5th Dan Black Belt in Traditional (ITF) TaeKwonDo
Registered WAKO and USMF Coach
Level 4 Instructor through TaeKwonDo America
First Aid and CPR Certified
CHRIS "Coach Mac" MCKENZIE
Owner and Head Coach
With over 20 years of experience, Chris "Coach Mac" McKenzie started his martial arts training at the age of 6 in Kissimmee, FL, under Master John Emmons. He has since achieved the rank of 5th Dan in Traditional (ITF) TaeKwonDo and level 4 instructor through TaeKwonDo America. Coach Mac is a 4x Grand National Champion and a 5x South East Regional Champion. He has been nationally ranked as one of the top ten Black Belts in TaeKwonDo America.
After moving to Chicago in 2010, Coach Mac began his kickboxing training under the guidance of Anthony Marquez, Said Hatim, Oscar Bravo, and Raul Diaz. Under each instructor, Coach Mac trained in multiple styles of kickboxing, including Muay Thai, Dutch Kickboxing, and Sanda. Coach Mac is also a seasoned Heavyweight Kickboxer and cornerman in the Chicagoland area, having trained with, cornered and coached multiple amateur fighters—among which, three were champions.
Because of his wealth of experience, Coach Mac takes a very technical approach to his teaching. Often, Coach Mac's classes explore the theory behind certain techniques, not just the techniques themselves. This creates a more well-rounded curriculum and allows our members to understand the techniques they are using on a deeper level.
Coach Mac also has several years in the medical profession, including achieving his Bachelors of Science Degree In Nursing from Chamberlain College. He is currently first aid and CPR certified.
My goal is to continue the legacy of all the instructors that have influenced me over the years while giving back to the community.
- Coach Mac
Nicole MacMillan started her martial arts journey at a young age at Emmons’ TaeKwonDo Academy in Kissimmee, FL, under the instruction of Master John Emmons. Starting out, Coach Mac was one of many influential instructors who helped train her towards her goal of becoming a black belt. Nicole is now a 2nd Senior Black Belt in Traditional (ITF) TaeKwonDo and is a Grand National and South East Regional Champion.
Since moving to Chicago, Nicole has rejoined Coach Mac to pass on her martial arts training to the next generation of fighters, alongside the very instructor who trained her. Nicole is a Level 3 instructor with TaeKwonDo America and can be found teaching our Adult TaeKwonDo classes. She is also working towards her 3rd Dan Black Belt and has expanded her training into kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Nicole has a genuine love for all things martial arts, and that shines through in everything she teaches. She believes that there is something to learn from every discipline.
Nicole now consistently aids Coach Mac in corning our fighters and helping anyone who is preparing for a tournament. When not at the gym, Nicole is a civil litigation attorney in downtown Chicago.
2nd Senior Black Belt in Traditional (ITF) TaeKwonDo
Level 3 Instructor through TaeKwonDo America
Registered WAKO Coach
Adult TaeKwonDo Coach
I want to instill in my students the values of martial arts while improving their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
L.J. "Coach Jilla" TABANO
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Coach Jilla is a certified Mixed Martial Arts Conditioning Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and is the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Mac’s Gym. He was drawn to Mac’s Gym because of Coach Mac’s approach to blending several striking arts including Muay Thai, Dutch kickboxing, boxing, and Tae Kwon Do into a unique hybrid style. Coach Jilla also subscribes to this Bruce Lee-inspired approach. He believes Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny summarized it best by saying it was, “smuggling concepts across the frontiers of style."
This means you’ll find a variety of methods incorporated in his classes such as functional training, unconventional fitness, and even splashes of yoga. His motivation for coaching goes beyond martial arts and competition.
A longtime fan of mixed martial arts/combat sports, Coach Jilla helped launch ChicagosMMA.com and produced a short-run TV show about the Chicagoland MMA scene for CLTV called "Combatwire."
Certified Mixed Martial Arts Conditioning Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
My motivation goes beyond martial arts and competition. I want to help everyone achieve their fitness goals because a strong and mobile body improves your overall quality of life.
- Coach Jilla
Assistant Fight Team Coach
Coach Jake started in the International Taekwon-Do Federation ("ITF") under his father, Grand Master Earl Weiss, the last person to receive the rank of master from the founder of Taekwon-Do, General Choi Hong Hi. From age 6 to 15, Coach Jake competed regularly, and he started competing nationally and internationally at age 16. He spent about 4 years competing at the international/national level. Every time he lost, he learned more about himself as a martial artist and trained harder. By age 21, those learning curves paid off. Between age 21 and 31, Coach Jake became an international and national ITF TaeKwon-Do medalist, winning both gold and silver medals:
4 X Gold Medalist
2 X Silver Medalist
1x Gold Medalist
1x Silver Medalist
1x Gold Medalist
Now, as a 4th Dan black belt, Coach Jake has been working on blending his style, foot work, technique, timing, and explosiveness from ITF Taekwon-Do with the mental toughness taught to him by his wrestling coaches Albandia and Hampton and the heavier emphasis of more limbs and combinations of Dutch and Thai kickboxing. Coach Jake's classes and fight style focus on dynamic combinations that blend traditional ITF TaeKwon-Do with inventive and unique striking.
4th Dan Black Belt in ITF TaeKwon-Do
International and National ITF Medalist
I believe that practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.
- Coach Jake
Morning Kickboxing Coach