Article published in Oxted County Border News. Read the full article online.
Alexandra Merisoiu, who has moved to Oxted, is known as The Body Engineer.
She is the founder of The Merisoiu Technique Institute Of Health & Natural Human Movement™ and coaches groups and one to one in the ever changing woodlands around Oxted and Limpsfield – men and women.
She has been ranked second and third at the world karate championship and has twice been national karate champion and is a 3rd Dan Black Belt in Karate Shotokan. She still competes at an international level. It is through these learnings that she has created The Merisoiu Technique
In her latest article Alexandra, who is teaching karate at Oxted School, explains why youngsters should practice Martial Arts
Martial arts are among the most complex and complete ways to develop physical and mental skills, which are then taken further into day to day life as adults. The practice shapes one character and personality, and influences the choices one makes throughout life.
Sure, I may be biased considering I have been practicing martial arts for the past 20 years. There are very good reasons though, which are not subjective.
Develops both sides of the body
A Martial Arts student uses both sides of the body. As I always say, your body is a whole unit, we are not made of individual pieces. Martial Arts develop a complete system.
Developing both sides of the body means there will be less muscle imbalances, and less injuries and pain later in life. Furthermore it develops both sides of the brain, the analytical and creative side.
Let me give you an example. As I have experienced throughout my own life, being good and admin, understanding accounting, being able to understand and teach body mechanics, and also design websites and write articles, helped me start a business and grow it without much help.
But this applies to school work as well.
Trains the body from all perspectives
We’re not talking only about cardiovascular, strength and speed, but mobility and flexibility, balance and control over one’s own body as well. We’re talking about mastering your own body.
And I am not talking only about arms, legs and trunk either. But also about stability muscles in the body that help maintain a good posture, and reduce the risk of injuries, such lower back, for example.
It’s about developing strong foundations upon which to build a strong future structure. Martial Arts are a complete system that strives for balance, mastery and perfection, both physically and mentally.
Challenges the mind
Martial Arts are not repetitive. Sure, you repeat the techniques so they sink in, and the body remembers them, but within a few years you will probably know hundreds of different techniques, twists, turns, jumps, what they do and how exactly they are done in the smallest of detail. Of course, it depends on the instructor as well.
Furthermore, in Karate for example, there are 26 sequences, called Kata. Remembering what comes after what and doing them at the right pace, while tensing and relaxing the body at the right times, is very mind challenging. Some of the Katas are so similar that even advanced students and instructors sometimes make mistakes.
Variation and Creativity
If you are lucky to find a good instructor, you will learn to use every little part of your bodies, from head to fingers and toes, everything. These are your weapons.
Besides the self defence part, learning how to use the body in hundreds of different ways will lead to movement and mental creativity.
Later in life your children will not only be awesome at maths or physics or programming or just foreign languages, but they will excel in a few they love AND be very, very good at everything else they attempt.
For example, I am a coach. Biomechanics seem very logic to me and easy to understand. But then I also write poetry, books, creative pieces, blogs (I have hundreds of articles all over the internet now), I draw and paint (although a little rusty, not enough practice).
Furthermore I design and build my own websites and almost all the art work you see around. Being analytical and creative helped me to design my life the way I wanted it.
Do I owe this to Karate and how it developed my mind? Yes, I strongly believe I owe Karate an important part of my development as an adult. But it’s not just me. It can also be you or your child. Join me at Oxted School, Eden Hall, every Thursday from 8 pm, for 1h, and experience it yourself.
Awareness and Self Defence
Although fighting should not be the main reason you practice a Martial Arts, it is a valuable component and skill for children as well as adults in today’s society.
The fact is that no matter how good you are, no one is bullet proof. Learning to fight will not mean you will never be attacked.
However, it does reduce the risks of being attacked. Why?
ATITUDE. A confident and grounded, but not arrogant, individual walking down the street is less likely to get attacked.
PLUS, it is not about knowing how to fight but most importantly knowing how to AVOID a fight. And that comes with awareness of their surroundings and the people around you.
Martial Arts are considered a sport. Many do it for health and fitness reasons. And that is great. I like that.
But what many do not know is that Martial Arts develop what I call purposeful skills.
Many of the movements you will practice in the class will become second nature to you. Movements such as lifting, throwing, catching, playing other sports, driving and even things such as peeling a carrot or sewing become easier to understand, learn and do.
When strong foundations are in place, everything else is easy to build on top. And Martial Arts are among the disciplines that can set those strong foundations.
Confidence and self esteem
Sure, now I compete at international level for England. Now, people look up to me and learn from me. But as a kid I was bullied in school.
However, as I grew up and continued my Martial Arts practice, my life changed 180 degrees.
I became very confident is my abilities. In high school, university and masters I was among the top students. I was raising my hand and I was speaking in front of the class without fear. This comes from competitions and performing in front of crowds, where you have hundreds of eyes watching you.
I got scholarships, I was good at all subjects International Business Banking Finance and Trade related, some better than others but all at a pretty high level.
I also strongly believe that Martial Arts give a special level of confidence and self esteem to children these days when they are bombarded with all sorts of magazine covers models who are photoshopped to look perfect (or what some call perfection).
Respect, Humbleness and Discipline
Martial Arts are about respect, respect for Sensei, the teacher, for parents, for older and younger people, for the Earth, waters, animals, birds and insects.
Your kids will learn to respect and appreciate the world around them coming from a humble but confident place.
They are their own Hero
Karate gave me a unique image of myself. I don’t follow athletes and I don’t want to “become” like a certain Olympic athlete. No, not even secretly.
Seriously. I have no idea who wins what unless someone comes and tell me. I don’t follow anyone in particular. I do enjoy watching tennis, skiing and swimming competitions, but very seldom. I am my own hero.
The only hero I see is the one I look at every morning in the mirror. And I believe everyone should see the same thing.