TSMMA Chalfont Student Builds Self-Confidence Through MMA
BY: TSMMA Chalfont
When I saw Sensei for the first time, I was thunderstruck. I was 8 years old, and we were at the birthday party of an old friend of mine named Matt. I remember being on the couch with my family when Sensei walked up the steps, and his confident swagger, cool determination, and his ripped form made my eyes pop. I turned to my mom and asked who this stranger was, and she said his name was Sensei Michael Marchand – the head instructor of the local Tiger Schulmann’s MMA. I thought about what the classes would be like with him as my instructor, and, I in my young naivety, thought that this TSK had to be some sort of superhero factory. Surely someone so sure in himself had to be Superman, right? And the more I thought about it the more I was sold. Immediately, I asked if I could try one of the classes.
Of course, it wasn’t just a simple child’s curiosity that made me interested. That year in school, I was being bullied by some kids for no reason. As a child, I always heard two philosophies on how to solve problems like bullying: the gentle reasoning of my caring mother, and the unwavering aggressiveness of my headstrong father. I tried to deal with bullying by using my mother’s advice at first, which was telling them to stop and talking to the teachers. However, going to the teachers would just make the same kids all the angrier, so I tried my dad’s advice next: I fought back. One of them tried to push me and I wildly punched him in the mouth, while another came up from behind and bit me. After yelling like mad I elbowed him off of me and was sent promptly to the principal’s office, where I was berated for fighting on school property. Once I was through the horror of being suspended, I was never bullied by the same kids again. I knew, however, that if I was going to avoid situations like this in the future something would have to change, and at that time it meant (to me at least) that I had to learn to fight. Once I heard that this Sensei was a teacher whose subject taught was fighting, at least as I understood it, I was hooked.
I loved it from the first time I stepped on the mat. I was slow, young and weak when I started, and I lacked the experience and confidence to really stand out in my classes, but that same flaw was what made me aspire to be better. It felt great to be able to watch my progress with my belt collection, which I still have proudly hanging in my room to remind me of the sacrifices I’ve made so far. After a few years (with some baseball seasons intermixed), I was a top student at the school at the rank of a Hi Brown belt and a skilled fighter. I loved the competition within each class and especially the COC tournaments. Basically, I started to feel at home when I was out on the mat in all my kickboxing gear, or with my ear guards.
At school, everyone knew that I kickboxed and I got some respect from everyone for it. I wasn’t having any problems with any bullies by the time I was 10 years old. But as I became older, I started to realize that it wasn’t learning how to fight that was keeping me safe from the bullies, but it was my confidence brought on by learning to defend myself. It was this same confidence that enabled me to befriend the same bullies that had bothered me but a year before, and realize that they lacked confidence as well. I started to see the same swagger in each step that I took that I saw in my Sensei the first time I laid eyes on him. I become more disciplined and competitive, which allowed me to excel at baseball. However, the best lesson I learned from Tiger Schulmann’s is the non-quitting spirit, because it was something I could apply to everything – and I mean everything – I do. I’ve never felt happier then after a tough kickboxing match and being able to hold my head high because I put everything I had into it, win lose or draw.
Looking back now at the age of 16, I see only a fraction of the young boy I once was. I used to be extremely shy, and today I dare say I’m one of the most outgoing people I know. The experiences I have from all my classes are something I wish to be able to hold onto forever, much like all the lessons my parents taught me. I hope to eventually one day, be able to show my grandchildren the pictures of me in various tournament fight teams and explain each person, each trophy, each drop of sweat and each ounce of hard work put in by us all. I honestly feel like if I hadn’t gone to Matt’s party that day I would be a completely different person today, and I would like to thank everyone who has helped me along the way with both my physical and mental training. Without the help of everyone, I don’t know if I could’ve taken it as far as I have. Tiger Schulmann’s has been a life changing encounter for me, and I would recommend its programs and classes to anyone who is willing to take the first step down its lengthy path to success, because in the words of my wise Sensei, it isn’t about reaching the end, but how the end was reached.
-Written by Scott V, 16, who has been training under Sensei Marchand since Aug 31, 2004.
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