Best Martial Arts Schools in Chicago

No matter how experienced you are or how new you are to martial arts getting enrolled in a martial arts school or academy can be very helpful. Martial arts schools simply assist you in developing new cultural understandings, sharpening your skills, and broadening your knowledge. Regardless of the style of martial arts you prefer, studying martial arts in the place of origin will help you recognize the cultural influence on the form that has been passed down over time and give you access to new methods to train under traditional masters. 

The teaching style of schools can vary significantly. Therefore, it’s a good idea to compare several martial arts schools rather than just going to the nearest one. So, I made a list of top Martial Arts Schools in Chicago.  

We Analyzed 1459 Martial Arts Schools in Chicago, Illinois, and Picked the Top 15

Axé Capoeira Academy

The Axé Capoeira Academy is the premiere capoeira academy in the Chicagoland area. This is the only location where you can find regular classes in Capoeira, Brazilian percussion, Afro-Brazilian Dance, and Rio style Samba, making it a one-stop-shop for all things Brazilian. Capoeira itself is a multidisciplinary art form that teaches fight, dance, music, and acrobatics. Students also are exposed to the Brazilian Portuguese language, history, and culture. Classes are available for both adults and children aged three and up.

The academy was founded by Contramestre Bambu (Steven Kolhouse) in 2004. With 20+ years of experience teaching, performing, and competing worldwide, he is a highly respected and sought-after teacher. He has been brought to 14 different countries to share his knowledge and experience. 

The Axé Capoeira Academy is determined to bring capoeira outside of Brazil into a more respected light by producing talented, well-rounded capoeiristas versed in all aspects of Brazilian culture and showcase capoeira as an effective and efficient fighting art form.

Chang’s Martial Arts Academy

With around 33 years of experience, Chang’s Martial Arts Academy is considered the best martial arts academy for children in the neighborhood. Chang’s Martial Arts Academy offers a variety of classes and training options taught by experts. Plus, the pros of this academy include private Martial Arts sessions for better and quick results.

The facility of training isn’t limited to children; it is a family-oriented center that focuses on promoting mental strength, self-discipline, self-defense, and confidence through physical fitness. The session includes classes in tae kwon do, cardio kickboxing, Aikido, Jiu-Jitsu, and Arnis/Kali.

Chicago Muay Thai Kickboxing Club

Since 2008, Chicago Muay Thai Kickboxing Club has been the largest and premier school for Muay Thai in Chicago. They offer the best Muay Thai and kickboxing for all age levels and from novice to professional. The instructor here is Jim G. who is 2000 U.S. Shidokan Bare Knuckle champion, and the 2nd-place winner of the 1998 Shidokan Cup. 

The club utilizes traditional Muay Thai and modern western techniques for sport fighting and self-defense. The instructors’ histories include over 100 years of combined Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Shidokan Bare Knuckle, Karate, Hapkido, and many other styles. 

Chicago School of Grappling

Chicago School of Grappling is one of the few martial arts gyms that shows their pricing online and allows members to purchase online too for full transparency. Additionally, they don’t make any annual contracts, initiation fees, cancellation fees, or sell any merchandise you are forced to buy.
In 2015, the owners, Nick Cimmarusti and John Le taught Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, Judo, Kickboxing Strategy, and JitFit. All their instructors are homegrown to ensure consistency in the quality of instruction and chill atmosphere. Furthermore, as “school” is in their name, all instructors are trained to teach the mechanics and thought behind moves and strategy rather than forcing students to memorize moves. By truly understanding the “why” behind activities, their students have gone on to win gold in several tournaments and become teachers later themselves.

With a 5-star rating from 140+ reviews across Google, Facebook, and Yelp, the students frequently praise the quality instruction, welcoming environment, payment transparency, and overall camaraderie. Lastly, located by the UIC campus and near downtown, they offer a seven-day free trial period where you can sign up for any class.

Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts

Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts is a well-known multidisciplined training institute since 1980. The training programs and their specialties include Degerberg Blend, karate, boxing, tai chi, tae kwon do, mixed martial arts, streetfighting, capoeira, jeet kun do, self-defense, kali, jujitsu, jun fan, wing Chun, kung fu, and many more.

Both children and adults are welcomed at Degerberg Academy. The owner Fred Degerberd has over 50 years of experience as an instructor and trainer. He gathered top all martial arts instructors and trainers from all over the world. So, the students have the opportunity to learn from the best. Degerberg Academy is the only martial arts school in Chicago that was awarded as “Best Overall School” by Black Belt Magazine in a worldwide vote.

EKF Martial Arts Chicago

A premier martial arts school in Chicago, EKF Martial Arts. At the time of its establishment back in 2002, EKF Martial Arts started from specializing courses in teaching Wushu, Taichi, and Sanshou styles of Chinese martial arts. However, with the passage of time and advancements the school now offers Chinese martial arts as well as MMA, boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and more.

Furthermore, they train athletes for athletic competitions as well. Whether you want to compete in boxing or MMA or simply work out to stay healthy, EKF martial arts offer classes to you. They offer Kung Fu classes to kids ages 5 and up.

Fonseca Martial Arts

Fonseca Martial Arts have been a pillar in the Chicagoland community since 2003 and was founded by former World Champion and Team USA Karate member Sensei John Fonseca. Fonseca Martial Arts have five locations throughout the Chicagoland area, including one in the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago. They have gathered top-tier athletes and instructors from around the globe to teach their karate, self-defense, kobudō, and jiu-jitsu curricula to individuals ages 3+ with a strong focus on discipline, respect, and responsibility. 

In addition to in-person training, Fonseca Martial Arts also offers a vast library of online training options, including live streams and pre-recorded classes for all skill levels. Another unique feature offered by the studio includes a guided curriculum, where students can take full ownership of their training trajectory. In this guided curriculum, students will not only need to complete physical challenges, but also mental and social responsibility challenges, paving the way for well-rounded, respectful, and disciplined students, both in and out of the dojo.

Guardian Way Martial Arts and Fitness

Guardian Way Martial Arts and Fitness offer a uniquely rewarding and exciting perspective on traditional martial arts training and instruction. Established by Master Christopher Van Mieghem, the school provides students a chance to train in Taekwondo and Hapkido, conventional and contemporary weapons, and a national award-winning martial art of his design – Guardian Way. The 2014 Valedictorian of University of Bridgeport’s Bachelor of Martial Arts Studies Program and former Captain of the U.S.

Martial Arts Team, Master Van Mieghem, has amassed numerous titles, including 2012 World Cup Sparring Gold Medalist, 2012 World Cup Team Forms Silver Medalist, 2012 World Cup Team Board Breaking Bronze Medalist, 2011 National Taekwondo Silver Medalist, 2008 National Kickboxing Gold Medalist as well as 14 State and Regional titles in Taekwondo. With nearly two decades teaching students of all ages and skill levels from New York to California, training bodyguards, stunt performers, Hollywood actors, and high-profile athletes, Master Van Mieghem’s vast repertoire of experience instills ingenuity and innovation into every aspect of the school. This world-class level of excellence is imparted into instructor training and covers every element of each student’s individual martial arts journey.

Kensho Martial Arts Chicago

Established in 2011. Kensho Martial Arts offers classes and courses training in Martial Arts, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, MMA, Kids MMA, Karate, and personal development for both Adults and Kids. The master instructor at Kensho has trained and promoted many great fighters and instructors over the years.  

The chief instructor of Kensho Martial Arts is a 7th degree Black Belt with over 30 years of experience in mixed martial arts. The specialty of Kensho is the evolution of the old training methods by mixing martial arts so trained individuals can use what works the best for them in self-defense situations. The Kensho Martial Arts aim to put the old school methods aside and built skills without needless injuries.

Krav Maga Illinois

Krav Maga Illinois is the only officially licensed training facility of Krav Maga Worldwide, in Chicago. Krav Maga Illinois was established in 2009. The purpose is to bring realistic self-defense and awareness training to persons of all ages. The facility at this institute has helped thousands of people feel safe and confident. The classes are offered during the week, but there are weekend sessions as well.

The owner Sue G. is an expert level certified Krav Maga worldwide instructor and part of the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame. Krav Maga Illinois is remarked as the best institute for Women’s Self Defence and Domestic Violence issues. It also has been voted as the BEST Self Defence Training institute by Chicago Magazine in 2015.

Kung Fu Academy of Chicago

Established in 1975, it is one of the oldest kung fu schools in Chicago. Since the establishment, the traditional training standards and style are style maintained at Kung fu Academy of Chicago.

The specialties of the program at Kung fu Academy of Chicago are based on the Northern Shaolin style of Seven Star praying Mantis (Chi-Xing Tong Long Chuan).

The Praying Mantis Fist or Tong-long Chuan is hailed by most martial arts researchers as the most complete style of Kung Fu, whose history goes back to 350 years with advancement to date. The academy teaches grappling, hooking, and locking bones art through rigorous training courses.

Miloshevski Martial Arts

Miloshevski Martial Arts is a martial arts studio located in Jefferson Park (Chicago, IL). Why? Cause exists for one reason; they build the character and confidence of a champion. Their goal is to help and inspire students so that they choose more meaningful and productive lives. The vision of this martial arts studio is better health and wellbeing for all of their students, now and for future generations.

The company was formed by the world karate referee and National USA champion, Dejan Miloshevski. Theirs one of a kind, top-level instructors guide students through an inspirational, meditative training experience that’s designed to benefit the body, mind, and soul. This martial arts school offers karate and self-defense classes for all ages starting 3+. Also, their customized nutritional plans are used by customers who are looking to lose weight, gain mass, or even prepare for competitions.

In addition, their Fitt&wellness program is committed to wellness, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle which is run by one of Chicagoland’s best female Fitt Wellness instructors. Last but not least, they also provide a corporate wellbeing program that develops employee leadership skills, enhances employee productivity, decreases rates of illness and injuries, lowers stress levels, and increases wellbeing, self-image, and self-esteem.

POW Gym Chicago

Established in 2001, offers 40+ classes a week for adults in martial arts and sports like; boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai Krav, self-defense, and judo. POW enables 30+ classes for kids. So, combined together POW is offering 70+ classes a week for adults and kids.

The facilities at POW included high-quality showers, locker rooms, wifi lounges, a hydromassage bed, and a fitness arena. The Parisi Speed School is the program of POW gym Chicago which is the most successful youth sports performance program in America.

Valko Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy

Valko Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a world-class training school that was established back in 2007. The owner Jay V. has recruited the best instructors from all around the Chicagoland area. The Valko Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy offers the best training of all martial arts including jiu-jitsu, judo, wrestling, boxing, and muay Thai kickboxing.

The comprehensive programs of training feature multiple classes seven days a week. The plus points of Valko BJJ include a professional environment, a much bigger CrossFit/training center, lockers, and showers. The staff instructors and trainers at Valko BJJ are black belts winners, Division-1 All-American Wrestlers, and Golden Gloves Boxing Champions. This highly experienced staff marks Valko BJJ Academy as one of the top-rated academies in the area.

Warrior Institute of Chicago

The training courses at Warrior institute of Chicago are sub-divided into 3 categories.  The first one is children’s courses; ranging from 4-13 years old children. The second course is known as Teen Warriors which includes 13–17-year-old teenagers. The last course is Adult Warriors which includes 18+ aged trainees. The courses include training in jiu-jitsu, judo, wrestling, jeet kune do, and self-defense.

At Warrior Institute of Chicago, they teach a scientific systematic study of the fighting arts. The systems and courses are well organized by military/warlike skills from ancient and modern time advancements to explore different aspects of fighting.

Syed Farhan Raza

Farhan is the managing director at Vverge. He also runs a boutique SEO agency helping local businesses drive organic traffic that converts. He spoke at 20+ conferences including Google Business Group and contributed to many top publications like Yahoo. When he is not working 12 hours a day and 6 days a week helping companies grow, you can find him bouncing ideas with fellow entrepreneurs in a local cafe or over a phone call.

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