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Nicklaus Suino Sensei


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 at the Ann Arbor YMCA in 1968. It was a decision that would shape the rest of young Nicklaus' life.

He fell in love with judo instantly, and never looked back. After early success in judo tournaments, Suino vowed that he would always pursue martial arts. Beginning in 1979, he took up karate and aikido at the Asian Martial Arts Studio in Ann Arbor. He excelled and became a member of the AMAS Instructors Training Program. 


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, 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.  He continues to visit Japan regularly, visiting and training with some of the world's most respected instructors of aikido, iaido, judo, jujitsu, karate, and koryu bujutsu.


He is widely published in the martial arts, having sold over 60,000 copies of his books, including The Art of Japanese Swordsmanship, Practice Drills for Japanese Swordsmanship, Arts of Strength, Arts of Serenity, and its revised version, Budo Mind and Body, and Strategy in Japanese Swordsmanship. He is President and Managing Director of the Shudokan Martial Arts Association and a Michigan Regional Director for the US branch of the International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF-Americas). He was director of ITAMA Dojo in East Lansing, Michigan, from 1993 until 2003. In 2006, he returned to Ann Arbor to open the Japanese Martial Arts Center, offering classes in jujutsu (jujitsu), judo, iaido (swordsmanship) and karate for kids.

Suino Sensei has been called "one of North America's foremost martial arts teachers." His personal mission is to master the most profound aspects of Japanese heritage martial arts and offer the true Japanese budo experience to his students. He believes that proper practice of Japanese martial arts can have a profound positive effect on people's lives. Since 2009, he has been consulting for businesses and individuals who want to improve their effectiveness using  the physical, mental, and intangible principles of mastery.

Article on Nicklaus Suino from the Ann Arbor Observer

Part I of an Interview with Suino Sensei at Ikigai

Part II of an Interview with Suino Sensei at Ikigai


           Shihan, 8th Dan – Iaido Division: Shudokan Martial Arts Association (SMAA)

           6th Dan – Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu Iaido: Eishin-Ryu Traditions Association

           Shihan, 6th Dan – Judo Division: Shudokan Martial Arts Association (SMAA)

           5th Dan – Iaido Division: International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF)

           5th Dan - Jujutsu Division: Shudokan Martial Arts Association (SMAA)
           Fuku Shihan - Jujutsu Division: Shudokan Martial Arts Association (SMAA)

           4th Dan – Jujutsu Division: International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF) 

           3rd Dan – Judo Division: International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF) 

           3rd Dan – Karate Division: Shudokan Martial Arts Association (SMAA) 

           1st Dan – Aikido: Shudokan Martial Arts Association (SMAA)

           1st Dan – Kyudo: Yokohama Wakabakai


           Managing Director: Shudokan Martial Arts Association (SMAA)

           Director – Judo Division: Shudokan Martial Arts Association (SMAA)

           Co-Director – Iaido Division: Shudokan Martial Arts Association (SMAA)

           Regional Director: International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF – Americas) 



            2014        Success Sandbox. Master and Fool Press: Ann Arbor, Michigan.

            2013        SEO and Beyond: How to Rocket Your Website to Page One of Google! 

                            Master and Fool Press: Ann Arbor, Michigan.

            2013        The Drinking Game. Master and Fool Press: Ann Arbor, Michigan.

            2012        101 Ideas to Kick Your Ass Into Gear.

                           Master and Fool Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan

            2007        Strategy in Japanese Swordsmanship
                            Weatherhill/Shambhala: Boston

            2006        Budo Mind & Body: Training Secrets of the Japanese Martial Arts
                            Weatherhill/Shambhala: Boston

            1996        Arts of Strength, Arts of Serenity
                            Weatherhill/Shambhala: Boston

             1995        Practice Drills for Japanese Swordsmanship
                             Weatherhill/Shambhala: Boston

             1994        Art of Japanese Swordsmanship
                             Weatherhill/Shambhala: Boston


            2006        “Te-No-Uchi: Gripping the Sword in Iaido.”
                            Journal of Asian Martial Arts, May

            1994        “Self-Defense Techniques of Nihon Jujutsu.” Inside Karate, December

            1994        “How to Watch Iaido.” Journal of Asian Martial Arts, August

            1994        “How to Hold the Japanese Sword.” Iaido Newsletter, March

            1993        “Comments on Iaido History” Iaido Newsletter, March


            1992        Champion, Yondan Div: All Kanto Iaido Forms Tournament, Tokyo

            1991        1st Runner Up, Yondan Div: All Japan Iaido Federation
                            Nat’l Tournament, Kyoto

            1991        Champion, Sandan Div: All Kanto Iaido Forms Tournament, Tokyo

            1990        Champion, Nidan Div: All Kanto Iaido Forms Tournament, Tokyo

            1989        Champion, Shodan Div: All Kanto Iaido Forms Tournament, Tokyo

If you'd like to train with Suino Sensei or the other extraordinary black belts at JMAC, call (734) 720-0330

or email us today to set up your appointment!

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
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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.