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This paper proposes a motion control scheme which belongs to the class of the control schemes known as sliding-mode control with disturbance estimation. A novel adaptive fuzzy disturbance estimator works as an estimator of a major part of robot dynamics. The adaptation algorithm is derived by using the Lyapunov stability theory and provides global asymptotic stability of the state errors, resulting in the sliding-mode regime. The structure of the disturbance estimator is optimized by the introduction of three fuzzy logic subsystems, based on the physical properties of the robot mechanism. This also significantly lowers the computational burden and enables real-time implementation. Performance of the proposed controller scheme, as well as some practical design aspects, are demonstrated by the control of a direct-drive robot.