Home > I AM JMAC > I AM JMAC: Andrew

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


I AM JMAC: Andrew


Andrew began training at JMAC in 2007 in Iaido.  “My wife knew how much I missed training in martial arts and gave me a gift of a bokken and membership at JMAC.”  Andrew took a break in 2008, returning in 2016 to resume karate training in the Goju Ryu Karate program, and recently earned the rank of black belt. “I chose to return to training in Karate, because that was my martial arts training roots and always a part of my life. Iaido is way more advanced and esoteric than other arts and I’m sure I’ll find my way back to that someday. Both Iaido and Aikido have helped my karate in that they get me thinking of other aspects of my karate.” 

Other facts, hobbies, interests

Outside the dojo, Andrew is an architect and founding partner of O-X Studio, a full-service architecture firm in Ann Arbor. “I started the firm in 2002 and we now employ 17 staff. I am also the Facilities Director at Oxford currently focusing on streamlining Construction Operations. He adds that “Architecture is definitely a way of life. Most architects go into it for the passion of design, as It’s not a field you go into for glory.”

Andrew likes to build too. “Another aspect” he says, “is that architecture is like learning kata without learning to spar.  I want to execute the design. A part of doing the construction end of it is learning to actually deliver. I think it makes you a better architect, just like sparring make you a better martial artist. You can’t possibly train without understanding the application.” 

Andrew’s not the only family member to train at JMAC, “I have a 7-year old boy who is itching to start training like dad! My brother, nieces and nephews all train at JMAC and love it. I love to hang out on our lake with my wife and son. In my spare time I am starting to renovate at our house. Architecture, like Karate, is a way of life and I find it is a somewhat all-consuming passion!” 


What first got you into martial arts? Do you train in other martial art styles?

“I trained for 7 years in Shobayashi Shorin Ryu where I was also exposed to Shudokan and Goju Ryu. I also spent 2 years training in Aikido. I started training in Karate for self-defense and fitness but stayed because of all the other mental health benefits.”

“Karate really became a part of my life until I let it go to focus on my career in my late 20s and 30s; I never stopped thinking about. In fact, I kept working on kata on and off. I really regretted the several years being out of the martial arts. It was definitely not a good thing to be away from in terms of mental and physical health and well-being. There’s also the meditative aspects of it and the mental discipline.  There was a clear distinction in my happiness when I was training and when I wasn’t.” He smiles, “Yes, martial arts will make you happier.”  

Why did you choose Karate?

“Let's face it, hitting things is fun.” he says jokingly. “Karate, like other martial arts, is a way of life. Finding my way back to it has helped me feel more centered. While I am focusing on Karate now, I plan to expand my studies to include Judo and Jujitsu; I don't believe I can be a well-rounded martial artist without studying various art forms.”

Why did you choose JMAC?

“I knew Nick Suino Sensei and did some design work for JMAC.  It was fun to be a part of the process. JMAC offers small format, focused training by some of the most well recognized instructors in the country, if not the world. The resumes of the teachers here are just amazing and speak for themselves. For example, Suino Sensei is a world renowned Iaidoka, being four-time All Tokyo Iaido champion and author of several books on the martial arts. Gage Sensei, a world-renowned jujutsu instructor, returned to the states, and JMAC after 34 years in Japan.  The resumes of the teachers here are bar none next to anything else in the states. You just don’t find instructors like this all in one area.  

“The teacher to student ratios are fantastic. I’ve experienced other schools where the classes were bigger and they would also have junior students teaching. There’s a vastly different experience between learning from a junior student and a master of an art.  I’m now much more discerning with that now than in my younger years.”  

“The dojo location and access are great, there’s ample parking, the training space is incredible, and the people are great.”

What are your greatest challenges in martial arts?

“Self-discipline and Focus. Being able to push through and exceed perceived physical and mental limitations.  As I age, I find myself hitting that wall earlier and the challenge is being able to work through that and push myself beyond what my mind tells me is my limit.”  

What helps you push through?“I just do it. It’s also the energy of the people around me.  But, overall, I’m self-motivated. Practicing kata can be a very solitary thing.  I’ll practice over and over again, pushing myself beyond my limitations.  

“The other challenge is working through injury.” Andrew incurred a snapped hamstring injury twice but is now feeling far better.  He worked through the injury by “being cognizant of it, not pushing past the breaking point, not becoming stagnant, and not giving up.” 

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

As I am learning to be a more effective leader, I’m finding that the increased mental self-discipline and confidence that are tied to my training are helping. Being able to breath and calm down and have mental focus and control is important when you have a conflict or a potentially conflicting situation.  

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

We revisit Andrews previous training experiences and he states that “JMAC’s true traditional understanding of Goju Ryu Karate is vastly different from the preconceived notions that I had at my former school. The way it’s practiced at JMAC makes me realize that my previous experience with this style didn’t even begin to touch on the real beauty and depth of Goju Ryu.” 

“Learning to meditate and the direct benefits that come from it.”

“There’s a lot of great people here.  At the Friday evening class, the main focus is on sparring and for me these are some of the best classes. No matter who I’m with, we always end up having a great time - patting each other on the back, saying thank you, and laughing about it because it was such a great time.”


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.