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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

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Fitness • Focus • Self-Defense

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Health Benefits of Martial Arts

Reasons Why You Should Take Advantage of Ann Arbor Martial Arts Programs

What if I told you that there was a way to achieve the following characteristics?

  • Become happy and relieve stress
  • Lose weight
  • Gain fast twitch muscles, flexibility, and strength
  • Slow the aging process
  • Join a community of healthy, well-balanced people
  • Become more intelligent


You probably think you’re being sold a pill. That’s not the case. What I have compiled for you is a list of scientifically backed reasons why joining a martial art can help you. Whether you have ‘martial arts’ written on your bucket list or keep a rack of black belts in your closet, doing martial arts today can benefit you greatly!




A study that compared martial artists and sedentary 40 to 60 year olds concluded, “The results provide evidence that…. training is an effective intervention that may reduce or prevent [the] declines associated with normal aging” (Douris et al 146).


In the study, martial art practitioners were more flexible, had better muscle strength and endurance, and improved balance. They also tended to have a lower body fat percentage.


Because training in martial arts has cardiovascular benefits, fewer of the martial artists had heart diseases, compared to the group that didn’t practice martial arts.  The sedentary lifestyle and high body fat percentage that leads to hypertension, diabetes, and other illnesses did not affect the martial artist practitioners.


If you’re worried about starting at too young of an age, at our Ann Arbor martial arts dojo, you would find practitioners who are as young as their late 70s.


Boosts Your Mood and Relieves Stress


In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow, he describes how there is a state where an “optimal experience” or state of flow can happen. He cites martial arts as being “a specific form of flow” (Csikszentmihalyi 106) where “the warrior strives to reach the point where he can act with lightening speed against opponents, without having to think or reason about the best… moves to make” (106). This state of optimal experience is an accomplice in achieving happiness.


As with any exercise, it has psychological benefits. In an article released on WebMD, researchers stated that regular exercise releases chemicals called endorphins. The endorphins affect the way your brain perceives pain, often triggering a positive feeling in the body. Not only do they act as analgesics (cover the feeling of pain), but they also act as sedatives. This means that the chemicals relieve stress, alleviate anxiety and depression, improve self-esteem, and act as a sleep-aid.


Weight Loss, Flexibility, and Strength Gain


One acronym: HIIT. High intensity interval training means doing periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise. It’s good for athletic conditioning, improving the metabolism, and fat-burning. In an Ann Arbor martial arts dojo where the martial art is more sports oriented, the movements tend to involve high repetitions, or cycles, in a short amount of time. The movements also range from using your own body weight to shouldering someone twice your size.


There’s a huge calorie deficit. You need 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat. Depending on your weight and the martial art, you can singe anywhere from 500-1500 calories in an hour. Compare that to having to run 7 miles at a 10 mph pace or doing three Insanity workouts.


Not only that, but building muscle promotes a calorie burn after you’ve stopped working out. Because martial arts involve a combination of slow and fast twitch muscle conditioning, you promote muscle development.


In a study done on sedentary men and women, it was shown that after 15 weeks of strenuous HIIT activity, type I and IIb muscle fibers improved dramatically. The first muscle type is good at resisting fatigue, whereas the second muscle type increased glycogen metabolism.


Martial Arts Enhance Mental Performance


In an article from BotBot, studies showed an improvement in memory, enhanced problem-solving skills, and reduced risk of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s after taking part in an exercise regimen. The most effective types of exercises were aerobic and resistance-training methods, both of which can be found in the martial arts. What’s more, it doesn’t matter when you start. Exercise yields immediate cognitive improvements.


Martial arts are different from other forms of exercise, because a lot of it requires tactical thinking. This means an increase the brain’s ability to learn, or plasticity. Resistance training, flexibility or coordination, and aerobic movements all add up to enhanced brain plasticity.


Cultivate Friendships


As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” In a study that looked at how people stay happy, it was found that happy people tend to spend time with other happy people.


You’re also in an environment that often requires trusting a partner. In a study by Desteno, he found that being put under high levels of stress requires one of two responses: trust or distrust. If a group of people can trust one another, the stress augmented the working relationships that martial artists had with each other.


This is anecdotal, but anywhere you go in Ann Arbor, martial arts programs seem to attract well-balanced, like-minded people. The environment at the Japanese Martial Arts Center encourages growth, challenges the individual, and cultivates a rich working environment among its martial artists.



Martial arts are beneficial, no matter where you’re coming from. It can prevent aging, such as muscle atrophy and illnesses. It improves your mental health by boosting your mood and relieving stress. You gain muscle, pump up your metabolism, and increase your flexibility. You improve your cognitive functions. You cultivate connections with like-minded, happy people.


If you’re interested in trying traditional Japanese martial arts, consider visiting our site at http://japanesemartialartscenter.com/, OR email us at info@japanesemartialartscenter.com for more information

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.