AN INSPIRING and feisty grandmother has punched above her weight to land a black belt in Taekwondo. 

Barbara Wood, from Staple Hill, first began practising the Korean martial arts seven years ago at the age of 68 after driving her two grandsons, Ash and Dylan Golding, to their club.

Barbara, aged 75, who is also a green belt in another Korean-based martial art Tang Soo Do, credits the sport with boosting her fitness and memory.

Ms Wood, who trains in Thornbury and Lyde Green, said: “I thought ‘this looks good’ and asked if they had an age limit. When they said there wasn’t one, I thought I’d try it out. 

“I figured if I didn’t give it a go, I’d just be at home vegetating – rather than in the dojang meditating.

“I think age is just a number and you shouldn’t think you’re not capable of doing something just because you’re old. 

“I think it’s important to give things a go and if it doesn’t suit you, you can give it up - but you must try.”

Gazette Series: Barbara Wood with her instructor, Master Vaughn Buxton from Thornbury Taekwondo AcademyBarbara Wood with her instructor, Master Vaughn Buxton from Thornbury Taekwondo Academy (Image: Handout)

Only around two per cent of students who take up martial arts attain a black belt, which takes years to achieve. 
Students have to carry out advanced patterns, sparring, self-defence and breaking, as well as understanding the theory behind the Korean martial art.
Barbara added: “I am proud of my black belt after working so hard for all those years.
“Once I got over my nerves, everything fell into place. I was the only one to break everything, I did well in sparring, and my line work was fine.
“I also got 80 per cent right in my theory questions.  I spent weeks going through it so it was all in my head.”
She started at Fishponds Taekwondo Academy then joined Thornbury Taekwondo Academy for extra tuition. 

Gazette Series: Barbara with her grandsons Dylan and Ashton GoldingBarbara with her grandsons Dylan and Ashton Golding (Image: Handout)

She came under the instruction of Master Vaughan Buxton, a 7th degree black belt and a British, European and World title holder, who believed in her ability to achieve black belt.
She said: “He told me it was my journey and was very encouraging. 

“We all have different abilities, but with commitment and hard work, it’s possible to improve and reach your goals. But sometimes it’s a marathon and not a sprint.”
Barbara added: “We were told as children that women get married and have children. I wasn’t encouraged to continue my studies or develop a career.

“When I was growing up, we didn’t see women in martial arts.”

Barbara, a talented gymnast and speed skater in her youth, credits the martial art with boosting her fitness and memory.

Gazette Series: AN INSPIRING and feisty grandmother has punched above her weight to land a black belt in Taekwondo.

She says she also enjoys the social side at the club, where she is affectionately known as ‘the old lady.’

“It not only helps to keep you physically fit, but mentally sharp too,” she said.

“We take the class seriously but also have a laugh and some banter. 

“As there are students in their 50s and 60s, I don’t feel out of place.

“I’d recommend it to anyone. There’s no age limit and you just do what you can. I find it fun and very rewarding.”

Mr Buxton from Thornbury Taekwondo Academy said: “Barbara has impressed everyone at the club with her dedication and hard work. 

“She’s an inspiration and shows that taekwondo is suitable for people of all ages.”
Thornbury Taekwondo club holds classes at Thornbury Leisure Centre on Monday and Thursday evenings, along with Black Belt and squad training at Turnberrie's Community Centre every other weekend.
For more information, call 07866 685099, email info@ or visit their website 

Fishponds Taekwondo Academy trains at Lyde Green Community Centre, Lyde Green, Bristol every Wednesday and Friday. The first lesson is free.
For more information, call on 0750 076 4276, email or visit