In 1984, Peter Honigmann started his journey into martial arts training in Kenpo Karate under Grandmaster John McSweeney, one of the pioneers in reality-based self-defense. John served in multiple branches of the military, was one of Ed Parker's first black belts, introduced Kenpo Karate to Ireland, worked as a bodyguard, and started a martial arts studio in Elmhurst, Illinois (which is still teaching Kenpo). Peter was drawn to John’s powerful style of teaching, focused on making self-defense simple and effective. Peter trained in Kenpo for about 12 years under John, John's student Tom Saviano, and Mr. Saviano's student Steve Rigitano.
Peter came to realize that while Kenpo provided excellent fighting skills against unarmed attackers, Kenpo offered limited defenses for dealing with gun and knife attacks, which led him to study other arts and self-defense styles, including: Krav Maga, Kali/Escrima, Hapkido/Aikido, and Michael Janich’s Martial Blade Concepts.
In addition to martial arts, Peter was always interested in seeing the world, and decided to travel to Japan for a one year Rotary Exchange program, where he lived with several Japanese families and attend a Japanese high school. Upon returning to the United States, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he majored in Japanese language and literature, and also met his wife Molly. After graduation, Peter and Molly travelled to Japan to teach English for a year at a private language school on the tropical island of Miyako-jima. They subsequently returned to the States and began studying law at Gonzaga School of Law in Spokane, Washington, where they studied for two years, and then decided to take a one year break before finishing law school. This time they were accepted as English teachers into the Japanese government’s JET Programme, which brings foreign teachers into Japanese middle and high schools to assist in teaching English.
Upon their return they completed law school and made the bold decision to move to Phoenix, Arizona, without a place to live, jobs and before passing the Arizona bar exam. Fortunately things worked out and they passed the bar on their first attempt. Not finding legal jobs that appealed to them, they decided to go for broke (literally) and start their own law firm, which they ran successfully for three years, until they had to return to Illinois to be closer to family. Currently Molly and Peter keep busy as corporate attorneys.
In 2012, after studying martial arts and self-defense for 28 years, Peter decided it was time to start teaching, so he created his company, Best Defense Concepts. Peter’s goal was to create a way for people to study practical self-defense without worrying about the “art”, uniforms and testing. Looking back at his time with John McSweeney, Peter took what he learned through the years, found what he believed were the simplest and most effective strikes, and focused on teaching how to deal with the most common street attacks. Peter also addressed two failings he saw in many other schools and systems: 1) providing students with a range of options to deal with different levels of attacks (from a push or grab, to a punch, choke, and attack with a weapon), and 2) introducing students to the law of self-defense.
Peter’s teaching began with a small group of adults and seniors at Vernon Township (a class he still regularly teaches), and has now progressed to short courses around the Chicago area, private lessons, as well as seminars and presentations to many corporations, community groups, and schools.
Peter’s classes and presentations (from 1 hour to a full day) can be easily modified for any size group to include a range of topics such as: observation, avoidance and de-escalation; self-defense concepts, strikes and techniques; defending against weapons and multiple attackers; dealing with carjackings, home invasions, and active shooter scenarios; use of improvised weapons (pens, flashlights, magazines, etc.); use of canes/walking sticks for defense; and the law of self-defense (specific to your state and the U.S. generally).