Buies Creek, N.C.—First Matt Mericle suffered a spinal injury; then he opened a martial arts studio. Sound ironic? Not for Mericle, who says the discipline and concentration of martial arts really helps him cope with his injury.
Mericle, a Campbell University senior biochemistry major, was a member of the U.S. Army Airborne Infantry and is a veteran of a tour in Iraq. His accident didn’t occur in the Middle East, or even near an IED. He was jumping out of a “perfectly good” airplane at Fort Bragg prior to his deployment. The injury was as severe as one he could have suffered in combat, however, causing excruciating pain that Matt must endure with the help of pain killers.
“I have good days and bad,” he said. “But martial arts keeps me in shape so that my muscles are better able to adapt and keep from spasming.”
But the scope of the assistance Mericle receives from martial arts goes way beyond physical fitness. It is really a way of life.
“The goal is to seek harmony with every situation that you are in,” he said. “Not only do you receive the benefit of physical fitness, it gives you serenity and confidence.”
Mericle and his business partner Campbell alumnus Jonathan McCraw opened up the Rapid Defense Martial Arts Studio located at 423 Main Street in Buies Creek in July.
The type of martial arts Mericle practices is a form of ninjutsu, the primary objective of which is the perfection of character. The practitioner of this art must be grateful for all blessings, never misuse his strength to take advantage of someone weaker and realize that selflessness is the foundation of all virtues.
But Mericle and McCraw want their studio to be a space where instructors of other types of martial arts can also teach.
“I want to encourage the exchange of information between all types of disciplines,” he said.
Currently Mericle and McCraw are offering two one-hour classes a week at a cost of $50 per month. They also intend to offer classes for elementary school students and community outreach centers and after school programs such as Think Smart.
“We are more focused on setting our prices so that people will show up and train, than being able to drive Porches,” Mericle said. “This is something I love to do and will do no matter what.”
Mericle, who joined the army in 2001 and received an honorable discharge in 2004, no longer considers his spinal injury a negative thing.
“I would not be here today if it weren’t for the injury,’ he said. “I truly believe God gives us obstacles in life that we can let defeat us or we can overcome and find a way to make positive.”
Photo Copy: Matt Mericle demonstrates a self-defense technique with partner Tyler Merry.