A MARTIAL arts team from Thornbury is celebrating after four students took home UK champion titles.

Members of Thornbury Taekwondo Academy took part in the UK International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) Finals Day, held in Reading.

Only black belt students who had qualified at the National Championships were eligible to compete at the top-class competition.

Gazette Series: Members of Thornbury Taekwondo Academy took part in the UK International Taekwondo Federation (ITF)Students also returned with four silver medals from the event and several have now qualified to compete in the European Championships, which will take place in Cardiff, Wales, in July.


Instructor Master Vaughan Buxton, a 7th degree black belt and a British, European and World title holder, said: “The students have dedicated years of hard work to make it to this level of competition.

“Only a small percentage make it to finals and it is in itself a great achievement.

"I’m proud of the students’ performance and conduct throughout

“We look forward to watching the team represent Thornbury and the UK on the international stage this summer.”

Kieran, a trainee solicitor and former University of the West of England (UWE) student who is a 3rd degree black belt, won gold for sparring.

Esme McCarthy, a second-degree black belt, who is studying law at London South Bank University and works part time as a legal assistant, won gold for sparring and silver for patterns.

Ben Turner, a second-degree black belt, who studied sports rehabilitation at UWE and now works as a neurological physiotherapist, won gold both for patterns and sparring.

Gazette Series: Ben Turner won gold both for patterns and sparring at the UK International Taekwondo FederationHe also took silver for sparring in the hyper weight class – standing in to compete above his weight category.

And Stuart Leppard, a sixth-degree black belt and former World silver medallist, took home gold and silver medals.

They all attend black belt clinics and squad training every other Saturday, as well as their weekly classes with the club, which was set up 23 years ago.

Five per cent compete

Only five per cent of ITF Taekwondo students are said to take part in competitions.

But the team at Thornbury is active in the competitive arena - also taking part in the South-West Open Championships.

Eight students competed at the event at Torbay Leisure Centre in Paignton and returned with 15 medals.

Mr Buxton said: “Taking part in competitions is a great way to develop as a martial artist.

"It’s an opportunity to meet new people, learn from the experience and have fun.”