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Keeping Mindful and Grounded


About the Author:

MeLisa Turcott Strongheart is a Master Instructor and owner at Mercer Island Martial Arts.  She is a 7th Dan Master Instructor.  She also holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology, Mental Health Counseling.   She brings these two areas of specialization to her work with families, children, teens, and in designing curriculum.   


Master Strongheart emphasizes and has taught thousands of students the value and power of respect.   Respect for oneself, other, and the community.   


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My Heroes...

My ultimate role model and my superhero, is my DAD! He works hard everyday to ensure I have what I need to be successful. He loves me with all his heart and I hope he knows I love him too. He’s done so much to enrich and create an amazing life for me and my family. Thank you Dad! With that said, there are a few other people I look up to because they have also had a positive impact on my life. They have achieved great things by overcoming a HUGE obstacle, an obstacle I’m very familia

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My 5 Living Heroes

My living heroes are:

  1. Bentley, my trombone teacher, because he encourages me to go on and teaches me trombone.
  2. Jordan Morris because he shows me that you can do what you want no matter what.
  3. Bear Grylls because he shows me that no matter what situation you are in you can survive.
  4. My mom because she always builds me up.
  5. My dad because he is always spending time with me
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Black belt essay questions

1. My goals upon having reached black belt for my future learning, are to learn better leadership skills. I began coming when I was 7, and since then I have learned much better leadership skills since. I have learned a lot, but other people have helped me much more than I have helped others, because of their wonderful leadership skills, and those people have made a mark in my life. I also hope to get better at flexibility I mostly achieve my kicks at the right night, but sometimes when I am spar

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My 5 living hero’s

1. Ringo Starr: I consider Ringo Starr a hero because my family love to listen to the classic rock band the Beatles. I have grown up with the Beatles music and I idolize them as musicians and as people.
2. Mom: my mom is one of my biggest heroes because even when she is stressed at work an super busy, she still makes time for me. The other reason is I wouldn’t be anywhere close to black belt if it weren’t for her. The first time I came to the dojang was because she wanted me to try something new.

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3820654435?profile=originalRandom Bags of Kindness is something the kids and I have been doing for a while but have ramped up production for the black belt project.  We fill ziplock bags with items for homeless persons and keep them in the car to hand out to anyone who needs it. Usually they have water, food, socks, toiletry items, first aid supplies and other things depending on season (heavier socks in winter, more water in summer…) Some are designed for people with pets and have dog food as well as people food, some ar

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Recomendation Letter - Simona Lioy

3820654272?profile=originalI believe Marcello is a good candidate for a black belt promotion because of his hard work, dedication, and respect for the art. One quality of his that I admire and especially stands out is his ability to make a commitment and stick to it. This journey has had its challenges but Marcello has persevered nonetheless.  I also feel the experience of helping out in classes has provided him with the opportunity to lead without managing. This is also evident at home with our own kids whether running t

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Recomendation Letter - Becky Haruyama

3820654272?profile=originalDear Grandmaster Strongheart and Master Wells,

I am writing to you with the highest recommendation for Marcello Lioy’s advancement to the rank of black belt. For the years I have been a member at Mercer Island Martial Arts, Marcello has always been a consistent voice of encouragement and a great role model for me.

I appreciate Marcello’s respectful approach to providing feedback, and always enjoy practicing with him during class. I also know he carries the values of a black belt throughout his lif

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Community Service Project - Vera Project

3820654046?profile=originalFor my community service volunteered at the Vera Project.  Vera is an all-ages volunteer-fueled music and arts venue, and its mission is to fuel personal and community transformation through collaborative, youth-driven engagement in music and art.  Music has always been an important part of my life, and when I was in college and in my early twenties I was in various bands and also studied to be a recording engineer.  After pursuing a career in the music industry for a few years, it became clear

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3820654739?profile=originalMy primary goal upon receiving my black belt is to continue to train regularly; I greatly enjoy it, as it pushes me both physically and mentally.  One area that I feel I need to focus on is sparring – that is the most challenging aspect of the training for me.  I have a tendency to over-think things in general, and on the mats this manifests itself in my being much slower than I would like to be, and am physically capable of.  I am also excited to continue to train with my children who in the co

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What Kind of Black Belt will I be?

3820654708?profile=originalI would like to be an approachable black belt, one that other students are comfortable coming to for help. I feel I have much to give as I have struggled through (and continue in many cases to struggle with) various techniques, or aspects of the forms and have noticed others struggling with the same things. I enjoy leveraging my learning and experience, and know that I can point them down the path that helped me make progress on challenging areas. It will also challenge me to find ways of explai

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Marcello's Living Heroes

3820653813?profile=originalMy mother is someone I greatly admire; not only did she teach me to value tolerance, and judge people for who they are and not where they are from or what they look like, but she was also quite successful on her own terms.  My mother worked for various non-governmental organizations working in developing nations in the public health domain.  Being born in France (which continues to have quite traditional gender roles) she had to push past the limitations of not only her parents, my grandfather i

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What kind of black belt will I be?

3820653910?profile=originalI hope I will be a kind one who will help other people feel empowered and supported.  I want to be a good role model for my kids so they know that nothing worthwhile comes without effort.  I want to be the person who keeps showing up able to do the most with what I have, whatever that might be (because I’m not getting any younger!)  Lastly, I want to continue to experience joy in the practice of martial arts because no matter what color the belt it has been a great way to focus my energy and bec

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3820654840?profile=originalThank goodness learning never stops.  There is always something else to discover, some large concept to grasp, some better control to have, some tiny thing to master that makes a world of difference.  I hope to contribute more as a teacher, open up to more experiences as a student, learn more types of weapons work which I think is really fun. I would also like to learn more of the traditions behind what we do as well because I think that’s what elevates the whole experience from being a workout

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3820651337?profile=originalAccording to KidsHealth.org children 6 - 12 years of  age need physical activity to build strength, coordination,  confidence — and to lay the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle.

They're also gaining more control over how active they are.

School-age kids should have many chances to participate in a variety of activities, sports, and games that fit for their personality, ability, age, and interests. Brainstorm with your kids on activities that feel right. Most kids won't mind a daily dose of fitn

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Mindfulness for Kids: Lesson Today

3820652893?profile=originalToday we worked with the kids with their mindfulness meditation and breathing meditation.  We keep it fairly simple, to sit, in good posture, and focus on breathing in silently through the nose, and exhaling a little more slowly.   And paying attention to slowing breath.  Keeping mind on the breathing.   Relaxing and softening muscles and the body.   

We talked to them about using this tool when they are experiencing strong emotions like fear, anger, anxiety, as a way to decrease those difficult
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My Living Heros

Living Heroes #5
Carl Pepple

Carl Pepple was born in the mid-1970s. He went to college, then became a scientist. Somewhere in there, he married Kathrine Pepple. He started doing martial arts and became a black belt in multiple versions of martial arts. He is testing for his black belt in one type of martial art in a few months, and it will be his third black belt or higher in three types of martial arts. He just recently had a baby, Vivian, and she looks up to me a lot. Carl is one of those peopl

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My Living Heros

Living Heros #3
Ansel Leveque

My Mom is very hardworking, intelligent, peaceful, and loving. She was born in California. She loved school from her first day. It might have been hard for her at times, but she pulled through. Her Mom, my Grandma, was very loving to her, and also very smart. There might have been times when she and her mom fought, but they always made up. Her mom got divorced from her Dad when she was three years old. She went to collage at Amherst along with my Dad. She first s

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