American Jujitsu to host grand opening April 20

April 15, 2019

American Jujitsu Academy in Milton will unveil its new dojo and expanded services at a grand opening event at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, April 20.

Founded in 2011 by Dennis Winters, American Jujitsu Academy has relocated to Mulberry Street next to the Miltonian. The academy is now under the ownership of former students Tony Elgin, Rich Steachura, Allen Barnes, Paul Cowen, Phil Bailey and Darin Burgoyne.

The main class is in tactical jiu-jitsu, devised by Winters, a former police officer, from several styles of Japanese jiu-jitsu as a more practical form of self-defense. Barnes said Japanese-style jiu-jitsu is very different from Brazilian jiu-jitsu - a style commonly associated with mixed martial arts fighters -  in that it is less based in ground grappling and contains a multitude of styles.

Steachura said Japanese jiu-jitsu is the mother martial art - other styles such as judo and aikido evolved from it.

Tactical jiu-jitsu is particularly good for cardiovascular fitness, Steachura said, because of the constant pace of falling and getting up.

“It’s a good fat burner,” he said.

The proof of that is Barnes, who weighed close to 300 pounds when he started four years ago but has since lost 90 pounds. He said he came to the dojo wanting a cardio workout and to improve his flexibility.

“You feel like you’re stronger,” Barnes said.

“When you start doing something healthy as an activity, you’re feeling better. You want to feel better all the time,” Steachura said. “I had two back surgeries and a herniated disk. As soon as I come in here and get thrown around a little bit, I feel so much better after I leave.”

There are no beginner or expert classes; everyone starts at the basics, Barnes said. Classes begin with stretching and cardio to warm up before moving into practicing techniques and direct application through sparring. Days typically end with defense practice in fending off attackers before wrapping up with stretching. Barnes said classes last about 90 minutes.

Barnes said besides tactical jiu-jitsu, the dojo offers classes in kung-fu, karate, and in new offerings, women’s cardio fitness and yoga.

“When we moved over here we made the decision that we would open up to some other styles,” Barnes said.

“Plus, we wanted to get both men and women in here,” Steachura said.

At the other location, he said, punching bags were hanging from the ceiling.

“It was kind of intimidating-looking to someone that never studied before. It looked kind of combative. This has more of a zen feeling,” Steachura said.

Barnes and Steachura said classes are available for people of all sizes, ages and weight classes; current students range from 20 to 70 years old, 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds to 4-foot-10 and under 100 pounds.

“We teach to the person’s ability,” Steachura said. “We don’t want to have people getting injured, so we work to their skill set.”

For more information, visit or call 302-329-8070.