Son Following Elmwood Park Instructor’s Footsteps

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Martial Arts Family Turns To Wrestling

Anyone who knows Sensei Dave Tirelli knows his son DJ was going to be a warrior. The genes passed down from father to son guaranteed it. Combine that with his father’s Hall of Fame credentials in Martial Arts and the younger Tirelli’s recent success is no surprise.

DJ Tirelli represents his River Dell wrestling team as a Captain.

 Wrestling may in fact be the earliest form of Martial Arts. It’s origin can be traced to cave drawings dating back 15,000 years and was the centerpiece of the Ancient Olympic Games. Passengers on the Mayflower were excited to show their sport when they landed, it surprised them to learn it was already popular among Native American cultures. It was a sport that helped bond the two groups.

Wrestling Brings Father And Son Together

The two Tirelli’s are just the latest in a long line of father’s and son’s bonded through the wrestling. Tirelli has been training in Martial Arts with his father since before he could walk. As he entered high school four years ago his focus switched to wrestling from the Kickboxing and Grappling his father teaches TSMMA Elmwood Park students every day.

Younger Tirelli Makes Speech after receiving Outstanding Wrestler Award.

 This year DJ’s effort has started to pay off. At the inaugural Garden State Duals, Tirelli put his name on the map. He knocked off two of the top wrestlers in the state in a single day and took home the award for outstanding wrestler. One of his opponents finished third in the New Jersey state wrestling finals last year, a tournament many in wrestling consider the best in the country.

The elder Tirelli went out on top, winning his final MMA fight over a future Ultimate Fighter Finalist.

 The elder Tirelli couldn’t be prouder of his son. He gets help from many of the fellow instructors at Tiger Schulmann’s so he can get to DJ’s wrestling meets in the winter. This week was a tough one for both as DJ wrestled the #1 ranked wrestler in the state, Anthony Giraldi of North Bergen.

“DJ wasn’t himself tonight. He didn’t wrestle the way he’s capable of,” said dad.

Elmwood Park Martial Arts Intructor Proud Of His Son

That didn’t stop the elder Tirelli from oozing pride in his son’s accomplishments. In fact the two are set to make a trip to Massachusetts this week to check out two more of the colleges hoping the younger will compete for them next year.

“I’m excited. We are going to Bridgewater and Springfield. I went to school in Boston and can’t wait to get back up there.”

The younger Tirelli still has some unfinished business. One loss to the highest ranked wrestler in the state won’t deter Tirelli. He will call back on the Martial Arts he has been training in since he was three and draw on his Self-Discipline.

Dad watches all of DJ’s wrestling matches with pride!

 “He’s heard ‘non-quitting spirit’ a few thousand times in his life. It’s something we believe in Martial Arts and it’s something I know he has. He’s already proven it throughout his wrestling career.”

Non-quitting spirit is the foundation Tiger Schulmann’s was built on. Sensei Tirelli has been training with Tiger Schulmann for nearly 30 years. He was a trailblazer for the organization, competing in Mixed Martial Arts fights long before they became popular.

“He helped our organization learn what our curriculum needed to be,” says Tiger Schulmann of the older Tirelli. “His courage to go compete in a relatively new sport helped us understand exactly what works and what doesn’t work. His efforts were incredibly important for what TSMMA has become today.”

Tirelli had setbacks in his own fighting career, but went out at the very top of his game with a victory over a future UFC fighter. His biggest hope is that his son will do the same. With the genetics he’s drawing from there is little doubt DJ will find a way to succeed.

 By: Sensei Thad Campbell – TSMMA Elmwood Park