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Shen Dojo promotes healing, neighborhood connection, self-empowerment

Daniel Muschiana is dedicated to martial arts, establishing niche Heartside Neighborhood

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If interested in joining Shen Dojo, contact Daniel Muschiana at 989-493-9671 or by email to set up individual appointments or register for future classes. 

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With training in the disciplines of Kosho-Ryu Kenpo Jujitsu and Yang Tai Chi Style, Daniel Muschiana wants to offer healing to the Heartside Neighborhood, working to establish strong roots. His martial arts studio, Shen Dojo, is located at 235 S. Division, Apartment #100.

Muschiana works to assist many people in the neighborhood, providing them with tools to defend themselves, whether that is verbally or physically if an altercation may occur.

“Those who are disabled, those who have been through traumatic experiences, sexual assault, rape, incest, where they felt inadequate and powerless […] if I can help someone rebuild that within themselves that is very important to me,” says Muschiana.

“One important aspect of my training that I like to have an impact on people is that it is important for someone to know how to both deescalate a situation and be able to escalate a situation,” says Muschiana.

He finds that more often than not we see things and say it has nothing to do with us, but he says the reality of situations that arise perpetuate negative habits in the Heartside District.

“I want to, especially in this area [Heartside/Downtown] which seems like altercations are all too common, I want to empower the neighborhood and hold the neighborhood responsible to handle situations when they arise, maybe if they aren’t even involved with it,’ says Muschiana.

“Sometimes living in a big city we can be really desensitized to communicating with our neighbors and interacting with people around us,” says Muschiana.

In the winter of 2012, Muschiana moved into his current studio on Division where he trains over a few dozen students.

“This particular studio, I like it because it is semi-hidden. You do sort of have to look for it. It isn’t a huge storefront on Division. It embodies the philosophy of martial arts: you don’t find the best teachers because they have the best advertising,” says Muschiana. “It allows you to see through eyes that are unclouded. That is where I have found my best students, those who were really looking for something and really took the time to find me.” 

Before his location on Division, he lived near Eastown where he had a large garden he landscaped, allowing him to set up his training equipment. Muschiana trained under Dr. Gregory T Lawton, founder of Blue Heron Academy of Arts and Sciences, for 10 years before opening his own studio, Shen Dojo. After the first five years of training closely under Lawton, Muschiana began hosting acquaintances, friends and family members. 

“Myself being a citizen within my neighborhood, the Heartside district and a resident of downtown, Grand Rapids, Michigan, I’ve had a broad perspective of time frames since I’ve lived in Grand Rapids,” says Muschiana.

Shen Dojo offers classes in an intimate setting, which Muschiana says allows him to gain an understanding of why his students find him and seek out his classes.

“I believe there is a saying that through Tai Chi you gain the flexibility of a child, the wisdom of a sage and the strength of a lumberjack, but I like to say warrior,” says Muschiana.

Muschiana teaches classes in the martial arts variety and is also working to incorporate workshops. He recently held his first workshop with pilates trainer, Lara “ZARA” Esponiza, infusing styles of yoga, pilates and Tai Chi.

“We owe it to ourselves in our life to really look inside ourselves and ask if I have the right to defend my life and defend my honor, whatever you deem your honor. You at least owe yourself the chance,” he says.

Muschiana was a student at Kendall College when he started training with Lawton.

“I needed that sort of focus in the time of my life. My body needed that focus, my mind needed that focus and my spirit needed that release and centering,” says Muschiana. “It was through the training of my mind and body that I started to get a glimpse at how enlightened you can become.”

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