Jessica Merly's Posts (16)

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So many exciting things happening!

Hello all you wonderful martial artists.  So thrilled with everything that is happening at the school, such as parents night out, mariners game night and camps.  However, I want to make sure all you little dragons and team tigers know about the "two week challenge".  If you don't know or would like some more information contact me right away, so that you can get rewarded for your respectful accomplishments.  All students are more than welcome to try the challenge as well.  MooDo!


KSN Merly


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Cho Gyo Nim Merly's Essays

3820651374?profile=originalWhat I have achieved in life related to what I have learned in dojang?

When I first started Martial Arts, I had ailments that have affected the left side of my body, since I started working out and stretching, I find that I feel so much better, the pain is not as intense, I feel fantastic and motivated and excited to come and work out.  In addition to the physical triumph, I am in a unique situation where I work out and I also teach.  By getting to work with students, each day presents new goals and challenges, it could be a great work out or teaching a student something new or getting to be a part of a new students first time doing martial arts- and through this there is an amazing human connection and growing community. Conversations have lead me to do research on interesting books or martial art videos, I am inspired all the time by connections that I make in the dojang.

Something I have learned since becoming a black belt-

Since I have become a black belt I feel humble but empowered.  Not only as a human but as a female. I feel strong mentally and physically, I am able to hold my head up high and have comfort in the fact that if needs be I could defend myself and others. My observation is that many think your martial arts journey is over at black belt, but it is actually a new beginning. You learn amazing, challenging new lessons and what I find really incredible is that everything you learn along the way becomes that much more powerful. I remember when I first started, I would watch the black belts, and the energy that they had on and off the floor was so powerful, confident, and passionate! I remember being really excited thinking that someday when I achieved black belt I would be a part of creating that energy- there is something so unique and special about what happens in this space, and it is inspiring and exciting to get to be a part of it every day.

Something that I did that helped with my technique or development as a person/ martial artist-

 Persistence. I injured my ankle last fall, and not only was it challenging physically, but also mentally. I would watch classes and get frustrated that I couldn’t join in, I would worry that by the time I was able to get back on the floor it would be difficult and that there may be things I could no longer do, and I worried that I may do something to make my ankle worse. Now, none of these worries completely overshadowed my eagerness to be back in class, but they hummed in the back of my mind like a fly that gets trapped in your house and buzzes in your ear. Fortunately, I am surrounded by an incredibly inspiring and supportive family and community which has helped me to get focused, fired up, and ready to go!

What are examples of the things which motivate you most in regards to your training-

Interactions and connections.  If it is not fun, why would you do it?  If it doesn’t challenge you to grow and be a better person, again why would you do it? I’m an extrovert and I love language and communication- that is how I learn and enjoy new activities.  Learning from others is a wonderful art form of tradition, getting a new idea or approaching something in a new way from others ideas and perspectives is fun and exciting. Connecting with different people and creating this fun, empowering energy together in class motivates me to be focused, engaged and present in the moment, and gives me courage to push harder.


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Trick-or-Treat Safety Tips

*Use a flashlight, reflective tape, or glow sticks to make it easier to be seen at night.

*Cross at crosswalks and make eye contact with drivers before you cross the street.

*Do not go inside a stranger's house.

*Do not eat any candy until it has been checked by an adult.

*Pay attention when walking across driveways to make sure there isn't a car pulling in or out.

*Stay with your group, never go to a house alone.

*Plan your Trick-or-Treat route ahead of time, and have a spooky fun time!!

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Kicking It Back To School


We hope you had a fantastic summer, we certainly did, we had a blast with our summer campers!  Looking forward to a wonderful new school year and focusing on new kicking goals!  See you in class.

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Blanket Drive November 2014

3820647287?profile=originalFor my black belt project...I decided to do a blanket drive and collect a bunch of blankets for Seattle Union Gospel.  I remember as a child, up through my teenage years doing all kinds of projects for my community, so it is very exciting to be in charge of one as an adult.  So for the month of November lets work as a team and see how many we can collect.  Please let me know if you need a box for work, school, really anywhere we can put a box I'd like to see it there.  Thank you for your time!

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Jido Merly's Heroes


                                                                                  Living Heroes

Mommo & Daddo:

My In-laws have welcomed me into their family with absolute love and joy. Their kindness, warmth, and support are such a blessing.  They are such genuine, fun, and caring individuals. Having them as family really is a gift!

Papa & Pops:

I feel so lucky to have these two in my life! They are incredibly supportive, encouraging, and inspire me to follow my dreams. Their creativity and passion for life constantly remind me that anything is possible and to live each moment in life to the fullest.


My mother has taught me so many important things throughout life, for example, how to make the perfect pancakes, how to properly fold a fitted bottom sheet so that it doesn’t ball up (still kind of tricky!), how to balance a checkbook, how to remain calm when encountering your first cockroach (came in really handy when I lived in NY!)… But the most important thing she has taught me is to never never never give up, no matter what. Through her own journey in life, and in her encouragement for me to pursue happiness, I have learned to believe in myself and my own power.


My dad has inspired me in so many ways, particularly when it came to athletics. When I was little he was an aerobics instructor and he built me a small box so that I could take his step-aerobics class with all of the grownups out on the floor, rather than bounce along with them in the lobby. When I signed up for my first dance class he sat on the living room floor with me listening to record after record teaching me how to count the beat in a song. When I got my first bicycle he jogged alongside me and we would race from tree to tree around the neighborhood. When I made the basketball and volleyball teams he got me spare balls so that I could practice outside on the weekends. As I got older, we would take on Tae-Bo (remember that craze?) and yoga tapes on weekend visits, and he has even come in and taken a class with me here at MIMA. I am so appreciate to have always had his encouragement and support!

Black Belts:

From the first class I took about 6 years ago, I have been awed, amazed, encouraged, and inspired by our schools black belts. Their passion, commitment, loyalty, perseverance, patience, compassion, and dedication create such an incredibly welcoming, respectful, and fun energy in the school. I feel so honored to get to learn from and work with such an outstanding and inspiring group of people!


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Jido Merly's Journey to Black Belt

My Black Belt Journey

When I first started martial art3820646783?profile=originals I had no idea how much I was going to love it, and what an amazing impact it would have on my life. It is so incredible to be a part of a community in which we learn and grow both physically and mentally. I learn something new every day and I am so excited to continue my learning. I can’t wait to start learning black belt material and to learn more about instruction.

I was pretty athletic in my youth; dance, volleyball, basketball, ultimate frisbee, yoga, but I never had the confidence and strength that I have gained doing martial arts. Several years ago I started to have numbness and a tingly sensation on my left side from my head all the way down to my toes. I was in and out of the Swedish campus meeting with a neurologist for MRI’s, scans, exams… and in the end received no real answers, it was ‘just one of those things’. During this time I had taken a break from martial arts due to my work schedule, but once that cleared I was hesitant to come back in for class. When I returned  I felt so welcomed by the black belts. Now, through doing martial arts and stretching every day I rarely experience the numbness in my left side, which is incredible! I am so grateful to the black belts for creating such a positive, welcoming and supportive energy in the school, I hope as a black belt to be a part of that, and to be a part of furthering the wellness and learning of others. I have gotten and continue to get so much from training here, I want everyone to have the opportunity to learn and grow in such an inspiring space.

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 1380812_f260.jpg?width=260Princess Diana, 1997. "I knew what my job was; it was to go out and meet the people and love them." . . . "Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."

I recently read a book about the life of Princess Diana and I was in awe of her drive and courage to help those wherever there was a need. Now, typically she is associated with words such as 'generous, compassionate, caring, giving, kind,selfless, humanitarian"- all true, and all the making of incredible leadership.

As I work to become the leader that I want to be I find great value in the stories of others. In short, here are a few key lessons I took away from the story of Princess Diana...

          *Be Present in the Moment- allow mind and spirit to be fully engaged in what is happening right now

          *Positive Intentions- be open to the endless lessons and opportunities that each day may bring

          *Clear Communication- remember that communication is as much verbal as it is nonverbal

          *Lead Courageously- be decisive, focused, honest, genuine, and involved

One of the biggest lessons that I have learned from Princess Diana is that leaders inspire even in the simplest of acts. It wasn't through grand speeches and campaigns that Diana touched so many lives, but through her actions. She made a powerful impact by simply being.

I now begin each day asking myself, 'who are you? why are you here?' and reminding myself that you never know where the inspiration is going to come from today, be open to it!

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12 Ways to Keep your Mind Sharp

3820642436?profile=originalCross-train your brain
Cross-training simply means doing exercises that alternately work the left (verbal memory and logic) and right (visual memory) sides of the brain, thereby boosting mental agility over time. For a fun cognitive workout, go to our sister site,, where you can play games like Chinese Checkers, Cubic Rubic and Puzzle Quest for free in the Games section. Or, if you're tech-phobic, test your skill sets with some good old-fashioned crossword puzzles, Sudoku or by challenging friends to a Scrabble match.
Try something new
Neuroscientist Daniel Amen, MD, one of the world's foremost authorities on brain imaging, notes in his book Making A Good Brain Great that the brain is like any other muscle: The more you use it, the more you can use it. In fact, according to Dr. Amen, lack of learning causes the brain's pathways to start disconnecting, so he advises that everyone take 15 minutes out of each day to learn something new. Have you always wanted to learn a foreign language? Take time to master a few words of Spanish each day. Interested in ethnic cooking? Sign up for a course at a local culinary school today.

Get a social life
People who maintain strong connections with friends and family not only live up to 20 percent longer, but are also likelier to retain their memory, abstract thinking and language skills. Make an effort to surround yourself with people who inspire you to be creative and challenge your intellect. Try forming a book club, or take stimulating group trips to museums, lectures and poetry readings.

Hit the sheets
A UCLA study found that decreased estrogen in women is associated with lessened brain activity and poor memory. Engaging in sexual activity at least once a week enhances estrogen levels, thereby improving overall brain function.

Eat right to stay bright
Foods that are rich in antioxidants -- such as berries, dark leafy greens, grapes, carrots, beets and tomatoes -- have been proven to keep your brain in peak working order by preventing cholesterol from lining your arteries and slowing blood flow to the brain. Now there's mounting evidence that omega-3 fatty acids are also essential to good brain health. Says nutrition expert Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, "You should aim for two 6-oz servings of fatty fish, like salmon and light tuna, per week, as well as add walnuts and flaxseed oil to your eating plan to boost omega-3s."

Get to stepping
Engaging in regular exercise keeps not only your body but your mind on the move. "The research on the mental health benefits of exercise is incredibly clear: A daily cardiovascular exercise program helps you feel more lively and alert, and reduces symptoms of stress and anxiety," explains Laurie B. Mintz, PhD, associate professor of educational, school and counseling psychology at the University of Missouri in Columbia. But when it comes to the brain, not all exercise is created equal. In a study conducted by the University of Illinois, results showed that aerobic exercise increased brain volume and white matter (which aids connectivity between brain cells) more than stretching and toning exercises.

Chew gum
It may sound wacky, but according to a new study conducted by the University of Northumbria, chewing gum has a positive effect on thinking, memory and other cognitive functions. Andrew Scholey, PhD, of the university's Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, attributes this effect to a mild increase in heart rate, which results in increased delivery of oxygen and glucose to the brain, and thereby improves cognition.

Take a whiff
Japanese researchers have discovered that certain scents can actually make you more productive. In fact, several corporations in Japan now employ aromatherapy as a brain stimulant for their employees. Try sniffing lemon oil for a morning pick-me-up, peppermint oil to ward off drowsiness and lavender oil to keep those mental wheels turning throughout the day.

Change your tack
Forcing yourself to use your nondominant hand expands brain circuits that are connected to that hand, leading to increased mental agility. If you're a lefty, try using your right hand to brush your teeth or stir a pot of food. If you're a righty, use your left hand to wipe down a counter or jot down quick notes. You can also try walking backwards; it's known to help stimulate the brain and, according to some evidence, can actually help it grow in size.

3820642581?profile=originalGet unplugged
Try putting yourself out of touch with the world for at least two hours a day. A study commissioned by Hewlett-Packard found that e-mail and phone call interruptions lead to a loss of concentration and problem-solving skills, causing IQ scores to drop by an average of 10 points.

Drink a spot of tea
Instead of coffee, sip more tea. Peppermint is a proven brain stimulator that promotes concentration, while green and black teas help prevent memory loss. Lemon balm, a member of the mint family, also helps with retrieving information that is stored in the brain.

Have a ball
Practice throwing and catching a ball with a partner. Once you master that, move on to juggling. These types of sensory-guided movements fine-tune the brain's visual, tactile and hand-eye-coordination responses.

Found this on msn. I thought it was interesting and wanted to share.

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An Adults Journey to Black Belt

3820640945?profile=originalI have always been intrigued with the world of martial arts.  I remember as a kid watching Hong Kong Phooey and dreaming of being a super hero when I grew up, kicking away the bad guys and fighting for justice with my trusty sidekick!  Needless to say, the family cat did not always enjoy practicing this with me (sorry TIG). 

Thanks to the influence of Paula Abdul, I spent my childhood in tap dance class and in junior high, my shot at super herodome finally presented itself!  During a slumber party, my best friend in the whole world secretly confided in me that she had been hinting to her parents about getting to take martial arts.  It seemed their mother was all gong-ho for girl power, but her conservative Texan father was not so keen on the idea of his little girl kicking and punching and sweating up a storm.  We hatched a plan to get the okay from my parents in hopes that her parents would then agree. 

Our plan was a sucess and before I knew it I was wearing a crisp white uniform sitting in the "New Student Line."  As I looked around dreaming of being that super hero again, I noticed a large, scary, Korean man had walked onto the floor and the room filled with tension.  He shouted about being disappointed and working hard, everyone in the room responded "Yes! Master! Sir!" and as if on some sort of secret signal jumped up and ran to one side of the floor. 

 I spent the next three weeks shouting, "Yes! Master! Sir!" pretending I knew the kicks I saw others doing, memorizing a list of Korean phrases that were spelled out phonetically, but not explained, and sparring green and up belt level adults.  I felt like a human punching bag.  By the end of the three weeks I had a white belt tied around my waist and was told to work harder.  The experience left me feeling less like a super hero and more stressed out.  I was extremely let down. 

It would be more than ten years later before I set foot into another dojang.  A friend had recommended I try MIMA, I was really nervous.  Kyo Sa Nim Vlcek taught my first class I took at Mercer Island Martial Arts.  By the end of the class I felt energetically charged and completely enchanted.  I started to go to more classes and might have been caught a time or two punching and kicking couch cushions and pillows at home.  It has become my favorite part of the day.  And maybe, just maybe I have a new side kick named Jem ( my chihuahua, pekingnese mix).

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