Martin P. Mieloszyk on the Roots of the Kościuszko Foundation

Business executive Martin P. Mieloszyk possesses a significant interest in his Polish heritage. Along with his activity in groups such as the Polish and Slavic Center and the Polish-Slavic Credit Union, Martin Mieloszyk donates to the Kościuszko Foundation.

Founded in 1925, the Kościuszko Foundation promotes cultural and educational understanding. With chapters across America, this organization conducts programs that improve the relationship between the United States and Poland while providing multiple opportunities to citizens. Every year, the Foundation contributes more than $1 million to scientific, academic, and artistic causes. Moreover, college students can obtain scholarships and participate in exchange programs through this group.

The organization is named after Polish hero Tadeusz Kościuszko. Born in 1746, Kościuszko originally served as a Polish army officer. At the age of 30, he moved to the United States and fought on the side of the colonists in the American Revolution. Named the chief of the engineering corps, Tadeusz Kościuszko defended troops in New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina. At the end of the war, the Continental Congress gave him American citizenship and made him a brigadier general in the U.S. Army. The Kościuszko Foundation was created to honor his dedication to duty and the contributions made by people of Polish descent throughout America’s history.

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What is Kendo?

Martin Mieloszyk is the president of L’Marc International, Inc., a financial services company based in New York. In his free time, Martin Mieloszyk practices and competes in kendo, or Japanese fencing.

Literally translated as “the way of the sword,” kendo is derived from traditional swordsmanship techniques developed centuries ago by the samurai, who combined fighting arts with spiritual training. Modern kendo was established in the late 18th century with the introduction of protective equipment and safer bamboo swords. Today, kendo is a combination of martial arts and rigorous physical exercise that strengthens body, mind, and character. It is a well-known international sport, and since 1970, world championships are held every three years.

Practitioners of kendo are known as kendoka or kenshi, and they are ranked according to their skill and length of practice. Two types of swords are used in kendo: a shinai or bamboo sword is used for sparring and a bokuto or wooden sword is used to practice basic techniques called kata. In addition to a kendo jacket and trousers similar to culottes, kendoka wear armor that protects their face, chest, hands, forearms, and thighs.

During a kendo competition, there are seven designated strike zones on the body: the top, left, and right sides of the head; the left and right torso; the right wrist in any position; and the left wrist when it is raised. Strikes on other parts of the body do not win points. Competitors vocalize loudly before they strike not only to express their fighting spirit, but also to indicate where they will strike their opponent. Typically, in a kendo match, the first competitor to score two out of three points wins.

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Martin Mieloszyk on Electric Scoring in Modern Fencing

Since 1998, Martin Mieloszyk has held a variety of business positions in New York. He started as a Porsche sales manager and more recently filled a position as a financial analyst for VR Mergers & Acquisitions. Before relocating to the United States, Martin Mieloszyk attended the University of Warsaw and was a member of the Polish National Epee and Sabre Teams.

The sport of fencing is characterized by an extremely rapid burst of attacks, blocks, and counterattacks between two contenders, each armed with a pointed weapon. Though the sport mimics armed conflict, the rules dictate that a winner is decided by an accrual of points within a time frame, which can be difficult to decipher given the rate of play. Widespread technological advancements have made it convenient to institute electric scoring as a means for deciding when a point is scored. While three varieties of weapon are used in fencing, the general principle is illustrated by the example of the foil.

The foil is a light weapon for thrusting at the torso, neck, and groin. Competitors wear a metallic vest called a lamé, which covers these parts of the body. Foils are built today with a button at the end that electrically registers a valid hit when the foil’s tip makes contact with the vest, or registers an off-target hit if it touches a non-metallic area on the opponent.

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The Origins of New York’s Polish & Slavic Center

With more than a decade of experience in business and management, Martin P. Mieloszyk currently heads L’Marc International, Inc. He is a member of the Polish-American Congress and the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union. Mr. Mieloszyk also serves on the board of the Polish & Slavic Center.

Founded in 1972 by Reverend Longin Tolczyk, the Polish & Slavic Center aimed to support the cultural heritage of the local Polish and Slavic communities. It also sought to promote the values of family, labor, education, patriotism, and the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage.

Five years after founding the center, Reverend Longin established the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union to further bolster his mission. This credit union proved so popular that it became the largest ethnic credit union in the United States.

Today, the Polish & Slavic Center continues to uphold Reverend Longin’s vision, offering numerous free programs from its two locations in New York. It has also grown to become the East Coast’s largest Polish-American organization.

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Martin P. Mieloszyk’s Advice for Strength Training in Kendo

Martin Mieloszyk dedicates significant time to practicing various forms of sword arts, including epee and sabre, as well as kendo, which is based on samurai sword techniques.

Students of kendo, Martin Mieloszyk notes, benefit greatly from strength training in their arms. Traditionally, individuals have used weighted shinais (swords), but these instruments may place undue stress on the wrists, contributing to poor form. Instead, students may want to use wrist weights as they practice, since these place stress not on the wrist, but on the arm. With wrist weights, the back, shoulders, chest, and arms are strengthened, bringing about improved results.

When purchasing wrist weights, people should generally opt for adjustable weights, which allow them both to fine-tune the exercise to their individual skill level, and to make easy adjustments as they progress. While wearing wrist weights, individuals can still hold a shinai, or simply make the movements necessary for the strike, with hands empty. (A wooden dowel can also be used to simulate the shinai handle.) Kendo requires the ability to make quick and accurate strikes; these skills depend on the strength and agility of several muscle groups in the arms, chest, and back, which may be greatly improved with the use of wrist weights.

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Martin P. Mieloszyk’s Tips for Beginning Kendo Practitioners: Target Points

Skilled in several sword arts, including epee, sabre, and kendo, Martin Mieloszyk has spent years honing his skills, and appreciates learning about the different rules and philosophies of each style. As Martin Mieloszyk explains, kendo practitioners recognize four primary target points, pulled from ancient samurai sword practices. Here he identifies, and briefly describes, these four striking areas.

1. Kote- This strike targets the right wrist of the opponent. Attacks on the left wrist are allowable only in a few specific contexts.

2. Do- This move targets the opponent’s right side, often the abdomen. The left side may only be struck in certain techniques, making it more difficult to earn a point.

3. Men- With this strike, individuals generally hit the top of the opponent’s head. Strikes to the sides of the head are also permissible.

4. Tuski- Only Yudansha (or black belt-equivalent fighters), use this technique, as it requires extraordinary accuracy and speed. The strike makes impact on the opponent’s throat.

In kendo, individuals only earn points by delivering one of the four recognized strikes, and the points depend on intent, form, and accuracy. The ability to deliver all four attacks successfully demands years of practice.

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In Brief: The Polish Slavic Center By Martin Mieloszyk

The Polish Slavic Center, headquartered in New York City, is a nonprofit organization that provides social and cultural services to the Polish Slavic community. The Center is the result of the hard work and dedication of a group of people led by the Reverend Longin Tolczyk. Tolczyk and his cohorts worked with Polish immigrants to the United States during the early 1970s, and saw the necessity for an organization that would both serve their unique needs, and represent their interests. In 1972, the Polish Slavic Center officially opened its doors. In 1977, the Center expanded its ability to provide substantive support for these immigrants with the creation of the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union.

The Center grew over the next several years to become a successful and important provider of services to Polish and Slavic immigrants in the New York area and elsewhere. Today, the organization occupies two buildings in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and receives annual city sponsorship funds that help it provide a wide array of free services to its members. It remains a vital part of the support services network for the Polish and Slavic community in the region.

About the author: Martin Mieloszyk is the President of L’Marc International. He is an avid philanthropist who supports the Polish Slavic Center, among many other charitable causes.

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