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From the Gym to the Gun Range, Here’s Where Antifa Learn to Fight

Antifa trainers David Orlikoff (left) and Meyer Lanski (right) teach participants how to punch during a "self-defense" class at Haymaker gym. PHOTO: Joshua Lott/BuzzFeed News

How anti-fascists across the country are training to take on the far right.

By Kate Talerico | 19 October 2017

BUZZFEED NEWS — The anti-fascists are wearing their sweatpants today. Tennis shoes are a must. They’ve been told to wear something breathable — no masks, no bandanas, no armor. Almost nobody wears black (almost nobody).

Gym members drift in through the door of the Breakaway Social Center in the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. The two-story corner building was once home to a $10-a-haircut barbershop, but now the walls are lined with posters bearing anarchist symbols and advertising a recent lecture on militant suffragettes.

The couches are pushed back to the walls, next to shelves stacked with political journals. On the floor, warm-ups begin. The class splits into small groups to learn a couple new moves — thrust kicks, palm heel strikes.

Lean in, turn hips for momentum, and follow through once, striking the jaw — that’s how to punch a neo-Nazi.

One of the gym’s organizers, who goes by Meyer Lanski (a play on the Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky), instructs participants to stand in line. Lanski, 32, holds out a kick shield and braces himself to receive their blows. Even some of the new participants are landing their kicks. Within the hour, the women and men start sparring, learning self-defense tactics they can use in their private lives, or at protests. […]

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