Who is this Tara “The Tiny Terror” Graff? Well, let me give you a small glimpse into this fast-paced journey I’m on, this crazy journey I call my life. I’m a 34-year-old, Maryland native, small town girl striving to do her best, just like most of you.
7 years ago, I would have never imagined I’d be here today, as a professional MMA fighter, writing a blog introducing myself to prospective self-defense clients. At the time I was a 27-year-old, mother of 2 wonderful and very active boys, managing an extremely busy radiology facility, all while dealing with the stress of a failing marriage. I was stable and halfway content; however, I knew I was missing something. I knew I loved the medical field because I loved to help others however, there was another side I was missing, I just hadn’t found that part of myself…. yet.
To deal with the everyday “life stress”, I found working out/running helped free my mind and clear my conscience to be able to handle anything life threw at me. I was approached by a man that asked if I had ever watched UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) or Bellator, of course being the 'tomboy' and 'sports junkie' I’ve always been, I said "Heck yea, I absolutely love watching UFC and Bellator!". Then he followed with "You look like a very tough, athletic person, how would you like to give MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) a try?" Without hesitation, I responded with "Absolutely, although I don’t personally have any experience in any form of Martial Art, I’ve been around it most of my adolescent life and watched a lot in my early twenty’s.". He assured me I’d be ok.
Fast forward a few short months, I stepped into the cage to fight for the very first time. Stepping into that cage was the most amazing feeling ever! Through pure heart and determination, I WON! The girl with very minimal training, me, I did! It was great, a feeling that’s hard to put into words. It was that moment I found one of the missing pieces to my puzzle and couldn’t wait to do it again. Fast Forward a year, with the same little to no training, I was inside the cage 4 more times, losing them all by decision. After the last loss I realized, just like everything in life, I couldn’t do this alone. There was never a question that I wanted to keep pursuing this new crazy dream of mine, however, I knew if I wanted to succeed at it that I would need coaches, a team, mentors, people that knew what they were doing and could lead me in the right direction.
It didn’t take much looking and I found exactly what I was looking for in Royal Martial Arts! The connection was instant, it was a very family friendly environment and somewhere I was also even able to take my kids! After a hard day of work at the office and the new stress of being a single mom, Royal was not only my “get away” or stress reliver, but it was also where I was working on my dream, the correct way! And boy did it show!
I won my next 5 out of 6 fights all by KO (knockout) or TKO (technical knockout), 2 of them were for the title belt” (to be the promotion’s champion), of which I was not “expected” to win, in 2 different weight classes. I was later signed by a Professional organization called King of The Cage, for a few fights. Then picked up by one of the biggest promotions in the world, Bellator, where I am now.
It’s such an honor to be on Bellator’s big stage! This is a promotion I have watched on TV since my early twenty’s and now I’m there fighting in that same cage! It’s been an INCREDIBLE journey! It hasn’t been an easy journey and I’m still faced with many challenges but there isn’t much I would change. All the ups and downs, every bumpy road or smooth path I’ve taken has led me here and has made me “The Tiny Terror” that I am today.
Next month I will be leading a Women Only Basic Self Defense seminar hosted by PTPGun.com in Waldorf, Maryland. There are 20 total spots and at this time there are only 11 remaining. I would love to have you all join us and train not only to survive but to thrive in this potential dangerous world we find ourselves living in. Be sure to register by clicking HERE