If any mention of martial arts makes you think of Ralph Macchio, the seminal classic the Karate Kid, it’s time to update your reference points. The actual practice of martial arts today bears little resemblance to the film’s chaotic final All Valley Karate Championship scene, of course.
In reality, martial arts can be an excellent way for kids to build their motivation and concentration skills while also staying fit and helping with coordination. And if you were wondering, martial arts also doesn’t just mean karate anymore, as the term has come to include multiple different disciplines. Luckily, the area around Evanston has some great options for martial arts practice. We have taken the time to highlight a few of the best below for your reading pleasure, enjoy!
With a focus on karate, Fonseca Martial Arts has grown from its original Evanston location (near the corner of Chicago and Main) to adding dojos in Wilmette, Chicago, Glenview, and Park Ridge. The local Evanston dojo offers a variety of programs and classes for all levels and ages over its 4,000 feet of training floors.
Programming on offer from Fonseca includes day camps and summer camps, classes for children starting at age 3, birthday parties, Jiu-Jitsu instruction, self-defense classes, and a local karate tournament known as the Fonseca Cup.
Fonseca was founded by John Fonseca, a former US National Team member and 5th dan in Shotokan karate. John has medaled in and won several prestigious national and international competitions, including at the Pan-American Games. He also has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Taekwondo.
Students are taught guiding principles such as respect for others and to always strive for the betterment of their character.
Connely’s Academy focuses on Judo and Taekwondo instruction with classes taking place locally at the Levy Center and Chandler Newberger respectively. There is also additional programming that takes place online via Zoom and at the Morton Grove Park District. Registration for the fall opens on August 23rd and can be found here. An attitude of respect for others and the instructor helps to allow all students to work on their discipline and focus in a safe and non-competitive environment.
Connely’s Academy partners with several local school districts to offer programming, including as part of District 65’s enrichment offerings, which typically begin around Thanksgiving.
Offerings include Taekwondo classes for youth starting for students at age 4 and available through their teen years. Instruction is also available in Hapkido and Kumdo.
A specialty of Grandmaster Joe Connely’s is martial arts instruction for those with physical handicaps or other special needs. Grandmaster Connely has over 45 years of experience and has attained the 7th dan of Taekwondo.
Agbon Martial Arts
Located in Wilmette on Lake Avenue just off of Green Bay Road, Agbon Martial Arts has a 3,500 square foot training studio that offers instruction in Taekwondo for children of all ages and skill levels. You can find the most recent schedule here.
Agbon Martial Arts has more than just the standard classes for kids, allowing teens, adults, and families to get in on the action with offerings tailored to them. Besides these offerings, there are also private one-on-one lessons and group classes available.
Fernando Agbon founded Agbon Martial Arts with Mary Ann Briones-Agbon. Both have a 6th dan Kukkiwon black belt and are former members of the National Team Philippines.
Agbon Martial Arts also holds numerous events throughout the year, including board breaking week, a Halloween party, Valentine’s Day celebrations, bring a friend to class week, and of course the belt test.
Opened in 1999, Baek’s Tiger Martial Arts was founded on the principles of taking pride in oneself and one’s actions and striving for self-betterment every day. Founded by Grandmaster Yun Soek Baek, Baek’s Tiger Martial Arts is located in Skokie on Church and Crawford and offers programming for both children and adults. Classes for youngsters focus on skills such as balance and focus. You can find a welcome video to the B.T.M.A. experience here.
Grandmaster Yun Soek Baek has taught Taekwondo at Northwestern University as well as at Von Stuben and Roosevelt High Schools.
Each student is given a manual that will help guide them through their current belt level and prepare them for the challenges of the next level.
Children can begin instruction at age 3 or 4 and programs for teens go up to age 18. Classes for adults are available for those over age 18 and family classes are a great way to gain exposure to the benefits of martial arts as a unit.
The Evanston Aikido Center is located on Greenleaf and has a unique focus for this list in the practice of Aikido. In comparison to other martial arts, Aikido focuses more on overcoming oneself rather than possible opponents. For this reason, many practitioners find that Aikido is extremely helpful in dealing with the stress and rigor of modern life.
Evanston Aikido Center also has the option for a monthly membership that lets students take as many classes in a week as they wish.
Children will learn the basics of Aikido movements and principles while also maintaining a respectful and empathetic view towards others—all while in a fun and safe learning environment!
Practicing Aikido has a whole host of etiquette that goes along with it, the Evanston Aikido Center has a good overview of some of what can be expected that you can find right here.
With a focus on building teamwork through the study of Taekwondo and Hapkido, Team Martial Arts is unique, especially when compared to the emphasis placed on the individual experience that can be found at most martial arts studios. This program strives for leadership and cooperation along with helping students develop more typical martial arts skills such as balance, self-control, and respect.
The TMA dojo is conveniently located just past McCormick Boulevard on Dempster and has instruction available for children as young as 3 as a part of the “Little Tiger” program.
Children’s classes are divided based on skill (belt color) and age. Family classes and adult classes are also available. Classes start with Taekwondo skills suitable for younger students and transition to Hapkido when they are a little bit older.
Master Lee also offers semi-personal training for adults where students will receive individualized instruction from the master in an intimate setting.
The Final Word on Evanston’s Martial Arts
And there you have it, some of the best martial arts studios in Evanston. As you can see, there are a variety of disciplines and locations to choose from, and hopefully something for anyone hoping to give it a go. Think we missed something? Have questions? Feel free to reach out.