Two members of the University of Bath community have advanced up the Taekwon-Do black-belt ranks after taking exams with the Professional Unification Of Martial Arts (P.U.M.A.) – an achievement that puts them among the most experienced practitioners of the Korean martial art in the UK.

Robert Tettmar, the University's Taekwon-Do club instructor, was promoted to the rank of 7th degree master, while Dr Matthew Lloyd, senior lecturer in the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, was promoted to 5th degree international instructor. Both train at Bath Taekwon-Do, headed by instructor Master Mark Ogborne, 7th degree black belt.

The grading in the Ch’ang-Hon style of Taekwon-Do took place in the same month that Taekwon-Do athletes from Team GB have brought home two silver medals and one bronze medal from the Tokyo Olympics.

Dr Lloyd said, “It was a great honour to be able to grade for 5th degree black belt with Master Tettmar and the other candidates, and to be recognised by being promoted. I look forward to continuing my Taekwon-Do journey with the Professional Unification of Martial Arts."

The event was held in sweltering heat on July 18th at Bristol's Winterbourne Academy. The grading was conducted by a panel of five Black Belts (graded 5th to 7th degree) and started with a series of physical exercises to test fitness and determination. This was followed by the performance of several patterns – a series of movements against one or more imaginary opponents, which are a test of technical ability. The grading was completed by set sparring, one-for-one sparring and free sparring (competition fighting). Finally, candidates were grilled by the panel on their theoretical knowledge and philosophical understanding of the art.

Master Tettmar started training at Bath Taekwon-Do in 1983. He was one of the first beginners to join the school and has continued to train with the same school ever since. He has enjoyed a successful competition career, winning many trophies in sparring. In recent years, he became the British veteran’s point-stop sparring champion. He has also been the instructor at Warminster school and at the University of Bath Taekwon-Do club for several years. In addition, he has been the senior referee for the entire P.U.M.A. organisation, a key role in national and international competitions. He now teaches Taekwon-Do full-time. Becoming a 7th Degree Master fulfils a long-held ambition.

Dr Lloyd runs a research group at the University, developing new treatments and diagnostic methods for cancer. He has been practising Taekwon-Do since 1985 and started his training in the West Midlands. He later trained at schools in Leicester and Oxford before joining Bath Taekwon-Do in 2002 as a 2nd degree black belt. He progressed through the ranks, becoming a 3rd degree in 2005 and a 4th degree in 2009. He also enjoyed a short competition career, with several successes, most notably winning ‘black belt destruction’ in the 2005 English Championships. The achievement of 5th degree black belt comes after nearly 25 years of training as a black belt and almost 36 years of training in total.

On the day of the black belt presentation, Dr Lloyd also received the Heart & Soul Award - a prize given to students who show particular determination or who overcome adversity.

Anyone wishing to learn Taekwon-Do in Bath should contact Master Mark Ogborne 7th Degree (07850 780161) or Master Rob Tettmar (07813 335014) at the University club.