United Karate Studios was formed by Mr. Ben Kiker of Elijay, GA. Mr. Kiker first attended a karate class at Rhinehart College in 1967, as a guest of his girlfriend (now wife), Vickie. He first trained under an American Instructor. Shortly after that, Jae Mann Lee, from Korea, became Kiker's teacher. Lee later turned Kiker over to Jung Kil Moon.
Initially, Kiker's training didn't encompass competition. For one, there were not more than perhaps one or two tournaments per year in this area at that time. Eventually, Kiker taught for and ran a school for his instructors. When Moon moved to New York in 1972, Kiker struck out on his own to begin United Karate Studios---in 1973 with the assistance of his first blackbelt, Ricky Lockhart.
Mr. Kiker's first studio was in Elijay. He soon expanded to include a school in Dalton. Lockhard launched a UKS in Rome, GA. Those 3 locations spawned the growth of the United Organization which has grown to more than 20 schools. Most are located in the Georgia & Tennessee areas but there are others as far away as Keokuk, Iowa.
Mr. Jessie Thornton began taking karate under Mr. Kiker in 1975 and made blackbelt on September 2, 1978. Mr. Thornton began teaching at Mr. Kiker's school as a brown belt. He opened his own school in Ringgold in 1980. Soon after that, Mr. Thornton, along with two of Kiker's other blackbelts, Chester Green and Robert Harris, bought the United Studio in Ringgold from Eddie Helmes. This school was opened and ran by Thornton and Harris until Thornton sold out to Harris in 1986. Soon after that Harris moved the Ringgold UKS to Ft. Oglethorpe and, in 1987, Mr. & Mrs. Thornton opened the UKS again in Ringgold. The studio has had three locations prior to the present location at 61 Tennessee Street.
Mr. Thornton has also owned UKS schools in Jasper, Tennessee and in Ooltewah, Tennessee.
Our studio is family oriented. We offer karate, self-defense, and kickboxing aerobics. We also offer activities such as an annual beach trip, picnic day, as well as our Annual Day Camp and Christmas banquet