Meet Sensei Sam

  • 08/14/18
  • Stoke Newington News
  • Swiss Cottage News

Sensei Spotlight: 

Samuel Thorpe   

Our resident comic book nerd, Bear Grylls and Dojo DJ!


1. How long have you been an instructor at TMAP Swiss Cottage?

Four years! 

2. Why Martial Arts?

When I was younger I used to watch Power Rangers and as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to do Martial Arts. When I no longer needed parental approvement as an adult (Sam's Mum was initially not a fan of Martial Arts, but Sam's Blu Belt Grading won her over), I thought I would just go for it and I have never looked back. During my travels, I started doing a bit of Jiu-Jitsu, and Muay Thai for a few months. Presently, I do Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu here at the Dojo. I have a taste for combat sports now and just want to give them a go and see what they like. 

3. What do you love about kickboxing? 

It is something different. I spent a lot of time doing team sports so it is nice to do a sport that focusses on individual development, but I am still working with a group of people and I still get the team feeling training here. 

4. What classes do you teach? 

All the classes. :)

5. What is your favourite class to teach and what do you love best about teaching?

The 8-10-year-old Juniors. As a group, they tend to feel that they can do better. I love that positive attitude from them. Even if they find something difficult they will always give it their all. Sometimes this means that they will go home feeling a little bit upset, but they will try their hardest to be as good as they can be.

My favourite part is seeing students develop from their first class to a few months later and they have become absolute machines! Brings me back to when I did my trial class.

6. How would you describe your teaching style and what do you think you do really well as a Sensei?

Technique focused and very relaxed. I am not that stereotypical Dojo Sensei (based on outside expectations) that expects everyone to be quiet and standing still. I know already being here (in the Dojo) can be intimidating. So if I can get people to be comfortable in the space and have a laugh then the exercises we are doing wouldn't feel as scary to them. 

7. Do you have a favourite teaching moment? 

My favourite moments are when I do gradings especially if it is with someone that comes regularly. Seeing their face during the grading and how determined they are to get their belt and then the look of relief getting through that last bit of pushups and once you say that they have passed. I really enjoy it!

8. Do you have a favourite kickboxing tip you would like to share?

Move your head!!

I like my face the way it is so it is something I am always conscious to do. 

9. What is your favourite kickboxing move?

Roundhouse Spinning Hook Kick.

It is one that I like to use when sparring as well. Every time I land a hook kick, I feel happy. 

10. Who do you like sparring with the most?

I honestly like sparring with all of the Senseis - everyone brings something different when you are sparring with them. You have Sensei Marc who is really good at fighting at a close distance. When he is in his range and as he is short than I am, my brain fries and I don't know what I am doing. Then he just beats me up. *laughs* 
I love sparring with Sensei Corinne. Every time I think I have her, she catches me out with a surprise move.

Sensei Aaron is super fast, so I like trying to compete with that and see if I can match his speed and see how long I can fire at him as well. Sensei Tommy is just a good power striker and so he is a nice person to stand up against and just throw bombs at him. 

11. Do you have a favourite sparring moment at TMAP?

All my sparring rounds from my Blue Belt grading (in July) were really good. I was really happy with those. When I looked back at the videos, there were things that I could have done differently and I saw all the different possibilities I could have used, but I think that it is nice to give yourself an appraisal and see what you can improve. 

Preparing to spar, you have a well of moves. Everything is there in your head and you think these are the combinations I want to do and lots of "spinny stuff", but when you are standing in front of the person, it is quite hard to remember them, especially when you are so exhausted and you just want to sit down. You just think lots of punches and hit them in the face. *laughs*

12. Outside of kickboxing, what gives you confidence?

Outside of kickboxing, I like a bit of everything. I enjoy canoeing, kayaking and I occasionally do a little bit of rock climbing as well. My hobbies include playing a lot of video games and reading comics. I am a BIG nerd. When I am not thinking about teaching or punching someone, I am reading comics or playing games. 

13. Who is your favourite kickboxing or sporting hero?

My favourite Martial Arts heroes are Wesley Snipes and Michael Jai White. Their transition from fighting to acting is almost been seamless. When you see their fight sequences they do not look staged. You can see that they are skilled martial artists and that is what I love. 

14. What is your favourite mantra to use?

Breathe in courage, exhale fear.

I read that a couple of months ago and used that to push me through the rest of my Blue Belt Grading. 

15. Is there anything special that you eat or drink that helps you with your training?

I would say to everyone not to follow a Sensei Sam diet because it is probably the worst thing for anyone! *laughs* I eat everything - all of it!

If I had to pick something, I would definitely say, fruit. I love mango, especially after a hard session. It makes you feel so much better. I feel like I have not trained as hard after having a bowl of mango. 

16. What is one fact about you that may surprise people?

I feel like I don't' think that anyone knows that I have been in the Boy Scouts for as long as I can remember. I was in the same group since around the age of five and then started leading the group for about three or four years as well. That is twenty years spent in the Scouts!