Sammy Smith

Every Sport karate competitor knows how hard it is to get through one routine, let alone several of them. Each routine is only about a minute and a half, but this minute and a half is composed of nonstop hard- hitting movements that take a lot of energy from the body. The more events a competitor competes in, the more in tune they need to be with their body and training. I typically compete in six events (some of which all are ran the same night, within the span of just over an hour). After those six divisions are completed, if I were to win any of the events, there are other rounds; "overall grands", which means I would compete again the following day. There is a very specific type of training that needs to be done in order to obtain success inside the ring.

Firstly, a competitor needs to train sport specifically. I've stated this theory in some earlier blogs however, training sport specific means that the training/conditioning you are doing will replicate some of the movements done in that specific sport. For example, a sport karate competitor who competes in extreme divisions (meaning they perform acrobatic tricks in the air) will want to make sure they train explosive movements. These explosive movements can be things as simple as doing squats into tuck jumps, or as intricate as starting in a pushup position and then rapidly transitioning into a straight jump or other jumps from there. When you train sport specifically you are reaping the benefits of strengthening the body and upping your sport performance simultaneously.

Strengthening is just one part of the training; it's a crucial component don't get me wrong, but we also have to condition our endurance, "endurance training." Having good endurance is very important because of the nature of our high intensity sport. Not only are we constantly moving for around two minutes at a fast pace, but if you are that competitor doing more than one event, you'll need to have enough in the "gas tank" to perform again with as little as ten minutes of time till the next event. Some ways I personally like to strengthen my endurance is by sectioning (breaking apart pieces/groups of my form) into three sections. Each section I will repeat anywhere from 3-5 times. Sometimes I even like to drill my routine in halves with little to no rest in between. Periodization is extremely important when it comes to endurance training. Understanding how much time you have in preparation for the upcoming tournament is crucial to developing the right plan for you to be in optimal shape tournament time. For example, your training may be less intense and broader the further away the tournament is and may be more intense and specific closer to the date of the event. If you try to go at 100% hard training with multiple sessions a day weeks out, you will burn out and progress will backfire.

To reiterate, our sport is intense. A sport like this requires a certain training and that's why any exercise you do in the gym has to be sport specific to directly translate. When training there are multiple aspects that tie into performance like strengthening muscles and also training endurance. Lastly, a proper plan going into the tournament will set yourself up for domination.

Watch Sammy in action on ESPN:

Sammy Smith takes the stage at the 2017 ISKA US Open World Martial Arts Championships with her extreme nunchaku routine.

That a director of my city's opera company would call me seemed a little odd. There are probably some monkeys who know more about opera than I do. But the director was inviting me to lunch, so of course I went.

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