Venum Karate Team member Tom Scott hails from Texas in the USA. The USA Team Captain has been impressively dominant in every one of his eight years of competition.
Most recently, Tom won the gold medal in the 2015 Pan Americans in Toronto, Canada. It was a huge accomplishment for him, even after getting so many medals before.
Just how does Tom stay at the top of his game and continue to be an elite competitor year after year? We talked with Tom about this, plus balancing his personal life and teaching, once he’d had a few moments to settle down from the glory of the spotlight.
Venum: You started Karate when you were just 8 years old. What motivated you to continue through the tough high school and university years and after?
Tom: Karate gave me the discipline to always stay on top of my school work. It also presented occasional challenges such as missing a week of school for a competition. So I learned quickly, at a young age, how to talk to teachers and not fall behind.
Venum: You are a very active competitor. How do you balance training for competition, teaching, and your personal life?
Tom: Well my life has always been a balancing act. Always trying to fill my time with things that make me and everyone around me better. I love teaching kids and marketing the dojo on top of my training for competitions. I try and live by the motto “never settle.” Take on as much as my schedule and spirits can handle.
Venum: What are the biggest steps you take to stay healthy and uninjured?
Tom: To stay healthy, I do stretching practices. For 20 minutes or so after a workout or practice I focus only on stretching and rolling out muscles.
Venum: During a competition, how do you stay focused and energized?
Tom: It’s easy on long competition days to get tired. So to stay awake I’ve learned that chewing fresh gum, pouring cold or ice water down my back, and even mouthwash (my new favorite), can each help keep me alert in staging.
Venum: What is the uniqueness or what are the special strengths and techniques of Wado style?
Tom: Wado has a ton of partner work kata. This gives a Wado practitioner an edge in timing, distance, and agile movement.
Venum: What would you say are your own strengths, and what are your favorite techniques?
Tom: A strength of mine is versatility. Having multiple options and techniques is great for all the different scenarios that I come across in competitions. One of my favorite techniques is a round house kick to the body.
Venum: You have been on the podium so many times. Is there one time that stands outs for you and why?
Tom: This year has been a great year, and I can’t wait to see where next year takes me. All of my podium trips are special to me, and there isn’t a single one that I don’t appreciate. The Games this year did feel like the culmination of years and years of work, pain, and sweat. It was certainly special.
Venum: What was physically your toughest match, and why?
Tom: The final with Venezuela was definitely my toughest match. I found myself down by 3 points. The largest deficit I’ve faced in a while. I kept my head down and kept working. I’m very proud of myself, even though down in points I never thought about winning or losing during that match. I only thought about working.
Venum: You emphasize that losses are lessons. How do you personally assess your losses (or in your case silver medals!) in order to improve?
Tom: People grow more from a loss than we do from a win. Losses, if kept in perspective, are fuel for victories down the road. Everyone wants to be on top of the podium, but it won’t always happen. Instead we should try and be better than who we were yesterday. It’s easier to track gains this way.
Venum: What makes a good coach?
Tom: A good coach is someone who has the ability so see an athlete’s entire career. That coach can remember the past, ascertain where the athlete is in the present, and has an idea and path laid out for the future. Most importantly the coach cares about the athlete outside of competition, and is mainly interested in their personal betterment.
Venum: How did you feel after winning the 2015 Pan Ams? Can you share that feeling to inspire others to reach for gold?
Tom: The 2015 Pan Am Games was a dream come true. The entire experience from being an Olympic athlete, to the way that final match ended – scoring a punch as time expired – I will never forget it. This Games wraps up my entire career (thus far) into a nice story. In 2011 at the PanAm Games I suffered a painful loss in the finals, after starting up 2-0. The next four years of competitions led me to a great redemptive win. 1 Peter 5:6,”Humble yourself therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you.” I really believe in this scripture and have tried to humble myself daily. I recommend it to everyone including athletes who seek to be exalted at times in their life.
Venum: Finally, what are your future plans and goals in your competitive career?
Tom: I am going to win the world championships in Austria next year!