Master Vivian Thomas
Position: Head Instructor
Started Tang Soo Do: 1979
Dan Number: 23289 (certified by Honourable Grandmaster Hwang Kee)
Current Grade: 7th Dan
- Master Thomas started Tang Soo Do at the age of 10 due to problems with bullying in and out of school, his father, Morgan Thomas took him along to a newly opened school taught my a Korean National, Master Tong Mun Kim
- Classes were all over South Wales and the West and training increased up to 6 times a week during the 12 months leading up to his Cho Dan (1st Dan Black Belt) test.
- 1st Dan testing was conducted in Watford, England and lead by Grandmaster K U Lee, Chief Instructor of the United Kingdom Tang Soo Do Federation
- At the same time Master Tong Mun Kim moved to Atlanta, USA to open full time Tang Soo Do studios after being sponsored by Grandmaster Chun Sik Kim, at this point the classes and students in South Wales moved federations with him and joined the newly formed International Tang Soo Do Federation
- Master Tong Mun Kim's two eldest sons stayed in Wales for another couple of years before handing over the running of Wales & the West to Master Wynford Williams
- At 18 years of age, Master Thomas travelled to Atlanta, USA, to participate in Master T.M.Kim's tournament and was placed 3rd in sparring. The next day he successfully tested to 2nd Dan in front of a highly ranked and decorated examination panel.
- Between the ages of 18 and 25, Master Thomas competed at the highest level in tournaments around the United Kingdom and the United States of America, including competing in 3 World Championships where he won various Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, both individually and in the Team Sparring events where he captained the team on two occasions.
Master Thomas pictured holding the Team Sparring Trophy (3rd from left)
- Master Thomas tested to 3rd Dan at the age of 21 and then attained the rank of 4th Dan Master Instructor at the age of 25.
- Master Thomas started teaching his own classes from the age of 18 and has opened schools around various places in Wales and in Bristol. Additionally he has trained many students to the rank of Instructor so that they could continue where he left off and continue to spread the art of Tang Soo Do.
- During his time in the International Tang Soo Do Federation, Master Thomas held the position of Vice Chairman for over 15 years and supported Chief Instructor master Wynford Williams in ensuring the success of the Federation in the United Kingdom and spearheaded National and International Tournaments year on year including playing a key organising role for the 5th ITF World Championships, held in Sophia Gardens, Cardiff in 1998.
- Master Thomas attained the rank of 5th Dan in 1999 and was promoted to 6th Dan by Grandmaster C.S.Kim in 2005.
- In 2007, Master Thomas resigned his position from the International Tang Soo Do Federation and formed the Bridgend Martial Arts Academy (previously named Bridgend Tang Soo Do Karate School) where to this day he strives to teach the wonderful martial art of Tang Soo Do in the original form that Honourable Grandmaster Hwang Kee taught.
- To this day, Master Thomas is a strong supporter of various Cancer Charities and continues to raise money through various avenues for these worthy charities, especially having lost his father to cancer back in 2001.
- Master Thomas was promoted to 7th Dan by Grandmaster Giacobbe which was presented in the 2012 World Championships in Cardiff
Master Sian Hesketh
Position: Regional & Tiger's Instructor
Started Tang Soo Do: 1991
Dan Number: 33195 (certified by Grandmaster Chun Sik Kim)
Current Grade: 5th Dan
- Master Sian Hesketh teaches the classes in Heronsbridge School (Tuesday evening ) & Cefn Glas (Wednesday evening)
- Tested & Promoted to 5th Dan by Grandmaster Giacobbe in September 2012
Master Tomos Hopkins
Started Tang Soo Do: 2002
Dan Number: 34215
Current Grade: 4th Dan
Master Tomos Hopkins started Tang Soo Do at the age of 8 and joined the Bridgend Martial Arts Academy. Master Hopkins have continued to develop and support both Master Thomas & Master Hesketh with the teaching of the classes and also leads the Tiger's class on Tuesday's in Heronsbridge School on Ewenny Road, Bridgend and recent opened his first own class in Ogmore Vale on a Monday evening
Summary of Achievements:
- Promoted to 1st Dan in 2006
- Promoted to 2nd Dan in 2008
- Achieved his "Assistant Instructors" Certification in 2009
- Promoted to 3rd Dan in 2011
- Captained the ITO Welsh Team at the 2012 World Championships
- Achieved his "Kyo Sa - Instructors" Certification in 2012
- Promoted to 4th Dan, Master by Grand Master Giacobbe in April 2015
During his Tang Soo Do career to date, Master Hopkins has participated in many tournaments, both Tang Soo Do closed events and Open tournaments both around the UK and Europe. Master Hopkins also captains the ITO Welsh Team for both sparring & forms in various team events. Here is a summary of Master Hopkins tournament achievements:
- Gold / 1st Place x 22
- Silver / 2nd Place x 15
- Bronze / 3rd Place x 16
- Grand Champion Wins x 4
- ITO Team Medals x 4