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American Black Belt Academy | 10 Huntington Road # B30 | Athens, GA 30606 | (706) 549 - 1671

our staff

Randy McElwee

Founder / Director / Chief Instructor

Master Randyis the owner / director of American Black Belt Academy in Athens, a retired Master Sergeant (MSG) and decorated Special Forces combat veteran in the U.S. Army. He served 18-years with Special Operations Forces to include top secret, classified Special Category missions, Combat experience and service in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Central America, Kenya, and Panama. Awarded the Legion of Merit for service that included action during Operation “Enduring Freedom” as the senior NCO responsible for the planning, direction, and execution of a Joint Chief of Staff directed special category classified project. He is the Director of the Special Operations Combative Arts Association and has been training and teaching Martial Arts for over 20 years, his unique instructional experience includes; appearing as a featured author in Black Belt Magazine and featured Instructor in the Special Operations Combatives Instructional Video / DVD Series.

 

♦ 5TH Degree Black Belt in Okawa Te Bujutsu Kai
♦ 2nd Degree Black Belt Goshin Ryu Ju Jitsu
♦ 1ST Degree Black Belt Shotokan Karate'
♦ GRACIE Jiu Jitsu Blue Belt under Three-time Ultimate Fighting Champion Royce Gracie
♦ Currently pursuing a GRACIE Jiu Jitsu Black Belt under Master Eddie Camden
♦ Recognized as an Endorsed Affiliate Team Tiger GRACIE Jiu Jitsu Instructor
♦ Certified American Council on Martial Arts Instructor
♦ Certified as a Special Operations Tactical Combatives Instructor
♦ Certified as an Armed Forces Combatives Instructor and Modern Army Combatives Level 1
♦ Certified Goshin Ryu Ju Jitsu Instructor
♦ Okawa Te Bujutsu Kai Karate' Instuctor ♦ Gracie Resisting Attack Procedures for Law Enforcement (G.R.A.P.L.E.) Instructor

♦ Georgia Peace Officers Training Council Defensive Tactics Guest Instructor
♦ Founder of the Sexual Assault Fundamental Escapes (S-A-F-E) Women's Self Defense Program
♦ Founder of the Karate' Inspiring Confidence in Kids (K-I-C-K) Children's Martial Arts Program
♦ Former Member of the Northeast Georgia Sexual Assault Center Board of Directors
♦ Featured Speaker for the 2013 & 2014 Educational Funding Company Martial Arts Summit
♦ Recognized as 2010 Educational Funding Company Outstanding Program Director
♦ Recognized as 2008 Educational Funding Company Most Inspiring Instructor

 

 

ZACK ESPINOSA

PROGRAM DIRECTOR
JIU JITSU INSTRUCTOR

Zack teaches Children’s, Beginner, and Intermediate Adult Jiu Jitsu. He has been studying martial arts since 2009. He holds a Brown Belt in Goshin Ryu Japanese Jiu Jitsu and a Purple Belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu under Sifu Eddie Camden, a Blue Belt in Martial Arts (Okawa Te Bujutsu Kai), and is also an instructor in Muay Thai. He is the school’s Program Director, under Randy McElwee, helping to design and develop the curriculum at the school. His goal is to reach Black Belt in Japanese and Gracie Jiu Jitsu, and supplement his training with Judo. When not doing martial arts, he also enjoys volleyball, wake boarding, road races, and obstacle courses.

ERIKA “COOKIE” COOPER

STUDENT SERVICES MANAGER
THAI FIT INSTRUCTOR
SAFE COORDINATOR

Erika, or "Cookie," is the Student Services Manager. She has been studying Martial Arts since January 2013 and has a Gold Belt with 2 Stripes in Martial Arts (Okawa-Te Bujutsu Kai). She is the Primary instructor for the Thai Fit Program and the Program Director and Event Coordinator for SAFE: Women’s Self Defense. She is a certified Nutrition Counselor and Personal Trainer. In addition to leading the marketing, recruiting, and social media at the school, she works full time at the Banyan Tree Counseling Center as a Practice Manager and Intake Coordinator. Her goals include expanding the school’s Women’s Self Defense and Fitness programs.

RYAN McELWEE

LITTE DRAGONS/ KIDS MARTIAL ARTS
INSTRUCTOR

Ryan teaches the Little Dragons class, the Juniors Martial Arts, and assists with Adult and Teen Beginner Martial Arts. He holds a 2nd Degree Jr Black Belt in Okawa Te Bujutsu Kai Martial Arts, and has been studying it since age 4. His goals in life include a Black Belt in Martial Arts, a Black Belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu, running a chain of successful martial arts schools and graduating from UGA with a Masters of Business Administration. In his spare time he enjoys soccer.

 

 

 

MATT SKEPPSTROM

MARTIAL ARTS INSTRUCTOR/
CHILDREN’S PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Matt holds a Green Belt in Okawa-Te Bujutsu Kai (Martial Arts) a 3 Stripe Blue Belt in Goshin Ryu Japanese Jiu Jistu and a Blue Belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He has been studying Martial Arts since 2012. He teaches beginner Martial Arts, the Little Dragons Program, and Juniors Martial Arts. He is working on his black belt in Martial Arts and a Criminal Justice Degree with the goal of working for Law Enforcement. In his spare time, he focuses on his health and fitness, and enjoys board games with friends.

ANDY BRYANT

JIU JITSU INSTRUCTOR

Andy teaches Beginner and Intermediate Jiu Jitsu. He has been studying martial arts since 2006. He holds a Brown Belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu (Purple Belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu), and Blue Belt in Martial Arts (Okawa Te Bujutsu Kai), and a Purple Belt in Tae Kwon Do. His goal is to reach Black Belt in Jiu Jitsu, and supplement his training with Judo. He studied Mixed Martial Arts since 2010, including 3 amateur fights with a 2-1 record, 2 wins by submission, 1 loss by decision. He promoted MMA fights in Athens and surrounding areas from 2012 - 2013 and is still sought after by many of Georgia fighters for ground training and fight preparation. When not doing martial arts, he enjoys scuba diving, wakeboarding, boating, motorcycles, and Georgia football. Andy’s full time job is Owner and Electrical Contractor of Arnold Electric of Athens Inc.

ADAM BOWEN

JIU JITSU INSTRUCTOR

Adam Bowen teaches the Beginners and Intermediate Jiu Jitsu. He has been studying martial arts since 2006. Adam holds a Brown Belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu (Purple belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu), and Gold Belt with 2 Stripes in Martial Arts (Okawa-Te Bujutsu Kai). His goal is to earn his Black Belt in Goshin Ryu Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and to round out his martial arts skills with striking and weapons. When not on the mats, he enjoys scuba diving, trail running, hunting, fishing, and spending time with his wife and two sons. Adam’s full time responsibilities include Owner and General Contractor at Resource Construction.

 

 

SARA ROSE

CHILDREN’S MARTIAL ARTS ASSISTANT INSTRUCTOR

Sara Rose assists with the Little Dragons class, the Juniors Martial Arts Program, and SAFE Women’s Self Defense. She holds a brown belt in Martial Arts (Okawa Te Bujutsu Kai), and has been studying it since 2011. She also began training Jiu Jitsu in 2014. Her goals in life include a black belt in Martial Arts and earning a Marketing degree at UGA to help expand the academy.