How to Prepare for One of the Biggest Tournaments of the Season: The U.S Open
It is no secret that the U.S Open is one of the top tournaments on every competitors list. In my own personal experience, the U.S. Open was one of my first tournaments I attended back in 2004. At the time I was only seven and didn’t know much about sport karate, but I knew who all the “cool” and talented competitors were from watching a DVD of the U.S open from the year before (2003). Deep down little seven-year-old Sammy was hoping to meet Taylor Lautner at the infamous “pepper market” but he sadly did not attend the tournament that year. However, I remember meeting other legendary people there like John Su, DX, Jenny Espina, Leo Howard just to name a few (and if you don’t know who these people are it’s time to do your research). The US open is unlike any event from the location of it being in Disney World, to the aura of the convention center with the enormous crowd, to the pressure of wanting to win so badly to hopefully get your ticket to be on stage (which is played on ESPN 2). The U.S Open is the place to be!
Sammy Smith at the 2004 US Open
So how should a competitor prepare for this tournament? The simple answer is as much as you can. Let me break down what that means. First, you must decide how badly you want it because I’ve gone extreme lengths training for this tournament. For example, there’s training your forms, and then there’s training your forms till you can’t walk and your training sessions are happening at all hours of the day including past midnight when others are sleeping. There’s strength training, and then there’s conditioning your body to where you’re sore every day, but you just keep training through the soreness. You decide how hungry you are!
The best way I find to go about your training is to start general and as the time narrows in to competition day, so does your training and what you are focusing on. One of the major components you need is good endurance. The U.S. Open runs practically every single division on Friday in order to prepare for the ISKA stage the following night. This means when you are training just running your sections and an occasional whole form is not enough. You should be breaking your forms down into half forms running those multiple times, then running full forms multiple times and do the same for all the events you will be competing in. Give yourself little time before each run through because if you can hit your form when you are tired, then you can do it when you are fresh! You also want to be aware of the time during the day that you are training. The U.S. Open starts very early in the morning at 9am which is unlike many NASKA tournaments. Depending on when you train that is what your body gets used to. Personally, my body feels more awake at night, but I had to force myself to train those early mornings to fully replicate what running forms that early on would feel like. Once I have gotten my body used to the time adjustments as well as get my endurance under control then I work to refine small details about my forms, practice the different upgrades to my forms, as well as incorporate strength and conditioning drills into my training (agility, speed, power drills). It is important to realize how much time out from your tournament you have because with as much training there is, it is also important to give your body adequate rest leading up. Another important aspect is nutrition. I know people who have cut sugar out of their diets a week leading up to the tournament- I don’t think that’s necessary because you need the glucose to refuel your muscles after intense work outs. However, everyone’s body responds differently that’s why a good method is practice how you perform. If you like to eat snacks throughout the tournament, then eat snacks while you train. The idea is to replicate everything you would do to minimize any feelings of being underprepared.
Now is the best time to start preparing! I would start preparing my forms months in advance whether it was conditioning my body, upgrading my forms, or increasing my mindset. This tournament is the time to shine and show off all your hard work. With all of this being said… get to work!
Sammy Smith | 2017 US Open Night of Champions | Women's CMX FormThe US Open ISKA World Martial Arts Championships Night of Champions is broadcast live on ESPN and is one of the most exciting sport karate shows to watch!Li...
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