About Us

DEFENSEWORKS was formed to provide information and practical self-defense measures to stem the rising tide of violence that continues to find its way into the workplace and into our lives.

A 1995 study revealed that employers are heavily burdened by expenses associated with incidences of workplace violence and that a growing concern involved the consequences of domestic abuse. Another study noted that 87% of those individuals involved in such situations would not discuss them with their Human Resources department.    

DEFENSEWORKS provides customized self-defense programs that educate, inspire, motivate and improve confidence levels for it's participants.


Wesley Manko is the founder and president of DEFENSEWORKS. He began studying martial arts over 30 years ago and his journey has led him to obtain experience in Police Defensive Tactics, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do, Fencing, Boxing, Chin-Na, Tai Chi Chuan, Aiki-Jitsu, Chinese Kempo, Ryu Kyu Kempo, Kyusho-Jitsu, Combat Hapkido and Systema.
His passion for teaching self-defense was ignited when he assisted in the instruction of Police Defensive Tactics and Women’s Self-Defense at Gateway Technical College in 1977. In the 1980’s, he wrote and self published a book called The Women’s Guide to Practical Self-Defense as a text for courses he taught at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin.

His unique background allows him the opportunity to combine his knowledge of self-defense with an academic background consisting of an Associate Degree in Police Science, a Bachelors’ Degree in Criminal Justice and a Masters’ Degree in Public Administration to produce a solid reality based approach to speaking and training. In other words, teaching the stuff that works.  

Mr. Manko is Milwaukee's only certified Systema teacher by Vladimir Vasiliev, the North American Director of Systema, and a ten-year veteran of the Russian special Forces.


Mr. Todd Nilson, Employment Manager, SPR, Inc.
My coworkers and I were tremendously impressed with your semi-private lessons given at our workplace. Your ability to communicate self-defense concepts is truly phenomenal."

State Representative Marlin Schneider
This course should be part of every in service training for every teacher in Wisconsin."

Jan Koloen, Policy Analyst
More fun and useful information than any other self-defense I've ever taken."

Thomas Gualandi, Major, United States Marine Corps
As a Marine Corps Officer I was looking for something to complement our martial arts training, instead I have found a style that in many ways surpasses it! Even if you never expect to fight, I would still recommend Systema for focus and balance."

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