Palisadian Tamar Springer Recognized as Youth Mentor Instructor

Tamar Springer was honored as Sensei Youth Mentor Instructor of the year on Sept. 1 in Orlando, Florida.

The Palisades resident was nominated by Grand Master Brian Kula Fung, who is a well-known and highly decorated world champion in several styles of karate and martial arts. He holds about 50 world titles within the North American Sports Karate Organization.

“Brian knows me and of my work in coaching kids,” Springer said, noting that after the nomination there is a vetting process before the award is announced.

“It was a very special evening,” Springer said. “I was lucky that my friend from home, and Gerry’s [Blanck] longtime friend of 40 years, actor Don Wilson, was also there. He received the Martial Arts Action Movie Actor award that same night.”

Tamar Springer was awarded the Sensei Youth Mentor Instructor of the Year.

Springer teaches at the Blanck dojo, and works with kids who want to complete. At the World Martial Arts Tourney in Ontario in February, three of her students, Skylar Saltzman, 13, Michael Gatto, 10, and Lily Kinnear, 13 did well.

Kinnear, a St. Matthew’s student, took third in traditional forms, creative forms, musical weapons and fourth place in traditional weapons and musical forms.

Paul Revere Middle School eighth grader Saltzman finished third in the black belt division in traditional forms and traditional weapons.

Gatto, a fifth grader at Canyon Elementary, competed in the green belt division and took third in sparring and fourth in forms.

“There are a few other kids interested in competition,” Springer said. “We should have a larger team from Gerry Blanck’s for the next Complete Tournament in February—and we might go to a smaller tournament in October.”

Springer is the daughter of composer Philip and Judith Springer, who have lived in the Palisades since 1972. She attended Palisades Elementary, Paul Revere and Palisades High School and received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCLA in 1989 and a master’s degree in social work in 1991.

She has a successful practice that specializes in relationships and couples therapy and is a certified sex therapist.

About nine years ago, she decided she wanted “a new hobby, something physical,” and took her first class at Blanck’s.

She started competing six months later under sensei Chris Wheeles, who was visiting from Alabama. “He called me one day and said, Mark your calendar, we’re going to a tournament,” said Springer, and before she could protest, he told her,“Trust your sensei.”

Springer captured first place in her initial tournament. “I did not want it to be a fluke, so I continued competing and kind of got a bug for it,” she said.

Then, the psychologist, who is the mother of two boys, Ariel, 11, and Gabe, 14, took a few years off from competing—until she started teaching.

This past February at the World Tourney, she took first in musical weapons in the black belt division (age 30 and over) and then in April first in musical weapons, second in musical and traditional forms and third in traditional weapons at the Ocean State Nationals (a North American Sport Karate Association) tournament in Rhode Island.

Currently she is recovering from knee injury and probably will not compete before February, but said “Teaching is very rewarding. I love working as a coach with the kids.”

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