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Our Instructors

Head Coach Spenser Canup

Spenser Canup

Spenser has trained Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Wrestling, and MMA for much of his life. Spenser began training under Royce Gracie in the 90's, and still actively trains under Royce. Spenser has a talent for teaching and his instruction is impeccable.

  • Black Belt under Royce Gracie 2008

  • Pro MMA Fighter

  • Army Special Forces Hand to Hand Combat Instructor- 1998 to Present

  • Standup/Striking Coach with 20+ years experience

  • Ultimate Fighter Coach

  • SOCP (special operations combative program) - Instructor

  • Level 1 CrossFit Certified

  • Sheepdog Response Tactical Instructor

  • Former Coach of UFC Fighters

  • NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun Instructor

  • Range Safety Officer

Michael Moody

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Michael Moody is a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Spenser Canup. Mike is a Navy veteran who has be practicing the Art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a little over 9 years. Michael is originally from Tallahassee, FL and is currently married with two children.

Matthew Hairston

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Muay Thai Coach

Matthew is a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has trained Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing for over seven years. He was born, raised, and educated in North Carolina. He earned both a master’s and a bachelor’s in applied mathematics and has been a mathematics educator for over a decade. Matthew is a registered (RYT 200hr) yoga instructor and a combatives and firearms instructor for Sheepdog Response.

Ashley Pehan

Ashley Pehan

Ashley is a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and a recent graduate of Elon University, Additionally, she had the opportunity while at Elon to train and coach kids' classes in Spain at Gracie Barra, a Carlos Gracie school. Aside from coaching, she runs the MMA club at Elon and she loves to compete in tournaments, especially in the Gi!

Julia Neese

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Tony Rains

Tony Rains

Tony Rains is a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Spenser Canup and a US Navy veteran. Tony served two overseas deployments on a destroyer as a radar and communication tech. Originally, from Florida, he is married with three grown children.

Garrett Carnes

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Garrett is a purple belt under Spenser Canup. He has trained Jiu Jitsu since 2018 and began training under Spenser in 2019. Garrett and his wife have 3 boys who all train by his side. He is a USMC combat veteran and a Lead Instructor for Sheepdog Response where he teaches Combatives, defensive pistol and rifle shooting, prescision markmanship, and trauma response. Garrett is also a NASM certified nutritionist. Garrett enjoys teaching both adult and children and takes pride in the amount of smiles and sweat on the mats at the end of his classes.

Gabby Canup

Gabby began training martial arts at the age of 7. Gabby was awarded her blue belt when she turned 16. Gabby has been volunteering her time as an assistant instructor in KinderGrappling and Kids classes since she was 14. She has a passion for teaching children. She develops their knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu and self-defense which builds their confidence and self-esteem. 

Chris Strader

Chris is a Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Spenser Canup. He served in the US Air Force for 6 years as a jet engine mechanic.

Chris is a dad of two boys, both who train and compete along side of him. 

AJ Littlejohn

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Muay Thai Coach

AJ served 6 years in the US Marine Corp as an aircraft electrician. He completed 2 deployments to Kuwait during his time serving.

In 2017, AJ began boxing and never stopped! He began Jiu Jitsu shortly after and has continued to grow in martial arts

AJ currently competes as an amateur in both Kickboxing and MMA. 

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