Marissa Meandro sees no reason to stick to just one style
by Randy Pascal
This was a challenge that Marissa Meandro could not pass up.
After spending the bulk of her martial arts career competing in the "Goju-Ryu" style of katas (forms), the 16 year old representative of
Benoit's Martial Arts Studio had started to broaden her horizons in recent years.
The expansion of her skill-set included performing "Shito-Ryu" routines at the occasional meet. "At the Junior Pan Ams, last year, someone
came up to me as I competed and told me that I should stick to just one style, because I wasn't doing it properly," said the grade 11 student at
St Benedict Secondary School.
Less than twelve short months later, Meandro would claim silver in the 18th Shito-Ryu Open Championships in Gatineau, adding a bronze medal in the
Pan America Shito-Ryu Championships during the same festival.
"I started focusing on cross styles - I still practice my Goju - but I also head down south on weekends to train with the head of Shito-Ryu Canada,
learning how to do some of these katas that I had never done before, learning how to critique them," stated Meandro.
In her mind, there were at least a few good reasons to pursue this particular martial arts tangent. "The thing that appealed most to me was the chance
to compete against some new people, people I have never competed against before."
"In Gatineau, I competed against a girl from Japan, which was a great experience." The reality when it comes to katas within the world of karate
is that there is certainly an element of commonality that can form the base for the cross style training that Meandro alluded to.
"Yes, there is speed and strength in both styles, but Shito-Ryu is a lot more flashy," she said. "It's a lot of movements that are sharp and crisp. It's
something I really had to focus on in my training."
Moving forward, Meandro envisions a bit of a balancing act, though it is one that feels is manageable. "I've been doing Goju since I was four years old,
so it's pretty much stuck in my brain," she said with a laugh. "There are times where I have made mistakes, crossing both styles."
"But Shito-Ryu is the one that gives me the most possibilities, just because there are so many more katas that I can do in competition. I love them
both." While her most recent competition was exclusive to those who train in Shito-Ryu, there are meets where athletes matched up against each other will
actually be performing different styles for the judges.
"The three things that judges look for are: conformance - are you doing the style properly, the way it should be done," Meandro noted. "Athleticism - if
I need to do a jump in the air, how high is the jump, can it be done clean and proper. And technical, the technical requirements of the kata, the benefit
of doing a skill on one foot instead of having both feet on the ground."
With her sights set on the upcoming provincial qualifiers, and a return to the Karate Canada nationals that she has attended on a few occasions
already, Meandro does not expect to increase her repetoire any further.
"I think I will stick to just two styles," she said. "I think adding a third would be too complicated."