what’s the word?

Don’t take our word for it – here’s what our members say:

Sensei Dave,

I didn’t want to embarrass Nolan yesterday, but I wanted to thank you for all that you’ve done for Nolan since he started with you a year ago. 

At his soccer game this past weekend, another child, unprovoked, was taunting Nolan and even became physical with him. Nolan used his karate to block him and used all his mental and body control that he learned from you, to just leave it at that. He didn’t retaliate with anything physical and didn’t even engage with him verbally. I was in awe of Nolan. A year ago, it would have been a much, much different story.

I attribute his self awareness both in mind and body, to his love of karate and all that you have taught him. You are an incredible mentor and teacher to him and he always wants to make you proud. I know some people just see Nolan’s autism. And you don’t. You see Nolan for so much more than that. You see his spirit and heart  

Karate has changed his life and I’m so incredibly thankful. He’s really looking forward to your tournament. 


Jaime W.

Parent of student

I am writing this review after our family moved from Park Ridge to another town and a 1.5 years’ experience of our son going to karate classes with Sensei Jaime. Words are not enough to describe how wonderful Sensei Jaime and his team have been, and what a positive impact they’ve had on our son’s life. He started attending classes very early, at 3.5 years of age, and very quickly I noticed not only the increase in physical strength, but mostly that the dojo rules had became part of his daily life. This dojo is a place where children have fun, learn karate, self-control, and being kind and truthful. They teach them to try their best to achieve more and more, about main disciplines in life, but also how to enjoy karate. I really appreciated the teachers’ focus on proper technique and positioning (I think it has to do with the fact they teach traditional Shotokan karate) and not just jumping around or fighting like you may see in other places that teach mixed martial arts. Sensei Jaime has quickly become a role model for our son, who misses him terribly now that we have relocated. He is a great teacher, with incredible energy, positive power, and just loves teaching his students karate. I definitely recommend this place – my son has been attending 3 times a week because he just loved it and enjoyed it, which made karate his regular activity, therefore the subscription for unlimited classes made even more sense. I have been trying to find a dojo in our new place for a while now but I believe it will be very hard, if not impossible, to find a dojo like FMA in Park Ridge and to build the relationship that his Senseis have built with our son. A big thank you Sensei Jaime for everything you have taught to our son! And for always smiling!

Theodora P.

Parent of student


I keep a journal for both my kids and tonight I couldn’t help but think about what an absolute amazing impart your dojo has had on my son Tyler this year. 

It feels like yesterday that I started taking Tyler to karate and almost ripping him out of class numerous times due to his inability to listen or focus. Due to Max and Jovanni he has had almost a complete 360 degree transformation and now Tyler almost leads every class he is in. What your dojo and these two men have done with my son has been nothing short of amazing and as a father watching him grow in these classes gives me nothing but joy. 

I truly believe that Tyler will carry on with karate for years to come and that it will always be a positive and enduring part of his life. Honestly, I am not sure that the words thank you give the gratitude for the way I feel about what Max and Jovanni have done with and for Tyler this year. Watching Tyler grow with all of you at Fonseca this year has been one of the highlights of my year. Thank you a million times over for what you have given and done for Tyler. 

Please share this with Max and Jovanni if you wouldn’t mind, I don’t have email address for them. See you soon John!

Steve R.

Parent of student

Dear Sensei John,

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate Sensei Jaime and the Dojo. When he was 2, he was diagnosed with sensory integration. He had no sense of pain and a hard time controlling his body. He would run into a wall full force and not feel a thing. He couldn’t tell if water was too hot or not. Once he needed stitches because he jumped off of a porch and hit his head on a clay pot. The whole time in the ER he didn’t cry.

He had tried gymnastics, swimming, and soccer – he wouldn’t even get on the field. He wasn’t able to manage his behavior or emotions in any of the classes. His OT suggested Karate and so before he began I talked with Sensei Jaime and said this could go either way – he could meltdown or do well.

This was the beginning of a great experience. I can’t even tell you how good it feels to see your child participate like other children. A couple of years ago he asked to take more than one class a week. Initially he only took class from Sensei Jaime; then slowly he began to take classes from other Sensei. Each time he has taken a class from someone new, I try to be there to watch or speak with the Sensei before class. He recently took a class from a Sensei new to him. I asked him if he wanted me to speak with her and he said, “No I’m fine” and he was. He takes class with this Sensei every week now.

This year he asked to take competition classes and travel with the team. I was very nervous about him joining; but it has turned out to be the best thing for him. All of the students are focused and so supportive with him. I am very happy that he continues to improve but most important he really likes it. I cannot thank Sensei Jaime and the Dojo enough.

Terral T.

Parent of student

Dear Sensei John,

On behalf of Alexander and our whole family I just wanted to say “thank you” for the huge impact Fonseca Martial Arts, its instructors, students, and parents have had on our lives.

When I signed Alexander up for Little Dragons 4½ years ago I was thrilled to have found a karate program that had classes at 4:30 in the afternoon—instead of the 7:00 p.m. classes for 4 and 5 yr. olds that the other local dojos seemed to have on their schedule. I signed him up because I was also looking for a sport that focused on discipline and respect while allowing my son to work off his seemingly endless supply of energy. Little did I know that Fonseca Martial Arts would give us so much more—and not just for Alexander but for our entire family as well.

Learning the art of karate from national, international, and world champions like yourself and the other FMA instructors has indeed been a privilege. While he was always pretty shy around you both, Alexander was very proud of the fact that he was learning karate from a world champion and a hall-of-famer. Not only do you teach your students kata, kumite, and kobudo, but you also teach them life skills such as respect, teamwork, camaraderie, confidence, perseverance, good sportsmanship, discipline, and how hard work pays off. While Alexander now has a great foundation in karate thanks to FMA, he also has learned how to be a better person, a determined competitor, and how to be gracious after losing –all thanks to your instruction.

Besides the world-class instruction that Alexander and I both received, it is perhaps the dojo family that has had just as large as an impact on our lives. After spending 3-4 afternoons a week at FMA, Alexander forged wonderful friendships with his fellow students, his younger sister Kerrigan became friends with many younger siblings, and I developed lasting friendships with some amazing parents. Your family-oriented dojo fosters a welcome atmosphere, a true sense of community and belonging, and a supportive environment in which to train. It is a very special place and we miss it greatly.

Best of luck for continued success and we hope that we will see you, your students and their parents at future tournaments!

With great appreciation and affection,

Katherine B.

Student & Parent of student

What I like about the services provided are the instructors. Sensei Salgado, in my experience has a deeper understanding of teaching adults which makes learning more meaningful. He is able to explain the science and details of each technique. Making sure that the adults have instructors who truly understand the needs of adults will attract and keep more members like myself. Thank you for all that you do.

Rick A.


Our kids were so enthralled with John after his program that they lined up for autographs!

It is rare to find a person these days who can relate in such a positive and enthusiastic manner as to command the respect and attention of kids ages 3 – Grade 6. John did just that at his presentations with our clubs. The kids were excited about the subject, eager to learn, and responded well.

The club adult leaders even got into the action! A great time was had by all. This is one event the kids and the leaders agreed must be repeated! Thank you, John for turning a “Friends Night” into a memorable occasion for everyone. I would recommend you and your teaching on “What To Do About Bullies” to anyone working with children.

Vicki W.

FMA Partner

Dear John,

In my quest to find a martial arts school that was right for me, I visited most of the other dojos in Skokie and found many of the classes had only one or two people. I visited yours several times and found it fit my needs perfectly. My search was for a larger class size, where the emphasis would not be on me to compete.

I was extremely pleased with what I saw; and how you, the instructor, made everyone feel a part of each class. For me, at 64, and one of your older students, being able to participate at a comfortable level was important and I can do that.

That being said, I would not hesitate to recommend Fonseca Martial Arts to anyone wanting to get involved with martial arts.




Dear Jaime,

I just wanted to thank you for mentioning in a class over last summer the question, “Do you know your parents’ phone number in case you got lost?” Truth is, we had not set that as a goal but did after I heard this question. And at her age, it did take quite some work to get her to memorize it. Now, my daughter knows my number and we are working on my husband’s. And with another away-from-home vacation coming up, what a wonderful tool for her to have if we get separated somehow.

Katie K.

Parent of student

My 3-year old daughter has been enrolled in the ‘Karate Tots’ class for about 3 months. I have nothing but great things to say about Fonseca. Sensei Jaime in particular is fantastic – he’s like a toddler whisperer. Initially my daughter was apprehensive about the class – it took a few weeks before she was willing to go out on the floor by herself, but she received constant encouragement from Sensei Jaime and the rest of the staff. They do an amazing job of instilling structure in the class and encouraging respect among the children, while still treating them as kids and making them comfortable throughout the class.

Gina M.

Parent of student

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