top of page


ABBA_Karate Logo_RED.png
Learn Traditional Karate' in a safe, clean and friendly environment

 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.   

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.  

Ryans Shimoji Training (1).JPG

Primary Instructor Ryan McElwee training with

Sensei Toru Shimoji

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.

Ryans Shimoji Training (4).JPG

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.


Request more information!

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.

Kanji Karate 2018-1.jpg
Jim Baize July 2016-9.jpg
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.

Ryans Shimoji Training (5).JPG
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.
Ryans Shimoji Training (2).JPG
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.
bottom of page