Jason Bender was an undersized child when he saw martial arts legend Bruce Lee in the movies. He was “fascinated by the idea that somebody smaller could protect themselves against someone bigger just by knowing techniques.”
Now an adult, the Rogers Park resident is hoping to pass along some of those techniques as a self-defense teacher.
Bender was born in Ohio but has lived in Chicago since 2001. He “trained off and on as a little kid, but nothing super serious until I got to college and then I started to train in Muay Thai and wrestling and a little bit of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,” he said.
He went to school planning on becoming an English teacher, but dropped out to pursue martial arts and teaching fitness in Chicago, he said.
Bender said he likes the “real meditative aspect” of his training to training.
“You have to be present when you do martial arts, you just have to,” he said. “If you’re not, you’re not going to get the techniques correctly and things are not going to go well for you that day on the mat or in the ring.”
He said martial arts training is especially important in the modern world, where there are so many distractions.
“And it’s so hard in life to be present, especially nowadays with these phones in our hands where we’re always just distracted. I think if everybody were able to take martial arts or something pretty equivalent to it … I really think we have a different society, we have a calmer society,” he said.
Bender became a professional martial artist and a certified personal trainer in 2001 and trains at the Cheetah Gym on 5248 N Clark St. He’s a black belt, a United States Judo Federation member, etc.
He specializes in small group training for children and adults. Several options are available to choose from, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, Muay Thai, Judo, submission grappling, and wrestling.
You can learn more about his programs on his website.