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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