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July 2013

Brother and Sister Benefit From All Aspects Of Martial Arts Training

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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!

How Do You Stop A Bully? Michael’s Story About Courage, Confidence and Self-defense

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BY: Parent at TSMMA North Plainfield

We went inside and we were immediately greeted by Joshu Joe, filled out a short questionnaire asking why my son was interested or what goals he wanted to accomplish.

I am a parent of a High Functioning Autistic child by the name of Michael who is a victim of more than one bully incident. He is an 11 year old six grader who attends public school.  Michael had been asking me for years to join Karate classes. I was unsure if he could do it, maybe it was just my ignorance to what a karate class would be like, and maybe I was holding my son back. Or could it have been my protective nature considering how the world reacts or treats kids who are different? The final conclusion, I was just nervous for my son. I had to realize that my fears should not hold him back from something he has been asking to do for years. I picked up Michael from school drove him to Tiger Schulmann’s MMA North Plainfield and said, “Buddy we’re going to sign up okay.” He was thrilled! We went inside and we were immediately greeted by Joshu Joe, filled out a short questionnaire asking why my son was interested or what goals he wanted to accomplish.

Sensei Holland did not put on an act just to sign a child up it was genuine care for my son to succeed and be able to protect himself and gain self confidence.

I didn’t have a clue what real goals we wanted to achieve I just wanted him to do something he enjoys. As we watched the kids in class training his excitement grew and a lot of my fears or preconceptions about karate subsided. “I always thought they had to break wood beam and things like that, however it was nothing like that all different colored belts working together.” Out to greet us next came Sensei Holland, a women Sensei, Wow! I was impressed, not only were her pictures on the wall in championship fights, but she was so kind and friendly and I loved her accent. Sensei Holland did not put on an act just to sign a child up it was genuine care for my son to succeed and be able to protect himself and gain self confidence. I was hooked. We came back for a trial class and Michael was hooked. I remember when he met with his instructor Sensei Querido after the trial class and Sensei said “Did you like it Michael?” and he replied “I sure did, I will be back Sensei I wont let you down I’ll make you proud”. I wanted to cry just from hearing my son say that.

“Let me fast forward a little Michael has been training now for about a year and was confronted with a bully incident…”

This past Friday, June 7th he received his first low Blue Belt.  Sensei Querido has been teaching the kids a lot about bully prevention and giving scenarios of how bullying can take place. Signs to look out for and what to do to protect yourself if bullying should happen. About January of this year Michael was in the bathroom washing his hands and a boy his age started up with him. Usually Michael would walk away and tell his aid, and the kids would continue to taunt him as the “tattle teller,” if you know what I mean. Well anyway Michael did not back down this time he stood his ground. Although it was just a screaming match it was loud enough to make the teachers come into the bathroom to find out what going on and yes they both got in trouble. Because Michael can not explain himself as well as he should the teacher semi understood what happened in the bathroom and how it wasn’t Michael’s fault, but still he got in a little trouble for the yelling. I must admit his teacher’s aid and his teacher came to me and said they were proud of him for standing up for himself and that the boy who was in the bathroom with him is a troublemaker; his behavior has been brought to the attention of his parents numerous times. I too was proud of my son and I also wondered just how many times has this happened in the past?

“Bullying Incident number 2… happened again (in the school bathroom) this past May, one week before the Annual Tiger Schulmann’s MMA Bully Prevention classes…”

Michael was in the bathroom and three (3) young men decided to mess with him. Well at first it was words, a type of banter “What are you looking at?” kind of threat, still Michael held his ground. The leader of the boys tried to grab at his shoulder and Michael used one of his blocks he learned, again the boy tried to grab, and yet again Michael deflected his attack. The boys in the background were telling their friend “oh Michael knows karate you better watch out!” I guess this embarrassed the first boy who decided to step it up a notch and push Michael in the chest. “Whelp!” wrong decision on the bully’s part, Michael pushed the boy down to the floor and got in his defensive stance ready to fight. The others boys laughed at their friend, who I believe was a bit shocked. The boys said to the boy on the floor I guess you shouldn’t under estimate him, huh? Fight was over the boy got up and apologized to my son and my son being who he is forgave him.

since he has been going to MMA classes he has such a new confidence within himself that he didn’t really have when he started at Tiger Schulmann’s MMA

My son is not a fighter and would forgive anyone no matter what. But since he has been going to MMA classes he has such a new confidence within himself that he didn’t really have when he started at Tiger Schulmann’s MMA. Michael now knows that no one has the right to bully him or hurt him. When Michael first told me about what happened in the bathroom I froze as parents do and just listened all the time thinking in my head -” I’m going back to that school and raise heck this is the second time within months someone’s messing with my child!!!” Until I heard this, he said, “Mom I remembered what Sensei said, you don’t have to be bullied you have the right to defend yourself and although you may get in trouble at school mom and dad will be proud that you protected yourself.” My eyes filled up with joy I screamed hooray in the car, slapped a couple of high five’s and saw how proud he was of his actions. I told him that I love him and I’m proud of him and that he did the right thing. And yes Sensei was right this parent was excited and proud we had a victory celebration at McDonald’s.

Michael went to class that night and told the Sensei’s what had happened and Sensei Querido told him how proud he was of him too, and if there was a next time he wanted him to strike back, it’s good to block, but to remember he was out numbered and to strike the bully so he will know not to mess with him ever again! Michael was so happy to hear Sensei say that. No one here is promoting to go out and start a fight, just to defend yourself when someone else attacks you or threatens you. My son’s life being autistic and having kids mock and tease him daily, doing nothing about it but ignoring it for years, all while keeping his kind nature befriending everyone, when all they had to say is ”I’m just joking” and then they’d turn around and tease him all over again the next day, is not right, but, it will not happen anymore. I’m sure Michael will not let it happen anymore.  If I could turn back time to the day I signed up at Tiger Schulmann’s MMA and answered the questionnaire – What do I want out of Karate for my son? I would say the confidence he has within himself today, to know he has the right not to be bullied and that he’d be strong enough to put a stop to it!  I truly wish I had signed him up years ago when he first asked me.

“This is the best experience a parent could ever want for their child.”

The children, whether they are a high belt or low belt, are so helpful to one another and their control over their kicks to the junior belts are amazing.  I said it before when I first met Sensei Holland and Sensei Querido of North Plainfield Tiger Schulmann’s MMA and I’ll say it again, “I am so happy that I have enrolled my child here. I tell everyone to join. You will see a difference in your child and it makes a difference in us parents as well.”  I don’t wont to let the Sensei’s down, you best believe, I’m racing to get my son to every class. It starts with us parents, if we don’t reinforce consistency and dedication by showing up to class on time, and as scheduled, what are we teaching our kids? The Senseis’ here won’t ever give up on our kids, so then, what gives us the right too?