TSMMA Abington Student Drops The Weights and Doesn’t Look Back

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Abington MMA

By: TSMMA Abington

I have become a better physical therapist, husband and most recently, father due to the new lease on life that training at TSMMA Abington has given me.

Becoming an assistant instructor at Abington TSMMA has been an unforgettable journey for me, one that continues to this day.  I have gained skills I never imagined possible and made friends who have become family in ways far beyond any cliché can describe.  I’m honored to be associated with the organization and go on about the benefits it has provided for me and my family to anyone who will listen.  My path was not an easy one, but it sure was fun.

…I deluded myself into thinking that when I lifted for two hours,  a large plate of something fried along with one to six beers to wash it down would balance things out…

By my 30th birthday, I was heavier than I had ever been.  I had been into a weightlifting routine, but I deluded myself into thinking that when I lifted for two hours,  a large plate of something fried along with one to six beers to wash it down would balance things out.  Before I knew it, at 5’11”, I was tipping the scales at 225 pounds.  Clothes with XL in the label were fitting like  an M.  More and more often, I was beginning to notice the pothole bounce.  That’s when you feel a jiggle around your belly after you hit a pothole while driving.  There is a tendency to reevaluate your station in life at landmark birthdays.  When I stepped on the scale the morning after I celebrated, I knew it was time for a change.

I was getting increasingly bored with spending hours in the gym and seeing no results.

The problem was, even as a physical therapist, I felt like I didn’t have the answer.  I was getting increasingly bored with spending hours in the gym and seeing no results.  I had no cardiovascular endurance to do anything effective on the elliptical or the treadmill, and I didn’t have the discipline to eat right.  I remembered the time I spent training in Tae Kwon Do all throughout high school.  I was an unpopular kid, bullied, skinny and far from athletic, but like most kids my age I was fascinated by martial arts.  I quickly found it was one of the few things I had a talent for, it gave me confidence and fitness, and by the time I left for college I had earned the rank of brown belt.

I decided to explore martial arts again.  When I achieved my brown belt the UFC had its inaugural show back in 1993.  Over the next few years, it was a spectacle event, but had begun to gain more mainstream acceptance around the time I was looking to return to the world of martial arts.  It inspired me to try something I never had, which was competing.  Enter Sensei James Garzillo and Joshu Brian Fisher.

I had called around to numerous schools before arriving at TSMMA Abington.  I had my introductory lesson with Joshu Fisher in December of 2005, and I’ve never looked back.  Instead of ridiculing my traditional martial arts background or my potentially ill-conceived desire to compete, Joshu Fisher and Sensei Garzillo immediately made me feel that my goals weren’t out of reach.  I’ll never forget my first interaction with Sensei.  He approached me after my intro lesson, hand outstretched and said “I hear you want to compete?”  I anticipated a sarcastic follow up.  Instead he shook my hand firmly and smiled sincerely.

“You’ve come to the right place.”

Truer words were never spoken. Since that day, under Sensei Garzillo’s expert tutelage, as well as with the rigorous training of Shihan James Simpson and the Pennsylvania Fight Team, I competed as an amateur kickboxer in October of 2007. I went on to compete 5 more times in kickboxing, and once in an amateur MMA competition.  I earned my black belt in 2008 and was awarded the title of Joshu which means assistant Instructor.

I have lost over 60 pounds and maintained that weight along with a healthy lifestyle that comes with the discipline of being a TSMMA student

I have lost over 60 pounds and maintained that weight along with a healthy lifestyle that comes with the discipline of being a TSMMA student.  I have become a better physical therapist, husband and most recently, father due to the new lease on life that training at TSMMA Abington has given me.  I am eternally grateful to Sensei Garzillo, Shihan Simpson, and Joshu Fisher for starting me on a journey that I truly feel will never end.  It is my honor and privilege to pass on the knowledge they have imparted to me to students and fighters, present and future.  I look forward to many more years of training and competing with my TSMMA family.

As always, until next time, I’ll see you on the mat!

Written by Joshu John Vercher,  Instructor at Abington Tsmma, Amateur Fighter and practicing MPT.