Community Programs

ASKAdapted Seido Karate (ASK)

By combining the strengths and resources of Thousand Waves and the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, we’ve been able to create a highly successful Adapted Seido Karate (ASK) Program within the Caring for Kids sport and recreation program. The program is coordinated by a dynamic team led by Senpai Sam Boyer. Classes meet Sunday afternoons from 1-2:30 at the Drucker Center, 1535 N. Dayton in Chicago, and are open to children with a physical disability between the ages of 5 and 17. Enrollment is handled by the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab – for more information, please contact Ashley Gruenwald at Thousand Waves members interested in volunteering with the program should contact Senpai Sam Boyer.

Meditation Programs

(Open to the public) Every Tuesday evening from 8:30-9 pm, Thousand Waves hosts a free public meditation session followed by a facilitated discussion on topics relevant to our martial arts practice and/or our non-profit mission. These serve as an introduction to the philosophical side of our practice for members and non-members alike.

Meditations on Activism

Our Meditations on Activism programs seek to link individual and community experiences to events in the larger world and to deepen our understanding of violence around the globe. Since 2003, Thousand Waves has periodically invited anti-violence activists to speak about their work and members of the public to listen and engage in dialogue with the speakers. The Meditations on Activism series informs us about global conflicts, helps us draw connections between our lives and the causes of and solutions to violence, and provides a spur to discussion, reflection, and action. Keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming programs!

Peacemaker LogoThousand Waves Peacemaker Award

In 2009, we initiated the Peacemaker Award to acknowledge and publicly honor the courage, commitment and hard work it takes to prevent, stop or reduce violence. Thousand Waves peacemakers are people who challenge the prevailing culture and get involved in stopping violence. They decide to be allies to others who are in conflict. In the spirit of one wave setting thousands in motion, the Thousand Waves Peacemaker Award honors the individual in order to expand our understanding and commitment to violence prevention. Past awardees’ work has been far-ranging, including children intervening to stop harassment of their friends and academics working on issues of violence. To nominate an individual for a Thousand Waves Peacemaker Award send an email to

Scholarship Program

Thousand Waves is committed to expanding access to all of our programs and to serving diverse communities. In support of this goal, a scholarship fund financed by individual donations as well as fundraising events has been in place since 1990. Since that time, the fund has distributed close to $400,000 in direct tuition assistance, both to individuals seeking to train at our Center and to non-profit community organizations, allowing them to sponsor trainings for staff or clients.

Violence Prevention Public Resources

To further our mission of educating the public on violence prevention, self-defense, and wellness, Thousand Waves offers a series of free and downloadable public resources. From our popular “Five Fingers of Self-Defense” overview, to guidance on dealing with harassment, to stress management techniques, you will find a variety of resources which we invite you to use and share with others.


Thousand Waves has been designing and implementing practical and effective self-defense programs since 1985. Our self-defense programming is designed to teach concrete mental, physical, and social skills that will help participants move through the world with less fear and more confidence. We use the Five Fingers of Self-Defense (Think, Yell, Run, Fight, and Tell) to teach people how to accurately assess their risk and respond to violence before it escalates, while also teaching physical techniques to defend against direct physical and sexual assault. Classes are a mix of group discussion, role plays, and physical drills and activities. Our goal is to reduce both the prevalence and the harm of violence.

Self Defense

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Select a day & time from our kid's class schedule, then complete the form below.
If you hope to schedule a trial class for today, please call 773-472-7663.

• Little Kicks may take clases on either M/W/Sat or T/Th/Sat
• Teens 12-14 may also train in the Youth program
• Teens 15-17 may train in the Adult program (but pay child rates)


Does your child have any previous martial arts training? YesNo

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