Tae kwon do: Instructor surprised to win national award after secret nomination from students

Gazette Series: Back row:  Richard Olpin, 6th Dan, and Robbie Hirst,  Junior 2nd Dan. Front row: Dillon Callinan and Harvey Smith (newly promoted junior black belts) Back row: Richard Olpin, 6th Dan, and Robbie Hirst, Junior 2nd Dan. Front row: Dillon Callinan and Harvey Smith (newly promoted junior black belts)

A CAM-based tae kwon do instructor has won a national award – after being secretly nominated by his students.

Master Richard Olpin of the Ilyokwan Black Belt Academy, based at Cam Everlands School, was named Instructor of the Year by the Guild of Martial Arts at their national awards dinner in Nottingham.

This came as a complete surprise as he was unaware that he had been nominated for this by a group of his students, who had compiled a presentation with many glowing testimonials from themselves and their parents.

Master Olpin was also promoted to sixth degree black belt, making him one of the highest ranked instructors in the UK.

He said: "It means a great deal to me to know that my students appreciate what I do, and that my peers and fellow instructors felt I was deserving of both the Instructor of the Year award and the promotion.

"I’m truly humbled to receive them and really inspired to raise my game, to continue to further my own knowledge of the martial arts, and to share that with as many others as I can.

“After 30 years in the martial arts one tends to stop worrying about the number of stripes on your own belt.

"As an instructor my real rewards are earned by the progress and support of my students.

"I’ve now had over 30 of my own students promoted to black belt and higher ranks and that’s something I’m really proud of."

Three of Master Olpin's young martial arts students have been celebrating after achieving their coveted black belt grades.

Two of the youngsters, Dillon Callinan, 10, from Dursley and Harvey Smith, 11, from Cam were both promoted to junior black belt.

Robbie Hirst, 14, from Wotton was promoted to his second degree black belt grade.

Master Olpin said: “To earn your black belt is a major goal for any student in the martial arts.

"It takes several years of dedicated training to reach the required standard so it’s a fantastic achievement which could be likened to a student graduating from university.

"All three boys have shown tremendous dedication to their training and each has faced their own personal challenges and achieved many goals along the way. "They have all set a great example to their friends and fellow students and we’re all really proud of them.

"I would especially like to thank Robbie, as in addition to his own training he’s been really supportive of the other students and is always willing to help with their training and preparation for their exams.”

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