Tom Scott is featured on the cover of the December 2018/January 2019 issue of Black Belt. The cover story is different from this post and includes numerous photos of winning Olympic-karate techniques and combinations. Get your copy when it goes on sale November 13. Until then, enjoy this post!

Tom Scott

The Mission to Become the First American Olympic Gold Medalist in Karate

Tom Scott is featured on the cover of the December 2018/January 2019 issue of Black Belt. The cover story is different from this post and includes numerous photos of winning Olympic-karate techniques and combinations. Get your copy when it goes on sale November 13. Until then, enjoy this post!


SUBSCRIBE NOW

The United States doesn't have a particularly remarkable history of success in traditional karate competition on the international stage. But with karate set to debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the pressure is on to find a standard-bearer for American karate. No martial arts practitioner fits that bill better than 10-time U.S. champion Tom Scott.

A 28-year-old native of Texas who started training in wado-ryu karate at age 8 under an instructor named Brody Burns, Tom Scott gives full credit for his success to his sensei — and to the work ethic that the martial artist instilled in him.

“He's been an unbelievable mentor to me, and today he's my best friend," Tom Scott said. “I still work in his karate school and do the marketing for them. I love doing it. But I also pursue being a full-time athlete, traveling internationally to compete every month. He's the one who's made that possible."

Among the most important traits Tom Scott has picked up from his instructor is how to be consistent in his karate training and skill development. That consistency goes hand in hand with his goal of being a different fighter every year of his career. Not just a different fighter but a better fighter.

“I'm always working on learning new things, new skills, new rhythms," Tom Scott said. “Some people will just stagnate and stay the same year after year. But if you do that, you're eventually going to get picked apart."

One of the keys to making progress, Tom Scott said, involves analyzing every competition in which you take part — the wins and the losses — and then learning from your actions. He likes to come home from each tournament with a general theme in mind, one that allows him to either incorporate something new into his repertoire or change something that's not working.

To be more efficient at this, Tom Scott has developed a routine that entails keeping a journal of his karate experiences and then transferring the most important points he's learned in training and competition onto flashcards. He then uses those cards to constantly remind himself of the lessons.

“I've been keeping this journal for 10 years and have everything I know about the sport written down," Tom Scott said. “I'm always logging my pre-tournament feelings and post-tournament lessons.

“That way, I can go back and make sure I'm not repeating my mistakes. It's just like in school [when] you're constantly taking notes and learning."

Tom Scott uses the flashcards — often the morning of an event or even in the staging area right before going out to fight — to remind himself of specific strategies and tactics he wants to implement. With all the information and feedback he's constantly receiving, he finds this a convenient way to remember crucial points that might otherwise be forgotten.

He also said there have been times when he failed to make use of his journal and cards and it came back to bite him in competition.

“I've looked back over the first entries I put into the journal when I was 18 and really wanting to be the best I could be," Tom Scott said. “I was writing down things like what is the perfect fighting stance [and] what are the appropriate angles for the knees and ankles. That's the kind of thing an 18-year-old karate competitor should be thinking about.

“But now my latest entries are about specific countries and opponents I might be fighting, what techniques or strategies they like to use and how to fight against them."

As a martial artist, Tom Scott exhibits an attention to detail that manifests in a quest for maximum efficiency in every technique. Similar to the way world-class swimmers and sprinters become obsessed with every facet of their form in an effort to shave just one more tenth of a second off their time, Tom Scott and his teacher Brody Burns take what they call a “sniper" approach to fighting.

In essence, that approach involves endeavoring to make all striking techniques as smooth and efficient as possible. That is the key, they believe, to beating an opponent to the punch by fractions of a second.

“My coaches on the national team have always said how coachable I was, and I think that proves sensei Burns and I have had the right outlook," he said.

But even with all that thoroughness to detail, Tom Scott's Olympic quest, which begins in November 2018 at the World Karate Federation's world-championship tournament, won't be easy. Only 10 fighters per weight division will qualify for the Tokyo Games.

One of the spots automatically goes to a Japanese fighter, Tom Scott said. Four more will go to the four highest-ranked fighters according to the WKF rating system. Three will go to those who medal at an upcoming tournament in Paris. And two will be wild-card entries. The message, according to Tom Scott, is that nothing is assured.

“You might be a little faster when you're younger, but I think as you get older, you get stronger mentally and physically," Tom Scott said. “And the experience is important. The most important thing is to just think about making yourself a better fighter than you were yesterday."

Get every issue of Black Belt delivered to your home. Click here to subscribe!

Article by Mark Jacobs • Photos by Brandon Snider

SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
Keep Reading Show less

Whether your martial art has you rolling on the ground and grappling, striking and sparring, or working with weapons (hopefully the unsharpened variety!), there are five common types of injuries martial artists tend to see. It is nearly impossible to avoid all injuries, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of injury that everyone who practices any martial art should be aware of.

Stress Fractures

One of the most common martial arts injuries, stress fractures occur when bones are struck with repetitive force -- think checking kicks in muay thai, or repeatedly hitting a heavy bag with inadequate wrist support. Stress fractures are also very common in runners' feet and legs, so if you've recently upped your cardio to get in better shape for your art, be on the lookout!

Keep Reading Show less

A good pair of gloves is like a dollop of whipped cream on a cake slice—it just makes everything better! Whereas a bad pair of gloves can make your training session feel uncomfortable and awkward, a great pair can make you feel like you could beat Mike Tyson (or at least stay alive in a fight with him for a few seconds). One training session with gloves on either end of the spectrum will quickly make you appreciate the importance of quality equipment.

What to Expect from Creed

In this case, you can definitely expect good quality whipped crea—er, gloves. Made of genuine leather, Creed Heavy Bag Gloves are built to last. After wearing them for many weeks filled with numerous rounds of heavy bag training, the gloves still feel great!

The Creed Heavy Bag Gloves provide a comfortable and protective balance of padding in the appropriate areas. This ensures that they keep their shape well, cover your fist well in the areas that hit the target and ensure the satisfying smack of solid impact rather than the crack of a rolled wrist.

Keep Reading Show less

UFC 250 Poster Featuring Main Card with Amanda Nunes and Felicia Spencer

The UFC 250 main card set for Saturday night will feature five fights in lighter weight divisions that won't disappoint fight fans. The match ups are guaranteed to be fast paced and heavy hitting with three bantamweight matches and the highly anticipated women's featherweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Felicia Spencer.

Reigning champ Amanda Nunes will be center stage at the UFC Apex arena once again Saturday night to defend her women's featherweight title against her challenger Felicia Spencer.

Keep Reading Show less
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter