Home > I AM JMAC > I AM JMAC: Amy

Women in the martial arts

Why Do YOU Want to Start Martial Arts?

“I want to learn to defend myself!”

“I want to get in shape!”

“I want to improve my mental focus!”

Japanese Martial Arts

Get Started Today!

Fitness • Focus • Self-Defense

(734) 720-0330



Iaido Ann Arbor

Amy joined JMAC’s Iaido program in March of 2014. She earned the rank of Shodan in June of 2018. “I felt really good about it,” she says, “and the reason why, is that over the course of my life and the many, many things I’ve take up - fencing, tap dancing, tennis, you name it I probably did it,” she laughs, “Iaido’s the first thing that I actually stuck with as it suited me in a way that those other things didn’t. It’s been a 4-year journey, and although I know Shodan is a first step, I’m really proud of myself for sticking with it.” 

Other facts, hobbies, interests

Amy was a physician for many years and recently retired. She’s taking some time off to before beginning her next adventure, which will most likely involve aerial arts, getting her running game back on track, and a lot of volunteer work.

Amy is both adventurous and accomplished.  In addition to the aforementioned interests she continues to garden and increase her knowledge of aromatherapy which she did a lot of in California. Amy is a veteran and was stationed there when she served in the U.S. Army Medical Corp. “So, I was in awesome shape at one point in my life.” Amy is 5’1” and recalls a training in the desert for a month, “It was challenging but we also had a lot of fun.” 

What first got you into martial arts?

“I was taking a tai chi class when my son was a baby and there was guy in the class who taught aikido. My son started aikido at his dojo when he was 8 years old and the parents became interested, so they created a parent’s class that ran concurrently with the kid’s class. It was great and I wish I had come to it sooner. Unfortunately, I had to stop due to various neck issues and other commitments. 

Why did you choose Iaido and JMAC?

“I wanted to find something that would work on my lower body strength and balance, because as we age these become real big issues. I thought iaido would be something that would help me with that. My aikido instructor, who also taught iaido, was no longer teaching, so I looked at a couple dojos that were close to where I live but none of them appealed to me. My search was expanded to Ann Arbor, where I spoke with Suino Sensei and automatically noted that JMAC was far superior to the other places I had visited. It was like night and day. I took my intro lessons, wobbling all over the place”, and she added, smiling, “and Sensei said ‘I think we can help you’. I felt it was worth it to drive all the way to Ann Arbor.”

What are your greatest challenges in martial arts?

“Concentration. I know that this is one of the things that this art is good for. I know that I need to challenge myself to concentrate better and be more conscious about that. With everything going on in our lives, it can be difficult to focus.” As for other challenges, Amy states “the thing I’m going to work on now, is really nailing down the basics in our forms.”

What unexpected benefits have you experienced as a result of your training?

“What comes to mind first is the camaraderie and the friendships. There’s a diverse population at JMAC, all ages and persuasions. Everyone here is nonjudgmental and you don’t feel lesser for who you are. It’s a non-competitive atmosphere and people are supportive of each other and this makes for a wonderful kind of learning environment and dojo experience. “And, of course, the instructors here make a huge difference - Absolutely, they’re all great.  I ended up taking some private lessons with Holland Sensei, because I couldn’t always get here during my busy workweek. That made an enormous difference. The one on one time was a great way for me to learn. I think that if those things had not been true, if the teachers were not supportive, I wouldn’t have kept coming. It’s very gratifying.”

“I didn’t know very much about iaido at the beginning and found it interesting in so many different ways, including philosophically and the exactitude of it.  It’s very beautiful when it’s done by people who know what they’re doing. It’s an exquisite art form. And since I went into it for the exercise, I wasn’t expecting to love the history of the art – the samurai culture, uniqueness of the sword itself, and its fittings. I have a whole new appreciation for Japanese swords that I never had before. Previously, it was just a curved blade, and I didn’t know how it was different from a straight middle ages-type sword. I found myself wanting to learn more about them - their history and how they’re made.”

An additional observation that Amy noted is that almost everyone in the program has some type of science-based background, be it computers, medical arts, or engineering. “I find it a fascinating part of this program that it attracts an exacting, analytical mind.”  

How has your training carried over into your professional or personal life?

Amy chuckles, “Well, everyone at work always thought it was really cool.” She continues, “It gives me certain centeredness. It’s something that’s always there in your head, and there is a certain way that it grounds me, even when I’m not noticing. It definitely has a positive impact on my life.” 

Do you have ideas/thoughts about the experience of training at JMAC?

“I appreciate the wonderful teaching here and just the atmosphere and the friendships. If it weren’t for that I wouldn’t be driving that far to train. The more I learn about it the more fascinating I find it to be.” 


Serving Southeast Michigan:

JMAC students come to practice from throughout Southeast Michigan, from such areas as:

  • Ann Arbor
  • Birmingham
  • Bloomfield
  • Brighton
  • Canton
  • Chelsea
  • Clinton Township
  • Detroit
  • Dexter
  • Dundee
  • Fenton
  • Fowlerville
  • Grass Lake
  • Howell
  • Inkster
  • Jackson
  • Lansing
  • Livonia
  • Manchester
  • Milan
  • Milford
  • Monroe
  • Novi
  • Okemos
  • Pinckney
  • Plymouth
  • Rochester
  • Romulus
  • Saline
  • Southfield
  • Tecumseh
  • Troy
  • Whitmore Lake
  • Wixom
  • Ypsilanti
  • University of Michigan
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Michigan State University
  • Washtenaw Community College
  • Oakland Community College
Directions to JMAC

Links | Site Map | Misspellings
Judo | Jujutsu | Iaido | Karate | Ann Arbor Martial Arts

Web Hosting by Network Services Group, LLC
Website Design by SEO Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor - Martial Arts Mecca

For the prospective martial arts student, Ann Arbor is a mecca in the Midwest. More than any other location in Michigan, Ann Arbor has a wide variety of martial arts styles taught by many well respected sensei (teachers). You can find training opportunities at community centers, college and university gyms, health clubs, fitness centers and dojos (training halls). Among the styles available are: aikido, iaido, judo, jiu-jitsu (also called jujutsu), karate, kendo, kung fu, MMA (mixed martial arts, sometimes called BJJ) tae kwon do, tai chi, and many westernized martial arts systems. At JMAC, we offer world class instruction in judo, jiu-jitsu, iaido (Japanese swordsmanship), and karate for kids.


Aikido is a martial arts descended from jiu-jitsu. It includes joint locks, throws, takedowns, and pins. The philosophy of aikido is a peaceful one - to use the attacker’s energy to neutralize his or her attack without causing injury. Aikido is taught in several forms, such as Aikikai, Ki Society, and Yoshinkan. Aikido was founded by Ueshiba Morihei, who studied with Takeda Sokaku, the most famous practitioner of Daito Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu. Its principles can be found in almost every Japanese martial art, especially jiu-jitsu and judo. Read more about the physical and philosophical principles of Nihon Jujutsu.

Iaido in Ann Arbor

Iaido is Japanese sword drawing. It was created by the Samurai to defend against surprise attacks by an armed opponent. Most iaido involves the practice of pre-arranged forms, which are excellent tools for training the body, improving concentration, and entering into a meditative state. Finding a talented instructor in iaido with legitimate credentials is rare … in the Midwest it’s practically unheard of. For those with a desire to compete in swordsmanship for sport, kendo is the activity of choice. Those who are willing to endure an occasional whack on the head may pursue bokken kumite (sparring with wooden swords) with our director’s authorization once they reach black belt at JMAC. Read more about iaido at JMAC.

Ann Arbor Judo

Judo was founded by Professor Jigoro Kano. It is both a martial art and an Olympic sport. It includes throws, pins, joint locks, and chokes. It is among the most vigorous of martial arts and is very popular with children as well as adults. The Japanese Martial Arts Center offers classes in judo for children as young as 6 years old, and for adults (starting at age 16). One fact not widely known is that sport judo is a narrow cross section of the complete art of judo. Proponents of the entire art, such as Satoh Tadayuki Sensei of Waseda University in Tokyo, recognize that the founder’s vision encompassed not only “judo” throws, but joint locks, takedowns, redirection, strikes, vital points, dynamic ukemi, kata, and weapons. Judo training at JMAC includes many of these opportunities. Read more about Judo at JMAC.

Ann Arbor Jiu-Jitsu (Jujitsu / Jujutsu)

Jujutsu - which is also written "jujitsu" and "jiu jitsu" - is the ancestor martial art of aikido and judo. Although it includes many of the techniques found in aikido, as well as many more combative techniques that did not find their way into aikido, the philosophy of jujutsu is more practical. Techniques are applied more directly, with a greater emphasis on pain compliance. Those who study jiu-jitsu over the long term improve their fitness, concentration, and ability to defend themselves. The Japanese Martial Arts Center offers serious jiu-jitsu classes for adults starting at age 16. You can learn more about the differences between Japanese jujutsu and Brazilian jiujitsu.

Karate – Kids Karate in Ann Arbor

Karate involves mainly strikes, kicks, and blocks. It was originally developed in the Ryukyu Islands (now Okinawa), and was later exported to Japan before finding its way around the world. Karate is an excellent martial art for those who prefer striking, and helps develop physical strength, stamina, and confidence. There are many forms of karate taught around the world today, including Shotokan, Shorin-ryu, Chito-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, and Kyokushinkai. If you’re looking for a way to help your child learn enthusiasm, fitness, discipline, and manners while having a lot of fun, consider the kids karate program at JMAC. We have an incredible core of talented instructors who have made it their business to inspire kids to be their best. Read more about our karate program for kids.


Kendo is a sport descended from Japanese swordsmanship. In Kendo, participants wear padded armor and attempt to score points by striking vital points with bamboo swords called "shinai." Practice is fast paced, involves much spirited shouting, and is a lot of fun. The Japanese Martial Arts Center does not offer kendo, but can refer you to a reputable kendo instructor in the area.

Kung Fu

Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art that actually includes many sub-styles. Like karate, kung fu involves strikes, kicks, and blocks, but also includes many esoteric motions that can be applied to take down or otherwise defeat an opponent. Kung fu often appeals to imaginative people because of the many references to animal forms, but it is also a very challenging and practical martial art.

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)

MMA (mixed martial arts) to a modern competition-based collection of techniques. Most MMA schools teach striking as well as grappling. Although not a traditional martial art - and thus lacking many of the character development and spiritual aspects of ancient Asian arts - MMA is nevertheless a fantastic form of exercise and a lot of fun. Because many MMA fighters have employed judo and jujutsu successfully, the Japanese Martial Arts Center offers private instruction to top-level competitors as well as occasional workshops for our members.

Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do is the Korean counterpart to Japanese karate. As a striking art, it includes punches, kicks, and blocks, but typically Tae Kwon Do emphasizes more kicking than does karate. Competition (usually for points rather than full contact) is very common among Tae Kwon Do practitioners. It is an excellent form of exercise, but seems more susceptible to commercialization than more traditional arts such as aikido and iaido.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is another form of Chinese martial art. It is usually taught with slow, controlled movements and deep stances. There are many health benefits associated with Tai Chi, including strong bones, cardiovascular health, and calmness.

Getting Started in Martial Arts in Ann Arbor

If you are considering taking up martial arts, you will find many superb opportunities in and around Ann Arbor, including outlying cities such as Brighton, Canton, Howell, Northville, and Plymouth. Students from the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, Cleary College, and even Michigan State University have supplemented their education with martial arts and found that the physical activity helps them concentrate on their studies. We think the Japanese Martial Arts Center offers the best programs in Michigan, but we’re interested in people who are willing to work hard and do what it takes to become truly accomplished. We encourage you to look around to find the martial arts club or school that best meets your needs.