History of Rising Spirit Academy

Part 1: Meet Grand Master Hopwood

Master Williams began his Martial Arts journey in 1986, studying Judo as a child. Years later, having been randomly assaulted one night on the Cowley Road, Master Williams decided it was time he learned some serious self-defence. At the suggestion of a friend he joined “Oxford Taekwondo Club” in 1999, a club run by Grandmaster Ted Hopwood. This was based in the Lower Gym at the school currently known as Oxford Spires Academy.

Grand Master Hopwood and Master Williams

Grandmaster 9th Dan Ted Hopwood is a British Gold medallist and was chosen to represent the UK in Taekwondo at the World Championships. He achieved a Bronze Medal, an amazing achievement considering he faced Martial Artists trained by the original Taekwondo creators.

Master Williams trained to 2nd Dan Black Belt with Grandmaster Hopwood, receiving the coveted trophy of “Student of the Year” in 2002. Due to health issues Grandmaster Hopwood decided to retire from his Academy in 2004. However, he did continue to grade Black Belts from all over the country for many years afterwards.

Master Williams with Ice Man Tony Sewell

Grandmaster Hopwood wanted to hand over his legacy and selected Master Williams to take over his club. Master Williams started with just 6 students but some left shortly after, as they objected to being taught by someone they knew as a fellow student! Master Williams had to seriously consider closing the club. However, determined to succeed, Master Williams made connections with a club in Andover and Rising Spirit Academy was soon to be born.

Part 2: Meet the Bonthuys Family, from Ohdokwan, Andover

Master Bonthuys, pictured with two of his sons and Master Williams, was the owner of a club in Andover called Ohdokwan Taekwondo. He was the regional coordinator for Black Belt gradings. He contacted Master Williams to see how he was getting on and they struck up a rapport. Master Bonthuys, alongside his two sons, was running a successful club and began to mentor Master Williams to help him build up his Academy and reach as many people as possible.

Bonthuys Family

Master Williams further developed his Martial Arts skills with the family. To really make his club his own, Master Williams decided a re-branding was in order and Rising Spirit Academy was born. The name was chosen to reflect his ambition to be truly helpful and bring out the best in people. The photo above shows one of his initial attempts at a logo!

As his Academy grew in popularity his students were graded at Ohdowkon Taekwondo in Andover, which by that time had been re-branded as Martial Art World. Miss Ward recalls, "Being graded in an unfamiliar club, working with students I didn't know and being judged by strangers was very challenging! I graded in front of a panel of four Black Belts, all looking stern in their business suits, and the grading was often in a format unfamiliar to me when compared to Master Williams’ teaching style. It was an all-day affair as we had to organise our own transport. I was so very grateful when Master Williams eventually brought the gradings in-house to Oxford. So much more convenient and far less stressful. Having said that, every time I graded in Andover I certainly felt like I had really earned my new belt!"

Over 3 years, amalgamating their vast Martial Arts experience, Master Bonthuys, Master Williams and Master Bonthuys’ sons (now Masters themselves) developed their very own Martial Art: Korean Kickboxing. This is taught exclusively at Rising Spirit Academy and Martial Art World and includes an extensive, progressive syllabus, focusing on the sparring elements of Taekwondo and other disciplines.

Miss Ward became Programme Director and business partner in 2017 and the Academy continues to thrive. Master Williams says, "We now offer programmes to all ages and abilities and we are very proud of what we have achieved. We really do change lives here and it's that that keeps us motivated and always striving to improve. Soon we will celebrate 20 years of Rising Spirit Academy and we are looking forward to another era of bringing out the best in people."

If you'd like to speak to someone about how we can help you, or try out some free classes, simply go to our Contact page.