Da Silva-Simmons Traditional Tang Soo Do

The Small But Mighty Karate Team with Big Dreams

Article by Arliss Velhuizen

Photography by Lytebox Photography

Originally published in Frederick Lifestyle

During the July 4th holiday, a team of 20 from Brunswick, Maryland, arrived in Las Vegas for the 2022 AAU Taekwondo National Championships. Competing against well over 100 teams made up of about 3300 competitors from across the country, the Da Silva-Simmons Karate team walked away from the big city with 39 gold medals, 19 silver medals and 17 bronze medals in various sparring and forms events! They are also celebrating rising 7th grader, Madeleine Yepez, who was named to the AAU National Point Sparring Team! 

Meet Master Tim Simmons, as his students call him. Raised two blocks from his current studio located in Brunswick, his journey with Tang Soo Do began in the fall of 1979, when he saw a demonstration by Master William Wickham. His interest was sparked immediately, and he was set on a path that would keep him deeply invested in karate longer than he could have  anticipated. About 10 years later, he achieved his First Degree  Black Belt and would go on to earn a myriad of awards and accolades–including earning first place or the title of Grand Champion in over 200 tournaments, from 1988 to  2012. And he didn’t stop at competing as a martial artist himself. Over the years, he has taught and trained countless students at various studios, even going so far as to coach and train for Team USA in 2016, with six of those students earning World Championship medals that year. Truth be told, it was no simple road to get there. In fact, Tim ended up taking a long hiatus from karate–one that he intended to keep him out of the sport for good. 

Come the late 90s, Tim was more than ready for a change. By September of 2002, he’d opened Wing’n Pizza Shack in Brunswick and it was a total hit. He’d completely left the martial arts life behind and all ties to it, and didn’t plan on looking back. 

“...when I walked away, I was a young, burned-out martial arts instructor,” he reflected. “And a lot of it could’ve just been that I was young and immature…but like I said, I taught hundreds and hundreds of kids and had lots of success. I just was tired…since 1979, it was nonstop. My whole life was consumed by martial arts.”

Little did he know that his journey with the sport was far from over. His fiancé at the time had three young daughters. To his surprise, the youngest developed a persistent interest in karate, but she had no idea that he had any history with it–nor did anyone else who hadn’t known him while he was involved in the sport. Then one day, Tim’s sister finally gave him away, and she encouraged him to help the girls get started.  

His plan? To introduce the girls to Master Albano Da Silva—a long-time friend and  world-renowned martial artist—and get them started at his studio. The result? Master Da Silva ended up reserving an entire floor of his studio for Tim to train the girls himself–and, soon after, many other students as well. Not much later, Tim found himself back in the martial arts swing, and his class had quickly outgrown the space. It was time for a new studio. Two buildings later, Da SilvaSimmons Karate can be found in a moderately-sized studio on Souder Road, and Tim is more invested than ever–and he plans to stick around. 

But what changed? What inspired him to recommit with such faithfulness after a lengthy break? He felt it was his turn to give back. “...I just wanted to teach again. I was back, mentally–I wanted to teach. It was almost like unfinished business–just something that I needed to do.” And the way he does it is a lesson for us all. 

Yes, Tim and the Da Silva-Simmons students have incredible skill. Over the years, the competition team has competed successfully on every level, from national  to international competitions. They are a force to reckon  with. But even so, recognizing and celebrating their incredible success, it’s not just about the team for Tim. 

“...most team sports aren’t personalized…With martial arts, everybody’s a quarterback,” he explained. “So the motivation is when you’re training somebody, everybody in the world might think when they see you training that you don’t have it, or you’ve got a lot of work to do and…I see a kid that is 3 or 4 years old–can’t stand up, can’t walk forward, can’t pick their leg up– kick without falling, and I sit there and it’s almost like you look into a crystal ball, and you think, what’s gonna happen if this kid takes this seriously? In 10 years, how are they going to turn out?”  

And that is the secret sauce to his training: compassion for his students. A commitment and desire to help them discover their full potential–in Tang Soo Do and in life. ]

“I think that if you can help them with martial arts in their training, they hold themselves differently. They stand differently. They’re completely different than other people…” Tim continued. And while he loves to see students who are self-motived, eager to compete  and determined to take the martial art form all the way, his hope and drive for each one runs deeper than their accomplishments. 

“The majority of the students here that train–they don’t compete…it’s more about growth– self growth, confidence–than it is competing. I mean, I’m extremely competitive and I always have been, but not all kids are…so there’s an avenue for competition for some of these kids if they want to, but nobody’s forced to,” he shared. 

But that by  no means dilutes the pride he has in his competition team. In fact, it seems to be  a big factor in their success. Of course, he trains this team to win. He’s elated when they come out on top. But in addition to their sheer talent, the connection he builds with them and his greater focus and commitment to their personal development is one of keys to their accomplishment–just as it is with the rest of his kids. DSKTangSooDo.com

“I think that if you can help them with martial arts in their training, they hold themselves differently. They stand differently. They're completely different than other people…it’s more about growth...[and] confidence...”

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