Tiger Schulmann’s

Abington MMA Instructor Instills Self-Discipline He Learned From Martial Arts

Last Updated on October 17, 2013.

Joining Karate Changed His Life

At the age of 13 a young kids life can go in many directions. For Abington TSMMA Instructor James Garzillo that direction was going the wrong way until he joined Tiger Schulmann’s. At the time Tiger Schulmann’s Mixed Martial Arts was actually Tiger Schlumann’s Karate, still teaching the Kyokushin Karate that Shihan Tiger Schulmann learned as a young boy.

Garzillo walked into the school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with his brother Andy and his life slowly began to turn in a new direction.

At the time Garzillo joined the school he was actually not attending regular school. His parents had pulled him out of public school in the fourth grade after a number of moves the family made to follow his fathers work. Registering him for new schools had simply become overwhelming and his mom began to home school him. It slowly turned into a young boy who had for all intents and purposes dropped out.

Sensei Garzillo Instills Karate Discipline in His Students
Sensei Garzillo Instills Karate Discipline in His Students

Things changed when at thirteen he began filling his free time with Martial Arts. A prodigy from the time he entered the Tiger Schulmann’s in Bethlehem, the future Sensei excelled at all areas. Showing championship caliber form in the “Kata” that traditional karate was known for, it was actually the other areas of Tiger Schulmann’s, sparring and the newly introduced grappling that truly sparked Garzillo’s interest.

Self-Disicpline of Karate Leads to Graduation

More importantly than the techniques he was learning in class, were the lessons he was learning from his Sensei, Robert Villafane. Villafane’s constant message of improving your life through hard work and perseverance made Garzillo begin to take stock of his life.

At fifteen he began studying diligently for his GED. At sixteen he took the test. After completing the exam, Garzillo waited for his test to be graded. Among a group of more than a dozen testers, the administrator singled out Garzillo to speak with him afterwards. He had scored a perfect 100% on his test, something the administrator had never before seen on a GED.

He left Garzillo with the message that he should make something of his life and that’s exactly what he has done.

He began assisting his Sensei at TSMMA Bethlehem at the age of 15 and moved to a full time position at TSMMA Allentown shortly after his GED.

His Self-Discipline in Martial Arts soon led him to stand out among his fellow students and he was invited to take his training to the next level. He started travelling to Paramus, New Jersey three or four days a week to train directly under Shihan Tiger Schulmann.

Just as in his own school, Garzillo stood out. Shihan (Japanese for Master) began booking kickboxing matches for Garzillo where he again excelled.

After three years of training with the TSMMA fight team, Garzillo received the highest praise from Tiger Schulmann. He was invited to become the Head Instructor of TSMMA Abington at the tender age of 22.

Tiger Schulmann's Abington a Bright Light in the Community
Tiger Schulmann’s Abington a Bright Light in the Community

Life Change For Abington Martial Arts Instructor

Garzillo immediately took over the school and used his Self-Discipline to turn it into one of the most successful of the nearly 50 Tiger Schulmann locations. In fact it’s one of the most successful Martial Arts Schools in the whole country.

He teaches every class with the same focus and positive attitude he asks of his students and his constant presence is reassuring to both young and old as they attempt to achieve their own goals.

Now ten years into his tenure as Head Instructor of TSMMA Abington, Garzillo has helped over a thousand students reach their own goals while continuing to pursue his own.

Abington Instructor Rode Discipline to Multiple Championships
Abington Instructor Rode Discipline to Multiple Championships

His competitive career has been marked by multiple kickboxing championships as well as a Mixed Martial Arts title. He is currently a professional MMA competitor, on sabbatical since the birth of his daughter. His skills in competition are translated into his students among whom he has also taught multiple champions in all aspects of Mixed Martial Arts.

Garzillo’s leadership is unparallelled in the local Martial Arts scene. The importance of Self-Discipline in his own life has led him to be uniquely qualified to help impart it in his students!


by: Sensei Thad Campbell