Karate studio draws audience on Bell Blvd.

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Maybe it is the sight of young kids learning to master the intricacies of karate that keeps the crowds coming back to Tiger Schulmann’s in Bayside.

Or perhaps the large audience regularly gathered on the sidewalk outside the karate school’s large, glass-paneled classrooms is simply a sign of the facility’s success.

“Our ultimate goal is to build confidence,” said school owner and Seinsi Bryan Gotthoffer, who started the Tiger Schulmann franchise at the corner of Bell Boulevard and 39th Avenue six years ago. “When you see a kid who comes in and is afraid of their own shadow, and then they become a black belt and a straight A student, it’s great.”

While children and adolescents make up a significant portion of the school’s clientele, Gotthoffer said Tiger Schulmann’s strives to include people of all ages in its programs.

“We have students here as young as 3 and as old as 67,” he said. Tiger Schulmann’s in Bayside draws between 600 and 700 students a month from across northeast Queens, Gotthoffer said.

The school teaches self-defense classes and has several programs for youngsters as well as intermediate and advanced classes, Gotthoffer said, that utilizes a specific curriculum to teach a hybrid-style of karate which includes kickboxing and submissive grappling.

“You learn how to kick and punch and block, and what to do” if you get grabbed from behind or attacked, Gotthoffer said.

Gotthoffer and his staff — Seinsi William Bonet, Seinsi Kirsten Solberg and Joshu Chris Iavarone — maintain an atmosphere of equality among the school’s students.

“Translated, karate means ‘empty hand,’” Gotthoffer said. Traditional status symbols such as money, clothes or jewelry are left at the door. “Everybody’s the same — advancement is based on time, meeting requirements, learning techniques and going through a minimum number of classes.”

“There is no substitute for ongoing training,” he said. “There is no quick fix.”

His love of karate came early in life, Gotthoffer said, when he learned the martial arts with his father. Through the years, Gotthoffer said, he has found that karate offers different things to different people.

“We want to make sure everyone leaves feeling good,” he said, and the school emphasizes values like discipline and respect while promoting karate’s physical and emotional benefits. “It’s a great way to relieve stress and get stuff off your mind.”

And the parents who stand outside to watch?

“We like the parents to stay involved,” he said. “When the parents stay and watch, it encourages the kids.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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