TSMMA Bay Ridge Student Success Story
By: TSMMA Bayridge
It was January 2009 when I realized I needed to make a change, tipping the scale at more than 350lbs; how much more I’ll never really know, because the scale didn’t go any higher. I began to follow the Weight Watchers plan and in a few months got down to about 325lbs. However, the weight loss came to a halt and I hovered at that weight until August of 2009. My Tiger journey began quite unexpectedly, actually, and I never would have imagined that I would be where I am today; however, I am so glad it happened the way it did.
In June 2009, my daughter Maya attended her first class at Tiger Schulmann’s in Bay Ridge. She was reluctant at first, not knowing what to expect, but she agreed to give it a try and if she didn’t like it, she didn’t have to go back. Needless to say, when Maya got off of the mat she ran up to me with the biggest smile on her face. When I asked her how she liked it, her reply was simply “I LOVE IT!” Shortly after, my husband Danny joined Tiger Schulmann’s, as well. With both my daughter and husband now attending class several days a week, I found myself sitting on the bench an awful lot. As I sat on the bench and watched the classes, I became more interested in training and I wanted to give it a try. I was worried about my size, so I decided to try on Danny’s uniform, only to be disappointed that his size 7 uniform pants were too tight on me. I was too ashamed to tell anyone that their largest sized uniform didn’t fit me, and so I kept making excuses as to why I couldn’t join. I told myself that if I waited a few more weeks and lost a few pounds, I could fit into those pants, and then I would join! Every so often Joshu Caccamo would ask me when I was going to join, until one day I finally said “In August”. And so every time Joshu saw me sitting on that bench, he would point to the big calendar hanging on the back wall and say “it’s almost August”….that is, until August arrived.
Great, August was here, but the pants still didn’t fit, what was I going to do?! The only thing I could do; suck it up and admit to Joshu Caccamo that the only thing stopping me from joining Tiger Schulmann’swas the fact that I couldn’t fit into the uniform. Joshu looked at me and said “Go buy a pair of white pants and get on that mat and in a few weeks those pants WILL FIT YOU!” And so that day, I signed myself up, went home and ordered a pair of generic gi pants on the internet, in a size 9. I was nervous, I wasn’t sure I could make it through the entire hour of class. I knew I couldn’t do push-ups at my size, and I could barely do any sit-ups, however, I pushed through that very first class and never looked back. It definitely wasn’t easy; my body ached so badly some mornings that I couldn’t get out of bed. But I was noticing a difference after every class and soon the weight started to come off. In just a few months I was able to step up my training from 2 days a week to 4 days a week, and began to grapple and kickbox. It became an addiction; I wanted to train as much as I could. No matter how much pain I was in the next day, I was ready to go back and do it again.
I was losing weight, feeling better about myself and coming out of my shell. I was making new friends, developing healthier habits and changing my life for the better. Joshu Caccamo gave me the confidence that I needed to get on that mat day after day, and Joshu Pace gave me the motivation to keep pushing myself, to get better and to continue losing weight. Just 2 years after I had set out to change my life, I hit a major milestone; I had lost over 100lbs! And best of all, I was now able to wear those size 7 gi pants that had hung in my closet for so long! Three years have passed since I signed up for Tiger Schulmann’s, and while I have not hit my ultimate goal yet, I know that I am well on my way and I would have never gotten this far without the support I’ve received from my “Tiger family”. A lot of things have changed at TSMMA Bay Ridge.
This past February, Joshu Caccamo retired and was replaced by Sensei Nissim Levy. Although I was a little reluctant at first, I soon realized that Sensei Levy is an incredible instructor and have grown to love him. With Sensei Levy now leading the school and the return of Joshu Pace, they both continue to push me to the limits and will undoubtedly help me reach my goals. To date, I have earned my high yellow belt and took home 2nd place in kickboxing at the Challenge of Champions in 2010. I plan to compete again this coming December with hopes of bringing home 1st place this time around…but we shall see. I hope to someday earn my Black Belt under Sensei Levy and have also thrown around the possibility of teaching and even owning my own school one day. This in itself is incredible to me, considering 3 years ago I had absolutely no interest in watching, let alone doing Mixed Martial Arts. Tiger Schulmann’s has truly changed my life and I will be forever grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way. To be continued… Osu, Lamiel