Sidmouth students enjoy tae kwon-do black belt grading success

Two Sidmouth students are celebrating successes at the recent Tae Kwon-Do Association of Great Britain (TAGB) national black belt grading in Bristol.

Twelve-year-old Finn O’Brien was promoted to 1st Dan black belt after going through a gruelling examination in front of a panel of eighth dan masters and a 9th dan grand master.

In addition, an existing black belt, 15-year-old Michael Elsom, was promoted to 2nd Dan.

Their instructor commented: “The black belt grading is not easy, and it is not supposed to be. It takes years of dedication, concentration and effort. Some never get there. For those who do, it is an achievement for life.

“Promotion to a higher dan for existing black belts is even harder. These young people have been training in tae kwon-do for more than half their lives. They have a level of maturity and responsibility well beyond their years and are very deserving of the title of black belt.”

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Both newly promoted black belts come from families who train together. Finn is one of four sisters training at Sidmouth, with her older sisters Jaimie (18) and Billie (16) already black belts and her youngest sister Alphie (6) hoping to take her very first grading later this month. Michael’s younger brother Ben (11) is just one belt away from testing for his own black belt, hopefully some time next year.

At the same grading, a student from one of Mr Waugh’s other schools, 14-year-old Imogen Lancaster, of Beaminster, was also promoted to 1st Dan black belt, joining her older sister Rachel, who was already a black belt but has since moved away to start university.

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Mr Waugh teaches adults and children together at his classes in Axminster, Beaminster and Sidmouth and strongly encourages families to get involved. He says: “When there is a shared interest at home, it promotes mutual encouragement and support.

“I have several families who train together, and it helps them all to keep going and stay motivated, even when it gets tough, knowing that someone else in the family is going through the same challenges.”

Tae kwon-do is a Korean martial art inaugurated in 1955, with classes first being taught in the UK in 1967. All Mr Waugh’s classes are part of the TAGB, a national association formed in 1983 that now has approximately 20,000 students training in over 600 venues nationwide. For more information, call or text 07816 156875 or see

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