Monthly Archives

March 2012

Tiger Schulmann’s, Elizabeth Butler Foundation, Team Up for Women’s Safety

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Women’s safety seminar includes tips on how to avoid dangerous situations and domestic abuse.

By Tom Auchterlonie –

March 25, 2012

Speaking before a crowd of a dozen on Saturday, Tiger Schulmann’s instructor Gillian Grandy described many scenarios not only in which women can find themselves in danger, but also in how they can prepare and fight back.

“Any one of us could become a potential victim,” Grandy told the all-female crowd at the Mount Kisco martial arts studio.

During the course of the seminar, Grandy discussed ways in which women can protect themselves from rape or physical assaults. She emphasized the need for planning and anticipating your surrroundings, similar to how drivers are instructed to avoid vehicle accidents.

“We should always look straight ahead,” Grandy told the crowd, instructing women to scan the areas in which they’re walking.

Among the safety best practices she advised were to thoroughly check their cars – including under the vehicles and in back seats – pay attention to where you’re going, take advantage of safety escort services, and to have distance-based zones of personal safety, with closer zones only being reserved for those you trust.

She was followed by fellow instructor Joshu Larry Byrnes, who acted out a series of defensive techniques for women to fight back against assailants. He also got the attendees to try them out among each other.

The women’s safety seminar was backed by the Elizabeth Butler Foundation, which is named after a North Salem teen who was murdered and raped in 2005. Ariel Menendez, who was her boyfriend and went by the assumed name of “Carlos” during the relationship, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole. The foundation works to fight domestic violence and to promote women’s safety.

Patti Butler, Elizabeth’s mother, praised the acting out of potential situations and said, “There’s nothing like the real thing, of thinking about what could happen.”

The foundation’s work with Tiger Schulmann’s, the first ever, was steered by Elizabeth Crenson, who grew up in North Salem and attended North Salem High School with Butler. Crenson, who works for Mount Kisco-based public relations firm Co-Communications, works out at the martial arts center. Her step mother, Mary Jane Acito-Crenson, is on the board of the foundation.

“It’s definitely hands on,” Crenson said about the program.

Heather Beall, who knew Butler in high school – she was friends with her brother and they were on the ski team together – came out for support.

“I thought it was great,” she said about the event.

Another important part of the seminar touched upon avoiding abusive relationships and to practice safe dating with someone you have just met. T

One of the important things for the foundation, Patti Bulter explained, is to educate parents.

“I mean, it just wasn’t something that I ever thought would happen to my daughter and wasn’t really a part of my world, Patti Butler said about what happened.

Dating advice mentioned includes being in a public place, have separate cars and have a plan for ending the date.

Byrnes described how Tiger Schulmann’s has supported efforts recently for defense, including a child safety program.

He said that any organization that devotes itself to keeping people safe, “I want to be a part of.”

The Elizabeth Butler Foundation does many things to support education against abusive relationships. Events include an annual walk every October in Elizabeth’s honor, held near North Salem’s Titicus Reservior, and the  “Art Against Abuse” program. The arts program involves having teens create art that deals with abuse as an issue, and it is then displayed at the walk. Art works will be brought up to Albany for display later this year with the help of state Sen. Greg Ball, Patti Bulter said.

Learn Self Defense at TSMMA Mount Kisco

Yes I Can – Tribute Essay to Sensei Leonelli

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Yes I Can

By Gianna Gransasso

I certainly don’t regret my experiences because without them, I couldn’t imagine who or where I would be today. Life is an amazing gift to those who overcome great obstacles, and attitude is everything, Sasha Azevedo. As a thirteen year old girl you seem to have many people pulling you different ways, friends, family, and also teachers. The people you decide to surround yourself with, will leave an imprint in your heart, no matter good or bad for the rest of your life. After being picked up and thrown away by all the people who you thought were your friends, it’s hard to get back on your feet. One person whose lesson I will always keep with me is my Sensei. My Sensei taught me to believe in myself, and no I think twice before I use the terrible words “I can’t.”

It’s hard to think about this time last year, and not say to myself “wow that used to be me.” The only word you heard come out of my mouth was, “I can’t.” “I can’t do it, I can’t stand up for myself, I can’t go to school anymore.” There was no one day that you wouldn’t hear those terrible words said.

Last year was the toughest year I have had. I also learned that there is really no such thing as “best friends forever.” Last year I thought I had a great life. I had amazing parents, great friends, great teachers and I was doing wonderful in school. Until the middle of the year hit. This year was a year I would never forget. It was hard, but I got through it. The best part for everyone at school was always lunch, but for me it was one of the worst times of the day. The only reason why I hated lunch was because I sat alone. All my friends left me. To this day I never asked why. I always said to myself “I can’t ask them what I did wrong it will make things worse, I can’t switch my table I don’t know anyone else, and I’m a terrible person I just can’t do this.” As I sat there, all I heard was their sickening comments about me, but it wouldn’t end there. I got home, and all I would see on facebook is more and more stuff about me. Those girls did not just decrease all the self confidence, they made me miss school and they ruined my year. Thinking about this now gets me so agitated because I let them get to me. That year was also so important to me because it’s the year I met someone who I will never forget, Sensei.

After being knocked down, it was so hard to get back up again. In the process of making things better I came to a place called “Tiger Schulmann’s.” As time went on, I started going there and met Sensei, who is the teacher there. He has taught me so much more than self defense, he taught me to believe in myself. One day in class, I was having trouble with a move that we learned, well at least that’s what I thought. So I asked for help after going through the whole move my Sense then goes to tell me that I did the move perfectly, and that I just need to believe in “G” more. I never thought how much those words would stick with me.

This year it was different. I went from being the girl who never talked to someone totally different. My sensei has made me believe in myself so much that the first day of school was a breeze, and I was not scared at all. When the times came that I needed to defend myself, I thought of my Sensei telling me I can do it.

My quote again was I certainly don’t regret my experiences because without them, I couldn’t imagine who or where I would be today. Life is an amazing gift to those who overcome great obstacles, and attitude is everything, Sasha Azevedo. This quote explains a lot to me. I do not regret anything that happened to me last year, without it I wouldn’t have found the one thing I truly love, which is going to train with my Sensei. No matter where life takes me I will always have everything that he taught me with me so thank you so much Sense, for making me the stronger person I am today.

Challenge of Champions 32 Tryouts To Be Held This Saturday, March 24th – Tournament Set for June 3rd 2012

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Challenge of Champions 32 Tryouts To Be Held This Saturday, March 24th – Tournament Set for June 3rd 2012

Speak to your School for more details


Be sure to become a fan of the Challenge of Champions Facebook Fan Page for up to date news and Announcements –

Also to check out the new redesigned Challenge of Champions Website –

Castillo and Varricchio Victorious at Ring of Combat AMXII

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Castillo and Varricchio Victorious at Ring of Combat AMXII


Rahway, NJ

Matt Castillo (TSMMA Bayside) vs Mike Valentino (Advanced Martial Arts) – 168lb division

Castillo wins via TKO physician stoppage due to laceration at 1:58 of round 2

Castillo making his MMA debut was very composed and calm from the start of the fight. He quickly established his range and found a home for his left cross. After getting tagged repeatedly by Castillo, Valentino looked to take the fight to the mat with single leg takedown attempts. Castillo displayed great takedown defense and successfully defended all takedown attempts. By the middle of the 2nd round, Valentino’s right eye had been swollen shut with blood gushing from a laceration over the eye. The doctors stopped the fight and determined that Valentino was unable to continue. Explosive debut for Matt Castillo!

Julianno Varricchio (TSMMA Staten Island) vs Jamie Hadzima (American Fight Team) – 147lb division

Varricchio wins majority decision in three rounds

Julianno improved his undefeated MMA record to 3-0 in his toughest fight to date. The first round started with a feeling out process, with both fighters trying to establish their range and exchanging combinations. The round ended with Julianno getting the better of the exchanges, winning the round. Julianno mixed in his impressive takedowns in round 2, as well as firing crisp combinations on his feet. The only trouble Julianno found himself in the bout, was off a slip where Hadzima was able to get Julianno’s back, trying to secure a rear naked choke. Julianno fought off the sub attempt and quickly got back to his feet. They continued battling on their feet with Julianno landing a spinning backfist before the final bell.  Varricchio proved his mettle in this match-up, gaining valuable cage experience as he continues to climb the ranks.

Success Story From TSMMA Bethlehem Student John Bacolo

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Success Story From TSMMA Bethlehem Student John Bacolo

March 15, 2012

Tiger Schulmann

To Whom it may concern,

Six months ago my wife and I decided to, instead of signing our two young boys up for football, we would try something different. We wanted to find an activity that would not only challenge them physically, but mentally as well. MMA seemed to offer the perfect combination. We understood that physical challenge would keep them motivated and we hoped the instructors would engage them to be more focused and disciplined. Before the first trial class was over, we knew for sure that this was a place that would deliver all of our hopes. Our two boys are now flourishing.

After my two children were signed up with new uniforms in hand and smiles on their faces, we were about to leave and I made a comment that would change my life forever. I said this looks like something that could be good — even for me.

To put my story into context, allow me to describe my background. I am a 36-year-old husband and father of three beautiful boys. I am a self employed business owner who is constantly stressed out. Since my high school baseball days when I spent my nights working out and working in Ferrigno’s gym, I have always struggled with my weight. I went from 185 all the way up to 250. I tried all of the diets out there with some success, but my weight always found its way back up to around 250 lbs. I was always left feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. Everyday I knew this was not the person I wanted to be. I despised going shopping for clothes hoping that the XL’s would not be too tight, and wondering if the 38’s would be cut too trim. I desperately wanted to walk into any store, pick an item, and be able to purchase it without worry.

As we were leaving, Sensei Villafane insisted that I give the training a try by taking the next Monday adult core class. I laughed and said I couldn’t and that it probably wouldn’t be good for me. He insisted, and even told me that he was going to call to remind me. That Saturday I got my first reminder. He called and told me he was looking forward to seeing me in the upcoming class on Monday. I softened up a bit and said I will consider it. On Monday he called again and I told him to count me in. A little nervous at first, I got through the workout better than I expected. I received constant instruction from Sensei and got the best workout of my life. Towards the end of the class, we stretch ourselves out. I recall sitting in the back of the class covered with sweat, struggling to bend and touch my toes. I knew at that very
humbling moment, that this could not continue any longer. 36 years old, out of shape, and unable to even touch my toes. I thought: what type of life is this? When the class was completed, Sensei invited me back for another trial and I told him not to bother; just sign me up. I never looked back.

I started out from training two hours a week, up to six. Sensei Villafane and Joshu Holland keep me training at the highest level and never let me quit. I have expanded my routine to include grappling, and I have just received my promotion to low blue belt. I stick to the nutrition plan they gave me and I have lost 50lbs to date. I currently weigh 195lbs, with my weight goal set to 175lbs. I am no longer stressed out. I am enjoying my family life more, and tend to be in a better mood all the time. I eat better, sleep better, and feel great about who I am. I now shop, wondering if the L’s will be too too big, and if the 32’s will be cut too wide.

Sincerely yours,
John C. Bacolo

Train with Sensei Villafane @ TSMMA Bethlehem

Ring of Combat AMXII MMA Event this Saturday 3/17/12 in Rahway NJ

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Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat AMXII

Date/Time: March 17, 2012 9pm

Location: Rahway Rec Center

275 East Milton Avenue
Rahway, New Jersey

Doors open at 8 PM.

Matt Castillo of TSMMA Bayside makes his long awaited MMA debut against Mike Valentino

Julianno Varricchio of TSMMA Staten Island (2-0 MMA) looks to remain undefeated as he takes on Jamie Hadzima

If you can not make it this Saturday, you can stream the event through for 9.99.

Check back for results this weekend