On March 11th, 2012, a long-time dream came true for Watertown resident and martial arts student Gail Caplolupo. After a decade of hard work, sweat and fearless determination, Mrs. Capolupo, age 56, was promoted to the rank of Sa Bom Nim or 4th Degree Master in Tang Soo Do. The ceremony took place at the Tang Soo Do Masters Alliance Spring Interclub tournament where Master Capolupo received her belt and recognition from her long time instructor, 6th Degree Master Garth Charland of Charland Karate and Fitness who trained her from the rank of white belt. “It is somewhat surreal to promote my student, whom I have raised from the rank of white belt, to a rank that perhaps less than one percent of all martial artists ever achieve. I am profoundly proud of her and all she has accomplished.”
The advancement to Master came after a fifteen month testing period in which Master Capolupo trained vigorously with Masters from across the State and from as far away as Guatemala. “She worked incredibly hard, states Charland. “She is fearless and unstoppable when she wants something. Despite a nagging neck injury which she sustained in the midst of her testing period, she persevered and persisted. She never let us know that she was anything but ready for this next step.”
When asked about her achievement, Capolupo simply chuckled and said, “I didn’t start out in hopes of becoming a Master. In fact, I only started karate because it was something my son enjoyed and I thought it would give me something to do, something to call my own. Ten plus years later, here I am!” But despite Master Capolupo’s humble demeanor, her journey through the martial arts has encompassed far more than a decade of arduous training. In fact, her years of training have been earmarked with notable achievements including recognition at numerous national level competitions including Krane and IPPONE championships. But despite her titles, awards and trophies, the achievement most near and dear to her heart is the martial arts school she owns and operates on Bunker Hill in Waterbury, CT. “When I was given a chance to run my own school, I jumped at it”, states Capolupo. “It was a scary endeavor but I knew it was what I was supposed to be doing. I needed an outlet to give back. It is where my heart is. My students are my extended family and in many ways complete me.” Her students who endearingly refer to her as “Sa Bom Mom” agree. “She’s everyone’s mom and mentor”, states Bunker Hill Karate student Kellee Levesque.
Besides running her own school, Master Capolupo is a wife, mother of two and full time employee of Itt Veam. She serves on numerous boards and committees of the Tang Soo Do Masters Alliance, is a student of American-Filipino Kun Tao under Master Drew Serrano, and serves as a guest instructor at schools throughout the state. In her free time, she enjoys sewing and produces a line of original and distinctive handbags. She also enjoys ghost hunting and paranormal research and is a case manager/member of RISEUP Paranormal, a ghost hunting team based out of Rhode Island.
So what’s next for this busy mother, mentor, and master level martial artist? “I just take it as it comes”, states Capolupo. “And right now I am just taking it all in.” But rest assured Master Capolupo is still on the move. She has already returned to her “happy place”, the mats of the karate studio where she continues her devotion to her martial arts training. When asked about the major lessons learned along the way to Master Black Belt she replied, “There were so many. I guess the most important is to never lose sight of what you want, regardless of your age or obstacles. You are never too old to go after your dreams.”
Master Capolupo is the first woman to be promoted to Master within the Tang Soo Do Masters Alliance, a not-for-profit organization comprised of ten schools throughout Connecticut, Tennessee and New York. For more information on the Tang Soo Do Masters Alliance or affiliate schools visit them at http://www.tsdmastersalliance.com