BY: TSMMA Manhattan
“I began training at Tiger Schulmann’s MMA (TSMMA) in September of 2012 just for fitness. As my training progressed I realized I wanted to get more involved and eventually compete at some level so I started attending classes more frequently.
Sara, 26, has been training with Tiger Schulmann’s since September 2012. She recently went to visit family over the holidays and decided to train at another Mixed Martial Arts gym while there. We asked her to share her experience with everyone else so here it is:
“I began training at Tiger Schulmann’s MMA (TSMMA) in September of 2012 just for fitness. As my training progressed I realized I wanted to get more involved and eventually compete at some level so I started attending classes more frequently. I knew once the holidays started my training would get interrupted, specifically because I would be going home for two weeks to see my family. Rather than miss two weeks of training I decided to go to a MMA gym close to my home town. It seemed like a smart choice so I gave them a call to set something up for the two weeks I would be home. They were excited to have me come to their school and couldn’t wait to get me in the gym training.
It was a relatively new school; the location I was going to has only been open for a couple years. TSMMA has been open since 1984 so I was a little nervous about the difference I would probably experience at the school.
It was a relatively new school; the location I was going to has only been open for a couple years. TSMMA has been open since 1984 so I was a little nervous about the difference I would probably experience at the school. TSMMA is obviously all I know and I didn’t want my bias for my school to impact my training so I made no judgments about how my training might go. I met with the program director the day after Christmas to get set up. He basically put me on a free trial with personal training sessions with himself. He was a purple belt and had been training for a long time, but all my instructors at TSMMA are either high Brown or Black Belts. Again – trying to be open minded– I realize he still knows more than me. I quickly explained to him how TSMMA runs and the sort of training I’ve received so far. I told the director I wanted to grapple, but he informed me I would need my gi? I explained that we don’t train wearing a gi at TSMMA. So I couldn’t grapple, but that was fine because I could still go to the Muay Thai class. At TSMMA, whether you are a beginner or advanced, you wear the school uniform. It’s not a gi, but we are all in the student uniform. I really like that because you can focus on training rather than being distracted by what someone is wearing.
At the other, they have no student uniform (which was fine because I didn’t want to buy one) which made the environment feel a little chaotic for me.
At the other MMA school, they have no student uniform (which was fine because I didn’t want to buy one) which made the environment feel a little chaotic for me. I noticed while the students were grappling they were grabbing the opponents gi to help accomplish certain moves. Again, being such a novice to the sport I don’t know what my opinion means, but it doesn’t seem smart to rely on someone clothing to help you win a match. When I showed up for my first class, everyone was hanging out on the mat waiting for class to start. The instructor finally showed up 15 minutes after the class was supposed to start and tells us to start shadow boxing to get warmed up. Everyone was doing something different and there was no instruction on proper technique or form. I just went through the TSMMA shadow boxing drill. While we are shadow boxing he is figuring out what we should do in class. TSMMA instructors know before they walk onto the mat what they are teaching (no judgments I swear). When he finally gets us started on our work out we are just scattered around the mat. No lines, no order, no discipline. Luckily, because I was their new student, they were giving me plenty of attention, but the rest of the students are practicing on their own with no direction. I feel like that is how bad habits are formed, but what do I know. Then he ends the class early because he has somewhere to go. At TSMMA classes go over sometimes because we have a good class, but our instructors would never end class early so he could leave the school.
At TSMMA classes go over sometimes because we have a good class, but our instructors would never end class early so he could leave the school.
I show up for my second class and I’m instructed to go to the mat that looks something like a UFC cage. I needed gear for this class which they kindly let me borrow. I’m informed at the start of class that we will be sparring. I’ve never sparred. I just started the intermediate class at TSMMA. I just started learning how to block so naturally I was extremely nervous. I tell the instructor that this is probably out of my league. He tells me I’ll be fine and says all I need to do is swat away the opponent’s gloves. I don’t make a habit of whining and complaining so I suck it up and get set up with a girl that’s about my size. She was really sporadic and throwing every move she had ever been taught. I backed her up with some quick jabs and set her up for a couple round house kicks so I was completely fine for that. She was too sloppy for me to worry about getting hit. When the buzzer goes off they set me up with this huge guy. He was a bit taller than me but he had a lot of muscle mass on him. If I saw him on the street I wouldn’t want to get hit by him whether I knew he had MMA training or not. We introduced ourselves and I tell him that this is my first time sparring so if he could just go easy I’d appreciate it. He nodded, which customarily means you understand and you are agreeing to comply with the request. The instructor tells us to get ready and go on the bell. Typically when someone speaks you look in their direction, so while the instructor was speaking I was looking at him. When he was done I looked back over at my partner. As I look to him he punches me in the face. The bell has not gone off – the instructor didn’t say go ahead and start…he just punched me. He punched me right on my cheek bone…HARD! My immediate reaction wasn’t to get upset and he didn’t knock me down, but he punched me before the bell! I got so pissed I kicked him in the chest. The instructor saw what happened and came over to make sure everything was okay. Again because I don’t tend to complain, I said everything was fine, but I’m thinking to myself “This huge guy just punched me in the head really hard!” He takes it easy on me the rest of the round but I was livid. I shouldn’t have been matched up with him!
I learned a valuable lesson that although a gym says they teach MMA, they do not live up to the standards of Tiger Schulmann’s. I was so happy to get back to TSMMA.
“The rest of the two weeks I trained with at the other school went by quickly. I am glad I trained with them to gain a little perspective and to see how others train. I learned a valuable lesson that although a gym says they teach MMA, they do not live up to the standards of Tiger Schulmann’s. I was so happy to get back to TSMMA.”