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Martial arts in Shrewsbury, Telford, Bridgnorth and Ludlow

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Our instructors


Master James Kessler, 7th Degree Black Belt

UTKD Principal Instructor
ITF Master Instructor and Examiner
ITF International Umpire Class ‘A’
BTF Senior Vice President
BTF Chief Umpire
BTF Executive Board Member
ITF certificate No: GB-7-42

The beginning

I began my formal Taekwon-Do training during my early teens. Like many children of my generation, I was inspired to start martial arts training by such influences as the Karate Kid and the Bruce Lee films. Never having been especially sporty as a youngster, I was surprised how well I took to my Taekwon-Do training.

Continuing to build my expertise 

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to travel the world to improve my Taekwon-Do training, and have sought out the very best instruction in authentic ITF Taekwon-Do. I have trained under many prominent Grand Masters and Masters, including the late General Choi Hong Hi, 9th DAN (1918-2002) the founder of Taekwon-Do.

My training has taken me several times to Korea, the home of Taekwon-Do, and I have studied at the international training centre for the ITF (International Taekwon-Do Federation) with Korean Grand Masters. I regularly attend ITF International Instructor Courses, International Technical Seminars and International Umpire Courses conducted by Grand Master Hwang Ho-Yong, IX Degree the Head of the ITF Technical and Education Committee. This ensures I am completely up to date with the latest in technical development, so I can pass this information on to my students and instructor team.


During my training I have achieved many accolades, including many national tournament titles, three times British Champion, twice winning Black Belt Competitor of the Year, as well as the coveted Instructor of the Year award from a major UK Taekwon-Do association. 

I am perhaps best known for my flexibility and kicking techniques. I also continue to develop my interpretation of the practical applications of Taekwon-Do techniques for use in real self defence. 


In September of 2017 I was promoted to the rank of 7th Degree Black Belt (which carries the title of “Master”) in Korea – the homeland of Taekwon-Do – by Grand Master Hwang Ho-Yong and Grand Master Kim Ung Chol. This makes me Shropshire’s most senior Taekwon-Do instructor, and its first Taekwon-Do Master.


I am regularly selected to represent England as an international umpire at both the ITF European and World Taekwon-Do Championships.

I am currently the Senior Vice President, Chief Umpire and member of the Executive Board of the British Taekwon-Do Federation (BTF). I also represent the group at the general meetings of the British Taekwon-Do Council (BTC) sitting along side the country’s most senior Taekwon-Do representatives. I am a qualified instructor trainer and BTC instructor course verifier.

Focus on my students and promoting Taekwon-Do locally

I continue to place an emphasis on helping my students and their families learn together to the highest standard, benefiting both them and their local community.

As the Principle Instructor of UTKD, together with my team of instructors, I continue to work to bring a greater awareness to the local community on the physical, mental and psychological benefits of a modern martial arts education.

I look forward to meeting you in one of my classes soon!

Master Kessler teaches at our Shrewsbury HQ venue.

Mr Andy Jefferies, 5th Degree Black Belt

ITF International Instructor
ITF Class A International Umpire
ITF Certificate No. GB-5-158

The start 

I started Taekwon-Do at 15 after seeing an advert in a local paper. The picture showed my future instructor Master Kessler doing an awesome looking kick and I thought that it would be something I’d want to try. 

After my first class I was hooked. I had done other sports before but this was so different, every class was a chance to improve myself physically and mentally. Being awarded ‘Student Of The Year’ in my first full year of training was a huge achievement for me. 


I also took part in my first competition at yellow belt, and though I wasn’t the biggest physically I always gave it my best and have my fair share of trophies and medals from patterns and sparring competitions. I still enjoy competitions and haven’t closed the door on returning, however I now attend as a referee rather than competitor.


I took on an assistant instructor role at 17 as I was always interested in teaching, moving to a full instructor role in 2010. I teach across Shropshire as well as continue my own training under Master Kessler, and attend national and International Technical Seminars (ITS) with notable Grand Masters. 

Black belt and International Instructor

Gaining my 1st Degree Black Belt three days after my 18th birthday, I knew my journey was only just beginning. 

After gaining my 4th Degree I was fortunate to travel with other UTKD Instructors in 2017 to undertake my International Instructor (IIC) training with GM Hwang Ho Yong IX in Cyprus. After several days of physical, technical and classroom-based training, I was approved as an International Instructor. As Taekwon-Do is not a static art, I continue to attend IIC and ITS both in the UK and abroad to keep up to date and improve both my understanding and my technique.

Supporting Taekwon-Do in the UK

I have worked to support UTKD as an instructor, and the BTF as an Umpire, gaining a Class B status in Wales in 2017, then my Class A status in Scotland in 2019 under GM Prewitt and GM Miller. I have officiated at dozens of competitions as a panel judge and centre referee, and although very draining it is a hugely rewarding part of my Taekwon-Do life, as is being part of grading panels for students of all grades. 

Forever a student of Taekwon-Do

Taekwon-Do has taken my life in a direction I never anticipated, given me opportunities I never thought I’d get and taught me more about myself than I thought it possible for what people would consider a ‘hobby’ to do. It has been part of my life for nearly 20 years and something that is ingrained in my very core. Though as a 5th Degree I am classed as an ‘expert’ I will forever consider myself a student, constantly seeking to improve myself both physically and mentally, and pass on everything I have learned to my students.

Mr. Jefferies teaches at the UTKD Shrewsbury HQ venue.

Mr. Neil Morris, 5th Degree Black Belt

ITF International Instructor
Class B National Umpire
ITF Certificate No. GB-5-159

I have been involved in martial arts for a large part of my life, firstly studying Kung fu as a child for many years before getting involve in Taekwon-Do in 2001.

I worked my way through the ranks achieving my 1st Degree Black Belt in 2005 and my 5th Degree in 2018.

I am the resident instructor at two UTKD locations, in Telford and Bridgnorth.

I love teaching adults and children alike and have families and siblings that love to train together. 

My aim is always to provide a fun, safe and friendly environment, in which they feel part of our UTKD family while learning the philosophy of Taekwon-Do. I also aim to build confidence within each student and help each one achieve their own personal goals alongside goals set by Taekwon-Do.

Mr. Morris teaches at the UTKD Telford and UTKD Bridgnorth venues.

Mr Reuben Thorley, 4th Degree Black Belt

ITF International Instructor
Class B National Umpire
ITF England Team Member
ITF Certificate No. GB-4-346

I have been training with UTKD since 2003, progressing from white belt to 4th Dan Black Belt.

Competitive sport has always been a major part of my life. In my earlier years, prior to taking up Taekwon-Do, I was a competitive swimmer and National League water polo player. 

I still enjoy competing in Taekwon-Do, and do so regularly at both National and International level. I have successfully represented England in the veterans’ categories at both European and ITF World Championships, so far achieving three silver medals and three bronze medals in international competition, as well as many national titles.

Having a professional teaching and learning background, I use my skillsets to apply my knowledge and experience into advancing training with UTKD and ITF England, to the benefit of all students.

Mr. Thorley teaches at the UTKD Ludlow venue.

UTKD Assistant Instructors:

Mr. Scott Cummings, 3rd Degree Black Belt

Dr. Eric Stannard, 3rd Degree Black Belt

Mr. Neil Marston, 3rd Degree Black Belt

Mr. Jacob Thorley, 3rd Degree Black Belt

Mrs. Lynsey Chalmers, 1st Degree Black Belt

Mr. Eric Dowey, 1st Degree Black Belt

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