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Meet Your Guide

Updated: 3 days ago

Alex Schenker

Natural Movement Trainer

MovNat Team Instructor

Sotai & Shiatsu Therapist

Martial Arts Practitioner



Qualifications

  • Licensed Shiatsu & Sotai Therapist (2-Year Diploma)

  • MovNat Natural Movement Level 3 Certification

  • MovNat Aquatics & Combatives Certifications

  • Functional Range Conditioning mobility specialist Certification

  • Kinseiryuhou Koshiki Kenbiki Basic Level Certification

  • Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu Practitioner (5th Dan)

  • Hyoho Taisha Ryu Kenjutsu Practitioner

  • ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Guide


I have dedicated nearly two decades of my life to freedom of movement & vibrant health. It is my vision to share what I have learned with those who can benefit from this and are ready to learn. My background is multi-faceted, and so instead of trying to fit it into one blurb, I'll tell you about my background in the healing arts, movement training, and martial arts in segments.

The abbreviated version of this, is that I have been practicing Martial Arts for most of my life, reaching the level of 5th degree black belt in my practice, and this along with the influence of my upbringing led me to study a 1100 hour Shiatsu Diploma program over 2 years. I have maintained a professional manual therapy practice for nearly 20 years since then. I later discovered MovNat Natural Movement training, which, to me, bridged my practice of martial and healing arts, completing my approach to health, fitness, movement, and self-defense.


That's my background in a nutshell, but we can crack that shell open now, if you want to learn more about my journey so far!


Healing Arts

I was raised in a health conscious household and introduced to meditation, yoga and healing energy work by my mother as a young child. While other kids got bedtime stories, I got bedtime guided-meditations. My mother was learning reflexology and energy healing methods like Reiki, Quantum Touch, Shambala healing, and whatever else my mom was using me as a guinea pig for. One of my fond memories with my grandfather was holding my palms over his eyes and giving him Reiki to help with his painful shingles. It was encouraging to hear that it was the only thing that provided him with lasting relief. Experiences like these cultivated my interest in the healing arts.


My mother was also studying to be a Yoga teacher and then later an ayurvedic reflexologist during my adolescence, and once again, I was the guinea pig. It wasn't something I was really interested in at the time, but I did grow to become fascinated with developing my range of motion, and this led to more movement practice. My mother still maintains her practice, but she has long-since lost interest in Yoga, and adopted the methodology of somatic movement with a strong influence in the Feldenkrais method.


After a year of soul searching after high school, a few factors influenced by to study bodywork. I was interested in energy-work, but I felt like my calling involved some more direct work with peoples' bodies and movement, so I started a journey that led me to a 2-year Zen Shiatsu diploma program in Toronto beginning in 2005. This program also included meridian stretching, Sotai therapy, and a significant emphasis on personal development.



I have been practicing professionally ever since, and teaching the self-treatment techniques that go with these therapeutic practices. in 2017, I discovered another element to my practice through the Japanese Canadian Cultural Center called Kenbiki, which is the practice of adjusting the position of tendons. I took the basic level training program, and later on in my travels to Japan, connected with my teacher and the master to observe their practice and learn a bit more.


My philosophy about living a healthy lifestyle revolves around making considerations for how we eat, how we breathe, how we direct our thoughts and mental attitude, how we move, and our relationship to our environment. I like to keep these guidelines simple and more focused on how we approach these aspects of health, for example, as how we chew our food, rather than what kind of foods I think you should eat.


Most of these categories of consideration are pretty self-explanatory, but our connection to the environment is both about how we organize our living/working space, but more importantly, how close we are with nature. I believe that one of the biggest causes of the deterioration of our health is our growing disconnect with nature. The bioelectric effect of a direct connection of our skin to the earth, the palpable effect of being in nature to our physical and mental health are all vital components of healthy living that cannot be supplemented. Getting deeper into this connection led me to discover the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku (forest bathing), and I have trained and been certified as a Forest Therapy Guide in 2022-2023 through the ANFT (Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, the largest organization in North America for training in this health practice.


I love all of these practices, but the most profoundly interesting to me is Sotai, and I plan to continue to learn from more renown teachers in Japan during my next visit.


I always thought of my practice of having a Yin and Yang influence, Healing Arts fulfilling the Yin aspect.


Martial Arts


Whereas my mother influenced my healing arts journey, my father's active lifestyle influenced the Yang aspect of my practice, being martial arts and movement training. My father is very robust and healthy, and every since I can remember we has been working out at the gym 6 days a week, and on his days off he did something like mountain biking or playing squash. On days where he had to watch me, he would take me to the gym, and I would sometimes try to work out, but mostly I would try to sneak past the staff and climb on all kinds of things I wasn't supposed to.


My dad's interest is in bodybuilding as a hobby. He never gets sick, and still to this day both of my parents maintain their active lifestyle. With my mother's interest in Yoga and healing, and my father's interest in strength training and physical activities, a balance of martial, movement, and healing arts was the perfect balance for me.



I have had a deep passion for martial arts as far back as I can remember. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I joined (and quit) many different martial arts, including Karate, Judo, Jujutsu, Taekwondo, Kickboxing, Aikido, Tai Chi Chuan, and Bagua Zhang. In 2004 I discovered Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, and for the first time in my life, I never quit!


In 2017 I traveled to Japan for 5 weeks to train with the legendary Masaaki Hatsumi Sensei, Ishizuka Sensei, and each of the other Shihan (master instructors) of the Bujinkan. During this trip, I earned my Godan (5th degree black belt), becoming a Shidoshi (instructor) in 2017. Shortly after this trip, Hatsumi-sensei retired from teaching classes, and so I consider myself very fortunate to have visited while he was still overseeing the Godan exams. Aside from a few days at the beginning and end of my trip, I spent every day attending 3-4 classes per day, and really enjoyed the opportunity to immerse myself so deeply in the practice.


Most recently I started studying Hyoho Taisha Ryu Kenjutsu in 2022, a traditional Japanese Samurai school (Koryu) with Yamamoto Takahiro Shihan, and Uehara Eriko Soke as my teachers, officially inducted as a fully-fledged member of the school in 2023. I had been studying online with the descendant of the founder of this 450 year lineage, and her teacher, the close disciple of her late grandfather, Yamakita Takenori Soke, the former grandmaster of the lineage, a deeply respected and renown master martial artist of his time.


Natural Movement Training


MovNat Natural Movement training tied everything I practice together. I always felt the strong connection between martial and healing arts, and Natural Movement is the golden bridge​ that connects them. This practice teaches people the vital movement skills found in martial arts, and teaches outside of the context of combat, removing the intimidation that many people feel about the thought of learning martial arts. These movement skills are things that are beneficial to everyone, and MovNat puts it in a context that makes it progressive and accessible to everyone.


I first discovered MovNat in 2015, and by 2018 became a master trainer, which involved being certified to the highest level (level 3), and completing the Aquatics and Combatives certification. Now as a team instructor, I teach the trainer certifications, workshops, and classes, as well as one on one sessions, and most recently became the Social Media Manager for MovNat and a proud member of the HQ team.


How it all comes together

Through the therapeutic modalities I can address foundational imbalances and help resolve issues of pain, tension, dysfunction, and misalignment. MovNat helps to build a solid practical foundation in the way we move as human beings. Ukemi from Martial Arts teaches us how to fall safely and prevent injury. To me, this is a complete system that can be used to bring your body back into natural balance in every way. Each element a vital piece of the puzzle.


For those who are interested in self-defense, the fundamentals of Taijutsu and the Combatives aspect of MovNat work well to create a simple and effective skillset and mindset. I understand that this element is not for everyone, but I also believe that everyone is better off with some basic combatives training for self-defense.

I enjoy working with people one on one, as well as sharing skills and working together as a group. I hope to meet you and work together some day soon!

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