Smooth Transition to MMA
By: Thad Campbell
It’s been a dozen years since I began training at Tiger Schulmann’s and in that time I’ve witnessed a remarkable change in the competitive aspect of Mixed Martial Arts as well as the effectiveness of our curriculum.
My first MMA show was in 2002 and it was attended almost exclusively by practicing Martial Artists and friends and family of competitors. You would be hard pressed to find a single person in the crowd who was simply there because they were a fan of the sport!
Tiger Schulmann with Sensei David Tirelli after his final MMA fight, a win over UFC Fighter Luke Cummo in 2003
Fast forward to 2013 when Sensei Uriah Hall will fight on The Ultimate Fighter Finale show in Las Vegas to secure a six figure UFC contract. There will be more than 10,000 people at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday Night, the vast majority of whom have never spent more than a couple classes training in Martial Arts.
Sensei Uriah Hall takes on Kelvin Gastelum Saturday Night on FX!
What makes this night so special for Tiger Schulmann’s is the realization of a two decades process for our founder. Tiger Schulmann watched UFC 1 with his brother Ron Schulmann back in 1993. Already the owner of the largest most successful Martial Arts Organization in the world, he saw the writing on the wall.
As soon as Royce Gracie dispatched Al Jimmerson via Armbar, the two brothers began moving furniture around the living room to create space to begin practicing the submission themselves. It was a matter of months before he would begin taking the steps to implement the curriculum in his then 30 plus locations.
This evolution took some serious courage. Why change what was working? Many instructors teaching traditional karate, tae kwon do or kung fu felt they would lose students if they strayed from the tradition of Eastern Martial Arts.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact I believe wholeheartedly that if we were still teaching traditional Kyokushin Karate not only would Tiger Schulmann’s not be any where near what it is today, but I doubt highly I would be a part of it. Fortunately, Tiger Schulmann did not fall pray to this short sightedness.
Realistic Self-Defense Combined With Great Workout
What Tiger Schulmann has done consistently over the last thirty years is give students a great workout combined with Self-Defense. The transition to teaching a more contemporary style of self-defense is helping on both fronts.
Students are no longer asked to study their strikes, close range Self-Defense moves, Kata (traditional forms of karate originating from the 1500’s), Sparring, and Board Breaking. The curriculum has been streamlined to include two aspects. Students are placed into a progressive kickboxing curriculum that gradually allows them to master all their strikes and defenses in a stand-up Self-Defense situation.
Uriah Hall Uses Same Jab New Students Practice Every Class!
Then they can also take advantage of our Grappling curriculum. Similar to kickboxing it is designed to teach students the most effective offensive (positional changes and submissions) and defensive techniques should a Self-Defense situation take place on the ground.
The increased time spent on a single focus allows for students to gain proficiency in their techniques much more quickly. Students no longer have to transition between four or five different types of training. This leads to more time being spent on the full speed practice of the moves and less time slowing down to master the technique.
Tiger Schulmann’s Students Dominate Grappling Championships
The second benefit is a much more street wise Self-Defense program. While traditional karate would certainly give someone a much better chance of escaping a difficult situation on the street, it is undeniable that Mixed Martial Arts is not only light years more effective, but can be learned to proficiency for a street-situation in a much shorter time frame.
Uriah Hall Latest Standard Bearer
This Saturday the effectiveness of the curriculum will be on display as Uriah Hall tries to finish the job he started on The Ultimate Fighter Reality show. He will take on Kelvin Gastelum Saturday night in hopes of gaining entry in to the UFC.
No animosity between the two who were teammates on the show.
I had the pleasure of competing with Uriah during Chuck Norris’ World Combat League. We got to see then what an explosive talent he was. Now five years later, Uriah has rounded out his grappling game to equal his kickboxing skill.
Everyone in the MMA community has known how prolific a striker he is, but it’s been his improvement on the ground that has allowed his striking skills to be overwhelming on the reality show.
No longer worried about an opponent taking him to the ground, Uriah has been able to strike more freely and the result has been four straight victories, the last three coming in the form of knockout.
His striking is so honed after 14 years of fighting it led the President of the UFC to say he is the scariest fighter ever to come out of the 17 seasons of the show. He also finished his last opponent while striking from his back. Again prompting UFC President Dana White to say he’d never seen anything like it in 13 years of leading the organization.
This is the result of 14 years of Tiger Schulmann’s training for Uriah. While he is supremely talented, it is the hard work and dedication he has put in seven days a week for the last fourteen years that are insuring his talent is not wasted!
He follows in the footsteps of Sensei’s Mike Stine and Louis Gaudinot as well as Joshu Jimmie Rivera as Tiger Schulmann’s students competing on The Ultimate Fighter and he became the first to earn his way to the finals. His fight Saturday will make him Tiger Schulmann’s third student to compete at the highest level of MMA, joining Gaudinot and Joshu Nick Pace.
Uriah With Sensei Mike Stine (far left) and Rego Park TSMMA Staff!
This sort of success is almost unheard of. While numerous MMA camps boast five or more members of the UFC, none can say every fighter they have in the UFC began training at their schools with no experience in Martial Arts. In fact the opposite is almost always the case, fighters learned a base skill, whether striking, grappling or wrestling, and then moved to a more well known camp after getting to a certain proficiency. Pace, Rivera, Gaudinot, Stine and Hall all began at Tiger Schulmann’s with no prior Martial Arts training.
Throw in the likes of Lyman Good, Carlos Brooks and Munah Holland who compete in Bellator, the second largest MMA Organization, and you have a group of people showing the effectiveness of Tiger Schulmann’s to the world.