Learn Traditional Karate' in a safe, clean and friendly environment



Our Traditional Karate’ is the foundation to a more contemporary Martial Arts style that like every program in our Academy Dojo is completely dedicated to meeting your self defense needs. By combining a variety of the most effective techniques from key Martial Arts with a strong foundation in Traditional Karate; we empower our students with an extremely effective way to defend themselves.


We practice a traditional based system of integrated martial arts called Okawa Te Bujutsu which combines Japanese Shotokan Karate, Japanese & Gracie Jiu-jitsu with weapons techniques from Kali / Escrima and advanced shielding methods drawn from Justo Diguez’s Keysi Fighting Method creating one very flexible system that provides our students with an extremely effective way to defend themselves while getting in the best shape of their lives.


At the Beginning level we incorporate Surprise Attack Defenses from GRACIE® Jiu-Jitsu to prepare you to defend yourself effectively very early in the training process.  As you progress to the Intermediate Level you’ll be trained in Kali / Escrima to gain an understanding of how to employ sticks and knives as weapons in order to become highly efficient at defending against attackers using them as weapons. Progressing to the Advanced Level our system gives you some of the most unique options known in order to deal with defending yourself against multiple simultaneous attackers employing concepts from the Keysi Fighting Method created by Justo Diguez and made famous for dynamic displays of intense fighting skill in movies like Batman Begins and Mission Impossible III.                                                                                                                          

Primary Instructor Ryan McElwee training with

Sensei Toru Shimoji


                                             Welcome to The American Black Belt Academy’s Traditional Karate’ Program Webpage; Online home to the MOST professional Personal Success Training Program in the southeast United States using Self-Defense as a vehicle to attain individual achievement.                                                                                                   

Traditional Karate' Develops Power & Efficiency

Learn to defend yourself in any situation. Shotokan Karate gives us an unequaled understanding of distance and timing partnered with very powerful strikes, kicks and blocks that can disable an opponent with one well-placed shot. Applying rapid hand combinations, devastating kicks, and footwork that allows us to evade an attack and set our opponent up for the finishing blow. Jiu-jitsu allows us to use throws, foot-sweeps, ground attacks and escape strategies, chokes and joint locks to subdue an opponent without unnecessarily hurting them and Kali / Escrima helps develop an understanding of weapons based fighting involving sticks and various bladed weapons. 


Many students have reported to us that their increased level of physical fitness and the confidence they've gained through their experience with us has allowed them to perform better at work, in school, and at home. We know that you will find our staff of instructors to be a very positive influence on you, your child and your family.

For hundreds of years Martial Arts training has proven to be an effective method of developing the individual as a whole in a positive way.  Through physical training, the student develops a deeper sense of self-confidence tempered by the virtue of humility.  Emphasis is placed on a wide variety of physical skills, including endurance, strength, and flexibility.  Martial Arts training also develops agility, hand-eye coordination, balance, and timing. Additionally our system cultivates the spirit with training in self discipline, mental focus, and fear management. The result of combining all of these skills is what we term “mind-body oneness.”  Through training, the student begins to gain an intuitive mastery of the body through increased self-awareness.

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Emphasis is placed on diligence which results in the development of discipline.  Through self-discipline, there is improved concentration, which carries over into all aspects of life.  Correct etiquette is taught, with the key concept being respect.  The idea of mutual respect and regard for each individual is considered very important.  It was, and continues to be, an essential part of traditional martial arts training.  We feel that correct etiquette underscores the moral and philosophical underpinnings of traditional martial arts.  The rei, or bow, is one example of martial arts etiquette which demonstrates mutual respect.

Karate was traditionally a form of self-defense taught only to family members and the Royal Guard.  It originated in the Ryukyu Islands, located between the southern-most Japanese island of Kyushu, to the north, and Taiwan, to the south.  The largest of these islands is Okinawa.  Karate is believed to have evolved from martial arts forms developed at the Shaolin Temple in China.  Many centuries ago, these forms were transplanted from the Fukien Province of China to the Ryukyu Islands, where they were modified to suit the needs of the local Okinawan people.

Students and Instructors Training with Sensei Jim Baize

The Japanese characters for karate originally meant “China Hand”.  In 1933, a board of senior karate masters changed the characters for “karate” to those for “Empty Hand.”  The pronunciation remained the same.  This concept of the Empty Hand goes far beyond any simple meaning such as weaponless fighting.  It emphasizes the Japanese concept of muga-mushin or “no-mind”, in which a person does not have any preconceived notions which hinder the  ability to learn or react.  This idea is extremely important in the application of techniques in a combat situation.  As a vehicle for learning, it allows the student to absorb information more quickly and at a much deeper level.  This concept is often associated with the Zen notion of “Beginner’s Mind.”  The character do (which comes from the Chinese Tao) means the “Way” or “Path” which one follows through life. Therefore, Karate-do means “The Way of the Empty Hand.”

Practice in Karate-do involves both defensive and counter-attacking methods, with emphasis on striking and kicking techniques.  Drills include exercises with partners, individual drills, and solo forms called kata.  Our curriculum is structured in a set progression which allows the student to develop in an efficient and safe manner.

While some studies suggest as many as 90% of all fights go to the ground, 97% of all altercations start standing up. So in order to maintain a complete and effective self-defense training program we incorporate jiu-jitsu's stand up training skills as a key foundation to our training. Our comprehensive jiu-jitsu system teaches you stand up techniques consisting of striking, kicking, closing distance, and takedowns to the ground.


Our courses will teach you the defenses against the most common street attacks. Learn to defend against ordinary chokes, grabs, punches, kicks, bear hugs and head locks, as well as weapons such as guns, knives and sticks. These skills have been tried and tested on the literal battle field by the school's Director retired Master Sargent, Randy McElwee.

Comprehensive Curriculum

Our primary objective is the preservation of the level of detail, precision, and effectiveness contained in the art that is the legacy of Japanese Shotokan Karate’ as passed down from Grand Master Gichin Funakoshi and brought to America by Sensei Hidetaka Nishiyama.

By making the priceless benefits of traditional karate available to the greatest number of people - regardless of age, gender or athletic ability our community is a better, safer place. Because our curriculum, standardized promotion guidelines, and training philosophies differ from most organizations, nonmembers frequently don't fully understand the depth of effectiveness produced by our comprehensive curriculum system and assume our training is like all other martial arts and Tae Kwon Do programs.

Techniques are presented in amazing progressive detail with incredible insight to provide you a thorough understanding of the system. Our highly organized and structured curriculum is a complete and formalized training program that provides you with the most effective system available to learn to defend yourself. All techniques are presented in the most logical sequence based on complexity and combat effectiveness. You’ll learn Karate' at your own pace without feeling overwhelmed or left behind and with the greatest focus on your personal safety.

Our Traditional Based Karate' has it' foundation in Japanese Shotokan.


Shotokan training is traditionally divided into three parts: kihon (basics), kata (forms or patterns of moves), and kumite (sparring). Techniques in kihon and kata are characterized by deep, long stances that provide stability, enable powerful movements, and strengthen the legs. Shotokan is regarded as a dynamic martial art as it develops anaerobic, powerful techniques as well as developing speed. Initially strength and power are demonstrated instead of slower, more flowing motions. Those who progress to brown and black belt level develop a much more fluid style that incorporates grappling, throwing and some standing joint locking jiu-jitsu-like techniques, which can be found even in basic kata.  Kumite (fighting) techniques are practiced in the kihon and kata and developed from basic to advance levels with an opponent.



is a style of Traditional Japanese Karate’ developed from various Martial Arts by Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957) and his son Yoshitaka Funakoshi (1906 – 1945). Gichin Funakoshi is widely recognized as having brought karate from Okinawa to mainland Japan. Shoto (“pine waves”) was Funakoshi’s pen name, while kan means “house.”  Hence, shoto-kan was the name of the hall where Funakoshi trained his students.

The Influence of Master Funakoshi


In 1916 Master Gichin Funakoshi became the first expert to introduce karate-do from Okinawa to mainland Japan. One of the few people to have been initiated into all the major Okinawan karate methods, Master Funakoshi taught a synthesis of the Okinawan styles as a total discipline. This method became known as Shotokan (literally “House of Shoto,” Funakoshi’s pen name as a poet). Because the style became very popular in Japan and proceeded to spread throughout the world, Funakoshi is widely considered to be the “father of modern karate-do.”

Karate’s pre-history can be traced back to Daruma (aka Bodhidharma), founder of Zen Buddhism in Western India. Daruma is said to have introduced Buddhism into China somewhere around the year 500 CE, incorporating spiritual and physical teaching methods that were so demanding that many of his disciples would drop in exhaustion. In order to give them greater strength and endurance, he developed a more progressive training system.  Daruma’s book, Ekkin-Kyo, can be considered the first book on martial arts, and his training and philosophy were adopted by the Shaolin Temple in northern China.

The modern history of karate begins in Okinawa.  Okinawa-te (Okinawan hand), or simply te, was a simple but highly effective method evolving through centuries of use in real combat.  The banning of weapons on the island for two long periods in its history contributed to the high degree of development of this method. But Okinawa-te was also influenced by the much more elaborate techniques and philosophical teachings of Shaolin kung fu and China’s southern Shokei style.  These origins explain the dual nature of karate: extremely violent and efficient but at the same time a strictly disciplined philosophy with a nonviolent emphasis.

Friendly Encouraging, Supportive, Safe, Learning Environment


Our programs use encouraging positive reinforcement, respect, and discipline to motivate students to reach higher levels of self-defense skill and overall fitness. This training is guaranteed to enhance your confidence, improve your personal protective skills, and reduce your fear of physical encounters and real world threats. If you’d like to develop discipline and focus while having fun or maybe you would like to have more energy to spend with your family or unshakable confidence to protect them in an increasingly chaotic world. College students wanting fitness and personal protection, adult professionals interested in an activity that will dramatically boost your confidence or people looking for serious self-defense training that has been tested and proven literally on the battlefield. No matter what your goal our training programs can help you be more successful.


At American Black Belt Academy everyone is dedicated to your personal success and development in martial arts and in life. Instructors and veteran students encourage others to excel during workouts, and engage in friendly personal coaching during training. New students feel the positive energy and are at home from the first class.


Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (often mistakenly and generically referred to as it’s sportive brother Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) is a martial art that stresses positioning, technique, leverage and timing so that a smaller person can survive and even overcome a larger, stronger aggressor. Jiu-Jitsu is primarily known for its successful system of ground fighting techniques where a person negates the strength of another by taking them to the ground to finish the fight. While on the ground Gracie Jiu-Jitsu uses positions and submission holds involving joint-locks and choke-holds to end the confrontation. This “ground grappling” makes up a large portion of Jiu-Jitsu’s popularity. This is because it can be done in an extremely safe matter while giving the student realistic training and an amazing work out.

This style of training is also a very popular competitive sport practiced all over the world. While Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is well known for its sport aspects, instructors at American Black Belt Academy teach this art as a complete system of self-defense which includes strikes, throws, weapon disarms, and conflict avoidance. Because we don’t train to compete against each other but train together to protect ourselves from all the potential threats outside the academy we are dedicated to helping each student gain his full potential and maximize his opportunity to the best possible at executing the skills and techniques of Jiu-Jitsu. 

The training was developed by the famous Gracie family of Brazil by adapting techniques they had learned from a Japanese Jujitsu instructor Mitsuyo Maeda (Count Koma). The Gracies became famous by testing their art against martial artists around the world in actual fights, long before mixed martial arts events such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) became popular. The purpose of these challenges was not competition but to prove the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in real fights.


The physical benefits of training are incredible for the student. Most students experience a physical change in their bodies within 30 days of beginning their training. Students will lose weight and become more lean, gain useable strength, become more flexible and loosen the body. Many students experience lower levels of stress which leads to higher levels of day to day energy.


You’ll experience incredible strength and cardiovascular benefits by training just twice per week, if you can avoid Jiu-Jitsu’s tremendous addictive properties. Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that you can develop and practice for the rest of your life. Why not sign up for an introductory class today!


Our Private Training Program takes a one-to-one approach and is designed to meet each individual’s specific needs. Although muscle toning, core training, flexibility and stress management are built into the program, the instructor will tailor each session to best achieve the student’s personal goals. This program allows your students to zero in on their training and focus on what they need to become a champion.

Private Lesson Benefits


- Personal Attention: The techniques taught in group classes and Private Training are the same. The difference is that when you are training one-on-one with an instructor, he/she will give you immediate feedback regarding your technical execution since he/she knows precisely how it is supposed to feel.  In a group lesson, unless you have a very attentive training partner, you may make a mistake and not realize it, and this may lead to the development of bad habits.


- Linear Learning: Although the group classes require no previous experience, it has been proven that the order in which you learn the techniques greatly affects the time it takes you to master the art. In private lessons, your instructor will present the techniques in the optimum order.


- Flexible Schedule: In general, Private Lessons can be scheduled at any time, day or night however crazy your schedule may be.        


Private Lessons are available to everyone who:

            - may wish to accelerate their learning progress

            - may wish to increase their physical conditioning

            - may have difficulty in attending evening classes because of schedule

            - wish to focus on detail of technique


American Black Belt Academy offers private lessons for those who wish to progress more quickly, have time restrictions or want to reach a higher level of proficiency. These lessons are available by appointment for each individual, couple or small group. Private training topics can be anything of interest to the student. Training can progress at the student’s own pace, and can span any range of topics and styles.

Lessons are available in; Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Self-defense, Fitness or tactical training. Our highly qualified instructors will focus their full attention on your progress which will enhance your knowledge.


Jiu Jitsu is a very unique martial art. American Black Belt Academy believes the best way to learn is a combination of group classes and one on one private lessons. Sometimes your partners can not give you the correct defensive response. You learn something in class only to find that when you use it against someone else your success was short lived.  That is why our certified instructors want to be your partner.   Each time you drill a position they will correct your make a mistakes down to the last detail. Your learning starts with a certified instructor as your partner and you develop skills that will last forever.

Do you have a position that gives you trouble like escaping side control or defending the guard pass? This is where private lessons can take years off your training. Drill guard defenses with the best in the world.  An American Black Belt Academy Instructor becomes your personal training partner – that is how you get good fast!   To Be a Champion, you have to Train with a Champion!

Do it today and see your skill get better tomorrow!


If you want to take your Jiu-jitsu to the next level, try a private lesson with one of our instructors for ultimate, personalized details. Private Lessons are available by special appointment only. Members have priority and enjoy reduced rate member discounts.


Call us or fill out the form below for more information.

Request more information!
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Copyright© 2019 American Black Belt Academy   |   165 Ben Burton Road STE D  |   Bogart, GA 30622   |   (706) 549 - 1671

Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Martial Arts, Self Defense, and Bully Prevention in Athens, Georgia.

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