Reviews and Awards

We are honored to be the recipent of the 2022 Mercer Island PTA Community Partner Award

This award recognizes a local business or organization that goes above and beyond standard expectations to help and faclitate local units, school programs and helps build a cooperative relationship between students, schools and community.  



We are the proud recipients of the Mercer Island Patch's Readers Choice Award


Here's some other reviews of our school


 "Everytime Thomas comes back from class he looks cheerful, and in a particularly good mood.  I appericate the various precious educational concepts embodied in teh course.  How to maintain mental health, develop good excercise habits, and how to respect teammates and oppenents.  I am grateful that he not only learned Tae Kwon Do at Mercer Island Martial Arts but he is also learing ot be a healthy, active and responsible man" -Taingron Li, Parent

"Both my son and I have been attending Mercer Island Martial Arts for 6.5 years! That alone tells you how valuable we believe this has been.  My son has learned leadership skills, gained friends, and enjoyed vauluable lesssons about hard work, respect, and gratitude-ALL while having fun and getting great exercise.  I have personally enjoyed being able to participate in such a wonderful experience along side him, and it has been great for me personally to also have a community of fantastic people with which to practice martial arts.  They are truely talented at waht they do. I highly recommend taht you check it out."  Jen Mills, MD, Parent and Student 

"Sure there are a lot of places to learn and practice Martial Arts in the greater Seattle area, however none compare to Mercer Island Martial Arts. This is because the masters, Melisa Strongheart and Krista Wells, strive to make MIMA members grow both physically and mentally. To them martial arts is not just about athletics - they believe it also includes leadership, respect, responsibility, kindness to self, kindness to others, and much, much more. In addition, they encourage the practice of these skills outside the doojang, as well. Our son has a list of tasks to achieve at home in order to maintain his leadership status at MIMA which makes life for my husband and me so much easier! The expectations are challenging, but it all balanced with the warmth, love, caring and individualized support he needs to be successful. In fact, he has wanted to quit several times but the staff is able to uncover the root of his frustration and works to find ways to motivate him again to keep going. Suddenly he'll be asking to go a few hours a day instead of fighting to go at all. Maybe it is because both masters have backgrounds in psychology. They just get people. I would recommend MIMA a thousand times! It is the most positive place I could think of to send my son. "-Jennifer Muscatel

"I have been attending Adult & family classes at MIMA for close to 3 years now. I love their program and classes. All the instructors are experienced, knowledgeable and friendly. In addition to emphasizing on conditioning your body and martial art techniques, the programs also emphasize importance of discipline, respect and on mental awareness. Dojang is very clean and well maintained. Curriculum for online classes during COVID restrictions are as great as in-person classes." -Vallish Guru V

"Anyone who doesn’t jump at this opportunity is nuts! My son, Ben,  studied at Mercer Island martial arts for 12 years and MeLisa and crew taught him much more than just martial arts. He learned respect, hard work, and determination. He became a leader and eventually taught classes for the younger kids. MIMA is an amazing school with phenomenal teachers who train tomorrow’s leaders.  Thank you Master Strongheart! -Jenny Andrews,Parent

"I Vote Mercer Island Martial Arts. I have been a part of this family for over 10 years. Although I don't get to see them as often as I would like, It is just like family every time I do. Training there not only changed my physical being, but also helped to mold a stronger mental side of my life. I may get older, and the physical aspects may diminish, however the mental side of the lessons I learned will always continue to flourish. Forever a member of the Mercer Island Martial Arts Family". Mark Christopherson, student


"I've had three children (and myself) attend Mercer Island Martial Arts over a number of years and I count Masters Strongheart and Wells as significant mentors in my children's lives far beyond excellent martial arts instruction. From them they have learned the values of respecting themselves and others, perseverance, courage, community service, good citizenship and always doing your best. They do so much good in this community supporting worthy causes and teaching anti-bullying programs in our elementary schools. That school has a special place in my heart...definitely the best school on the island!!!!!" -Laurie Elggren, student and parent


Worth every penny

by Gang of Four 

"Martial Arts teaches balance, flexibility, respect, cooperation, and the joy of having a fit and healthy body.

The 2 masters here are truly good people who care about the community and their students on a group and individual basis. They are educated and VERY well experienced in dealing with all different types of children - they even work successfully with special needs kids.

The kids (and grown-ups) LOVE the new lead instructor as he is engaging, talented, and fun. The office lead is incredibly organized, runs the place with the highest level of professionalism, and takes great care of the students and their families.

A truly outstanding value - these are not just martial arts classes or after school babysitting-type activities. You will belong to an enriching community surrounded with good people who TRULY care.

My husband, daughter (9), son (5), and I are all sharing this incredibly fun journey and supporting one another along the way. We are all looking forward to, one day, putting on a black belt.

(and did I mention the parents-night-out-fundraisers?)"


"The irony of Mercer Island Martial Arts is that the philosophy .... how people train and are trained .... how we treat each other ..... what we learn from, and teach (in that order) the kids .... all contributes to world peace. Imagine that! A martial arts studio that promotes world peace - even without specifically mentioning it! The beliefs of Masters Strongheart and Wells in terms of community contribution, are immediately evident on the website ( But its not just their belief - its the belief of every single student, family unit, couple or single person that comes in and participates. And all are welcome - truly helped to understand that they have a valuable, unique contribution to make.
Even if I could tell you my personal story .... or the story of my family and their involvement with Mercer Island Martial Arts, you still might not really understand. To do that, I would really encourage you to come thru the doors and watch the smiles .... the respect ..... the effort that is made. Why? Because to reach for personal goals at Mercer Island Martial Arts is to do so in community - which makes all of us stronger .... and the world a much better place."
Respectfully, Victoria Harris MD, MPH


"We love Mercer Island Martial Arts! Our son gets a great work out and his homework done, too!" -Jenny Harrington, parent

"mercer island martial arts is know to be the best with out this vote they care about people they love our kids they are the rock of this island buck peyton my sons have come a long way thanks to there direction" -Buck Peyton

"Mercer Island Martial Arts is by far the best and we tried them all. Master Strongheart and Master Wells are so positive and work well with children who have special needs. They are kind, smart, professional, and fun to be around. Our entire family is learning together and having a blast!"-Elisabeth Caroll, student and parent

"I have been a student at Mercer Island Martial Arts before I entered the second grade. I am now sophomore in college, and I have loved every year spent with MIMA. MeLisa Strongheart and Krista Wells have been two of the biggest inspirational figures in my life, as they have worked tirelessly with students before and after me to ensure our maturation into respectable figures in society. In addition to the rigorous-but scaled classes, MIMA has set the standard for promoting ideals ranging from respect to peers and instructors to their highly successful anti-bullying campaign. I believe that it is this kind of community involvement, and dedication to students that sets MIMA above its competition. I wouldn't train anywhere else" -Ben Lawry, black belt student

"Mercer Island Martial Arts is far and beyond the best. Their recognition as "Heroes of Mercer Island" speak to their commitment to the community. Their outreach programs teaching children how to deal with bullies is an example of other means to avoid physical and emotional conflict. Their integration of physical and developmental discipline is unsurpassed." Michael R. Loken, PHD

"Mercer Island Martial Arts has been the single best activity that my kids have done. This school goes way beyond just teaching martial arts. Masters Strongheart and Wells have that rare gift of being able to mix teaching and discipline with fun. The kids love them, respect them and learn from them. I have two very different children that have benefited in very different ways from this school. My daughter found a sense of place and community here. She developed respect and had another set of adults steering her in a constructive direction. She developed relationships with older students at the school who have helped her learn to stand up against peer pressure and have guided her to being a better student and making better choices. She has learned the responsibility of teaching the younger children and helping them with their challenges. She is eager to mentor the younger students because she values the experience that she had.

My son has gained self confidence. He is an easy-going boy that would sometimes be taken advantage of & pushed around. Now he has the confidence to stand his ground and know that he can take care of himself, and, perhaps more importantly, he knows that he can walk away. He has learned about responsibility as well. He has gained leadership skills from teaching roles that he had previously have avoided.

I am grateful for the work that Masters Strongheart and Wells have done. They have helped my children develop in very positive ways. These two, and the school that they run, are a tremendous asset to the community."  Allison Lewis, MD

I am a student at Mercer Island Martial Arts and have been for many years, I make the drive from Lynnwood, I find the tr4ip worth it because of my instructors and my fellow students. I earned my 1st dan black belt and with more training I hope to earn my 2nd dan as well. I wouldn't go anywhere else for Tae Kwon Do. A great place to train. -Eric Sams


A great atmosphere, first class instructors and lots of classes to choose from for all ages! Look no further than Mercer Island Martial Arts! -Gabe Chavez, Parent

"You cannot be serious! The best martial arts school in the region is Mercer Island Martial Arts. My son studied there from the time he was in second grade until . . . . well now, and he's 20 years old. Ben learned more about self-discipline, respect, and responsibility from Masters Strongheart and Wells than from anyone else. Their teaching and encouragement helped Ben become an Eagle Scout and a fine young man. Ben not only studied there, he also worked there for several summers and learned even more from the two wonderful women who run this fine organization. MeLisa Strongheart is one of the finest teachers I have ever met - in any organization. She brings out the very best in all of her students, but most especially in the students who are challenged in one way or another. As a summer camp counselor at Mercer Island Martial Arts, my son worked with a number of children whose parents sent them to MIMA because they needed serious help with their behavioral issues. MeLisa, a trained psychologist and martial artist, helps every child achieve their best and she trains her staff to do the same. I cannot say enough about the integrity, the high standards, the professionalism and the compassion of the staff at MIMA. They are the absolute best!" -Jenny Andrews, parent


Master Wells & Strongheart reinforce in their dojo all life lessons that parents want to instill in their children and they do it in a way that the kids don't even realize they are learning.

When our child is in a situation outside martial arts she stands out with her good behavior, confidence, patience and ability to think situations through. The skills learned in the dojo are brought along with her every where she goes and often rub off on the kids she associates with.

What a great beginning for a bright future. Thank you MIMA!!" -Stephi DeRobertis, Parent


"The Mercer Island Martial Arts staff are friendly, respectful, compassionate, and dedicated. They have built an amazing, well-rounded program that succeeds in creating well-rounded individuals. I highly recommend this program for people of all ages.

The benefits of the program for my children (11 and 13) are evident in the home, at school, and in their social lives. In the elementary years they learned confidence and focus. Now in the frenetic middle school years, they are building on those basics with a focus on responsibility, respect for self, for others, and for community. All of this while continuing to expand their physical capabilities.

But this isn't a program just for kids. Never having had martial arts training before, I started the program out-of-shape and 50. The instructors helped me along at a comfortable pace, knowing just how and when to challenge me to the next level. In under two years, I regained a level of physical well-being that I honestly thought, at my age, was impossible. I too saw the positive effects of the physical and mental training at home and work.

Mercer Island is fortunate to have this program available to us. Thank you Mercer Island Martial Arts!" -Jan Eveleth, Student and Parent


"I was immediately impressed when my son began tae kwon do 4 1/2 years ago.  While he wanted to be a "ninja fighter" he has been taught respect, goal setting, and perseverance.  The instructors are naturals at dealing with these young kids." -Gail James, Parent


"My son used to have difficulties making friends, participating in anything competitive and would not do anything sports related what-so-ever. About a year ago I convinced him to try out Mercer Island Martial Arts and he took to it instantly. Much of that is owed to Master Strongheart and Master Wells and their backgrounds in psychology. They seem to push the kids and nurture the kids in just the right balance. They, and their incredible staff, patiently teach the kids, provide them with personal goals, encourage sportsmanship, have open discussions regarding topical issues such as bullying, and make their dojang feel like a comfortable home away from home for the kids. (In fact, some kids take the school bus there, stay for several classes and whine when their parents come to pick them up at 6 or 7 pm!) You wouldn't believe the changes my son's made in a year! He has advanced 4 belt levels and is now in their leadership program, heading toward his black belt. He has learned having fun along the way is more important that winning, he's learned how to make new friends and best of all, his confidence is soaring. Sure, there are a lot of choices out there for martial arts, but you can't beat the program Master Strongheart and Master Wells have put together." -Jennifer Muscatel, Parent     


"I watched my daughter for years practice her martial arts and I saw amazing developments not only as an individual but as a leader and I thought that's what martial arts is suppose to be.  I t was her accomplishments that inspired me to join.  Martial arts helps me feel young for my age, I love the instuctors they are a terrific group of indivuaals.

My training keeps me balanced both physically and mentally and the classes are always interesting and challenging.   I always learn something new every time I come.

I would absolutely recommend Mercer Island Martial Arts!" -Stan Vlcek, Student & Parent


"My little guy has gained so much confidence since joining your school.  Thank you so much for all that you do" -Debbie Franklin, Parent


"I feel a greater awareness of my surroundings and carry myself with better posture and confidence.  As a woman I feel safe, secure, and empowered by my training at Mercer Island Martial Arts.  The instructors and staff are positive and enthusiastic they make the workouts so fun that you don't even feel like you are really working out.  I have absolutely no reservations about recommending Mercer Island Martial Arts." -Ilaria Hare Heindrich


"Our 5 yr. child has attended the Mercer Island Martial Arts for 2 years now and it is one of the best things we have done with her. The self discipline she learned in class carries over into our everyday lives. We can go anywhere have no concerns about her acting up. Her ability to focus on a goal is pretty impressive. I wish I knew this stuff when I was 5. The best part is she has a sense of self-confidence that can only be earned through honest accomplishment. 

Masters Strongheart & Wells are both incredibly gifted instructors who take the time known each student individually and adapt their teaching techniques to the individuals' needs. It is a not a 'one size fits all program'.

The most impressive thing is the students themselves. In a time when you here about juveniles running a muck in society it is nice to see kids who are hard working, smart, friendly, respectful to everybody, and just plain level headed. Kinda gives me hope for the world." -Phillip DeRobertis, Parent  


"I have enjoyed my martial arts journey, weight loss, better physical conditioning, and the physical ability to defend myself if necessary are all examples.  However, I feel the most significant benefits are derived from my peace of mind" -Gary Mitchell, Black Belt Student


"My family and I immigrated to the states when I was five years old. My first day of elementary school, I witnessed a demonstration. Upon my arrival home, I announce to my parents that I’m going to be a black belt.

My parents then sought out the best school they could find. I’m now in my late twenties and I have my second degree black belt. Plus, I’m working on getting my third degree. So why wouldn’t I recommend the best school out there for martial arts training.

Master Wells and Master Strongheart are out of this world, they teach with their mind, heart and soul. I’m so proud to be a part of this wonderful school. It has taught me to be a respectful, compassionate, well rounded individual which has taught me leadership skills that I have been able to take out into the world. Anyone that doesn’t attend Mercer Island Martial Arts is missing out on such an incredible expierence." -Claudia Vlcek, Adult Student  


"I know how to set a good example to anyone.  Not only do I set a good precedent for the other students but also for my friends and family.  I would like to become an instructor or master some day.

It has been a privilege to be taught by such great instructors and I hope someday a student will say the same thing about me."  -Garrett Davis, 14 year old black belt


"I started classes a year ago and have really enjoyed the atmosphere that Sa Bum Nim Strongheart creates.  She shows patience and care in teaching us and has a teaching style that is  direct and always respectful.  I appreciate that she spends the extra time with us to explain the reasons behind the moves to help me put the exercise in perspective.  I would strongly recommend this program to anyone. " -Jacquie Hannibal, Student


"I have learned to set a good example for others and myself.  To teach and help others learn good habits, to respect the people around me, to have good techniques, protect myself from harm, have loud yells, cooperation, discipline, and to never give up. " -Frankie Valasco, 10 year old student.


"Katherine has learned through experience that she can master a technique and feel strong and confident as a result.  She has also learned the importance of being still.  Eyes that initially peeked and body that shifted during meditation now is calm.  She has learned the patience that is needed when mentoring another child and found she enjoys teaching.  She has learned that developing a skill is not about working towards being better than someone else, but about challenging  yourself to improve."  -Barbara Dickhaus, Parent of a Student