Sammy Smith

There's a famous quote from Benjamin Franklin that says, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." This is true for everything within our lives. With the upcoming ISKA U.S. Open being held on July 2nd and 3rd (and after not competing for well over a year) I needed to make sure I left ample time to do just that, PLAN. MY. GAME. I knew that this year's perspective going into training would be different; it wasn't just about a tournament and competing. It was about mental fortitude, perseverance, out working everything I've done in the past, learning to become a better overall athlete, and within that would be personal triumph regardless of the actual outcome.


Through my years of training at LAW (Longo and Weidman) MMA with my Tae Kwon Do instructor, Sabumnim Eric San Jose, I have crossed paths many times with Mr. Ricci (who is now my professor for graduate studies). Mr. Tony Ricci (Dr. of Sport Psy/sci, Ed.D, MS, FISSN, CSCS, PES, CES, CNS) has become one of the biggest influences on my training leading into the U.S Open and will forever change my perspective on what it truly means to train like an athlete. Mr. Ricci (@fightshape_ricci) is a genius when it comes to anything sport science related. He has cultivated a 6-week training program that creatively mimics movement patterns that are done in sport karate routines into a strength and conditioning regimen. His dedication to my success by any means necessary is truly what everyone should look for in a mentor.

The modality of these training sessions has totally changed the game. We have measured body fat percentages three different times. Knowing how much body fat and where it accumulates is extremely important because it makes it easier to identify weaker parts of the body. We have also separated my strength and conditioning training sessions into three separate days: strength, power, and cardiovascular endurance. Each of these days serve a specific purpose and tax the body differently. On strength days we focus more on heavier lifting (which is something I wasn't too comfortable with until now), as well as isometric (keeping tension throughout the muscle) holds. On power days we combine weightlifting techniques with explosive movements (repetitive jumps, resistance bands). Cardiovascular endurance days, although the most "torture like" are my favorite. We have incorporated the use of a heart rate strap to monitor my max heart rate and recovery time while going through a circuit training which has several components including my forms.

Physicality is just one piece, mentality is the other part to the puzzle. To compete in one of the biggest tournaments in sport karate at such a high caliber is extremely nerve wracking to any serious competitor. Without mental strength it is very easy to crack under pressure and all the hard work put into weeks and months of training can be drained from just one unsettling thought. It is important to repetitively train the brain just as you would train the body. The key is to have the champion mindset and live by it like a lifestyle.

"Pressure is a privilege- it only comes to those who earn it." Billie Jean King

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