Thaddeus P. Tomeski Jr. started his martial arts training as a young boy at the age of 7. He was inspired by his uncle David Tomeski who was a martial artist. Thaddeus, or as his friends refer to him "Ted" was captivated by the movements and techniques his uncle displayed and became fascinated with the Martial Arts. Years later a couple of Ted's family members paid for his first Karate lessons. Ted was completely entranced in his pursuit of learning Martial Arts, specifically, The Art of Chinese Kenpo Karate.
By the time Ted was a 2nd Degree Black Belt Mr. Tracy said to Ted "You have the knowledge, the training ,the skills, and the passion to begin your own Association here in Chicago.
In 1987 the Chicago Kenpo Karate Association was formed at the direction of Great Grand Master Al Tracy. In this quote by the late Al Tracy, he explains why Ted should create his own association "Ted, the problem with Grand Masters is, they never think their going to die. You need to form an association and promote through a panel of Masters". So, Ted took this advice to heart and created the C.K.K.A. so he could continue his advancement through the ranks and promote those around him while recording the lineage of Kenpo Karate Martial Artists in the Chicago land area.
Ted has trained with Grand Master Al Tracy for many years. In fact, Ted's System of Chinese Kenpo is exactly the same system as the Tracy System of Kenpo pre-1991. You can also see Ted"s roots in The Parker System of Kenpo Karate through his training with Ed Parker, Joe Lewis, and Jeff Speakman.
Currently Ted is training with Mark Tracy in Tracy's System of Kenpo Karate. Although the two systems are almost identical but there are some subtle differences. You can find Ted at Kenpo Self Defense Studios Inc. several days a week instructing and working out.
Ted has been Studying Kenpo for over 40 years and will tell you it's a lifestyle and not a pursuit for him . "I just love Kenpo and want to always be a part of it " says Thaddeus P. Tomeski Jr.
From humble beginnings and a fortunate series of relationships with great martial artists, Ted considers himself to have had a blessed martial arts experience. Today, Ted displays his humility instructing in a Dojo while doing what he loves and sharing his skills with those around him.
Ted brings invaluable experience to our Studio. His many years in the martial arts and having attained every level of black belt up to 9th show him not only as knowledgeable, but as a humble practitioner of the Martial Arts.
Ted Trains our Black Belts as he is our highest ranking partner.
Starting back in the early 1970's, Lisa began her martial arts journey by taking Goju-Ryu karate classes. Up to the mid 1980's, Lisa joined assorted schools, such as Kyokushinkai and Wado-Ryu.
Then from the mid 1980's and into the mid 1990's, she studied Taekwondo, as well as Shorei Ryu, and a form of Kenpo Karate. By the mid 1990's, she received the Rank of 3rd degree black belt in Taekwondo, Certified Instructor, and Certified Tournament Center Judge.
She always tried to expand her skills by attending many seminars, including Wally Jay, founder of Small Circle Jiujitsu, and Remy Presas, founder of Modern Arnis.
Lisa also competed in many tournaments both Taekwondo based and open, across the country, most notably The American Taewkondo World Championships and Long Beach International Karate Championships. Even though she competed in both kata and kumite, she preferred kumite. She had a great time at the tournaments, whether she won or not, always thinking of it as a learning experience.
After taking some time off for assorted reasons, she returned to the martial arts, searching for a martial art that she could delve into and grow with. After trying a few other styles, she came to Self Defense Studio, the original, now located in Crestwood, IL, and has put forth her full attention to learning the Tracy System of Kenpo Karate. She recently received the rank of Sandan, 3rd degree black belt.
Her hobbies include art, playing guitar, archery and pistol shooting. She loves Qigong and is excited to learn Tai Chi, the exact form that has been passed down to us from GGM Al Tracy. She is also a certified LifeLine practitioner, which is a whole-body healing system designed to upgrade one's consciousness to fully process and eliminate the subconscious reactive patterns that inhibit optimal healing and happiness.
Lisa has since taken over the Kenpo school in Crestwood currently know as Kenpo Self Defense Studio Inc. Lisa's is fulfilling her desire to help others and pass on the legacy of the Tracy System of Kenpo Karate.
Martial arts has always been a passion for Lisa and has inspired many women to pursue a study in Kenpo
Lisa teaches Adult class's and Kenpo Stix class. Lisa also teaches private lessons although her time is mostly booked
When we think of James Williams, we think of a strong, dedicated martial artist, who would give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it. James is currently holds the rank of Sandan, 3nd degree black belt. in the Tracy's System of Kenpo Karate, taught here at Self Defense Studio, the original, in Crestwood, IL.
Starting in 2006, James has proved to be a hardworking martial artist, who is always willing to work heavy duty "hands on", with any student who needs it, to have them gain an understanding of the principles of the techniques. He is a stickler for detail, timing, form and power. When working on his material, he is never satisfied and won't stop until it's done properly. If someone needs help on the mat, James immediately jumps in to help.
James has enjoyed the chance to learn from Great Grand Master Al Tracy, and other Masters.
He believes discipline, dedication, and hard work are key factors to obtain success. James makes sure to participate in Great Grand Master Tracy's seminars, as well as participating in various Gathering of Eagles events throughout the years to enhance his training. He also competed in a tournament, to challenge himself, gaining high scores from the judges.
We are happy to have James as our black belt. We thank him for his untiring efforts to help on the mat, support Kenpo Self Defense Studio, display positive energy, and for being a great example of a Tracy's Kenpo black belt!
James really fires up the kids and works them hard.. and they love it.
Jim Colby, another one of our belts, started with our school in 1993. He left in 1995, as an Orange belt to start a family. He then returned in 2003, ready to pick up where he left off eight years before, and continued on to test and receive his Shodan, 1st degree black belt in 2010. Training now for his Yodan, 4th degree black belt .
Challenges have been a big part of Jim's progression and success in life. As a teenager, he earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in The Boy Scouts of America. He had to perform many assorted community projects to achieve this ranking. At sixteen years of age, Jim was put to the task of directing all aspects of building a softball field for a developmental center in the suburbs. He completed that task and was even featured in the newspaper for his accomplishment.
Jim prides himself in passing down to others, the original, traditional Tracy's System of Kenpo Karate, as taught by the original Self Defense Studio located now in Crestwood, IL. He has an understanding of the practical aspects of the techniques and their applications, and is happy to share his knowledge.
Currently, Jim is a professional in the restaurant business, responsible for a multimillion dollar store. Jim also enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his family at home and through many family trips.
We thank Jim for his leadership skills, professionalism, and his solid "stick to the rules" persona.
Jim's class is hands on, here students can get real experience executing techniques with other students
Who would have thought that a kickboxer would one day not only win in the ring, but also go on to train in the certified Tracy's System of Kenpo Karate and obtain a Yodan 4th degree Black Belt .
Damon Dawson is another one of our longtime, black belts and has been with us for over twenty years. He did start kickboxing years ago with our kickboxing team at the time, then soon began his journey with us at Self Defense Studio learning the original, traditional, certified Tracy's System of Kenpo Karate. While still training in Kenpo, Damon delved into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Torres Academy in Griffith, Indiana. He is in his tenth year in Jiu-Jitsu and has achieved a Purple Belt under Miguel Torres.
Through traveling with us throughout the years across the country to assorted tournaments, Damon, part of our Self Defense Studio Competition Team, competed in a Chinese sanctioned tournament in California in the regular divisions of kata, weapons, self defense, and kumite, as well as winning medals in Chinese San Shou.
Damon is among a small group of black belts approved to wear the second wave of checkerboard gi's in competition.
Congrats to Damon for his many accomplishments, as well as his dedication and loyalty to Self Defense Studio and the Tracy's System of Kenpo Karate!
(Pictured is just a small sample of the many awards achieved by Damon through the years)
Damon brings a unique combination of sports competition and real life fighting techniques. Damon teaches two class's on Tuesday nights first the adult class and then he does a ground fighting class right afterward
Some people get into the martial arts initially for themselves and some get interested in the arts through friends and family. Such is the case with John E. Benline, now holding the rank of Nidan, 2nd degree black belt. He started in 2003 when his sons were interested in learning the martial arts. Jack asked around and was pointed in the direction of the old studio teaching the certified Tracy's System of Kenpo Karate located at 148th and Cicero Avenue in Midlothian, IL. That was one of Self Defense Studio's locations throughout the years. Jack mentions his sons stayed about three years, but then decided to delve into sports and activities.
At that time, Jack reassessed where he was in his training and realized he had approximately three belts to go to reach the rank of black belt. He thought that in two years or more, he could attain his black belt and stop there. However, when he thought more about it, he said "while working out with many of the great black belts at the studio, I decided that along with GGM Al Tracy, GM Greg and GM Becky, that the martial arts is a life long commitment.......so I will continue my journey." Jack is among many of our loyal black belts who realize that attaining Shodan, 1st degree black belt, is just the beginning of learning.
Training in the martial arts has caused a few changes to be made in his workouts at the gym. Jack works out six days a week, riding the bike or elliptical every day. His diet has been changed as well, and now has his weight down to where it hasn't been in over thirty years!
Jack is glad that he has been able to meet many different masters from different systems through his attendance and participation in the Gathering of Eagles events. He has not missed one GOE since he started his training.
We thank Jack for his loyalty to us at the original Self Defense Studio, located in Crestwood, IL, for his participation in the GOE events and summer Kenpo karate camps, for his dedication to Tracy's Kenpo, and for supporting GGM Al Tracy's seminars hosted by our studios.
Walter McNabb, Nidan, 2nd degree black belt, another one of our loyal black belts, started his journey with us in 2002.
Many years ago, from 1974-1975, before he even thought about getting into the martial arts, Walter was a Marine Corps truck driver, two years active, and six years in Active Reserves stationed at Glenview Naval Air Base. In 1976, he was hired onto the IHB Railroad, where he spent forty years in various positions, ending up in a supervisory position.
Walter started training in Kenpo at a studio from 1982-1984, after which time he left that studio. In 2002 he found his way to us at Self Defense Studio, the original, and started learning the original, traditional Tracy's System of Kenpo Karate. Then, eight years later in 2010, Walter was promoted to Shodan, 1st degree black belt.
In March, 2011, Walter's life and martial arts were about to change drastically. He found out he had a total blockage in the femoral artery feeding both legs, and was told that he would probably lose one, or both of his legs. He went through surgery, ending up with nerve damage in both feet, but at least his legs were saved. He had to stay out of his Kenpo karate training at the studio for about one year. After that, he was able to come back and continue his training.
Then another life changing event happened. In April, 2015, Walter had to have open heart surgery, where a quadruple bypass needed to be performed. Miraculously he returned to Kenpo at the studio at the end of May, 2015 slowly getting back into a training regime. Walter took his 2nd degree black belt test and was promoted to Nidan, 2nd degree black belt, three months after his open heart surgery. They make them tough in the Marines!
We want to thank Walter for his support and participation at so many of Great Grand Master Al Tracy's seminars and Gathering of Eagle's events. We admire his tenacity and dedication to Self Defense Studio, the original, located in Crestwood, Illinois, and for overcoming serious medical issues. Lastly, we want to thank Walter for his service to our country!!!!
Walter helps with instruction of kids class and also manages the Stars and Stripe program where there is a recognition of young students in their school work and helpfulness at home as well as their achievements here at Kenpo Self Defense Studio
Some might think that the martial arts are only for the young. Gene Morgan, one of our black belts, is a great example of maturity, not only in the physical aspect, but the mental aspect as well in the arts. In July of 2016, Gene will be celebrating his 78th birthday.
Fortunately for Gene, he realized early on in his life, that keeping physically fit was the key to living and enjoying a long, productive life. He started learning Tracy's Kenpo Karate many years ago and was able to reach the rank of purple belt at the time. Even though he left for twenty years, as with many students, Gene felt a strong desire to come back and continue with his training. He came back to the original Self Defense Studio in 2006, where he was welcomed back.
Gene kept and wore his purple belt from years back and started on his journey to obtain his black belt. He not only received his Shodan, first degree black belt, but tested and passed his Nidan, 2nd degree black belt test on November 15, 2013, where he did all the rolls and physical requirements for the rank. He did this at over seventy years of age.
Being in construction all of his working life helped to keep him physically fit, which in turn helped him in his karate training. Gene has always said he does not like the alternative to not being physically fit. He feels Tracy's Kenpo Karate, taught at Self Defense Studio, helps him with his physical prowess and keeps his mental alertness at a high level. His training helps him with physical flexibility and stamina as well as the coming together of mind and body.
Gene thrives on the empowering quality of being in charge of his own destiny.Gene currently holds the rank of Sandan, 3rd degree black belt material and has shown an understanding of what it takes to be a really good black belt.
We appreciate Gene's presence in our studio and of the fine example of dedication and perseverance he epitomizes.
n a Tai Chi class, students learn balanced movements performed mindfully in
stable stances. Traditional principles such as "foot moves first, then the
hands" and the "eye watches the hand" cultivate lower body stability before
performing focused upper body activities.
This unique Tai Chi for Health program was designed by Dr. Paul Lam, a
Western trained medical doctor, with the assistance of health professionals
and Tai Chi experts. Clinical studies on this program have proven its it to be
beneficial for arthritis and other health conditions that challenge mobility. It is
endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation which supported this program since its
inception. .Tai Chi is recognized a a key component of a fall prevention
program by the National Institutes of Health and the centers Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. Recent studies show Tai Chi is also
beneficial for those with Parkinson's disease.
Diane Ryan has been practicing Tai Chi since 1994 and teaching Tai Chi for
Arthritis and Fall Prevention and other Tai Chi for Health Institute programs at
Chicago area locations since 2003. She is a Certified Instructor for Dr. Lam's
international organization and is a Diplomat in Asian Bodywork Therapy from
the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
She continues training in advanced Chinese Internal Arts, such as Hsing-I
(certified in 2018) and Ba Gua Chang, with the school of QuieScience Sacred
Science Temple (QSST). QSST presents and continues the teachings of the
Chinese Cultural Center in Evanston
Matt Terlep (Center)
Dan J Butler Owner and Operator (Right)
Chris Lamber (Left)
Jim Tabor is an instructor at Shinjinkai H.Q. in Chicago. He began Aikido training at Toyoda Sensei's Shinjinkan Dojo in 1993 and Zen training with Rev. Kogen Ryutoku (Nagel) in 1995. He has taught Aikido classes at Oakton Community College, along with Aikido and self-defense courses for the Tinley Park and Brookfield park districts. He became a certified Zentherapy Practitioner under founder Dub Leigh in 1997. He began formal koan training under the guidance of So'zan Daitetsu (Miller) in 2005 and Iaido training in 2015 with Brian Pettet Sensei. Jim holds the rank of sandan (3rd degree) in Aikido.
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