All of Focus Martial Arts' instructors have
been trained in the philosophies and training techniques that make us
unique. Our instructors are hand picked and nurtured over years of training
in order to earn the honor of teaching our students. We don't place just
anyone in front of you or your child, we make sure that they are qualified;
have leadership ability and big hearts! Each instructor utilizes their
own unique gifts which make them special and will bring out the very best
in our students both young and older. Focus is also the industry leader
in requiring each of our instructors to submit to a yearly background
check assuring every parent of the
quality of each of our instructors and the safety of our students.
Sensei Marianne O'Hara has been teaching children for over 24 years. She has
a Master's Degree in Special Education specializing in
the areas of Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders.
Sensei O'Hara is the
Head Instructor of our Little Ninja and Young Samurai Programs. As
a competitor, Sensei has numerous state, regional and national rankings in Kata and
an Amateur Athletic Union's (AAU) and ASEP certified coach,
a loving wife, mother of five beautiful children and role model
to hundreds of young children and adults. Her passion for teaching
and the gentleness she conveys in her teaching style are second
Sensei Jim O'Hara has been teaching Shotokan Karate for over 22 years.
He is an NFICA (National Federation Interscholastic Coaches
Association) Certified Instructor and holds a 4th degree
black belt in the Japanese Martial Art of Shotokan Karate. He's
a Junior and Senior United States Karate Team Coach for
the Amateur Athletic Union and the World Karate Confederation's (WKC) US Teams, as well as a senior level AAU Referee.
Sensei O'Hara has numerous state, regional, national and all-American
titles in Kata (forms) and Kumite (sparring). He is also the
1996 World Karate Organization (WKO) World Champion in
Kumite. Sensei has been awarded the Coach of The Year awards on two occasions,
has been nominated and inducted into the prestigious AAU
Karate Hall of Fame and has won the Presidential Leadership
Award from the Amateur Athletic Union for all sports. He
has coached eight world championship teams for the WKO/USA (World
Karate Organization) and the WKC/USA (World Karate Confederation).
He is the loving father of five children as well
as a father figure and role model to hundreds of children
Jeanne Barciszewski (Mrs. B.), has achieved the rank of Nidan (2nd degree Black Belt), in her 19 years at Focus. Mrs. B. teaches many youth classes at both the Lake in the Hills and Deerfield locations. For Mrs. B., teaching is a dream come true. She loves being with the kids and expresses it at: “It’s wonderful to see them learn a new basic or kata; their eyes just light up!” She also points out that she has learned so much through teaching, it improves her own karate. Mrs. B. feels she has been very blessed to have the opportunity to have so many friends from ages 4 and up.
Mrs. B. is a ASEP certifies coach with the Amateur Athletic Union karate program. Mrs. B. has competed and achieved rankings in AAU State, Regional and National Championships in kata, kumite and kobudo.
Mrs. B. studied programming in college and has been married to her wonderful husband Jim for more than 28 years, and have 3 adult daughters, who also have trained at Focus and two of whom have achieved the rank of Black Belt.
Kelly has discovered that it's everyone's destiny to become the superhero of their own lives. With that in mind, bringing out the superhero of each student she works with is one of the highlights of her week!
She started training at Focus in 2000 with her son, and has witnessed the life changing skills that karate has instilled in both children and adults. Competing for several years at the regional, national, and international levels is an amazing experience for her and she feels that it's enriched her abilities as an instructor.
Training in weapons, especially the Japanese katana sword is a daily passion. When she's not at the dojo or at her desk as a an art director, you'll find her fishing, canoeing, or relaxing under a pine tree in the north woods with her family.
Sam Deem joined the Focus family in 2003 when her son and oldest daughter first became students. She began taking classes to spur them on, a few years later the youngest daughter started karate as well.
Sam has competed with the Focus Competition Team for five years in Kata and Kumite and has medalled in regional, state and national competitions. Sam has also had the privilege of being invited to the United States Karate team twice; today she holds the rank of 2nd Degree Black Belt.
Sam has always enjoyed the health benefits of Karate and participates regularly in other fitness training that Focus Martial Arts offers. Sam is also very passionate about her role as teacher and enjoys unlocking the potential in all of the Focus students she works with.
Sam lives with her loving husband of 20 yrs and three wonderful children. She studied pre law in college, but motherhood is the profession she chose. She enjoys baking, helping at a local animal shelter and spending quality time with her family.
Zack Ernst has been training karate with Focus Martial Arts for 10 years of his life. He is an athlete on Team Focus, a competition team, as well as one of the coaches. Zack has competed in Carole, Italy for the WKC World Championship, and took third place in kumite. He feels like he can make an impact competing, but said one of his goals is to be a positive role model. That is why he continues to coach and teach. Karate has been a big part of his life and he hopes he can help influence others people's lives.
Outside of karate when he is not training, he enjoys the study of Western Philosophy, nutrition, and baking.
Hayashi has been with the Focus Family for more than 6 years and has achieved the rank of Black
Belt in her Karate training. Ms.
Hayashi enjoys teaching Little Ninja, PeeWee
and Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association' Special
Focus karate classes at Focus. And, while finding value in
being exposed to all the wonderfully different kids at Focus, she
also likes teaching for the challenge. "I like being
able to figure out ways for each individual to learn Karate
in their own unique way."
Ms. Hayashi has competed and medalled in state and regional kata
competitions and currently is working toward completing her
F.I.T. degree at MCC (McHenry County College) and ACSM (American
College of Sports Medicine). Her first passion is enjoying
her three children and in her free time she likes sewing
and weight training.
Gail Kalinsky started taking Karate in 2004 and is a black belt. With a background in early childhood development, she enjoys working with the kids in the little ninjas, youth and young samurai classes as well as the special needs students in NISRA. In addition to helping others meet their goals, Gail believes every student she works with also helps her learn more about the art.
She has been training with the Focus Competition Team and has earned State, Regional and National medals. Gail is also a Team Focus coach and enjoys the challenges of competing and coaching. Karate has been a big part of her family’s lives, she has a son who currently trains, competes and is also coaching, her husband of over 20 years trained and coached for 7 years, now teaches in Focus’ Fight Like a Girl self defense classes. Gail also has a daughter who does competitive ice-skating.
Pete Nenni has earned the rank of Nidan through his 18 years with Focus.
Mr. Nenni teaches Adult Advanced and Mixed classes as well as Parent/Child
and Youth classes. In his teaching, he enjoys being able to share what he has learned as well as the benefits Karate has given him in his life. Mr. Nenni states he enjoys "watching people progress and develop in some small way because of my involvement in their life."
Besides being a certified Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Referee, Mr. Nenni holds rankings in several State and Regional Championships in Kata and Kumite. In addition to Karate, Mr. Nenni studies the Krav Maga Force self-defense system.
Mr. Nenni has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northern Illinois University with a minor in Political Science. He has been married to his wife, Betsy, for 29 years and they have 3 adult children.
Chris Prillaman has been training in the Martial Arts for over 13 years. In that time he has received the rank of black belt in Hapkido and also has his black belt in Shotokan which he currently teaches here at Focus. He is also a student and an assistant instructor in our Krav Maga Force program. In addition to teaching Shotokan in youth and after school programs as well as Krav Maga Force, he is also a Fight Like A Girl instructor and head instructor in the Focus Battlefield Chivalry program. Chris began his training as a teenager and to this day gets great satisfaction out of learning his art more in depth and sharing what hes learned with the kids and adults he teaches every day.
Outside the dojo he works as a carpenter and owns his own woodworking business specializing in custom furniture.
Austin Smith started Shotokan Karate with Focus Martial Arts when he was five years
old; he wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. Eighteen years later he is not a Ninja Turtle, but he is still
very passionate about Karate. The opportunities presented to him at Focus have allowed him
not only to grow and develop as an athlete, but as a human being as well. Austin encourages his
students to be the best they can be and always be confident in their actions. For Austin, karate is
a passion he hopes to instill in others. He knows what Focus and Karate have done for him, and
it is his time to give back. Austin currently holds the rank of Nidan-Ni and teaches the Young
Samurai, Youth Beginner, and Parent-Child classes.
Austin holds an English/Secondary Education major from Augustana College. He
currently works at Glenbrook South High School. When Austin is not training for Karate,
fitness, or Krav Maga, he enjoys reading, playing guitar, and spending time with his family and