Mixed Martial Arts Competition Builds Confidence

by Tiger Schulmann's Vails Gate

The Tiger Schulmann’s Mixed Martial Arts (TSMMA) Challenge of Champions tournament is always just around the corner. Over a thousand competitors register for the bi-annual event to test their limits and go the distance against other individuals within their same age, weight and skill level. Although the tournament is a venue where contenders look to earn the high achievement of a first place win, it has become much more than that for many of its participants who are “Challenging the Champion Within.

Many participants are attempting their first match, while veteran TSMMA students such as RYAN BURGOS of Vails Gate, NY has not only competed in the Challenge of Champions for several years, but also holds many notable wins in competitions through the North American Grappling Association (NAGA) and Grappler’s Quest. The 13 year old, 5 foot tall phenom has been studying mixed martial arts for almost 8 years and earned his black belt at the age of 10. Ryan is the youngest and the first of three brothers to join TSMMA. His oldest brother, “Hurricane” Shane Burgos is a TSMMA professional fighter and instructor, as well as a prospect for future UFC venues. Jake Burgos is also a black belt mixed martial artist with several prominent tournament wins in both grappling and kickboxing, and is a prospective future fighter for the TSMMA fight team.

Left to right: Ryan, Shane and Jake Burgos photo credit: Julie Lance
Left to right: Ryan, Shane and Jake Burgos
photo credit : Julie Lance

Like elite athletes that are constantly aiming for excellence, Ryan prides himself on being able to set goals for himself and aim for success. Even at such a young age, his mindset to improve his skill and learn from his mistakes are part of the reason he excels in mixed martial arts. “I like competing because I want to know who I need to beat to be the best. I test myself every time I step in the ring, and I learn to be better than the last time.” He recalls several memories that have helped him become a more successful athlete, but remembers a time when his skills were put to the test against a competitor that challenged the judge’s decision to grant him the win. “I had to go against another boy a second time because his coach felt the call was unfair. So it was decided that we would compete again with no time limit as a submission only match.” Ryan was able to achieve the win once more and felt that the opportunity to present his skills in a high pressure situation with a large audience was one of the greatest ways to test his will and determination. Ryan’s success on the mat as a mixed martial artist has also transferred into a very lucrative wrestling trade at the middle school level. His drive and motivation during the 2014 wrestling season earned him “Most Valuable Player” with an undefeated record of 12-0.

I know what I am capable of and I am confident because of it.

Although the medals, trophies and recognition for being such a high level competitor are grand perks of the trade, Ryan simply enjoys the sport for what it has provided him and his family. Many parents often seek out martial arts schools to address issues with low self-esteem, bullying and poor social or academic performance. Since Ryan began his training so early, he believes that is the reason he never needed to worry about those issues. His outgoing, headstrong personality is a result of the discipline and focus he learned at a young age. “Some people think what I do is cool, and others doubt my abilities, but I know what I am capable of and I am confident because of it.” Ryan also finds that having two older brothers that are equally capable and successful mixed martial artists gives him something to strive toward. He looks forward to training with his brothers and continues to learn how to improve his skills against two larger, stronger individuals that may not necessarily take it easy on him. When asked what inspires him to compete, Ryan does not hesitate to give credit to his family for the support and opportunities he has had.


There is no doubt that Ryan has a bright future ahead of him. He has been a symbol of leadership and continues to exceed the expectations of his TSMMA instructors and peers. As an aggressive and skilled competitor, Ryan continues to dominate as a mixed martial artist in many tournaments and has been featured on several TSMMA advertisements and commercials. “You have to go out there and just do it or you’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Ryan finds these words of inspiration to be a catalyst for achieving greatness each time he steps on the mat, and spectators are very anxious to see what he brings into the next competition.

By Lauren Rose