Transcript: Sam Brown – World Taekwon-Do Champion (Max#22)

Welcome to the latest transcript of the very motivating interview with Sam Brown, the current World Taekwon-Do Champion. Sam is an excellent example of someone who has shown dedication to aim higher and be successful in life.


Kevin: Welcome to Maximise Potential the podcast to educate and motivate through a range of original interviews designed to help you maximise your potential.

We are very fortunate today to join Sam Brown on episode 22 of Maximise Potential on his unique journey to becoming World Taekwon-Do Champion. Without wishing to give away Sam’s story what I particularly liked with the underlying personal circumstances that drew him into the martial art which were as far removed from international competitions and world championships than you could have ever imagined. I will let Sam explain the rest to you in his own words.


Sam thanks very much for sitting with us today on Maximise Potential Podcast – welcome to the Podcast.

Sam: Thanks Kevin thanks for inviting me.

Kevin: No my pleasure. I had the fortunate opportunity to read something in my local paper going back a few months ago now because it has taken us a while to actually work our schedules so that we could actually both sit down and it was an article about you winning the Taekwon-Do World Championships over in Korea which is a phenomenal achievement. But what amazed me within the interview was the fact that in the quote that you gave the paper it said ‘Yeah I took up Taekwon-Do just to get fit’. I have known someone to actually turn around and say yeah I took up this just to get fit and then within a few years they have applied themselves and progressed so far that they have become a World Champion. How did that happen?

Sam: Little did I know that the journey was going to take me to this sort of point.

Kevin: Well exactly was that I mean it genuinely wasn’t the intention to you know you weren’t setting out to become a professional in this and become World Champion were you?

Sam: No I was just really, I was working and I just wanted to re-balance work and play so there is a local gym and I wanted to get myself fit, loose a bit of weight and also just to be, live a more healthier lifestyle.

Kevin: Well lets talk about that because you had spoken to me before we started recording and you explained to me that it really was a life change for you it wasn’t really about the sport it was about you were working all hours under the sun, you were in a different career. I mean let’s just talk a bit about that because you really made a lot of fundamental changes to your life and Taekwon-Do was just one of those.

Sam: That’s right I was also I did originally work in the health care profession, I did also financial services but it was just really work, work, work. And I just needed to re-balance this. Basically I got to the point of despair really it was nice to know you could pay your mortgage, pay all the bills but there comes a point where there is something inside of you where you are thinking the quality of life you have got is not what you wish and you want to get to the next level where there is a better balance.

Kevin: Had it been something that was gradually building up inside you over a period of months, year whatever?

Sam: That’s right I think it took over I think it was a matter of years really it was just a build up in the mornings you think is this what my life is about really. You think is this what it is all about and you think it is like that philosophical question the meaning of life what is the meaning of the life for Samuel Brown is it just to work, work or is there something more, is there another chapter.

Kevin: The good thing was that you did find that other script.

Sam: That’s right.

Kevin: So what was first was it Taekwon-Do that you got introduced to first purely as you say just to start getting the health side of your life back, were you still doing your existing career at the time?

Sam: That’s right, that’s right yes yeah I was still doing my career, I was still working but also just attending the gym and I was lucky fortunate to meet my instructor Master Hogan at the local gym. Started doing that I think it was one or two sessions a week and next day or two or three days later I was in agony, pain, discomfort I got stiffness and it is like.

Kevin: I was going to say we should dwell on the fact that you were very fortunate to have probably one of the best Taekwon-Do Instructors in the world.

Sam: That’s right.

Kevin: At your local gym which is I mean it is funny how these I don’t know people call them elements of luck but it is funny the way these parts of a puzzle just fall in to place because I mean you could have lived anywhere you could have had any gym on your doorstep but you actually had you know Master Jim Hogan who is globally recognised as one of the best instructors in the entire world. I mean how did that, were you aware of that when you actually.

Sam: No, no I didn’t have a clue really.

Kevin: You just thought who is this guy kicking the hell out of me.

Sam: That’s right and quite a few people said he is supposed to be a really good instructor. I went there and it was just about the condition that he put me through. As a beginner you don’t actually do any sparing or any fighting it is just more conditioning. And that it was just like, you came back and you thought, you actually recognise and realise and were more aware of your body that you actually had muscles that you weren’t really aware of before.

Kevin: And what was the immediate impact in your life I mean how were you feeling? Obviously pain was the first immediate impact in your life but in terms of the positive side of stuff what did you begin?

Sam: I became to be more relaxed, I was a lot more relaxed in my outlook on life. I felt a lot more fitter; I had more energy so I would always recommend any form of physical activity regardless of what it is even if it is walking just doing something which helps to rebalance that in your life. So there was the positives and that was the good thing about it and there again I could apply that to my working life as well. My attitude, my approach to the people I encountered or interacted with obviously with a bit more energy and a bit more vibrant rather than some person that looked kind of drained all the time.

Kevin: And that was initially just going from just the two classes a week. I mean okay they were pretty intensive classes but that wasn’t suddenly training every single day or?

Sam: No that’s right and I also did some like circuit training a bit of other sort of weights and stuff like that actually just to re-build my muscles and stuff so everything was an add on as well it complimented each other really.

Kevin: I think it is very relevant to actually bring in and you are not going to mind me saying this but your age at the time when you decided to embark on this, on taking up Taekwon-Do and throwing yourself in to an environment that you hadn’t been in for a number of years. I know that you were a fit guy when you were younger and you used to do sport and fitness and cycling but then you took as you said you let work really take over your life, you hadn’t been in a gym environment for a long time, what age were you when you decided to make this change?

Sam: I was 40.

Kevin: 40.

Sam: That’s right I was overweight, I was having a bit of acute back problems so it was like it was good it was something I needed to do. There is a point where you wake up in the morning and everything and you start thinking everything is stiff all your joints are aching you just think you need to change, you need to change your lifestyle, you need to do something positive or it is going to be a downward spiral.

Kevin: Yeah most people at the age of 40 they think they are already where they are going to be for the rest of their lives. That was obviously what you had been going through with your restlessness and your thought process but you actually then made that decision to throw yourself out of your comfort zone because that is obviously what you were in. You were in the environment that you knew all about and you were in a career that you knew and blah, blah, blah and throw yourself into a completely foreign environment. Was that difficult?

Sam: It was something that you build up for. Initially obviously it is nice to stay in that little comfort zone but you just have to think no I have got to get out of this sort of, it is like a prison um and it is something that I had to do. There is something inside, there is something there is a burning desire for change and until you get that you have to act on it, you have to act on that impulse.

Kevin: And for you taking the first mini step was just getting your health back onboard.

Sam: That’s right the first step was saying okay join the gym. The second step is actually going to the gym, the third step is really being a bit more consistent and at the end of the day regardless of whatever you do you have got to be consistent in what you do, you have got to believe in what you do, you have got to have a dream. You have got to have that dream thinking okay if you dream of something trying to make that dream into reality. And that is all it is really you have got to visualise where do you want to be in a weeks time, two weeks time a months time, a years time and just trying to recap. Also each day figure out how could I have done things differently to get to my goal and that is all I tried to do.

Kevin: And so we are now on that journey with Taekwon-Do and at this point you are 40 years old you have just joined it, it is purely recreational I am assuming you had to go through a grading process.

Sam: That’s correct.

Kevin: When did the point change where you suddenly thought I can do this to a high level or was it just not even there I mean were you just still all the time just thinking yeah this is just a hobby I am doing just to get myself fit?

Sam: I mean it was a hobby initially until I went to my first it was like a seminar a workshop where you had ex world champions so you are mingling with world champions, European champions and it is just a matter of if you want to be a mechanic or a good mechanic you have to associate yourself with mechanics who talks about cars or whatever it may be and you can pick up something. You may pick up a little bit here or there and it is the only way you can improve.

Kevin: I was going to say lets just dwell on that a bit because I have heard a few people say that if you want to, whoever you want to become in your life then put yourself in that situation surround yourself with people who have already got there and I think that is what you are saying to me right now.

Sam: That’s right.

Kevin: What sort of things rubbed off from them? I mean what did you pick up from these people who were already champions in the sport that you have chosen.

Sam: The first thing is the majority of the people I encountered were quite humble they were just normal every day you wouldn’t even know.

Kevin: So what was it was it just the fact that by realising that they were just regular people that took away the myth, that took away the barrier.

Sam: That’s right, that’s was one aspect also when you see the amount of dedication that they put in that was another thing as well. Regardless of whatever you do I was always told that if you put the hard work in then it may not be now or instantly but in time you will get rewards.

Kevin: And what was the key thing about their application their dedication was it the number of years that they had all put in or was it just suddenly realising that actually they took their training in terms of seriousness and the application of their training was it at a whole different level?

Sam: That was one aspect but also I remember what one of my bosses once said it is just a matter of thinking smarter really and that is the most important thing. It is not a matter of how much hard work you put into whatever you do it is how you do it and how you apply yourself.

Kevin: And so coming back from these seminars I am assuming then that that was when you were approached to train and your approach to this whole change in your lifestyle probably took on a different meaning.

Sam: But Master H or as I say Master Hogan who usually trains us to a level anyway he believes, he gives 100% of whatever he does. Whenever he is teaching he says he wants everyone to be better than him so that is another aspect of the philosophy I would say. So if you have got an instructor who wants you to be better than them then obviously you think okay I have got to do it if he believes in you and he thinks that he wants you to me, he just wants you to go to the next level. So hopefully if I become an instructor or I become whatever it may be I would want my students to be better than me.

Kevin: And then after four/five years was that when you got your black belt?

Sam: That’s right yeah.

Kevin: And that was under Master Hogan’s tutoring the whole time.

Sam: That’s correct, that’s right.

Kevin: At that point were you already training a lot more than just.

Sam: Yeah I was doing at that point I was just training every day more or less.

Kevin: Yeah so you had got the bug.

Sam: That’s right I had got the bug.

Kevin: If we then fast forward to Birmingham 2008 that was when you actually had the first opportunity to enter the Worlds and obviously Master Hogan said look come on you are good enough to enter these. What sort of expectations were you going in because I know we are going to talk a bit more about how you approached this tournament the nerves that you actually felt and there was a lot of expectation on you or you felt there was a lot.

Sam: That’s right I think I put a lot of pressure on myself. I really believed that I could come back with a medal and that was the most important thing. Maybe I was disillusioned but I still believed that I could come back with a medal; I had the potential to come back with a medal.

Kevin: Can I ask you why you thought that? I mean the amount of competitions that you had been in, in a very short Taekwon-Do career surely it shouldn’t have given you on a track record of success like that but can I ask you where the self belief was actually coming from because I think that is quite an important thing?

Sam: Because of the training that I was putting in and the also the people I was training with. I was training with European Champions, I was training with World Champions or ex-World Champions so I had that sort of training having that environment, I was in that environment so there was always that knock on affect. So again if you can train with those type of people in a certain environment in a controlled environment you think basically under the right circumstances you should be able to come back with some I am not saying it will be Gold but at least something, or do myself justice.

Kevin: Yeah so when you are surrounding yourself with the right people being in that environment where you are in an environment full of success and full of people who are wanting to be the pinnacle of what they are capable of doing. But, we are going to come on to the big but go on yeah but it didn’t quite work out the way you wanted it to.

Sam: That’s right I was defeated before I even got into the ring so it was something it was a learning experience. At first I was really upset so it was I was upset with myself and after a little while and people talking to you saying you did the best you possibly could but you know deep down there is always something another level another part of you which think I can actually go beyond my own expectations and that is the most important thing. And if there is thinking what could I have done differently and the key what could I have done differently – could I have been a lot more relaxed, could I have done this differently, could I have done that differently the training was all there it was not that I wasn’t fit. It was just psychological. Sometimes the key, sometimes you could do everything you could put all the variables, all the key components into a particular task but if your attitude is wrong then basically you are doomed for failure.

Kevin: I mean you are saying it is psychological and I think you used an expression when we were chatting before and you said literally you went into melt down I mean was it the fact you were just thinking too much about it because this is, I think this is well worth dwelling on and I don’t mean dwell on it in a negative way but I think there is a lot of people could benefit from understanding this because the great thing is you have come back from it and we are going to come on to that but it is good to explain where it went wrong.

Sam: Because usually like any sort of competitions tennis players, martial arts competitions usually there is no set you have a rough idea when you are going to be due to be competing so initially I was under the assumption that I was going to be competing around sort of 11ish am. By the time I actually got on to the court well back on to the mat it was around 6 o’clock.

Kevin: Oh wow okay.

Sam: So it is like you say you are going to go on it is like Wimbledon where rain comes or a bit of drizzle and you psychologically you get yourself focussed you are zooming in ready for action and all of a sudden they say sorry you wont be going on for possibly another hour or so so you have got to go calm yourself down. So it is up, rollercoaster sort of emotions.

Kevin: And when you actually did go out I am assuming at 6 were you just spent mentally. I am assuming you were just drained.

Sam: I was drained and I didn’t actually care I just wanted to get it over and done with I just wanted to get back to my hotel room and just relax. It was a learning process.

Kevin: And it just shows you how important the mindset is with all of this. I mean when you went away from the competition how were you feeling inside?

Sam: I was depressed. I wrote a letter of apology to Master Hogan and I said look terribly sorry if I let you down and he said don’t be silly basically you did the best you can under that circumstances but I thought, I suppose it was good in one sense because I have never experienced that so when I see like big major competitions when you see all these other athletes at the Olympics or wherever it may be Commonwealth Games etc and you see people waiting to compete and all of a sudden they are waiting for their event and I can see their eyes or their body twitching and you think I know what you are going through now and I have a lot more respect and sort of compassion for those individuals.

Kevin: And so what did it teach you?

Sam: It taught me about composure rechanneling that energy and you have got to look at it like an ice cube, that’s the best way of focussing the more you move it around you are generating energy which means the ice cube is going to melt. So if you just try and stay calm the ice cube won’t melt so quickly. So really it is just trying to keep that composure, trying to keep yourself as calm as possible ready for that time when you need to be explosive or to energise to do whatever particular task is set in front of you.

Kevin: And that is obviously then something, I mean how quickly did you manage to discover that technique how did you go about discovering that technique afterwards?

Sam: I think it was just a matter of refocusing what areas of my competitive life I could change. The build up how was I feeling, that is being reflective really being introspective in respect of thinking what could I have done differently. And that was the key really in looking at what areas from training mental, psychological, spiritual levels how am I feeling? Am I feeling happy, am I feeling like I want to actually give it a good fight? Am I going to be on a retreat is it fight or flight syndrome? Mentally am I alert. All those various aspects I have had to think of my physical levels have I had any injuries how am I dealing with those injuries if I have got an injury and it is really looking from a blank sheet and trying to make sure that there is no hiccups and nothing left unturned.

Kevin: Again breaking it down just like you said right back at the beginning it is not trying to take on, it is not saying right okay looking at the whole thing of saying I need that gold medal or I want to win.

Sam: That is the last thing that is the last thing you are thinking about. It is really trying to make sure you perform to the best of your ability and that’s all I wanted to do. I weren’t really thinking of Gold medals, I weren’t even thinking of standing on the podium that was the last thing I was thinking about. All I wanted to do was just perform to the best of my ability. If I could do that then I would be content. And I think regardless of whatever I do in life provided I perform to the best of my ability I can’t really ask anymore of myself.

Kevin: And I think what is a lovely stage to move on to is if we then move on to not the actual competition of Korea of 2010 okay the World Champions there but actually lets proceed that by a year because that really is where your ground work really started kicking in wasn’t it, it was going back to what you were saying it is about the preparation for the task. The event itself is almost like well think about that you are not even thinking that far ahead. Talk to us about how you started preparing for Korea a year in advance.

Sam: Originally before when I didn’t actually know when I started Taekwon-Do but I actually tore some ligaments in my knee. So my ACL my anterior crucial ligament I actually tore so I had to do a lot of physio, a lot of bits and pieces to actually re-strengthen them. I had keyhole surgery and stuff so I had the cartilage trimmed and so there was other things. So I had all those sort of areas to deal with so I was having acupuncture, I was having deep tissue massage trying to re-strengthen and rebalance various aspects of my.

Kevin: That is a lot to go through for you know I mean how did you feel about that?

Sam: No it is also it was a matter of whenever you go to see a doctor and they say well what do you do Taekwon-Do or martial arts oh you shouldn’t really do that. it is the point of I suppose most of our lives there is always someone saying you can not do this, you can not do this you are not capable oh you want to become whatever it may be oh don’t you think that is a bit too difficult for you. And everyone is always trying to lower your expectations of what you want to be rather than saying yeah you can do that. Just go for it. And that’s, its just that no I think sometimes you have got to have that rebellious streak in you saying that someone saying no I cant do it yes I can do it. So I would have treatment once or twice a week sometimes that was more painful than actually doing the class.

Kevin: That is saying something because I think you have already said about or implied how painful those classes are.

Sam: That’s right.

Kevin: So you got over the injury and then the serious training commenced. What was that like because I mean I have spoken to Jim Hogan about this and he honestly said to me that he had never seen someone apply themselves in the way that you did leading up to this tournament. I mean you seemed to really want it.

Sam: That’s right because after Birmingham I was just, there was just a burning desire to actually get to the next level and it was like I just said and good for Master Hogan he roughly knows what type of temperament I have and another friend who was a personal trainer for my, a good friend of mine he actually did some personal training with me but they have a rough idea of my mental state and how I deal with certain, so they will push me beyond where most people think oh he is hurting but that is what I need. Sometimes certain individuals they need to be pushed a little bit obviously you have got to believe that a person can actually get to the next level but it is also applying them knowing when to ease off, when to actually put a bit more pressure saying look come on you are just kidding me now come on put that work in and stop pacing yourself or. So that is what they would do so they would just put me to the next level and when they knew I was going to crack they would just lower the tension or the workload and then hopefully I would have time to repair myself or recover and then they would apply the pressure again. And in that way I became more stronger.

Kevin: And you literally though were doing this you were putting yourself through this every day.

Sam: That’s right, that’s right.

Kevin: But at least once a day I think it was more than once a day weren’t you.

Sam: Sometimes I was doing two sessions I would do an early morning say 7 o’clock and then get on with what I have got to do and then I would come back and do another session in the afternoon.

Kevin: And yet lets just stress here you are still running job, house you know all the responsibilities because you are not a full time paid professional athlete because Taekwon-Do and I think it is important that we distinguish between your sport that you are doing, I called it sport and that is incorrect you actually do martial arts called Taekwon-Do traditional martial arts not the Olympic sport that we see within the major competitions and as such the Olympic sport is funded with lottery funding and everything else but yours you have to look after it yourself.

Sam: That is correct. And you have got to pay for your own fees, hotels, any other sort of funding, any other sort of costs you have got to find yourself. I do ITF which is International Taekwon-Do Federation Taekwon-Do what you have in the Olympics is what you call WTF – World Taekwon-Do Federation again that gets lottery sponsored and other sorts of sports sponsorship money. One originated from the other so they both have their place side by side.

Kevin: Yes, yeah did it surprise you how much the human body your human body was actually capable of doing because I bet if I was to ask you at month one before you had actually started on this really intensive schedule which was going to last for a year would you have actually thought that that was something that was sensible even to do?

Sam: Um sensible I am not sure but it something that I knew I had to do because there are certain aspects I sort of planned. Some of the stuff I planned myself roughly certain conditioning stuff strength stuff I would have to plan to figure out how can I make myself stronger, how can I make myself faster, how can I make myself. So there are certain things and again it is doing a swat analysis as well figuring out what is my weaknesses, what is my strengths, what bits of things can I change to make myself a bit better. Obviously it is just a matter of filtering things out and figuring out okay what can I do which is just going to be the next step up.

Kevin: I am assuming that ego has had to get kicked out the window with this because I cant believe that you could have achieved what you have achieved particular on the training side, particularly on the self improvement side if you were letting your ego and your pride get in the way of receiving criticism hopefully constructive all the time but it is still criticism, it is still people turning round and saying actually no you are not strong enough in this area.

Sam: I think I am my worst critic really I always think there is something I could do better and that is why I try to apply. So I have certain things that I need to do obviously regardless of what you do you have got to have some foundations, certain foundations have got to be in place whatever particular task you have got to do. So at least you know those strength things are there so basically and then you can build up from those. So you have got those big building blocks and I mean after that you can build up from that. I went on some training camps and stuff like in Poland with other Masters and other sort of top sort of other competitors from other sort of Taekwon-Do guys.

Kevin: And I know I keep coming back to this but you are paying for this, you are funding this all through yourself.

Sam: That’s right yeah.

Kevin: This is just because of your desire, your love for this martial art.

Sam: That’s right and obviously sometimes you have got to get the best tuition and they will give you drills and certain things and afterwards you think at first you think yeah it will be good that’s good for you and mid way through when you are doing these drills you are thinking why didn’t I just stay at home. But at the end of it you appreciate what they have done and obviously they have given a bit of their time and they have given their expertise and their knowledge which sometimes you cant actually buy, you cant actually get in a book that is the thing that I am paying for.

Kevin: What I am enjoying about this is you are really painting a clear picture of this journey and you are showing all these little elements and big elements but if we break it down into these small steps as you put it you know all these little things that you addressed in your life and how all the time you were searching just for the extra bits anything you could do to improve to make yourself better. You know it was never resting on your laurels was it at all and as you say you were your own worse critic. You were the one that continually said no I could do this better.

Sam: You are learning and it is again always trying to have an open mind figuring out what can I do to improve and if you are looking at self development trying to get to the next level, not always looking at the final goal but just figuring out okay you just have a particular problem.

Kevin: And so then you got to Korea and before you tell me about your competition in Korea talk to me about the significance of Korea.

Sam: Korea because that is the origin and the birth place of Taekwon-Do. That is their national sport.

Kevin: And yet the World Championships had never been staged there.

Sam: That’s right due to politics and so it was really just reintroduced ITF which I do has been introduced back after sort of political agreements with the governments and whatever.

Kevin: And so this was a pretty big event.

Sam: That’s right it was, it was. It was over 2000 people competitors in different events and stuff so it was big.

Kevin: Because I know Master Hogan when I spoke with him about this he just said that in terms of events it just doesn’t get any bigger. He said this one will go down in history because it was the first one held back in Korea you know everyone was backing Taekwon-Do for the first time ever. Tell us about that competition.

Sam: The competition it was just like it was mind opening in the sense where you have gone to the birth place of Taekwon-Do, the culture, the smells, the different types of buildings, the architecture everything. It was good and all of a sudden you come into the arena and you just see all these competitors and it is just that buzz and you feel like you are doing the Olympic Games.

Kevin: So how were you going into this tournament mentally in comparison to Birmingham?

Sam: Well this tournament I was a lot more relaxed I just said what will be will be. I knew I was fitter than I was when I went to Birmingham, I was more mature. Mentally I was more positive I knew basically on my day no one could beat me. And that is the most important thing I had a bit more self belief. I think in Birmingham I didn’t have that self belief. I just thought I was there because someone thought I was good enough to be there rather than I know that I am good enough to actually come back with something. I am not saying I was going to come out with a gold medal but I knew I was good enough to come back with something.

Kevin: And was that because you felt that in terms of your preparation there was nothing you could have done that could have been better.

Sam: That’s correct I did everything I possibly could or humanly possible under the circumstances and to make myself to the best I could possibly be. Even if I didn’t provided I performed to the best of my ability I would still think that was a gold medal.

Kevin: Yeah I know what you mean yeah so in terms of whatever the outcome of that tournament you would have been quite happy but unlike the way Birmingham finished you could have lost in the first round but you would have still walked away okay you would have been disappointed.

Sam: That’s right because at Birmingham I think I gave up. I gave up because, I just mentally gave up it weren’t that I wasn’t physically capable of doing something it was just I just mentally gave up and that was the most heart rendering and most upsetting part of that experience really that I gave up, I quitted. And that in life you don’t quit, you never quit. You have got eternity to quit but not while you are breathing.

Kevin: And the good thing was you didn’t quit this time round. How did the different rounds go? How did it?

Sam: Well two days in we were training in the car park and I actually tore my hamstring. Everyone heard it rip and I thought oh it should be okay and then the next day everything just totally seized up so I was trying to frantically trying to find someone in South Korea who could speak English and could do deep tissue massage which was a bit difficult at the time.

Kevin: Well I was going to say there cant surely be that much you can do I mean you haven’t had your first fight, you have gone over, your self belief prior to the rip is on top of the world. You have had the rip you are about to go in to the first fight what are you feeling like right now?

Sam: I am thinking how can I get round this particular problem. That is the only thing I was thinking really. I was just thinking I have got to be able to work round it because a couple of years before that a friend of mine who was actually well he is still part of Master Hogan’s he dislocated his shoulder in a competition and he still won so I think if Mo could actually win with one arm I can win with one leg if need be it is just a matter of being smart really and it is just a matter of just moving.

Kevin: So you think that experience just that knowledge of seeing how someone else has addressed it that really gave you great okay there is a way.

Sam: And I thought if they can do it I can do it. I have only got a torn hamstring.

Kevin: I have got no excuses.

Sam: I have no excuses I have travelled all this way just do the best I possibly can. And again it is just trying to be adaptive, being as fluid as possible and that’s what I had to apply and I knew in my mind that I could be faster than them and that was a visualisation which I had to try and do. I think fair enough I may have one leg which is at certain points I couldn’t actually feel certain bits I had lost some sensations.

Kevin: And yet you battled through it.

Sam: That’s right.

Kevin: And you got the outcome that you weren’t expecting because you weren’t as you have openly said to me you weren’t putting your mind that far you weren’t putting that sort of pressure on. But you won gold.

Sam: That’s it the first fight I thought if I can get through the first fight then lets take it one step at a time don’t start thinking about finals, don’t think about semi finals, quarter finals all you have to do is think about the first fight, just get through the first fight. The first fight is always that hardest one. The first event regardless of whatever you are doing is always the worse because obviously you have got the adrenalin, the nerves, the butterflies, the anticipation and again it is just trying to be calm focussed. And then the next round and I thought lets take one step at the time and then when I got to the final and I thought what have I got to loose just give it hell really, just give it 100%.

Kevin: Was it an easy victory for the final?

Sam: It is hard to say really. At first I was down on points, I had a few more warnings. After the second round of the final and I just thought I have got nothing to loose and then I just gave it 100%, I just said look I have got to give it everything heart soul everything. I have got to give it 100% and that was it and then it felt a lot easier. And actually after that I did actually coast through. Obviously the guy the opponent had an injury.

Kevin: You mean you injured him.

Sam: That’s right.

Kevin: It was not like he was carrying an injury before he entered the bout.

Sam: That’s right so he sustained an injury so that actually slowed him down and then after that I could put on the pressure really just constantly put more pressure.

Kevin: And then the great thing was your arm was raised at the end between the two. How did that feel?

Sam: It was very surreal because I mean its Korea and I could hear all my supporters and part of the team all the people from Master Hogan’s School were all shouting and it was like in one sense it was like climbing Kilimanjaro or climbing Everest where you actually have reached the pinnacle and then you think what do I do now. And then everyone saying oh hello World Champion blah, blah, blah and I thought don’t call me that I am Sam, just Sam leave me. I was embarrassed in a sense and that was something I had never encountered before and that was something I didn’t anticipate or envisage.

Kevin: Well I was going to say because that probably the one thing that you couldn’t plan for especially with the approach you were taking but that must have been as you say a very surreal experience to suddenly realise that you were the best in the world.

Sam: At that point in time.

Kevin: And how do you feel now about it because obviously you have had the chance to let it all sink in and the actual you know the injury has died down and everything are you able to now look back on it in a far more sort of fond sort of way and go wow what an accomplishment?

Sam: It was, I mean it was something which you can never take away, you worked hard for a particular task or job and you think okay you did everything you possibly could to achieve that job to the best of your ability and you think yeah you have done it but I think that is history now. History is in the making so it is for me to open the next chapter. At first it was a bit too much to take in especially when you called and you rang me up and said you wanted to interview and then I saw my picture and my face in the South London Press and the Kingston some of these other local newspapers and stuff and that was a bit, it was a bit surreal and a bit embarrassing at times people would say look and then pointing and you are thinking okay but it depends if you are in to that sort of stuff. But to me I am not into the limelight and all that sort of stuff I just did it because I wanted to do it and that was the most important thing.

Kevin: Yeah and that is coming through on this interview I mean it is very clear why you do it and the fact that as we said earlier you just do it because you enjoy the training.

Sam: And if it could inspire other people to do it that is the most important thing as I say there is no limits to what you can accomplish regardless if it is music or whatever sort of gender or other sort of things what you are doing you can always achieve whatever you do. Provided you can believe in that dream just go for it that is all you can ever do.

Kevin: Speaking with Master Hogan he has explained to me that you are actually giving back now to others. So now that you are a black belt you are actually the school in South London and you are getting that opportunity and yet eight years ago it wouldn’t have even been possible. It is incredible to see how your life has evolved over this period of time.

Sam: That’s right and running the school I sometimes see what Master Hogan the sort of difficulties he had to encounter especially certain techniques I used to do and he said no but he was patient and that was the most important thing and sometimes you can pass that on and you feel okay.

Kevin: Does it feel strange that you are now considered the expert?

Sam: Yes because I am still learning. I am still a student I don’t regard myself an expert. I have an open mind and if there is something someone can tell me I can improve or do something I take it on board.

Kevin: And where is next for you?

Sam: In terms of Taekwon-Do I have got the European Championships in June/July also to help the School and hopefully see my students improve really see if they can be better than me. That is the most important thing really seeing when they go for a competition or go for a grading that they can add that fulfilment of knowing that they have got beyond their own expectations.

Kevin: If you were going to give one piece of advice to someone who is sitting there right now in the situation you were in at the age of 40 winding back the clock what would that bit of advice be?

Sam: I would say history is history the future is still in the making so really add that dream. You cant change what you have done yesterday, ten years ago but you can change what you can do today what you could do tomorrow all it does is take that little courage that self belief and that is the most important thing.

Kevin: I am going to finish there Sam. Sam that was a great interview thank you very much for giving us your time.

Sam: Thank you.

Kevin: However comfortable you are with it you are Taekwon-Do World Champion and we really appreciate your time.

Sam: Thank you very much for having me.

Kevin: Thank you.

Sam: Thank you good bye.


Kevin: As I mentioned at the beginning Sam’s journey is truly unique and has taken him to a place that he had never imagined just a few short years ago. He is a genuine example to us all that you are never too old to make all important life changing decisions and I believe that his statement regarding never being an expert and always seeking to learn from all those who surround you is something that we can all take on board. If you would like to know more about this challenging martial art then please visit the webpage for episode 22 on the Maximise Potential website and you will find several links that you can find more information from. In particular the Hogan Institute for Taekwon-Do which has classes throughout London as well as link to their new showcase gym in Surbiton the Spit and Sawdust Gym. Sam thanks again for sharing your inspirational story and best of luck for the European Championships this year and thank you all once again for tuning in and to our continued association with the Jenrick Recruitment Group. I will be continuing our journey with Morgan Cars in the next interview on Maximise Potential so please ensure that you have subscribed to the Podcast via iTunes to make sure that you don’t miss it.

And I will finish off today with another excellent track from Xerxes called ‘The Day We Met’.


We hope you enjoyed reading this transcript of the the inspiring interview with Sam Brown.

You can listen to more motivating interviews on the Maximise Potential Podcast with inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!