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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


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which martial art should I study?

A: Find one you love! All the arts at JMAC are easy to start, and great for fitness, confidence and a winning attitude! Choose one that best fits your personality. If you like Samurai movies and want to swing a sword, iaido is your best choice. If you like competition and a great workout, you'll probably prefer judo. Men and women who like to learn effective self-defense in a safe and systematic way usually choose jujutsu. You are welcome to watch a class to help you decide! See our schedule of classes.

Q: How do I get started?

A: Choose a martial art! Sign up and take 2 FREE intro lessons. Then sign up for a membership. You sign up for one year, but you can opt out within the first 60 days for any reason. For more information on how to get started, contact us today at info@japanesemartialartscenter.com. Your life will never be the same!

Q: What is a fair monthly dues rate?

A: It depends on what the school offers. Martial arts schools in the US may charge anywhere between $79 - $349 per month, and each school should offer benefits that justify the price. We've compared legitmate martial arts programs around the country, and we found that a fair price for a month of training at JMAC - taking into account the convenient classes, the expert instruction, the extraordinary facility, and the other benefits - is $169 per month, but for a limited time, you can sign up for $149 per month ($115 for kids) If you visit another school with a higher dues rate, ask what justifies the price. Check our Visit Us! page for specific information on how to sign up.

Q: Where can I learn more about the different martial arts?

A: We recommend the best-selling martial arts book written by our chief instructor, Nicklaus Suino. The book is called BUDO MIND AND BODY, and it is available at our dojo, or you can order it from Amazon. It's a great place to read about how martial arts training can improve your physical and mental health at the same time you learn self-defense.

Q: Will I learn to defend myself?

A: YES, if you take our jujutsu or judo classes. However, don't be fooled by people who say that you can be prepared in just a few lessons. Real self-defense takes time to learn - you need awareness and tactics, and you have to get in reasonable shape. The good news is that martial arts training at JMAC will get you there safely, and with many benefits in personality and character development. Our students get in great shape and learn to live positive, balanced lives.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: Your intro lessons are FREE! For memberships, our dues are very reasonable when you consider the extraordinary credentials of our teaching staff and the quality of our facility. Stop in to watch a class and discuss specific rates for your training. Our long-time members tell us that the confidence, calmness, and success skills they've learned while training are priceless! You can view our current fee schedule on our Fees page.

Q: What is Jujutsu?

A: Jujutsu (also written "jujitsu" or "jiu jitsu") is a Japanese martial art that typically focuses on defense against attacks such as strikes, wrist grabs, chokes, bear hugs, and kicks. After avoiding the attack, the jujutsu practitioner applies a joint lock, strike, take down, or throw. Practice is systematic, starting with simple, safe techniques, and gradually getting more technical and advanced. However you spell it, jujitsu is useful for self-defense, great for cardio, and a terrific vehicle for personal development. At the Japanese Martial Art Center in Ann Arbor, we teach Nihon Jujutsu, a system founded by the late Sato Shizuya, Chief Director of the International Martial Arts Association. For more on Nihon Jujutsu, see our Jujutsu Page or visit the web site of the founder at Nihon Jujutsu.com.

Q: How long does it take to get a black belt?

A: The answer is...it depends! There are 10 levels of black belt in Japanese martial arts - the first one is called "shodan." The minimum required time to get to shodan is 3 years, but most people take 3.5 - 5 years. It takes consistency, practice, and a commitment to understanding the principles of your martial art. Beware of schools that promise you a black belt in a set period of time...they are selling you a belt but not necessarily training you to be good at martial arts. It does take time. But on the way, you'll become more fit and more confident, you'll make good friends, and you'll learn a host of skills that will help you succeed in life! See our Instructors Page for a few of our most prominent black belts.

Q: What is Judo?

A: Judo is both a martial art and an Olympic sport. It focuses on throwing and grappling. A judo match starts with the participants grasping one anothers' uniforms, then attempting throws and takedowns. If one of the players is taken to the ground but is awarded less than a full point, both judoka (judo players) attempt pins, joint locks, or chokes. There is no better martial art for overall strength and balance. Judo players become confident and very fit. At the Japanese Martial Arts Center, we focus on judo as a martial art, building good technical skills while developing character in positive ways. We also have Ann Arbor's only fully sprung martial arts floor, which makes practice safer and a lot more fun! For more about judo, contact us at info@japanesemartialartscenter.com to arrange a visit to class.

Q: How long have the JMAC instructors practiced martial arts?

A: Our chief instructor, Nicklaus Suino, started martial arts training over 45 years ago, and has studied with some of the most famous martial arts masters in Japan. Suino-Sensei lived in Tokyo for 4 years, and continues to visit Japan for advanced training. Many of the instructors at JMAC have spent at least some time studying with recognized Japanese masters, and they are dedicated to sharing their enthusiasm with you! For more information on the JMAC instructors, visit our Instructors Page.

Q: What is aikido?

A: Aikido is a martial art that uses takedowns, throws, and joint locks to defend against attacks. The essence of aikido is the use of the attacker's own force to disable the attack. For example, when an attacker steps forward to punch, the aikido practitioner can pivot and redirect the force of the punch, causing the attacker to lose his or her balance. Aikido is considered an excellent martial art for learning self-discipline and how to harmonize with others. At JMAC, we teach jujutsu, which is the predecessor to aikido. There are many excellent self-defense applications to be found in jujutsu (also spelled "jujitsu") and it is fun and rewarding to practice. For more on jujutsu, contact us at info@japanesemartialartscenter.com to arrange a visit to class.

Q: Where can I learn more about iaido (swordsmanship)?

A: We recommend a book by our chief instructor, Nicklaus Suino. Suino-Sensei's popular book is called ART OF JAPANESE SWORDSMANSHIP. It's available at our dojo or you can order it from Amazon.

Q: What is Kendo?

A: Kendo is a martial sport based on Japanese swordsmanship. In kendo, the participants wear padded armor and score points by striking one another with bamboo swords called "shinai." The object in kendo is to strike the opponent in one of four vital areas (head, wrist, abdomen, or throat) while maintaining correct form and attitude. A tremendous workout, kendo is fast-paced and teaches critical distance, timing, and angle principles for the swordsperson. At JMAC we teach iaido (traditional sword forms), but we can put you in touch with excellent kendo instructors in the area.

Q: Is there a chance I will get hurt while practicing martial arts?

A: There is a SMALL chance of injury in all martial arts. The most common are small bruises from a hard grab or the kinds of aches and pains you'd get from any good workout. At JMAC, we take steps to keep you as safe as possible. We teach structured classes, warming up first, and starting with less strenuous techniques before going on to the more challenging ones. We emphasize cooperative practice, since everybody is trying to learn and improve themselves. We also have one of the best training floors in Michigan, with tatami mats to cushion your falls, under which is a fully sprung floor to help absorb force. While you train, you'll improve your balance, get fit, and become part of a great community of experts!

Q: What is Karate?

A: Karate is a martial art that primarily involves punching, kicking, and blocking. Practice consists of kata (forms), kihon (basic skills), randori (free practice), and kumite (sparring). It is an excellent martial art for teaching balance, distancing, and timing, and is very useful for self-defense. At the Japanese Martial Arts Center, striking is taught in the jujutsu program. Although karate practitioners specialize in striking, jujitsu practitioners use striking as an adjunct skill to their takedowns and joint locks. For more on Nihon Jujutsu, see our Jujutsu Page. For more information on our Kids Karate program, see our Kids page.

Q: Why should I choose JMAC over another Ann Arbor martial arts school?

A: In a few words: because we are dedicated to expertise and extraordinary character. Our instructors are highly trained and motivated to help you learn. Our facility is beautiful, and helps inspire you to look inside yourself and learn. Our sprung floor will help keep you healthy. Our dues rates are reasonable. Our location is easy to get to. We have ample, free parking. We offer time-tested methods for helping you improve yourself, body, mind, and spirit! Contact us today at info@japanesemartialartscenter.com to visit a class!

Q: What does "traditional" martial arts mean?

A: It can mean many things, some obvious and some not so obvious. A few of the major aspects of a traditional dojo include: a verifiable lineage in a recognized historical style; a respectful atmosphere; reasonable fees, and observance of basic formalities. One reason many people seek out traditional martial arts is that they are more likely to teach decorum and mutual respect. Martial artists who want to become leaders recognize the importance of the quiet confidence that only traditional martial arts training can instill. For more on this topic, visit the JMAC Blog.

Q: Is Ann Arbor a good place to study martial arts?

A: Yes. Ann Arbor is a mecca for martial arts. There are schools that teach aikido, BJJ, capoeira, hapkido, iaido, judo, jujitsu, karate, kendo, kung fu, MMA, ninjutsu, self-defense, tae kwon do, tai chi, taijutsu, and zen. However, each martial arts school in Ann Arbor has a unique approach, with some being more traditional, some geared more for children, and some oriented toward preparing their students for competition. At the Japanese Martial Arts Center, we focus on training serious adults, including expertise in technique, focus of mind, and expansiveness of spirit. When you join JMAC, you will receive superb, lineage-based instruction in a martial art with roots in Japan. When you reach shodan (first level of black belt), you will know that you have actually earned it, and you will be delighted with the personal growth you've experienced along the way. Your training will touch every aspect of your life in a positive way!

Contact us today at info@japanesemartialartscenter.com to arrange a visit to JMAC!

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.