Sammy Smith is a world champion in sport karate and a member of Team Paul Mitchell. This is her perspective on what it takes to be in the top one-percent of sport karate competitors.

In order to earn your spot in the "one-percent club", you have to be willing to sacrifice more than you're comfortable with. Sacrifice is an all too familiar word in my life. As a multi-time martial arts world champion, college graduate, coach, and student, I knew if I wanted to be at the top I had to think, and act, differently than most.

From the age of seven, when I first started competing on the NASKA (North American Sport Karate Association) circuit, and training under Matt Emig and Daniel Sterling, I became obsessed with earning my own spot on the most prestigious team in the sport. A team consisting of the "one percenters" in sport karate, Team Paul Mitchell.

While all my peers throughout my school life were going to parties, hanging out with each other, or participating in other activities, I was always training. I put training on a pedestal and always prioritized getting better at my craft, often at the expense of everything else. I knew that this was just not an activity to pass time, and that it was something that made me feel alive more than anything else in the world. The tears and sweat that rolled down from my eyes onto the karate mats became my closest friends. My training sessions became my uninvited parties, and my life, isolated; by choice.

Sammy Smith | 2017 US Open Night of Champions | Women's CMX Weapons

It would take eleven years of consistent training, numerous competitions, and brutal injuries which caused self-doubt, to finally triumph and accomplish my childhood goal. In June of 2015, I was asked to join the legacy and for the first time I felt like "I made it." Becoming part of the team made me realize all the time that I thought I was alone, I really wasn't. The team is a collection of the one-percenters, and even though we're all from different parts of the world, we have the same mindset- to be untouchable.

You don't have to be part of a world-renowned team to be classified as a "one percenter." The one percenter attitude is what drove me to go after my goal to which I then attained. It was through all the work I put into training that had conditioned me to have tunnel vision- to grind and have the "by any means necessary" mentality for something I wanted so badly. Your mental strength will be tested in a way no amount of training could prepare you for; the one percenters are willing to go through dark times for they know the light they will see at some point whether it be weeks, months, or years will be well worth it. If you really want this life, you have to detach yourself from normality and go forth with the determination of a champion every hour, every day, and take that with you through life.

Sammy Smith

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To Master the Supreme Philosophy of Enshin Karate, Look to Musashi's Book of Five Rings for Guidance!

In the martial arts, we voluntarily subject ourselves to conflict in a training environment so we can transcend conflict in the real world. After all, we wouldn't knowingly train in a style that makes us weaker or worsens our position. The irony of all this is that we don't want to fight our opponent. We prefer to work with what an opponent gives us to turn the tide in our favor, to resolve the situation effectively and efficiently.The Japanese have a word for this: sabaki. It means to work with energy efficiently. When we train with the sabaki mindset, we receive our opponent's attack, almost as a gift. Doing so requires less physical effort and frees up our mental operating system so it can determine the most efficient solution to the conflict.In this essay, I will present a brief history of sabaki, as well as break down the sabaki method using Miyamoto Musashi's five elements

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Coach Tony Blauer has been in the martial arts, self-defense, defensive tactics, and combatives industry for over four decades.

He founded Blauer Tactical Systems (BTS) in 1985 and it has grown into one of the world's leading consulting companies specializing in the research and development of performance psychology, personal safety, and close quarter tactics & scenario-based training for law enforcement, military, and professional self-defense instructors.

  • His research on the neuroscience of fear and the startle-flinch lead to the development of the SPEAR System, a modern personal defense system based on physiology, physics, and psychology. It has been used by defensive tactics and combative trainers all over the world for over 30 years.
  • He developed the world's first impact-reduction scenario-based training equipment, called High Gear, which revolutionized force-on-force training for police, SWAT, and military organizations.
  • After decades of interviewing victims of violent encounters and studying violence, he created the KNOW FEAR program which focuses on managing fear through self-awareness, resiliency, and a 'movement' mindset. This program has also been integrated by psychologists helping veterans deal with PTSD.

Tony Blauer Self Defense

Blauer's programs have influenced over three decades of trainers and coaches as well as most contemporary reality-based martial artists. He resides in California with his wife, kids, and dogs, but still travels extensively working with individuals, corporations, and government organizations around the world providing solutions for training, performance assessment and credentialing. His company is dedicated to enhancing the mental and physical safety of everyone they help train.

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