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Japanese Martial Arts

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Code of Conduct

Members of the Japanese Martial Arts Center (JMAC) are part of a special cadre of martial artists, dedicated to self-improvement through the study and practice of traditional Japanese martial arts. Because of the intensely personal nature of character development, the relationships between students and their teachers must be governed by a set of shared rules and mutual understanding. The following rules make up the JMAC Code of Conduct:

General Etiquette:

1. Maintain good personal hygiene.
Good hygiene shows respect for others; helps to ensure everyone.s personal health; and creates a positive, professional environment. It also helps to prevent injury to yourself and others.

  • Keep yourself clean.
  • Uniforms should be clean and neat.
  • Keep your fingernails and toenails trimmed.

2. Always remove your shoes after entering the dojo.
Shoes may be worn in the entrance area near the door, but should never be worn on the training mat. Removing your shoes indoors is a Japanese custom and shows respect for the place in which you train.

3. Please remove all jewelry before training.
Removing your jewelry helps to ensure safety for yourself and others. It prevents personal injury as well as damage to the mats. It also shows respect for the atmosphere of austere training.

4. Do your best to arrive on time for class.
Punctuality shows enthusiasm for learning; minimizes disruption; and sets a good example for other students. If you do arrive after class has already begun, please perform the "bowing in" ceremony on your own. Step onto the mat, stay close to the edge and bow according to the customs of the art which you are practicing. Then sit quietly and wait for the instructor to ask you to join the class.

5. Request permission before leaving the mat during class.
Your instructor should be aware of your location and should also be alerted if you're not feeling well and need to leave. Requesting permission before leaving helps to minimize class disruption and shows respect for the instructor as well as the other students.

6. Let your instructor know if you will be absent for an extended period of time.
Your instructor cares about your health and well-being. He/She also plans lessons based on who is expected to be in class on any given day. Informing him/her of an expected absence shows involvement and respect.

7. Participate in dojo activities whenever possible.
A traditional dojo cannot thrive without the enthusiastic participation of its students. Your instructor is constantly giving time and energy to you in the form of instruction and guidance - this is your chance to give some energy back while expanding your involvement with those at the dojo outside of regular classes.

During Class:

1. Always train safely.
We always strive to train in a manner that is safe and prevents injury. The best way to do that is to be cooperative and respectful to those around you. As well, if you have a physical condition that limits your ability to perform certain techniques, please let the instructor know.

2. Do not "test" others' ability to perform the techniques
During class, we provide just enough resistance to allow our training partners to practice the technique. Class time is not fighting time, and learning occurs most efficiently in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation. We do not actively resist our partners. techniques unless advised to do so by an instructor.

3. Address instructors as "Sensei" in the dojo. Even if you call the instructor by his/her name outside the dojo, you should always address him or her as "Sensei" while in the dojo environment. It shows that you appreciate their years of hard work and training; that you are open to learning; and prepares the way for you to receive respect from others as you advance.

4. Always say "Hai!"
"Hai!" is the Japanese word meaning "yes!" Responding with "Hai!" shows you are open and enthusiastic about learning. It is a more committed, more formal and more respectful response than just saying "okay" or "yeah." Those words are not appropriate in a dojo.

5. Always bow before stepping on or off the mat.
It shows respect and reverence for the place in which you train; prepares your mind for concentrated practice; and helps divide the outside world from the training environment.

6. Do not disturb other students during class.
We are all striving to learn; each student has sacrificed his or her personal time and money to be here and needs to have concentration to practice the material provided by the instructor. Do not distract others by joking or talking unnecessarily.

7. Never teach other students unless you are told to do so by the instructor.
Martial arts techniques are very complex and as a student, you may not be aware of all aspects of a particular technique. Each student has committed to learning with a particular instructor and though you may have good intentions, your advice may not be welcome. It is up to the instructor to teach new material and to carefully judge when each student is ready to learn more.

8. Never handle other students. weapons without permission.
Weapons are deeply personal to each person and should be treated with respect and reverence as they belong to other people. Weapons can also be dangerous if not handled properly and there are subtle rules of etiquette of which you may not be aware.

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

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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.