The RGV is home to many incredible local businesses that strive to make an impact on the community. Among them are those who have a dedication to instilling life lessons such as anti-bullying through the art forms of martial arts and taekwondo.
Team Tiger Martial Arts was first established nearly 15 years ago out of founder Gilberto Villanueva’s home in Palmhurst, Texas. The licensed chemical dependency counselor came across victims of domestic violence daily. It was inspiration to begin teaching different methods of self-defense. His very first students were his own children, Clarissa and Marco Antonio Villanueva, at ages 6 and 3.
Shortly after he began to teach out of his home, he was laid off from his job. Villanueva and his wife Yolanda then threw themselves into making Team Tiger succeed. At the time, their goal was merely to survive. Upon outgrowing their home and eventually two commercial spaces, they now operate out of a spacious warehouse in McAllen.
Setting themselves apart
Today, Team Tiger Martial Arts is known for their well-rounded, skilled instructors as well as their strong sense of family values.
“Our instructors at Team Tiger are five martial artists in one – they hold national and world titles in traditional Korean forms, traditional Japanese forms, weapons, sparring and sport karate,” shares Sensei Gilberto Villanueva. “We have well-rounded black belts, they are very strong in every single one of those categories.”
Sensei Marco Villanueva first received his black belt when he was only 11 years old. As the primary instructor at Team Tiger, he takes a lot of pride in teaching his students the importance of knowing what it takes to be a champion.
“If you want to become a champion, the only one that’s holding you back is yourself,” he says. “That’s what my father raised me on and that is something I hope to pass on to my students.”
Though students are not required to compete in tournaments, the option is available to them. Team Tiger Martial Arts has had the opportunity to represent Team USA at the WKC World Championship. The annual martial arts competition has competitors from all over the world test their skills against the best of the best.
“When people see our uniforms out in competitions, they think ‘here comes trouble,’” says Sensei Marco, who earned a silver medal in fighting and bronze in forms in Greece in 2018.
Beyond the art
Not only can students expect to learn martial arts when they walk through the doors, but they will also acquire an abundance of life lessons they can carry with them. Among these are time management and commitment to yourself, your dreams and goals.
“The difference between martial arts and other sports is simple. You have a volleyball player, soccer player, baseball player, basketball player, and a martial arts student,” emphasizes Sensei Gilberto. “This is an education.”