Twice a year, students at Tiger Schulmann’s Mixed Martial Arts convene for a one day tournament to test their skills in both grappling (close-range defense) and kickboxing. Many students train several days a week for months leading up to the competition and strive to be the best at the Challenge of Champions. The athletes competing in either the grappling or kickboxing events only hope that each match is a testament to all of the hard work and sacrifice they have put into every class at their respective schools.

Challenge of Champions





The days leading up to the Challenge of Champions competition can be nerve-racking. For many, it is their first grappling or kickboxing tournament. For others, they are Challenge of Champions veterans who are defending their titles against the skills of many worthy grappling or kickboxing opponents. In either instance, the reality is that all of the training in grappling and kickboxing classes was not simply just to stay in shape, improve self discipline or learn self defense, but to test the limits and find resolve in the face of fear and uncertainty by taking your training to that next step.

The enormous space at the Challenge of Champions encompasses three large sections of twenty-four rings that will host grappling and kickboxing events simultaneously. Crowds of onlookers wait anxiously to cheer on loved ones and peers. It can be daunting at first sight, especially when you see just how many people will be watching the grappling and kickboxing events and how many Tiger Schulmann’s Mixed Martial Arts instructors reside in the ring to which you are assigned. You want to represent your school and be victorious, which makes it that much more intimidating when you happen to see professional fighters such as Jimmie Rivera, Louis Gaudinot and Munah Holland judging your abilities. When your name is called onto the mat for the grappling or kickboxing event, a sense of sharpened focus and muffled quietness surrounds you. Your heart races and the adrenaline seems to be the one thing that is keeping your knees from collapsing beneath you. Standing tall in the center ring, a vibrant energy motivates your body and mind against an opponent that you believe doesn’t feel an ounce of the fear and doubt that you do.


Kids grappling event at the Challenge of Champions


A hand is raised after each grappling or kickboxing match, and those feelings fade away and become either the jubilation of triumph or the disappointment of defeat. In either instance, each competitor looks back on the experience with a sense of achievement. Although a large amount of competitors participate in the grappling and kickboxing events at the Challenge of Champions, they are few in comparison to the number of students within the Tiger Schulmman’s Mixed Martial Arts organization.

Ultimately, the day one decides to compete at Challenge of Champions is the day you set a goal for yourself. Our goals are ways of advancing our self- discipline and testing our limits to a place where we seek total perfection. We strive to be champions and seek acknowledgement for the attempts we’ve made at rising above and beyond the expectations of simply maintaining attendance in grappling or kickboxing class. But what is perfection? We make the effort to become better people everyday. We work toward a goal and do our best to get as close as possible to achieve flawless results. But is perfection actually possible to attain? Most people would agree that it is not. It simply does not exist. However, sometimes we get awful close.

The Challenge of Champions experience has taught many competitors that both triumph and defeat can teach us how to master a number of qualities that are essential for any mixed martial artist to possess. It is a pathway to developing humility, respect, and purpose. It is a way to enhance one’s ambitions by appreciating the errors made in competition, so we may learn from our mistakes and return again to a grappling or kickboxing event more focused and driven. And although we know perfection may be unattainable, when we acknowledge our flaws and our bravery to step in the ring, it is then that we realize we’ve already achieved something close enough. And that is why win or lose, all of the Challenge of Champion competitors leave there as champions.

TSMMA Vails Gate students competed at Challenge of Champions 36


Sensei Jose Montes and Joshu Shane Burgos are the instructors at the TSMMA Vails Gate school have led several students to competition at the Challenge of Champions each year. Their expertise in both grappling and kickboxing have been essential in developing students skills, and their uplifting confidence in the students abilities have been key motivators in producing several wins and return to the ring each year.

By Lauren Rose


If you possess a competitive spirit and the desire to challenge yourself through training and competition, then please visit the Vails Gate school for a FREE TRIAL CLASS and see what grappling, kickboxing, and our Challenge of Champions tournaments are all about. Tiger Schulmann’s Mixed Martial arts can help you reach your full potential and bring out the champion in you!

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