Master Olpin presented with 6th Degree Black Belt

Master Olpin, presented with 6th Degree Black Belt and GIMA Instructor of the Year

Last weekend, a group of Ilyokwan students travelled up to Nottingham for the Guild of Independant Martial Arts (GIMA) conference weekend.

The weekend proved to be a double celebration as Master Olpin was presented with two awards: GIMA Instructor of the Year 2013, and a promotion to 6th Degree Black Belt!

A personal message from Master Olpin..

I’d like to take a moment to express my gratitude and say a very special personal thank-you to everyone involved in both these nominations and to those of you who’d conspired to provide testimonials etc in support of them..

I am especially grateful to Mr Hirst and to Mr Davison who provided the nominations, and to the students who attended the event. It meant a lot to me that you were there to share such a memorable evening with me.

After 30 years in the martial arts one tends to stop worrying about the number of stripes on a belt etc. As an instructor the real rewards are earned in the progress and support of your students. It means a great deal to me to know that my students appreciate what I do, that my peers and fellow instructors had such nice things to say, and that they felt I was deserving of both the instructor of the year award, and the promotion.

I’m truly humbled to receive both awards, and inspired to raise my game even further to continue to earn the respect that you’ve so graciously shown me.

Thank you all, and Kaizen!

ALL GREAT BLACK BELTS LEARN THAT THE WORDS they use, especially when they are talking to “themselves,” make a HUGE impact on their lives and their success!

Using these NEGATIVE words limit you, and cause you to focus on what can’t be done, rather than what CAN be done!

Avoid using these negative words with others and ESPECIALLY yourself!

1. No: 

Instead of finding what you can’t do, it’s important for you to see the opportunity that is hiding in any challenge. If your instructor asked if you can kick “head high,” telling him or her “no” immediately makes your brain “give up”. If you answered “I’ll try,” your brain will give you the power to try!

2. Can’t: 

Winning Black Bets know that ANY limitation is temporary! If you “can’t” do something today, say a form, a kick, or 100 push ups, what if you practiced for a month? Instead of telling yourself you “can’t,” ask yourself “How can I?” This will put your brain to work figuring out how you can accomplish your goal!

3. Never: 

The best Black Belts know that with time, patience, and focus all things are possible! Of course there are physical limits of what a human can do, BUT, if you see another person who has accomplished something, that means that YOU CAN TOO!

4. Maybe: 

Maybe is what people say when they have no intention of accomplishing something, but don’t want to tell you directly! It’s a “cop out.” Don’t allow yourself to make this “excuse” to others, and especially to yourself!



(Original post courtesy of NAPMA)

In a culture that seems to glorify violence in everything from music to video games and television shows, the idea of enrolling your child in martial arts training classes doesn’t always seem like a good one. While martial arts-centered action films seem to be filled to the brim with violent behavior and gory injuries, you may be surprised to learn that martial arts’ training is actually very beneficial to kids. Like so many other things that Hollywood doesn’t always get right, martial arts isn’t quite the brutal, vicious pastime that it seems!  In fact, these are 10 of the reasons why you may want to consider martial arts training for your kids.

  1. Fostering Self-Discipline – One of the central tenets of all forms of the martial arts is an absolute focus on self-discipline. Today’s kids are so accustomed to receiving instant gratification that lessons in self-restraint and discipline aren’t always easy to come by. Kids with a martial arts background, however, are continually reminded of how essential self-discipline is.
  2. Boosting Socialization Skills – Kids who don’t always thrive in highly social environments may find it easier to get to know people and make new friends when they’re in a room filled with peers who share a common interest. The kids on the playground may not always have much common ground, but devotees to the martial arts are able to get to know one another through shared pursuits. Partner-driven forms like jiu jitsu can also foster camaraderie, as they force kids to pair off and build their skills together.
  3. Encouraging Physical Activity – Limiting screen time is a great idea when it comes to getting kids off the couch and encouraging them to be more active, but it only goes so far. Enrolling an inactive child in such a physically demanding pastime not only discourages the sedentary lifestyle she’s used to, but also gives her an enjoyable activity that inspires her to keep moving.
  4. Learning to Set and Achieve Goals – Most forms of martial arts are based around an accomplishment system of colored belts that signify the wearer’s degree of skill. When your child strives toward each new belt, he’s learning valuable lessons about setting and reaching his goals.
  5. Increased Self-Esteem – Confidence comes with achievement, so your child’s self-esteem level will get a boost with every new move he masters and every belt he earns. Kids who struggle with a low sense of self-worth usually become more confident as time progresses while they’re enrolled in a martial arts class.
  6. Instilling a Sense of Respect – Learning any martial arts style will require your child to show her instructor unflinching respect. Today’s kid culture doesn’t always include respect for authority, adults or those in advanced positions. When she goes to her karate or tae kwon do class, though, your child will be learning lessons in respect along with new moves.
  7. Encouraging Non-Violent Conflict Resolution – Thinking that martial arts instruction promotes violent behavior is justified if your only experience with the activity comes from television or movies. In fact, many defensive styles teach kids peaceful, non-violent conflict resolution skills and emphasize the importance of avoiding a physical altercation.
  8. Improving Listening Skills – In order to master the skills she’s being taught and advance through the belt ranks, your child will have to exercise superior listening skills. Kids who aren’t always adept when it comes to paying attention to what they’re told can benefit from the verbal instruction and one-on-one work in her dojo.
  9. Developing Teamwork Skills – Whether he’s breaking boards to get a new belt or sparring in a practice setting to master a new maneuver, there are few things that your child does in his martial arts classes that will be done on his own. Working together to learn new things and accomplish goals is an important life lesson for kids to learn, and instruction in the martial arts can help your child learn that lesson.
  10. Improvement in Other Areas of Life – The benefits of martial arts training don’t end in the dojo. The boost in confidence, increased fitness level and new cooperation skills will also help your child navigate the academic and social aspects of school, affect his behavior at home and have an all-around good influence on him as he develops into an adult.

If you’re still concerned about encouraging violent tendencies or teaching your child to fight, it may be helpful to visit a school in your area. Speak with the instructors, administrators and other parents to get an idea of how things operate, and hold off on forming a negative opinion of the martial arts until you’ve done a bit of exploratory research.

You may even find that training is the perfect activity for your entire family to do together!

We’re currently beavering away behind the scenes on a major re-write of the Academy website.

The main goal is to bring it up to date with some modern features, in particular better compatibility with the way people use the web these days. Most people tend to do their casual browsing on smartphones and tablets etc. so we’re rebuilding from the ground up with a modern ‘responsive’ layout that will automatically scale itself and show content which is suitable for the device you’re running on.

We’re also building in a proper blog based on the worlds best blogging platform ‘WordPress’, which will enable us to keep you updated much more regularly with news and special offers.

Finally, we’re integrating a properly managed mailing list provider which will enable us to have automatic sign-ups to the mailing list, and to provide instant, automatic updates with information sent automatically to new visitors etc.

Trident - Personal Safety Trainer

On Sunday 24th February, Master Olpin attended certification course with Steve Timperley of Trident Safety and Intervention Systems and is now certified with TSIS as a Personal Safety Trainer within the organisation.

We’ll soon be offering an introductory personal safety workshop as a service to schools, businesses and groups within the local community.

Contact us for further information

A group of us from the Academy are doing this next year…

Described as “Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet”… Should be fun :-)

Here’s an article written by one of our Black Belts, which was kindly published by Brett Kraiger on his excellent site “Martial Arts over 40” (

Stewart Davison started martial arts in his late 30s, and now 6 years later says that he feels fitter now than when he was in the military in his 20s. That’s really quite something. He’s got some brilliant observations about being a more mature student, and about being a role-model for his children.

He also introduces his blog, a personal journey of his road to black belt, and now to 2nd Dan.

I fell into the martial arts by accident really, my wife and daughter had been studying at the local TaeKwon Do school, Ilyokwan Black Belt Academy, for a couple of years and I didn’t feel much inclination to get involved.

I was in my late thirties, family guy, thought I was just ‘fit enough’ but when the opportunity arose to take over of my wife’s membership (due to a serious knee injury) I thought ‘I’d give it a go!’ 6 years later and I am a 1st Dan in Ilyo Mu Do Kwan looking to test this year for my 2nd Dan.

Over the years I have been training I have been thinking more about my personal fitness, where my life is going and trying to discover what limitations I have when it comes to my MA training. In my early forties now I so far have seen that by having something to work towards has really enabled me to keep my fitness to a good level, which in turn has helped , in what is obviously a physical discipline, in my MA development.

As I have become older I have come to realise that I can’t always do what the younger guys can do, from a physical and flexibility perspective, but I’m not far off, I believe that actually I am in some ways fitter than I was in my twenties, which is strange to think as I was in the military at the time.

Fitness is relative to the individual and as a senior student I have always tried to set my personal standards higher than the rest of the class. On reflection as a more mature student I have probably greater physical strength than the younger students in class and more importantly also have some ‘real life’ experience when it comes to the self defence aspects of our training.

I do believe that the needs of the older student have to be taken into consideration by instructors and that age shouldn’t be a barrier to being an active and successful practitioner of the Martial Arts.

In fact Instructors and schools ignore the more mature candidate at their peril as it is these students who have tasted something of life, the successes, the failures, who are more likely to commit, long term, to their training than the younger student whose training may just be a ‘phase’ in their personal development.

A lot of my non MA friends, when talking about my training, state that they couldn’t commit the time, aren’t fit enough, are too tired from work etc etc, and they ask why do I do it? For me my MA training has become a part of who I am and I am fortunate that my eldest daughter has continued in her training and recently achieved the rank of 1st Dan as well. Having the motivation of setting a good example to one’s children always helps to drag yourself off the couch on a dark and stormy night to go and hits things, hard!

When it came time for me to enter the testing cycle for 1st Dan I chose, as a goal, the creation of a blog to chart how a fairly ‘ordinary’ guy worked towards achieving that first rung on the ladder in a martial art. When looking to do a goal as part of my black belt candidacy I was finding it really difficult to come up with something worthwhile, I wanted to show to people that a relatively ‘normal’ person, someone who can’t go to a Gym 5 times a week, someone who doesn’t have an abundance of free time, could still be successful on the journey to Black Belt.

Something at the forefront of my mind was also to demystify the whole process, to show that attaining a black belt isn’t some esoteric, rite of passage, that all it takes is some commitment and determination to succeed.

Making sure that other students could benefit from what I was experiencing I thought the best thing to try would be to create a blog. This blog allowed me to put down what I was thinking and feeling as I progressed through the process of black belt training.

The aim of the blog was to show the highs and lows along the way and how really 6 months isn’t a long time to prepare for your black belt grading. Its intention was to show that you don’t need to be superhuman or the most driven person in the world to succeed at something you want, merely that you need to give it the proper care and attention to reap the rewards.

Now 6 years down the line since I first put on the uniform, struggled with forming a low block and marvelling at more senior students who seemed to have mastered the most complex patterns, I have embarked on the testing cycle for my 2nd Dan and so the blog has begun again.

This time older, maybe a little wiser, definitely greyer but still with a spark that will hopefully take me to the next stage in my training, I would relish the opportunity to hear from like minded MA practitioners from around the world and so I put a call out to follow my blog The Road to Black Belt and please get in touch!

Finally back from the printers!


“It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black.”

KEWAP Senior Instructor LogoOn Sunday 26th February, Master Olpin attended an advanced level certification course for the KEWAP (Knives and Edged Weapons Awareness Programme) and is now certified as a Senior Instructor in the programme.

We’ll soon be offering this unique programme as a service to schools, local community and youth groups to raise awareness of the dangers of knife crime, especially amongst the youth and young adult population.


Master Olpin with KEWAP founder, Steve Timperley


So, monday morning again folks. What are you going to achieve this week?

If you’ve not done it already pick at least one thing you’ve been putting off and resolve to complete it before friday, Imagine if you did that every week how much more you’d get done..

What’s your focus in your training this week? What aspect of your training currently needs the most work? What’s one thing you’d really like to try but haven’t yet?

Try this little challenge:

Get a sheet of paper or (subtle hint) USE YOUR TRAINING NOTE BOOK. Each day this week take a moment from your day and write down an answer to the the following questions.

  1. What is one thing I could do right now to improve the quality of my life?
  2. What is one thing I could do to improve my martial arts
  3. What have I been putting off that I could do in the next 24 hours?

That’s just a couple of minutes out of your day over a cuppa. If you do that even for the next 7 days you could end up with 21 good ideas/tasks completed. Imagine if you did that for a month, a quarter, or a year just how much you could achieve.

That, in a nutshell, is the principle of Kaizen.–-the-principle-of-cani