victim. The first answer is usually something like “they aren’t paying attention,” which is correct, but what they sometimes forget to add is the mugger can see you have a phone and it is worth taking the risk to attack. The attacker can get anywhere from $50 to $150 for that phone. It may range as high as $300 for the right phone.

Imagine walking down the street with 5 twenty dollar bills fanned out in your hands and you are looking at the money and not paying any attention to what is going on around you. That is what you look like to a predator when you are have your head down texting. They may only grab your phone and run, or they may hit you first before taking your phone.

You might feel safe sitting in your car texting or talking, but maybe not? Read about what happened to Megan Boken when she was spotted on her phone by two predators.

Be aware of your surroundings and who is nearby. It is better to identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations than it is to physically defend yourself.

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.

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. More information can be found at: Fonseca Martial Arts in Evanston

Self Defense Course starts July 11th at Degerberg Academy in Lincoln Square

This 4-week Self-Defense Course starts July 11th at 7:00pm.

Want to know how to protect yourself at work, home, school or on the streets of the city?

Concerned for the safety of your son or daughter heading off to college or high school for the first time?

Don’t have time to take martial arts classes, but want to know the basics of Self-Defense?

Do you want to learn how to Identify and avoid potentially dangerous people, places and situations?

Act in Self Defense will start the first class of a 4 part Self-Defense Course July 11th 7:00pm The Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood. 4717 N. Lincoln Ave Call 773-728-5300

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.

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.

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

Water Safety: Can you spot someone who is drowning?

Water Safety U.S. Air Force graphic/Corey Parrish

Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death among children 14 and younger, according to the CDC. About 750 children drown each year, 375 of whom do so within 25 yards of a parent or adult.

Many children drown with adults only yards away!

More startling, the CDC said 10 percent of parents watch their children drown because they don’t know it’s happening. Recognizing the real-life signs of drowning is especially important as the weather gets warmer and we start heading to the beaches and swimming pools to cool off during the hot months of summer.

Could you recognize the sign of a child or adult swimmer in trouble?

This information comes from an article in the Evanston Patch. If you don’t have time to read it all you can check out the highlights below.

Drowning doesn’t always look like you might think it does from seeing it in the movies. Before people drown, they may thrash around in the water — a sign they’re in “aquatic distress,” which may or may not happen before a drowning. They’re normally able to assist in their own rescue by grabbing lifelines, throw rings and other devices.

An Instinctive Drowning victim is often helpless and are unable to call for help.

1. In most circumstances, people are physiologically unable to call for help. The respiratory system is designed for breathing, and speech is a secondary function. “Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs,”

2. A drowning person’s mouth alternately sinks below the surface of the water and then reappears, but the mouth is never above the surface long enough to exhale, inhale and cry for help.

3. Drowning people can’t flag down help. “Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface,” “Pressing down on the surface of the water permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe”.

4. When they’re drowning, people lose control of their arms. They’re struggling to stay afloat in the water, and “cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.”

5. While they’re drowning, people will remain upright in the water, and there’s no evidence of a supporting kick.

Hope you never have to use that information.

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. More information can be found 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 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.