BY: Sensei Thad Campbell – TSMMA Feasterville
I sat down with Mike Gaffin this past week to ask him a few questions about his kids Joey and Ty. They have been training with me now for a few years and exemplify what our program is all about. They are excelling on the mat in both grappling and kickboxing. The two Low Red Belts have also had incredible success at tournaments. More importantly than their success in competition has been their growth outside of Tiger Schulmann’s.
The two are extremely competitive with Joey looking up to her older brother and always trying to match his accomplishment. Ty wants to be a great leader for his sister, but not in a negative way, instead always working hard to learn and share his knowledge with her.
The confidence this has given them both has translated into their lives at home and in school. Following is the transcript of the interview.
Sensei Campbell: Why did you initially bring your kids to Tiger Schulmann’s?
Mike Gaffin: My sister was a Black Belt here and she raved about and talked how good it was and I thought it would be good for them, discipline, school, self-defense. Learn to be able to defend themselves.
SC: How long have they been training now?
MG: I thnk it’s four years, five years, something like that! (The two joined in February of 2009)
SC: Long enough so you don’t even remember how long it’s been!
MG: Yeah! (laughing)
SC: What were your specific goals for each of them when you first came?
MG:When I first came I thought it was more for purely self-defense, but I really enjoyed and liked what they were getting out of just all the lessons about discipline and focus and school and it was just more well rounded. It was more all encompassing about a lot of values more than just self-defense which is extremely important, you know I just liked the well-roundedness of it all.
SC: What did your kids think of the school when they first got here?
MG: They enjoyed it right from the get go, if anyone had reservations, more than anything it’s been me. Things like my kids competing at the tournament where sometimes my kids are 10 to 20 pounds lighter than the weight class limit, but they always want to go go go go go!
In fact recently Joey made me pick her up early from an end of school pool party in order to come to class on time. That’s all been from them.
I have really enjoyed the teaching you and Joshu Alexander have provided. As I said before it has covered so much more than just self-defense. I love the discussions you have with the kids after every class, and at the same time my kids really are learning self-defense as well. So I’m getting a whole package.
SC: What have you seen happen to your kids outside of here that you think Tiger Schulmann’s has helped?
MG: They’ve always been good kids, you know, but I think that it helps with how they treat other people, how they react to other people, their own self-control and things like that and attitude.
Specifically I can remember Ty’s first couple days of Middle School where a young student challenged him in the hallway. It was almost exactly like the scenario you practice with the kids at the end of classes and Ty was more than prepared. The kid pushed him and said, “it’s my hallway!” Ty pushed him back hard and it was one and done. He became sort of a folk hero in his class cause he’s one of the smaller kids and he hasn’t had a single incident since then.
(Ty’s friend Sam who was with him during the bullying incident actually enrolled in the school shortly after this incident)
For Joey, she hasn’t had a single issue, I don’t know that anyone would try!
SC: Tell me about how good it feels for you as a father to send your daughter off to school knowing she’s as tough as she is?
MG: Yeah, I mean she’s definitely an underdog when it comes to size and weight, but she exudes confidence and the biggest of her friends I think she could take!
Both of these young students are progressing rapidly through their Low Red Belt and both are on track to test for Black Belt in 2014! Look for them to join their Aunt, Sempai Lori LeBlanc as proud Tiger Schulmann’s Black Belts soon!