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Nicklaus Suino Sensei

Program Director

Suino Sensei didn't start out as a promising martial artist! He was a small child, often sick, and often talked his way into trouble. He grew up in a turbulent neighborhood, and fought his way home from school on many occasions. His parents, fearing for his safety and feeling that he could use more personal discipline, enrolled him in judo at the Ann Arbor YMCA in 1968. It was a decision that would shape the rest of young Nicklaus' life, leading to his position today as one of the foremost American experts on the truly Japanese budo experience.

He fell in love with judo instantly, and never looked back. In 1988, Suino-Sensei decided to see the homeland of Bushido. He sold his belongings, bought a plane ticket, and moved to Yokohama, Japan. Between 1988 and 1992, he practiced judo, jujutsu (jujitsu), iaido (swordsmanship), and kyudo (archery).  He studied iaido at the home dojo of the late Yamaguchi-Katsuo Sensei, one of the greatest of the WWII generation swordsmen. In 1989, he was appointed secretary to the Foreign Department of the International Martial Arts Federation, Tokyo HQ. He was four-time All-Tokyo forms champion in iaido at his rank level between 1989 and 1992, and represented the Kanto region in the All-Japan tournament in Kyoto in 1992...  Full Biography

Japanese Martial Arts Instructor Nicklaus Suino Sensei

John Gage Sensei

Senior Instructor

John Gage Sensei is one of the world's foremost non-Japanese leaders in traditional, heritage martial arts. He is the current head of the Nihon Jujutsu system founded by the late Sato-Shizuya Sensei (1929 – 2011), and is the Program Director at the US Embassy Judo Club in Tokyo, Japan. A lifelong passion for history, and things from far away places, particularly the arts and culture of Japan, began at an early age for Gage Sensei. He started studying aikido at age seventeen and judo at nineteen.

In 1986, he moved to Japan to dedicate himself to traditional Japanese martial arts. Upon arriving in Tokyo, Japan in 1986, Gage-Sensei joined the US Embassy Judo Club, under the direction of Sato Shizuya Sensei. He has also studied extensively at the Aikido Yoshinkan Honbu Dojo, under the direction of the famed Shioda Gozo Sensei (1915 – 1994), Aikido Meijin 10th Dan. Gage-Sensei spent many years honing his understanding of the Japanese martial arts. He joined the All Japan Judo Federation, coached judo at Japanese Junior high schools, traveled around the world as an assistant to Sato Sensei at martial arts seminars in Europe and... Full Biography

Japanese Martial Arts Instructor John Gage Sensei

Daniel Holland Sensei


Dan Holland's martial arts career started in 1988 when he was seven years old. He began training in the Traditional Japanese Martial Arts in January of 1998, which led him to Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu Iaido, Kodokan Judo and Nihon Jujutsu (under Nicklaus Suino Sensei), along with Aiki-Jujutsu (taught by the late Jeff Friedlis Sensei). In May of 2004, he began training in Nei Jia, the Internal Family of Chinese Martial Arts.

From 2004 to 2009, Dan Holland was an owner and instructor of the Institute of Traditional Asian Martial Arts in East Lansing, MI. In November of 2009, he relocated to the Japanese Martial Arts Center, where he currently teaches Iaido, Nihon Jujutsu, Judo, and Martial Arts for kids. He frequently conducts Private Lessons and Seminars in the Mid-Michigan area on a wide range of subjects... Full Biography

Japanese Martial Arts Instructor Daniel Holland Sensei

Jeff Hauptman Sensei

Karate-do Instructor

Jeff began studying Uechi Ryu at the age of 16 and moved to Shorin-Ryu karate at 18 when he entered the University of Michigan. He received his black belt in Shorin-Ryu in 1995 and continued to study until 2003 when he started his family. Jeff returned to practice and teach karate when he joined JMAC in 2010 and has been a co-developer of the kid's class curriculum and format since the beginning. Jeff is the proud father of four past and present JMAC kid's class students and when he's not at the dojo he runs Oxford Company (oxfordcompanies.com) which he founded in 1998.

Japanese Martial Arts Instructor Jeff Hauptman Sensei

Stephen Morris Sensei

Emeritus Judo Instructor

Stephen Morris was born in Wyoming but came to Ann Arbor, Michigan, as a child and has been here through school, college, parenthood, and now, grandparenthood. Having traveled extensively as a young man, Morris returned home to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Education.  He also worked an assortment of jobs including auto mechanic, musician, and movie projectionist, before finding his true calling in teaching middle school.  He is particularly interested in exploring connections between good teaching in the classroom and good teaching in the martial arts.

Morris has been training and teaching Martial Arts for over 30 years.  He began as a student of traditional Okinawan Karatedo and within a few years was also training in Aikido and Judo. He is very gratified to be able to continue his study of Judo at the Japanese Martial Arts Center, a traditional dojo, and is eager to share that quest with other serious students of Budo.  He is certified to teach, coach, and referee Judo by the USJF and USJI... Full Biography

Japanese Martial Arts Instructor Stephen Morris Sensei

Jon Spengler Sensei

Iaido & Jujutsu Instructor

Jon Spengler first trained with Nicklaus Suino Sensei as a teenager at the Institute of Traditional Asian Martial Arts.  After several years away, Jon restarted his pursuit of martial arts with the opening of the Japanese Martial Arts Center in 2006.  As part of the first group of students at the new dojo, Jon began studying iaido and soon added jujutsu.  Having been at JMAC from the start and earned black belts and joined the teaching ranks in both iaido and jujutsu, much of Jon's life centers around the dojo.  This is evident in how often Jon or members of his family are at JMAC.

Japanese Martial Arts Instructor Jon Spengler Sensei

Dana Jackson


Dana Jackson was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1978. At the age of 10 he began his martial arts training in Iki-Shin-Do, an obscure form of karate that branched off from the Shotokan style of karate. He trained with Sensei John Anderson for eight years, eventually being awarded the rank of nidan. He took a brief hiatus from martial arts while he attended school at Saginaw Valley State University where he played collegiate soccer. After several years of searching for a new karate dojo and never really being completely satisfied with what other schools had to offer, Jackson-Sensei decided to start looking at other martial arts. This eventually lead him to judo and the Japanese Martial Arts Center, where he began training with Suino Sensei in January of 2008. He has since earned several levels of black belt, currently hold the rank of yondan, and inspires JMAC students while teaching judo.

Japanese Martial Arts Instructor Dana Jackson

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.