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Learn authentic Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for self-defense in a safe, clean and friendly environment

At American Black Belt Academy we offer a program for everyone!


If you are interested in a highly effective system of standing and ground defense using the application of leverage to defeat larger, stronger opponents, then Jiu-jitsu is for you.


Since 1925, over 40 members of the Gracie family have dedicated their lives to developing the most effective system of self-defense the world has ever known. It’s effectiveness was proven to the world when Gracie family member, Royce Gracie, used Jiu-Jitsu to dominate the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pay-per-view events. Gracie representatives have fought all martial art styles in professional events and challenge matches for over 70 years proving the effectiveness of the art.


While serving as a US Army “Green Beret,” our chief instructor, Randy McElwee met and began training with key members of the Gracie family. With over 20 years of experience instructing and actual combat experience he possesses a unique insight to training, curriculum development, and program organization that provides you with the most effective results possible

Authentic Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for Self Defense
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Owner Randy McElwee training with

Grand Master Helio Gracie

American Black Belt Academy is an Endorsed Pedro Sauer Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Association Affiliate school exclusively dedicated to the teaching of Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu technique and philosophy for self-defense as developed by its founder the late Grand Master Helio Gracie as passed down from Mitsuyo Maeda that brought Jiu-Jitsu from Japan to Brazil.

Master Pedro Sauer; the head of the Association, is a world renown Gracie Jiu Jitsu 8TH Degree Coral Belt that has trained closely with the Gracie family since 1973 at the age of 15 and was instrumental in bringing Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to America.


Professor Sauer earned his Black Belt from Grandmaster Helio Gracie and Rickson Gracie in 1985. Long recognized for the superior technical efficiency of his jiu-jitsu, he then began his career as an instructor in 1986 and attained certification as a Level 6 Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy Instructor under Grandmaster Rorion Gracie and 3 Time Ultimate Fighting Champion and Legend Royce Gracie in 2000.

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For years the Director and staff of American Black Belt Academy have regularly trained on a frequent basis with various members of the Gracie family, Black Belts under various members of the Gracie Family, and currently with Master Pedro Sauer and his regional representative Sifu Alan Baker to receive intensive instruction and pass along the greatest detail in authentic Gracie Jiu Jitsu to our students and instructors. Master Pedro Sauer is one of the most highly sought after instructors in the world (of any martial discipline) and has consistently been recognized has one of the best instructors across the globe.

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Master Royce Grace with the instructors

Many martial arts schools claim to teach self-defense, but real attacks happen as a complete surprise and afford no time to raise your hands and get into a fighting stance like you do in a tournament or cage fight. These REAL attacks don’t adhere to ANY rules and are not equaled matched to your body size and strength. Our program pays special attention to the real world nature of attacks that occur as a complete surprise, with no rules from larger, stronger opponents and require an appropriate, immediate, conditioned response.


Internationally recognized as a world class leader in authentic Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, our positive professionally certified staff features continuously updated world-class martial arts training supported by the unmatched real world experience of Academy founder and Director; Retired Special Forces Master Sergeant (MSG-Ret) Randy McElwee’s elite military background and our state of the art modern facility provides a high standard unparalleled program for a variety of goals: we offer the most modern and innovative martial arts and fitness training in the Northeast Georgia area. Our programs are regularly reviewed and re-perfected by our Chief Instructor for a combination of the most updated and classically effective self-defense.


Gracie Jiu Jitsu is the official hand-to-hand combat system of the United States Military and self-defense system for law enforcement agencies all around the country. It is a proven and powerful fighting system, designed to be used against armed and unarmed attackers. We believe that this system of jiu-jitsu is an incredible means of developing self-defense, physical fitness, and a multitude of positive life style benefits for you

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 Grand Master Helio Gracie as passed down to the Gracie family from Mitsuyo Maeda. By making the priceless

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benefits of Jiu-Jitsu 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 jiu-jitsu 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 Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and MMA ground fighting programs.


Although Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu both came from the same source, and they feature some of the same sweeps, submissions, controls and escapes, there is a significant difference between the two. Most notably, is the training/teaching philosophy of authentic Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. At American Black Belt Academy Jiu-Jitsu is taught in it’s authentic comprehensive form, first and foremost as a system of self-defense, with the objective of giving the student the ability to stay safe and prevail during a real street fight confrontation, whereas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, may claim to provide self-defense it is primarily taught exclusively as a recreational sport or competitive activity. Our Jiu-Jitsu is taught in a comprehensive method that maximizes it’s effectiveness for real self-defense rather than the watered down hybrid variations presented for sport competition or MMA events. These competitive events are focused on match ups with opponents within the same weight class and under a referee’s supervision for safety as a timed event. Our comprehensive jiu-jitsu self-defense system also includes a key focus that other sportive programs simply over look; the ability to deal with a surprise attack. The greatest advantage Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu offers is the ability for a smaller person to learn principles of leverage that will assist them in defending against or defeating a larger opponent on the ground or standing-up. In a real world situation, an attack is over within a few short seconds. These seconds are filled with panic, chaos and confusion, and you won't have time to think at this point. The application of a few simple principles and techniques conditioned to reflexive response will allow you to survive.

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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 Jiu-jitsu at your own pace without feeling overwhelmed or left behind and with the greatest focus on your personal safety.

While jiu-jitsu is widely recognized for it's highly effective ground defense techniques in tournament and mixed-martial arts competition, at American Black Belt Academy we teach jiu-jitsu as a complete self-defense art consisting of standing techniques, ground skills, and surprise attacks.


Founded on easy and instinctive movements, this reality-based method is intended to condition practical and effective self-defense skill in the shortest time possible. Just as important, we teach people to function during the stress and shock of a sudden violent encounter. We inspire the Warrior Mindset by providing the very best training methods for self-protection and overall fitness through group classes and private training. We educate our students to be aware of the things that go bump in the night, and when necessary, teach them to effectively bump back.

Jiu-jitsu is world renown for it's effective ground fighting techniques that negate a bigger, stronger opponent's size and power advantage. Our program uniquely prepares you to defend yourself when a bigger, stronger opponent is on top of you on the ground and punching or choking you in a violent confrontation. Focusing on ground techniques that are effective in realistic violent situations and avoiding sportive techniques that rely on size or strength for effectiveness.

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The self-defense mindset is important because statistics say 90% or more of all violent attacks and street fights end up on the ground, where Gracie Jiu-Jitsu’s techniques are most effective. Unlike most sport based Jiu-Jitsu, our authentic Jiu-Jitsu not only studies grappling but also teaches the student how to deal with the opponent that tries to strike you in each position and how to effectively deal with it.


Jiu-Jitsu is the only self-defense system in the world that effectively deals with self-defense on the ground. Learn unbelievably simple but effective ways to completely disable any attacker using arm bars, leg locks, and chokes - You will learn the world famous mata leon choke (the lion killer), this technique is so effective it will allow you to put an attacker completely to sleep, ending an attempted assault within seconds - Discover techniques that will insure that no matter what your size, weight or athletic ability - YOU WILL NEVER BE A VICTIM.

The American Black Belt Academy Jiu-jitsu Program develops skill for realistic self-defense application with a unique approach to training.  The Jiu-jitsu curriculum consists of a multi-phase process that develops individual reflexive skill and prepares students to protect themselves in a real world confrontation against unarmed and armed attackers eventually progressing to qualify for Certified Instructor Training. Training is conducted and focused in four levels;

Beginner: White to Blue Belt,

Intermediate: Blue to Purple Belt,

Advanced: Purple to Black Belt and Beyond

Instructor Development: Black Belt and Beyond.

The rank structure for Jiu-Jitsu has all students begin at white belt and advance through the ranks of blue, purple, brown and black. The ranking system in Jiu-Jitsu is different than other martial arts. In Jiu-Jitsu students are primarily tested and earn rank based on realistic self-defense based fighting skill. The student must be capable of demonstrating their skill and fighting ability. Children CAN NOT earn Black Belts in this realistic self-defense system. There is no set amount of time it may take to earn rank in Jiu-Jitsu. Typically, it will be approximately 10 years of consistent training before one is ready for a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu.

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. 

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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!

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Private lessons

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.

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