What to Expect When Beginning Martial Arts in Ann Arbor

Two people practicing karate | Martial Arts Ann Arbor

Thinking about starting martial arts in Ann Arbor?

Don’t know what to expect?

Starting something new can make you feel uncertain and intimidated. This might be the case for new martial artists. You may feel intimidated by your talented sensei and dojo mates who will know more than you. New martial artists who succeed learn to work through this uncertainty and discomfort to become great at their craft. It’s easier than you think! All you have to do is show up to practice and be receptive.

You Don’t Have to be Unsure of Yourself When You Practice Martial arts in Ann Arbor

When beginning martial arts, you might feel unsure of yourself. Martial arts are different than other physical activities because they come from a completely different culture. Not only do you have to learn the martial art you’ve chosen, but some words in Japanese, dojo manners, and traditional customs. It’s a whole new world! This could overwhelm you and make you feel self-conscious.

You may also be unsure about your physical ability. Martial arts may seem like they are only meant for fit, young people. If you don’t fit the bill, you may think you’ll be out of place. Perfectionism is also a common struggle. If you’re not good at your martial art immediately, it may be tempting to give up.

All great martial artists have been in your shoes. The only difference is that they stuck it out and worked through their discomfort. Over time, they got the hang of the warm ups, the practice routines, and dojo culture. They listened and applied critiques from their sensei. They attended class regularly and got stronger. They didn’t compare themselves to others – only focused on their own personal goals. Overall, the key to being a successful martial artist hinges on your desire to grow and live into your potential, no matter how uncomfortable that may be at first.

“I Was Hesitant to Throw Myself into Martial Arts in Ann Arbor”        

“As a beginner with little athletic experience, I was hesitant to throw myself into the world of martial arts. After my first interaction with Suino-Sensei, I knew JMAC would be the best place to learn properly, safely, and challenge myself in a demanding but supportive environment. This place is defined by its world-class instructors and friendly students. If you are even remotely interested in learning a martial art, you should consider joining the JMAC community. You'll never look back!”

This student started out hesitant and unsure of their physical ability. After studying martial arts in Ann Arbor at JMAC, they felt confident and safe enough to start challenging themselves and grow. This could be you! 

Learning A New Culture

To prepare yourself for martial arts classes, we’ve created the JMAC Beginner’s Series – a series of videos explaining things you should know before entering the dojo. These videos include topics like common Japanese words you’ll hear, how to count in Japanese, how to bow, and how important attendance is. You can watch these videos on our student information page. 

If you’re someone who has trouble with foreign languages, you can watch our “basic words” video. You’ll hear the words verbally, see how they’re spelled, and see how they’re said phonetically. You can rewatch this video as much as you need to recognize their meaning and be able to say them yourself before class. The more enthusiastic the better! We want you to have the confidence to give us a big “HAI!”

Something you may need to get used to is bowing. We bow before stepping on and off the training mat, before practice begins, and after practice ends. This is a sign that you will be respectful of everyone in the dojo, including yourself, by being on your top game. There are different types of bows and specific commands and postures. By watching our bowing video, you can feel prepared for class and ready to bring your best self to the mat.

Bring the Fire

Why do you want to practice martial arts? 

Is it because you enjoy the look and history of martial arts? Maybe you’re interested in self-defense, improving your fitness, or increasing your confidence? Having a strong motive to learn will make your commitment to martial arts easier. When you get on the mat, you promise to bring your best self to your sensei and all your dojo mates. If you aren’t committed, you might not bring your best self and that can affect everyone’s performance.

Your commitment also depends on how much you enjoy martial arts. Choosing the right style can make the difference. Do the research beforehand to find the right style. You can take a look at our schedule and sit in on a class to see if it’s the right fit for you. There’s no rush or obligation! We want you to find the right style and bring the fire!

Sometimes new martial artists are scared they’ll be locked into a yearly contract that they can’t break. That’s not the case at JMAC. You can sign up for a 2-month trial membership that you can opt out of anytime if you find that our dojo, or martial arts in general, don’t meet your expectations.

The Right Dojo Can Make a Huge Difference!

Not many new martial artists realize that all dojos are different. Each one has their own way of operating, teaching, and their own atmosphere. At JMAC, our dojo and everyone inside has a supportive attitude that aims to help you be better than you were yesterday. We do this by encouraging others, giving our all, training safely, and by measuring all individual growth as the growth of the entire group. Being in an environment like this can foster your own growth!

Embrace Being a Beginner

There is no such thing as a martial arts master. Martial artists are forever students. There’s always something we can learn from someone and ways we can improve. The attitude of a beginner may seem like something you want to shake off quickly, but it’s actually a valuable thing to have, even as an accomplished martial artist. There’s always something new to learn, and when you attempt it with no ego, as simply as a beginner would, you’ll grow much faster.

Remember to take it slow. The thrill of learning a new move can excite some new martial artists so much that they become obsessed with learning new moves. It’s easy to see why. The pride you feel when overcoming a challenge and moving on to the next challenge is very satisfying and is personal growth you can see. You must remember that there’s more to martial arts than just learning a large quantity of moves. You should be focusing on the quality of your moves and how you can improve, even if you’re already skilled.

The more moves you learn or belts you earn, the more your ego may grow. Remember your beginner’s attitude. If we all act like beginners, or at least like people who still have things to learn, our time in the dojo will be a lot more fun and worthwhile!

Immerse Yourself in Martial Arts

The more you see martial arts, the more you’ll know what to expect. Something you can do right now is watch videos of your preferred martial art. From there, you’ll get a better look at what you’ll learn and how martial artists act. Take a look at our YouTube channel for videos on iaido, karate, jujutsu, and judo. If you have additional questions about martial arts training, you can ask us questions via the contact form on our contact page.

Martial Arts Can Also Help with Mental Health

Training benefits your mind, body, and soul, and can improve your mental health. For some, it boils down to a change in perspective. Before beginning training, you might view yourself a certain way. After starting training, you’ll find you’re much stronger and resilient than you imagined! By feeling more confident and in comfortable in your abilities, you may notice a positive change in your mental headspace.

Empower Yourself Through Martial Arts in Ann Arbor

Martial arts can help your mental health by empowering you. Martial arts can help you become physically and mentally strong, which can help you challenge any feelings of powerlessness or inadequacy. You can be fearless, ready to take on anything that comes your way. This empowerment can also help you process lingering trauma. By increasing your confidence, you can remove your insecurities and learn to love yourself more.

Reduce Your Stress and Anxiety

Exercise in general can also help your mental health. Exercise has been shown to help those with depression because adding it to your daily routine can help you become more motivated. It also produces endorphins - mood boosting chemicals – that can lift your mood and can help with depression. Physical exercise can help you relieve muscle tension, which can contribute to anxiety, and it can divert your attention from anxious thoughts. Martial arts are especially effective for relieving stress due to their focus on breathing, meditation, and mindfulness.

Get Started with Martial Arts in Ann Arbor

Are you ready to grow as a person?

Want to improve your mental health?

Practicing martial arts in Ann Arbor can help you! Training can help you see positive changes in yourself both mentally and physically, and you can take these changes outside the dojo. How do you get started?

The first step is to give martial arts a try! Fill out the contact form on our website and let us know what style or styles you’re interested in, as well as when you’d be available to watch a class.  After watching, you can schedule your two free intro lessons, which can be taken with a friend. If classes at JMAC meet your expectations, you can sign up for a 2-month trial membership and opt out at any time. After your two months, you’ll have the option to become a full member!

You can expect a supportive and fostering environment at JMAC. We like to train hard, challenge ourselves, and most of all, have fun!

To start practicing martial arts in Ann Arbor, contact us today.