New site design well under way!

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.

TSDT – Personal Safety Trainer

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

Tough Mudder


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

Described as “Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet”… Should be fun 🙂

40+ and fitter than he was in his twenties..


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!

Black Belt Handbook 2012


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

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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


What are you going to achieve this week?

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

Kewap Instructor

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KEWAP instructor Logo

On Sunday 24th July, Master Olpin attended an instructor certification course for the Knives and Edged Weapons Awareness Programme and we’re happy to announce that as a result he is now certified as a fully accredited KEWAP Instructor.

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.

Contact us for further information


Master Olpin with Steven Timperley – KEWAP Instructor Course

Black Belt Promotions, October 2010


Eleanor Davison and Robbie Hirst Black belt Promotion

Eleanor Davison and Robbie Hirst promoted to 1st Degree Cadet Black Belts

Black Belt Promotions, March 2010


Two local martial arts enthusiasts are celebrating their promotion to the coveted rank of Black Belt.

Stewart Davison and Shirley Williamson, Promoted to Second Degree

Shirley Williamson from Cam and Stewart Davison from Wotton Under Edge are both members of the Ilyokwan Black Belt Academy which is based at Cam Everlands School, where they train with their instructor Richard Olpin in the Korean art of Taekwondo. Master Olpin said: “Over the years I have been privileged to work with some excellent students, to date we’ve now had 25 black belt promotions in Cam and have five more juniors testing in September this year. Their promotion is based on much more than just one physical exam. They are assessed on many criteria for several months leading up to the final examination. During this time we are looking to see them develop the kind of personal skills and leadership ability that befits someone in a position of respect. They are expected to set an excellent example to others at all times and in this I have to say I am extremely proud of both Mrs Williamson and Mr Davison as they have really raised the bar this time.

If you’re a keen reader you may just recognise Shirley as for many years now she has been the manager of our local libraries in Dursley, Wotton and Berkeley. Having now achieved her black belt she is currently enjoying a well-earned holiday in Japan to celebrate her achievement.  Master Olpin said: “Part of the black belt exam is a fitness test and we were absolutely blown away by her performance, putting many of the younger members to shame and inspiring the other black belts to get in the gym to catch her up!”

Similarly, Mr Davison has proven that there’s never any excuse of ‘I don’t have time for exercise’. Stewart has a very high profile and time-consuming job as a manager in the IT industry which involves many long hours and a lot of travel, yet he still manages to fit in his training around work and family life. More than that – he doesn’t just ‘make do’, he really makes the effort to lead by example and provides a tremendous amount of support and encouragement to his fellow students along the way too.

Master Olpin said, “Shirley and Stewart have really demonstrated what it takes to be a Black Belt. It’s not just about punching and kicking, it’s about holding yourself to the highest standards and demonstrating the type of character that others can aspire to, whatever you do, both inside and outside the martial arts.  In this case they have both set an outstanding example to others and I’m honoured that I get to train with them. I’m really very proud of them both.