Tiger Schulmann’s

TSMMA Bay Ridge Student Success Story

Last Updated on September 12, 2012.

TSMMA Bay Ridge Student Success Story

BY: TSMMA Bay Ridge

I was always an athletic, outgoing, and disciplined girl.  I started dancing at age 2, and doing musical theater at 5, and all kinds of  sports quickly followed. When I was 15-years-old, my active lifestyle quickly  and surprisingly had to change. It started one day where I got a pain in my  elbow, and over the next two years pain and immobility spread to every joint in  my body. I was told by doctors that I would never dance again, that I needed to  be in a wheelchair, and I would be put on medications that would cause all kinds of side effects, and make me susceptible to all kinds of illnesses.

I did my best to keep moving, no matter how much it hurt, but things that you don’t even think about  became impossible; holding a pen, lifting a book, driving a car, ect.  As soon as the false feeling better caused by medication kicked in, I went with my dance company to NYC, where my suppressed immune system immediately caught the flu. But, we were going to the  Tony Awards and I wasn’t missing it, just because I had laryngitis. I put on my  dress and was standing outside Radio City Music Hall when 5 big men began to harass me, and try to get me to go with them. I couldn’t scream because I had  lost my voice. Luckily the police removed them and I was fine, but after hearing  that story my dad decided I needed to learn how to defend myself.

I moved to NYC by myself and continued dancing and acting. I would do low  impact cardio, pilates, and lift light weights, but my dad continued to pressure  me about being naïve and alone in Brooklyn. One day I walked passed TSMMA and  went up stairs looking more like someone who would want to be a ring girl, then an actual fighter. I explained to Joshu Nick Pace and Joshu Glen Caccamo my  situation and that I couldn’t get hurt because I was an actress, and had severe  Rheumatoid arthritis.  They assured  me this would be the best thing for me and I started that very night. That first  month I took 27 core classes and couldn’t even do one push up. I started working  the front desk and teaching cubs about a year into my training, I can do clap push ups now, and I have truly found my Brooklyn family.

Joshu Pace and Caccamo (who I call my Brooklyn dad)  inspire me to push harder, to use my mind to make my body stronger. That was the  number one thing that stuck with me. Joshu Caccamo instilled in my mind, “ They  can because they think they can.” This motivates me in my training, my acting,  and my life. I have been lucky enough to train under amazing instructors who make me laugh, make me cry, but most of all have made me stronger, both  physically and emotionally. Joshu Pace, Caccamo, Brennan, Teran, Salzman, Serio, and now Sensei Levy. They are incredibly important people who are part of why I  am who I am today. Why I have done everything I want to do, and was told I never  would, and why I attack everyday with my Tiger non-quitting spirit! I thank  these amazing instructors for all they have done for me from the bottom of my  heart. We don’t have enough space for me to tell all the stories and ways Tiger  has changed my life, mind, spirit, and body.

Last summer I was featured in an article in fitness  magazine, I started teaching my own fitness classes, I have helped my friends  and family change their diet and workout habits, I have had wonderful success in  my acting career, and I have reversed all damage that was once in my joints. My  doctor says if they didn’t already know, the x-rays wouldn’t even show that I  had Rheumatoid Arthritis. I still have to take shots of medication once a week,  but I am confident that this is not going to be forever. I know that because  like Joshu Pace always says, “Have a strong mind, and your body will follow.”

<3  Katie Schwartz

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