Mastery in everything you do…
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Not a martial arts post this, but an interesting bit of news about our Chief Instructor, Master Richard Olpin.

Yesterday he was tested for the IAM Roadsmart ‘Masters’ level driving test. This is recognised as the highest level of civilian driving in the world and is compared to ‘a Police advanced driver, without a blue light..’

Master Olpin was tested by a Police examiner on very challenging roads for nearly two hours, and just to make things interesting he also had the examiner’s boss in the back seat – who is head of driving standards for the whole of the UK. No pressure then!

After the test, which not only included driving at the very highest level but also a comprehensive examination of theory, Roadcraft and legal knowledge he was informed he’d not just passed the test, but had been awarded the highest level distinction, which is held by only about 380 drivers in the UK.

For a bit of perspective, there are around 36 million qualified drivers in the UK, so that means it’s that only about one in every 100,000 drivers have achieved this standard.

That’s an example of Black Belt Excellence. Never accept anything less than your very best. Whatever you do, aim for greatness!

 

Our Master Instructor Richard Olpin and assistant Instructor Robbie Hirst were both honoured to be among just a handful of recipients who were awarded special awards for ‘Continued Excellence in the Martial Arts‘.

The awards dinner was the biggest yet, with hundreds of the UK’s top martial artists in attendance, so it was an especially proud moment for the Academy to receive not one, but two awards.

 

Here's Mr Powell receiving his KEWAP Level 1 Instructor Award from Steven Timperley.

Here’s Mr Powell receiving his KEWAP Level 1 Instructor Award from Steven Timperley.

Master Olpin and Mr Powell travelled up to Bletchley today for the Knives & Edged Weapons Awareness Programme (KEWAP) instructor course where Mr Powell was awarded his level one KEWAP instructor award.

KEWAP is a specialist program which aims to teach awareness of the dangers of dealing with knives and other weapons in a self protection environment. Master Olpin has been involved with this group since it was founded about five years ago and is a senior instructor in the organisation, he is also a master instructor within the parent organisation Self Defence UK.

Martial Arts is about so much more than punching & kicking. It’s the most effective path to all-round personal development.
 
I’m sure if you asked any parent who’d enrolled their children in a martial arts class what they were hoping to gain from their membership it’s pretty unlikely they’d say they wanted them to learn to fight. It’s all about the many other benefits, including focus, self-discipline, respect for them self and for others, confidence, assertiveness and so much more.
 
Here’s a great example of two young lads who’ve been with us for a few years now. Jack and Thomas and are now approaching their black belt examination next month. When they joined us they were both pretty quiet kids who’d barely say ‘boo’ to a goose, and yet this week they stood up in front of their whole school to give a presentation about their martial arts. There were probably 150 people in the room so that’s a pretty nerve-wracking thing for anyone to do, but they absolutely rocked it and got a fantastic response from both students and teachers alike..
Jack-Tom-2859
Given the number of adults who’d tell you their biggest fear is public speaking, you can imagine how proud we are to see the confidence these boys have developed through their training at the Black Belt Academy!
A lovely picture and your words above are very true. The boys have learnt so many skills in the lead up to their black belt all of which they will take forward into their school life and beyond. Although the journey so far has been tough we are so glad we met Richard Olpin at a fair in Dursley and signed Tom up all those years ago!
Jo Munyard

Well, we’ve had a fantastic year at the Academy, and I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone for their support over the past 12 months.

2015 was a big year for Ilyokwan as we celebrated our 20th anniversary in September and had some notable successes through the year too:

In May our Chief Instructor Master Olpin was awarded a ‘Gold Award’ from Martial Arts Illustrated magazine and inducted into their prestigious Hall of Fame. Then,in July three of our top students to be recognised at the National Student Awards, including our two assistant instructors Mr Hirst and Mrs Williamson and our first ever Black Belt, Shona Thornhill. Mr Hirst was also recognised at the ‘Warriors Assemble – The Fighting Spirit Awards‘ awards in October for his outstanding dedication to the arts in spite of his brittle bones.   We’ve also seen three new Black Belt promotions too, Mr Knott and Mr Powell attaining their first degree and Mrs Williamson promoted to third degree black belt.

Fantastic stuff!

Here’s looking forward to an even more amazing year in 2016