Owner & Head Instructor

John Carter has 34 years experience in martial arts and self-defense training. He is a 5th Degree Black-Belt in the art of Nihon Goshin Aikido, a Certified Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Level 3 Instructor, a Certified Women Empowered Instructor and is Certified to teach the Nationally Recognized Gracie Bullyproof Program. He has also completed the GST (Gracie Survival Tactics for Law Enforcement & Military) Level 1 and Level 2 Instructor Course with many Federal, State & Local Law Enforcement Professionals benefiting from his training. Additionally, he is an active partner of the Lyndsey Pilkington Foundation providing Women scholarship opportunities towards enrollment in his programs. Sensei Carter has been teaching Aikido, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and Karate in Lexington, Irmo and Columbia since 1997 and is the senior representative of the Art of Nihon Goshin Aikido in Columbia, South Carolina. Sensei Carter has additional training in Boxing, Muay Thai, Kempo and Tai Chi and is available for group lessons, private instruction and specialty seminars.


Head Instructor Irmo

Bryan Winfree, Assistant Instructor has over 30 years experience in martial arts and self-defense training. He is a Certified 3rd Degree Black-Belt in the art of Nihon Goshin Aikido and also has earned advanced black-belt ranks in Shotokai Karate, Isshinryu Karate, and Tae Kwon Do. Sensei Winfree has additional training in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Chi-Na. He continues his training and education in Nihon Goshin Aikido and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu under Sensei John Carter’s direct supervision.


Women Empowered Assistant

Jami is an assistant instructor in the Women Empowered Program.  She was certified by the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy Course Creators in July of 2018 in Torrance, California. She brings the love of learning and positive energy to our Nihon Goshin Aikido, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu & Women Empowered programs.


Co-Owner & Business Manager

Angie assists in all the day to day operations of the academy.  She is co-owner and her business insight as well as attention to student needs is invaluable.  Although she often operates behind the scenes, she is instrumental in ensuring the success of class offerings, special events and academy programs.

Want to learn more about the amazing team behind Carter’s Academy of Self-Defense? Get in touch today.



"Where Self-Defense is a Science."


1216 West Main Street Lexington, SC 29072

1079 Dutch Fork Road Irmo, SC 29063

(Aikido, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo & Karate since 1997)