Grand Master Elba âCookieâ Melendez is a Native New Yorker with over 40 years of Martial Arts experience. She began training in 1968 and founded The Shotokan Karate Studio in 1980. She holds the rank of 7th dan, The Hoteikan System of Martial Arts; 5th dan, Chinese Goju; 3rd dan, Shindo-Ryu; 1st dan, Ketsugen. She trained Boxing and Kick Boxing with Eddie Maldonado and Fred Corritone. She has also trained in other disciplines such as Japanese Goju, Shotokan Kodokan, USA Goju, MuDoKwan, and Modern Arnis with Sifu Doug Pierre & GM Remy Presas.
From the mid 1970â²s â 1990â²s, Cookie was considered to be one of the toughest female martial artists & kick boxers in the world. She captured many titles in kata and kumite throughout her career, and was New York Stateâs first Professional Female Kick Boxer and Champion, rated #2 worldwide. She is inducted into the World of Sports Medicine and Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Latin American Hall of Fame, United International Kung-Fu Federation Hall of Fame, Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall Of Honor, Latinos Unido Martial Arts Society Hall Of Fame, and is currently Vice President of L.U.M.A.S. (Latinos Unido Martial Arts Society).
She has been featured in various magazines, such as Official Karate, Warriors, Karate Illustrated, Black Belt Magazine, and The Official History of Karate In America, The Golden Years, written by Al and David Weiss. Cookie has also stepped foot on major arenas and stages such as Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, Beacon Theater, Apollo Theater, Auderbon Ballroom, and ColoseoCampi (Colombia S.A.). Cookie has conducted kick boxing/self-defense/ awareness workshops for the NYC Police Academy, hospitals, churches, womenâs groups, colleges, private/public schools and fundraising organizations.
Cookie has also appeared in martial arts films and has done her own stunt work. Two Films she has taken part in are âShaolin Popeye,â filmed in China (with Michele Yo of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and âThe Empty Hands Movieâ produced by Mr. Mahaliel Sha Bethea, a/k/a Master Mo.Â Cookieâs Mission is to Empower Communities One Woman At a Time Through Self-Defense and Fitness. She is a N.E.S.T.A. Certified Personal Trainer and Group Class Instructor, a Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach, and is CPR & AED Certified. She is the founder of:Â CMSOSAFE, CMFIT, CMKICKBOX, IâM B.A.D. (Beautiful, Armed, Dangerous).