Coach J teaches martial arts as practical self defense, not sport

ABOVE: // Photo courtesy EMA



Jason Jeannette for years as quietly trained ‘real warriors’ at Elite Martial Arts in Bellevue and is ready to continue that work as the center’s Summer Session begins on July 1.

Jeannette, or “Coach J” as the students call him, says he runs the Bellevue school on Old Hickory Boulevard and Belle Forest Circle a little differently than his competitors, using what he calls, “reality-based self-defense training.”

Elite Martial Arts is not instructing people to ‘fight’ but instead how to ‘fight back’ when the violence comes to them, according to Jeannette, adding that “real warriors have the confidence for kindness.” There are no rituals, no sport fighting; only reality-based self-defense.

“It’s better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war,” said Jeannette, who holds a pair of black belts in traditional martial arts.

However, after realizing that black belts don’t mean anything when it comes to defending against actual violence, Jeannette began to study Muay Thai kickboxing, submission grappling and various reality-based systems, such as Krav Maga.

With more than 30 years of training — 15 years teaching full time — the owner and head coach at Elite bases his school’s curriculum around those studies. Four separate classes are customized for different age and experience levels, from age 5 to adult.

Signups are under way for summer sessions, which are $125 and includes uniform. Interested folks should contact Elite at (615) 646-9111 or visit

Summer classes are for ages 5-7; ages 8-13 (beginner level) ages 8-13 (advanced), or for adults and teens.

Elite has a no-contract, fun, informative learning philosophy, according to Jeannette. He calls the instruction a “constantly evolving mix of boxing, Brazilian jiujitsu, Muay Thai kickboxing, wrestling and Krav Maga.”

The curriculum fuses kickboxing and submission grappling to give practitioners an ethical level of force regardless of the situation. Many traditional martial arts have evolved into “sports” with point systems and memorized “dance routines,” the owner said.

“If it works, we use it. If it doesn’t, we throw it out,” he said. “It’s that simple.”

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