Thursday, November 6, 2014

Upcoming Winter Events 2014

We have two Ann Arbor martial art events coming up!

Saturday, November 22 from 11am-2pm

Special Workshop: Power Learning

Acquire Martial Arts Skills Faster Than Ever

Taught by Suino Sensei

(No adult classes that day... regular kids classes WILL meet!)
- For JMAC members 14 & over (all programs welcome)
-Please sign up in advance - no charge for JMAC members!

Thursday, November 27 - Sunday, November 30

Japanese Martial Arts Center is closed for Thanksgiving Holiday


Saturday, December 6 from 9am-noon

Special Workshop: Less than Lethal - Tactical Pen for Personal Defense

Taught by Suino Sensei

Offered in conjunction with Ann Arbor Arms

(No regular classes that day... kids or adults)
- Adults 18 & over only (all programs welcome)
- Wooden practice pens supplied
-Please sign up in advance - $50 charge
-Limited number of slots available for JMAC

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Martial Arts Stories

Jigoro Kano, Founder of Judo
The following two martial artists are connected to the founder of judo, Jigoro Kano. For more stories, visit this link.

Tanzan Hara Sensei

(1819-1892) One of Kano’s philosophy teachers was a legendary monk who is depicted in the following tale:

Tanzan and a fellow novice monk were on a pilgrimage to a training monastery. A storm came upon them, causing some of the roads to flood. A young girl was trapped on one side of a crossroad. Tanzan asked if she needed help.

Tanzan and a fellow novice monk were on a pilgrimage to a training monastery. The plum rain, or tsuyu, that washes through Japan during the earlier parts of the summer had transformed some roads into torrential floods. At one of the crossroads, the pair came across a young girl. She was trapped.

She asked Tanzan for help, so he carried her across the stream.

The two men continued their journey. The other monk was very quiet. “What bothers you, Ekido?” Tanzan asked his companion.

“You shouldn’t have carried that girl! You know that we are forbidden from touching women!”

Tanzan shook his head. “Are you still carrying that girl?” he asked. “I set her down long ago.”

Kyuzo Mifune Sensei

(1883-1965) Mifune, one of Kano’s best students, published the Canon of Judo. His teachings are still used today, included his tenants on Judo practice. For 62 years up until his death, he never missed a day of training.

In one humorous tale, he visited a karate dojo to view a demonstration. The instructor destroyed a stack of tiles in a single blow. “Can a Judo man do this?” the instructor challenged.

“Yes!” he replied. “Very easily.”

He took a hammer from his bag and began smashing the tiles.

“You are going to use a hammer to break the tiles?” the karate instructor asked.

“Of course,” Mifune said. “In Judo, we say, ‘maximum efficiency with minimum effort’. What you have taken years to learn, we can do in seconds.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"I Went to a McDojo": A Martial Artist's Encounter

One of our martial artists had to move away from the Japanese Martial Arts Center. Right now, she is on a quest to find a good dojo.

In a nutshell: the two times I trained with [the first dojo] I was in the same class with at least 5 children (under 10 years old) and a few very untalented white belts only, which is a pattern I saw in both places that offer some kind of Jujutsu. There are no advanced classes, because the level of Jujutsu is so low amongst participants. The whole approach is a mixture of Karate and Brasilian Jujutsu; most of the Jujutsu- participants do 90% Karate and the ranking system is such that if you have a brown belt in Karate, you automatically get a green belt in Jujutsu. (?).

While the skill level of some of the teachers is OK (and I am not overly picky here but meanwhile I know what to look out for), the skill level of the students that I saw is low to embarrassing. And since they are equally important as the teacher, this doesn't work for me. I also tried Judo, the class only had two white belt students and a Shodan ranked teacher with a strong emphasis on wrestling and grappling. This was actually fun, but again, no other interesting students to speak of. At some point I got annoyed by taking dangerous falls by low skilled toris yet having to apologize for throwing uke in my usual ways.

When I told the owner of the dojo that I really don't want to train Jujutsu with children under 10 he was very surprised at the fact that this had happened. He had been out of town and didn't know this was happening. However, if his "No 1 assistant" as he called him does that, I know there is a larger management problem. Since these are all larger, commercial places, I am not surprised but it's not my problem either. He actually contacted his own Sensei at another location and they wrote me a long email trying to lure me back with offers to train with the 'Super' Sensei (6th dan). Honestly, I couldn't be bothered to explain that, while rank and skill of Sensei is very important, it is equally important to have a good sized class with all ranks not just low ranks. You know that I will always help others, but I am not prepared to work with children and white belts only.

In short: you trained me too well. :-)

 (On a different note that may entertain you: I went to see 7 dojos overall and 90% of the Senseis and teachers are seriously overweight. Super turn-off! I cannot take anyone seriously who can only see their toes in the mirror.)

This is one of the most frustrating challenges I have ever experienced. I am so glad that my work keeps me from thinking too much about it.

Hope you are well. I would love to attend another JMAC workshop in the future, if that is possible at all.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ann Arbor Jujutsu Practitioner Combines Martial Arts and Leadership Research | Andrea Derler

(Below is an excerpt of the interview. The full interview can be found at this link.)

Andrea receiving her black belt from Suino-Sensei
Andrea Derler is a powerhouse. She knows German and English, and has international experience in Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

During the day, she is a consultant associate for LEAD Institute and hosts leadership workshops through Washtenaw Community College. She is a PhD candidate in Economics, with a focus on Leadership and Organizational Development.

At night, she dons her jujutsu gi and black belt.

Andrea teaching during a Chaos to Kata seminar!
The following article is an excerpt of the exclusive interview:
Q. You started six years ago?

No, I started four years ago, when I was pregnant. I stopped when I was six-months pregnant, because I was too big and heavy. I remember that at the first test, I was six-months pregnant, but was having difficulty breathing. When I recovered, I came back to the dojo and continued my training. Everyone was very patient.

Andrea during Jujutsu practice
Q. Less than 2% of people who come to the Japanese Martial Arts Center go on to earn a black belt. What has your mindset been as you have done martial arts?

It’s a mindset of passion. If you love something, you just can’t stop. The black belt is not something I’m particularly proud of. It was certainly something to strive for, but I was more interested in the mastery of the martial arts. Getting up to the black belt simply means that I know the basics.

Q. What is the most important lesson you have learned during your martial arts journey?

That I can overcome my glass ceiling. In the past four to five years, anytime I encountered a difficult throw or roll on the mat, instead of telling myself I can’t do it, or I’m too scared to do it… I find that glass ceiling, but Suino-sensei always tells me I can. And I do. It is possible, you just can’t give up.

Andrea doing a Jujutsu throw

Q. How have martial arts carried over into your professional or personal life?

There is always that glass ceiling, like the one that I talked about. You can’t run away. I have figured out that I must approach head-on. For example, the sacrifice throw was very scary for me. I could either back away from it or do it. So, I went at it straight away and worked on it. Encountering these fears has helped me realize that I can’t back away from them. Running away doesn’t help; it makes the fear worse. I have learned over time to become stronger in overcoming these fears.

Q. Your most recent project is Chaos to Kata, a leadership seminar that is a synergy of martial arts and the business world. What was your inspiration for the project? How did it come about?

I always saw benefits in the business world in the way Suino-Sensei teaches martial arts. Everything didn’t click until Sato-Sensei came to the dojo. There was a concept he mentioned. His English wasn’t very good, but he said a word… mushin. It was very short, but you could see that there was a lot of meaning behind it. His translator described it was a word that describes approaching a situation without bias.

Six months later, Suino-sensei and I met over lunch, and discussed it. Suino-sensei developed the kata. The process of developing the project worked well because we work in very different ways that complement each other. I’m very efficient and he is a visionary. I had the basic idea, but he brought it forward with ideas to generate the seminar.

Andrea demonstrating a Jujutsu set-up during a Chaos to Kata seminar
Q. Have you personally used the kata?

Yes! Many times.

I had a first time meeting with a CEO where I worked. He was 65, and we worked in a very patriarchal environment. He was very patronizing. The first thing he said to me was, “You lucky thing.” I physically made space from him, and went back to my seat to collect my thoughts. Eventually, instead of not speaking at all during the meeting, because it is my weakness not to act and withdraw, I began making comments during the meeting. I had to act. At some point, it was a matter of the management of his personality. I started to jump in, summarizing what he said, and saying, “Thank very much for that, and now to add to what you said…” It wasn’t because he was convinced that I was right, but it was more to establish myself as a viable voice at the table.

Q. What was his response?

At the beginning of the meeting, he sat far away from me and was very hostile. By the end of the meeting, he actually came up and sat next to me to shake my hand, not necessarily as friends, but to be friendly.

Q. What’s another way you use the kata?

Generally, when I get worried about things, especially in the long-term, I use the kata. There is a lot of chaos in the future. For example, I am about to move, and I was initially very sad and disappointed. However, I need to create space from my emotions. So, I created space by not thinking about it for a while. I put it in a box and created distance. Then, it came to the point where I could approach it and analyze it without emotions or prejudice. From there, I could begin to act. I looked for schools, analyzed the community. I got a job there. I began to see the good that could come of it.

The kata has helped me overcome the emotional turmoil and approach the situation in a constructive manner.

Andrea during her black belt test and practicing joint locks.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spring/Summer Events 2014

Iaido Camp
    ⁃    May 17 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Iaidoka at the Japanese Martial Arts Center

Memorial Day
    ⁃    NO CLASSES
    ⁃    Friday, May 23 to Monday, May 26

Jujutsu Camp
    ⁃    June 21 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

The Japanese Martial Arts Center's 8th Anniversary
    ⁃    After Jujutsu Camp
    ⁃    June 21 from 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
    ⁃    Potluck style! The best dishes mean bragging rights for the chef!

July 4th
    ⁃    NO CLASSES
    ⁃    Friday, July 4 to Monday, July 7

Judo Camp
    ⁃    July 19 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Down and Dirty Mud Run
    ⁃    August 24 at 6:30 am
    ⁃    More information at

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

5 Health Benefits of Martial Arts

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

(For a more detailed version, visit this website article.)
(Ann Arbor) Martial arts. You’ve seen it in movies, on your friend’s Facebook newsfeed, and in those “Things to do before you die” lists. Whether you have yet to cross ‘martial arts’ off your bucket list or keep a rack of black belts in your closet, here is a list of reasons why doing martial arts can benefit you today!

You Get Stronger and Lose Weight

One acronym: HIIT. High intensity interval training means doing periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise. It’s good for:
·      Athletic conditioning
·      Improving the metabolism
·      Fat-burning

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 will you feel that burning calories is effortless, but doing martial arts targets your entire body, not just certain parts. It’s also fun.

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.

You Stay Younger

In a study that compared 40-60 year olds who were either martial artists or sedentary, the researchers found that training reduced aging.

This means that compared to their sedentary counterparts, middle-aged martial artists:
·      Were more flexible
·      Had better muscular strength and endurance
·      Could balance with more agility
·      Had a lower body fat percentage

Fewer of the martial artists had heart diseases. The illnesses that normally hit middle-aged people, such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, showed up in much higher percentages for the sedentary group.

You Become More Intelligent

In an article from BotBot, studies showed:
·      Improvement in memory
·      Enhanced problem-solving skills
·      Reduced risk of Parkinson’s or Alzeimer’s

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 benefits your brain immediately.

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.

You Become Happy

It’s no secret that doing exercise makes you feel emotionally better. In an article released on WebMD, researchers stated that regular exercise releases chemicals called endorphins. The endorphins affect the way your brain perceives pain and act as sedatives.

Some of the benefits included:
·      Reduced stress
·      Alleviated anxiety and depression
·      Improved self-esteem
·      Better sleep

Also, 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 particular type of flow where a martial artist can act with lightening speed without having to think about it. 

You Meet Awesome People

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.

If you’re interested in trying traditional Japanese martial arts, consider visiting our site at, OR email us at for more information.


Friday, April 11, 2014

JMAC Field Trip!

JMAC trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts to see the Samurai Exhibit on
Saturday April 26 at 3pm.

 I (Stacia Proefrock) have seen the Samurai exhibit and it is pretty cool!
Lots of swords, lots of Japanese household items, a few big tapestries
with battle scenes, some Noh Theater Kimonos, some films, some tea
ceremony stuff. In short, heaven for the Japanese Martial Arts and
culture nerd.

 We are organizing a trip for JMACers and their families and friends. If
you would like to come with us and enjoy the company and discounted
tickets that we can provide, you need only complete these few steps.
Questions? You can email or call me at 734 834 5392.

 1. Give money to Kristen Seguin BY APRIL 18. Tickets are $12 for adults
and $8 for kids under 12. You can give money to Kristen at the dojo
(she's often there) or you can send her money via square cash. Go to and send money to

 2. Let us know if you want to come to dinner. I'm making a reservation
at Traffic Jam and Snug, which is a pub with a nice, balanced menu and
lots of choices and lots of room. Reservation will be for 5pm. Send me
an email at or a text to 734 834 5392 and let me
know how many people will come for dinner. Do this by April 18 if at all
possible as well.

 3. Get yourself to the DIA by 2:45pm on April 26. I know that's going to
be a stretch for anyone coming from Judo, so I'm willing to stay in the
front lobby and meet folks who are trying to get there from judo or who
get lost. It's normally about a 40 minute drive from the dojo to the DIA.
There is ample parking there in structures and on the street. You can
call or text if you are lost or are going to be particularly late.

 4. Kids are welcome. The exhibit takes about 60-90 minutes to get
through. Don't forget that i-96 is closed from 275 to Telegraph when
trying to get to the DIA. I-94 is the best route from the Ann Arbor area.
Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Right Fit: Martial Arts Ann Arbor Has to Offer

         Whether you are a seasoned martial artist or someone who has never been involved in martial arts, Ann Arbor provides many choices that are of high quality and integrity. It can be difficult to choose which program to start with when there is such a variety. Some questions that you might ask when picking a program are:

“Will I be taught practical self-defense?”
“Can I use these techniques in the real world?”
“Are the instructors up to par with the principles they teach?”
“Do I have to be physically fit already? Will I become physically fit with this program?”
“Is the place safe and clean?”
“Of all the different martial arts Ann Arbor affords, why choose this one?”

            You’ve heard the horror stories of people being taught half-baked techniques from McDojos. You don’t want a martial arts academy that drains your wallet and keeps you there with premature belt promotions. If practicing a martial art is anything like dating, finding the right place can be productive and happy for all parties involved. If it’s a bad fit, you find yourself miserable and poorer than where you started. You just want to find the right fit.

            If your first concern were self-defense, would it help you to know that at the Japanese Martial Arts Center a female in the Judo program successfully fended off an attacker with techniques that she learned at the dojo? You also get a chance to train with several instructors that have specially tailored seminars geared towards self-defense. At the end of the day, you want to leave with the proper skills to protect yourself.

            The benefit of finding the right dojo is being able to learn applicable self-defense techniques. It means feeling confident that what you learn in the dojo is effective and well structured, taught by instructors that are martial arts savvy. It allows you to grow as an individual in physical fitness, mental discipline, and self-efficacy. The right dojo for you will make you feel safe from disease and poor training, and respected.

            Of all the martial arts Ann Arbor presents, the Japanese Martial Arts Center meets all of your standards. The traditional Japanese martial arts can have powerful applications with devastating results. World-class instructors that have not stopped learning, competing, and growing as martial artists will teach you. We are more interested in your growth as a martial artist than using promotions as an incentive of keeping you. You will be in programs that have safe, structured curriculum, which are appropriate for all age groups, including kids, young adults, and adults.
            Getting started is easy. You aren’t asked to fork out cash and sign a contract when you enter the door. Instead, you are welcome to watch a class or two in the program that you are interested in. If the training looks like something that would appeal to you, then you can arrange for two FREE private introductory lessons with one of the instructors. In those lessons, you will be taught basic etiquette and enough fundamentals where joining the other students will feel effortless.


Are the techniques effective?
Yes! We teach traditional Japanese martial arts, with rankings that are recognized by the Shudokan Martial Arts Association. We have students that go on to compete in national and state level tournaments, often coming away with medals in kata and randori divisions. We also have students that have gone on to defend themselves in life-threatening situations.

Would I be welcomed there?
Yes! It doesn’t matter where you are in your martial arts career, how physically active you are, or your personal identity. As long as you are respectful of other students’ safety, you will get the chance to work in an environment that both challenges and encourages you. We have classes for children, teens, and adults.

Is it a clean, safe facility?
Yes! The claim to fame that this martial arts Ann Arbor dojo has is the spring tatami mat, which ensures safe falls. (There are over 1400 springs in the floor, which makes it bouncy and increases your longevity as a martial artist!) The curriculum is structured with evolving, intelligent techniques and occasional conditioning to create the optimum environment for a burgeoning martial artist.

Are the instructors qualified to teach?
Yes, and then some! For example, the head instructor, Suino-sensei, has a two-generation martial arts lineage that extends to the legendary Mifune Kyuzo. He has published influential material extensively in the martial arts field, including The Arts of Japanese Swordsmanship. He holds positions in several international martial arts committees. You can view other profiles here.

Getting Started with the Japanese Martial Arts Center
            If the Japanese Martial Arts Center sounds like it might be a good fit for you, you’re more than welcome to come in to watch a class. Call us at (734) 645-6441 to arrange a time to visit, or check the schedule and come in when a class is happening. (Advanced courses are not open to the public, however.) If you feel more comfortable with email, you can message (or use the contact box at the top of this page) or message Kaily at
You can also visit us at 3853 Research Park Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Test Day Checklist at the Japanese Martial Arts Center

Kaily here,

I'm re-posting the old test day checklist Suino-sensei published a couple of years back.


We know how hard you have worked to get to this point. To ensure the appropriate level of seriousness and safety, please follow this checklist when preparing for your test day.

1. Uniforms: You and your uniform must be clean and tidy. Be sure your uniform is washed and unwrinkled. Sleeves and pant legs may not be rolled up – please have them tailored!

2. Jewelry: No jewelry may be worn during a formal test. Be sure to remove all earrings, necklaces, piercings, friendship bracelets, etc.

3. Be On Time: Please be warmed up and ready to go at test time.

4. Dues: Your dues must be current in order to test.

5. Techniques: It is your responsibility to know the techniques required for your test. Check with Sensei if you are not sure.

6. Visitors: Friends and family are welcome to watch!

7. Waiting: Often, the hardest part of a test is waiting for your turn to be called. Please prepare yourself for an extended period of sitting and/or waiting.

8. Uke’s Role: If you are part of a two-person kata, remember that uke’s role is critical. Uke (receiver) has the job of making tori (do-er) look his/her best. Often, uke is being evaluated on the basis of his/her skill, just as is tori.

9. Decorum: At every moment during your performance, carry yourself with confidence. A mistake is not fatal, but an inappropriate outburst may be. Never criticize other dojo members.

10. Donations: You are asked, not required, to donate $10 toward the JMAC building fund when you test.

11. Factors: Many factors are considered for promotion in traditional budo, including time in practice, attendance, dojo citizenship, positive attitude and behavior, ability, and improvement over time. Try to excel in all these areas!

12. Certificates: If you want internationally recognized certification of your promotion, consider joining the Shudokan Martial Arts Association, North America’s most prestigious general budo organization. Check with Sensei for details (JMAC students at sankyu and above are required to join SMAA).

Enjoy the moment! Getting promoted at JMAC is a major accomplishment!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Upcoming Events

Judo Camp

March 15, 2014

Judo Tournament: Michigan Open

March 16, 2014
East Lansing, MI
Paperwork here.

DIA Samurai Exhibit

Field trip details TBA!

JMAC Anniversary

Celebrating our 8th year at the end of June!
Details TBA!

Merrell Down & Dirty

August 24, 2014
Detroit, MI
More details here.

Tough Mudder

September 20, 2014
Michigan International Speedway, MI
More details here.

Japan Trip

End of February, 2015
Details TBA!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mark your calendars!

Testing Date Reminders:
Kids Karate - March 1
Adults - April 19

Judo Camp:
March 15, 11am-2pm

Michigan Open Tournament [Judo]:
March 16, East Lansing

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Upcoming Events!

Hey there JMACers,

It's time to mark your calendars again!

Kids Karate has testing on March 1, 2014.

Adults are testing on April 19, 2014.

There is also a Judo camp on March 15, 2014 from 11:00am-2:00pm.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Jujutsu Camp

Saturday, February 15


Judo Camp

Saturday, March 15


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Reminder: Iaido Camp 

Special 3-Hour Event for JMAC Members and Select Members of the Public

Saturday, January 18, 2014 - 11am-2pm

"Structure in Japanese Swordsmanship"

How to align your skeleton to get the best balance, strength, and effectiveness in iaido.