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Letters from our Community



Dear Sensei John and Sensei Elisa,

I want to thank you both for being such great coaches. You really talk to the kids in a way that is a great mix of motivation and self-development. And you do a great job dealing with the kids where they are, developmentally. Dakota has really internalized that it's less about the color of the medal and more about self-knowledge, his application of what you teach and his character in the ring. As a mom, I can't tell you how much that means to me. You guys give these kids an incredible opportunity to witness pro athletes up close. And you give them a value system that endures in the face of some fairly challenging situations for nine-year-olds. I feel that both of you have been such a positive, formative influence on Dakota and I'm so grateful for it. So, thank you.

Kim Erwin


Sensei John,

I would like to say that you have a good group of sempai at the dojo.
Sean didn't do well as he wanted in the ISKC tournament on Sunday. The next day
at the dojo, your sempai Kai acknowledged him for doing a good job at the tournament and this meant a lot to Sean. He was very happy when he told me what Kai said. I know parents expect a lot from their kids to win in competitions and some make it worse when kids lose. There was so much expectation from other parents and karate schools for kids to win at this tournament that instead of letting kids enjoy themselves it became serious competition for them. I really appreciate all of the sensei for teaching good values and sportsmanship to your students. We are glad to be a part of the dojo.

Thank you,

Poon Kojima


Hello Sensei John,

I just wanted to take a moment to share with you how happy we were with our son's birthday party at the Evanston dojo on Saturday.  Sensei Amanda did a fantastic job of keeping 16 five and six year olds in line, the kids all had a blast, and I got lots of great feedback from the other parents as well.  She helped my son enjoy a celebration with his friends that he won't soon forget.  Just wanted to share this feedback with you!

Jo Kim


Sensei John,

My karate training from years ago constantly reminds me of my athletic potential, and has proven to be a huge source of positivity and motivation in my life. I'll know that I can handle any movement in a yoga class.. choose any ski route down a mountain.. or that I can choose a mountain peak and decide that I'm reaching it; I know that whatever may happen or however hard it may be.. It's all still nothing compared to the training I participated in with you guys!

Thanks much, and I hope everything is going great in your world too!

Ian Simon


To Whom it May Concern,

John Fonseca has been very helpful to me during my off season training.  His workout regimen has helped me in every facet of my conditioning.  My strength, cardio, body awareness, athleticism, and quickness all have been improved while working out with John.  I would recommend him to anyone that wants to improve their overall fitness.

Curtis Granderson, Outfielder - NY Mets of MLB


Hello Sensei John and Sensei Elisa,

Thank you very much for the great meeting today for competition team.  The message was great and I think was appreciated by all competition members advanced, intermediate and new.  It will definitely go far to build the dojo continuity and sense of team.  I wanted to start competing after today's meeting!

As an educator and coach for going on 22 years now, I felt today's meeting was very professional and crystal clear in expectations.  The safety factors and the philosophies and attitude with which to approach everything that you addressed as well were so very important too. 

I also so very much appreciated your words on staying positive during competition from a parental perspective and your words on reminding everyone that the referees are volunteers and doing their best.  I volunteer as a referee for AYSO soccer here in town and also coordinate the referees and I am always trying to remind parents and athletes that the referees are doing their best and are not always perfect-although we hope that they strive to be and train them to be.  I also try to remind everyone that they are, at the heart, volunteering for the love of the sport.  Some of them don't even have kids in the league any longer but continue to volunteer. 

Matteo has been part of this dojo since he was 3 with Little Dragons and Sensei Amanda.  Seems like a lifetime ago!  It really has been a constant for him in town since he has attended school at Chiaravalle and Baker for early childhood, and now St. Joan of Arc as a second grader.  As parents, we love that he loves being here and has learned so much from the discipline of focusing in class, pushing himself, setting goals that mean something to him, and learning what it is to be a good teammate (It is also a great workout!).  He is also learning in his own way through competition team that, sure, winning is great, but it is the journey and the relationships that are important.  Thanks to all of the great senseis, teammates, classmates, parents, and experiences that he has had and who have been here along with him these five years.  Looking forward to the next five and beyond!

Ron Gatchalian, Double T's Dad


Dear Sensei Elisa and Sensei John,

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate Sensei Jaime and the Dojo. My son began Karate at Robert Crown when he was 4 years old. At 1 he was diagnosed with severe nut allergies which changed his eating. He went from a little boy who ate anything to having only a handful of foods he would and still eats.

By the time 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. Clothes were also a challenge he would not wear pants finally in kindergarten there was a teacher who worked with him on it (wearing a Gi was a huge accomplishment). He still goes through several socks in the mornings to find a pair that feel good.

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. That is when he started at the Dojo. Initially he only took class from Sensei Jaime; then slowly he began to take from other Sensei’s. Each time he has taken 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 my 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 Taylor


Dear John,

Thank you for allowing me to officiate at the FMA dojo tournament.  In my twenty plus years of attending several martial arts schools this was my first experience as a competition referee.  I found the day to be both enlightening and fun.  You may not be aware but over the years I have spent quite a bit of time mentoring youths.  It has been a natural offshoot of raising my own boys but equally as natural it has involved investing many, many hours in other peoples' kids in a myriad of programs. I have long been aware of the physical and mental benefits of martial arts.  During my years of attending FMA I have developed a deep appreciation of the quality of the program that you and Elisa offer.  Today I learned some new aspects of the program.  I arrived in the middle of the little dragons’ tournament and the first thing I noticed were the senior youth students performing officiating and record keeping roles for the younger kids.  Later in the day when the teams were assigned for the older kids’ competition the senior youth students were tasked with organizing and naming their teams as well as competing in their own bouts. I find this all very impressive.  They handled the tasks with confidence and aplomb.  These were true leadership experiences and all too few youth programs offer such valuable experiences.  When youths are allowed and encouraged to take on leadership roles the programming takes on additional degrees of difficulty to execute and require much more patience from the adult staff yet the benefits to the participants are priceless. Well done!

David E. Oulvey,
Chief Financial Officer SMW Trading Company, Inc.
1st Kyu Kyokushin Karate
1st Dan Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido
2nd Dan Shotokan Karate


Dear Sensei John and staff,

Congratulations for having Fonseca Martial Arts open for a year in Chicago!

Before coming to Fonseca we had visited some other places. Walking up the stairs here you feel that you are coming into a professional karate dojo with very friendly people. I have never felt intimidated or looked down upon because of my rank. Whether I have a good class or I am messing up a lot, I receive from all of you positive encouragement and awesome insight into how to improve. I can't tell you how much I LOVE being in karate!! 

The Little Dragons curriculum is just great. Wolfgang wants to know why he didn't get more homework for next week. smile Keep it coming!!! He is motivated to get his next belt!

It is nice to see the subtle changes and growth since August (when we started coming).

We look forward to growing with you into the future.

Constance & Wolfgang Szefer


Dear John,

As you can see by the smile on Leigh's face she was quite proud of herself. Thank you for training her, inspiring her, and helping her to gain confidence in herself. Your lessons in the dojo are invaluable.

Toby Meyer, Ph.D. CCC-Sp 


To Whom it May Concern:

My son has participated in the after school Karate program (3rd and 4th grades) offered by Fonseca Martial Arts. He started off as a new student and has recently earned his yellow belt. I am very proud of what my son has been able to accomplish. However, more importantly, he is very proud of his own accomplishments. He has enhanced his sense of pride and self discipline. I truly believe the Karate program helped to enhance these qualities. He is very excited about his accomplishments and already has his eyes set on the orange belt.

Fonseca Martial Arts has had a very positive impact on my son as well as the rest of the children in the program. The patience, the discipline and time the instructors spend with the children is very positive while still providing fun. I would highly recommend this program to any parent who would love to see their child have fun and build upon their own personal character at the same time. It is wonderful to see a child set goals for themselves and to go after them. What wonderful preparation for their future!

Adrienne Powers 
(mother of Dawes After-School Karate Club)


Dear John

I wanted to express my appreciation for the work you and your staff have done here at Dawes School in our after-school program. Your program has provided a wonderful opportunity for students to try something new and different without even leaving our building, which I know their parents also appreciate! Your staff is always timely and pays close attention to the students, their safety, and their development both physically and emotionally.

As a result of participating in the karate program, our students have gained in self-esteem and confidence. They have concrete goals to work towards and receive acknowledgement of their accomplishments. Through your program the students practice many of the same skills we work on here during the regular School hours, specifically working towards goals, self-discipline, and listening. In your program they get all of that while benefiting from exercise!

We are happy that we have been able to maintain this program here at Dawes for the past year and look forward to continuing our relationship with Fonseca Martial Arts

Karen Bradley

School District 65

1500 McDaniel Avenue
Evanston, IL 60201
Fax: 847-859-8707 


To Whom It May Concern,

Fonseca Martial Arts has partnered with Hamilton Elementary this year to provide after school programming. Owners John and Elisa Au Fonseca have been hands-on in ensuring the program is successful at my school. We currently have 21 students taking the after school class and the term to term retention is more than 90%. Their instructors relate well to children and run the class effectively.

We believe:

  • kids can have fun doing a physical activity that improves strength, conditioning and coordination.
  • students develop discipline, focus, respect for others and goal-setting skills.
  • an emphasis on personal achievement builds confidence.
  • in martial arts, unlike team sports, there are no "benchwarmers."
  • studies have shown that children who study karate often show significant improvement in concentration and self-discipline - both in school and at home.

Hamilton currently has 13 after school programs and I consider Fonseca Martial Arts one of our very best. If you have specific questions about their program, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Alexander Hamilton Elementary
1650 West Cornelia, 

Chicago, IL 60657
Evanston, IL 60201

Dear John and Elisa,

It was absolutely wonderful to have you here for the two sessions today. We were impressed with your dedicated staff. You did an outstanding job introducing important new skills, getting our employees to do physical activity and have fun at the same time! We will have some survey information soon and hope we can work on more scheduling. I personally enjoyed participating very much. Will be sending you a few email comments from our participants. I have heard only rave reviews.

We will definitely be promoting your expertise from here and I hope your program here will be of some assistance in growing your excellent business.

We will talk with you soon and thank you again! 

Sincerely, Judy

Judith L. Levy, MS, MPH, RN| Sr. Health Promotion Specialist

Motiva Corporate Wellness 
Health Care Service Corporation dba BlueCross BlueShield
 of Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas | 
CL 420.01 | 300 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601 
phone: 312 653 8401 | fax: 312 938 8847 | email:


"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."

Vickie E. Warner 
Children's Ministries Director
Oak Brook Community Church


Dear John,

I am writing to thank you again for Chris’s birthday party. Christopher’s party at the Dojo was a tremendous success. Chris, and Elliot couldn’t have been more helpful. Christopher’s friends thoroughly enjoyed the karate games the Sensei’s created. Christopher was in seventh heaven being the center of attention, and sharing with his friends his knowledge of karate. 

Christopher’s study of karate at Fonseca Martial Arts has been a tremendous experience for him, resulting in his increased confidence, coordination, respect and sense of responsibility. He thoroughly enjoys his karate sessions, and always looks forward to them. 

Thank you.
Laurie Werner 


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.

J.R. Graves


Dear Sensei John and Sensei Elisa,

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 yourselves 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 Bunker


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 Aceves

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