Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

Martial arts studio kicks it up a notch

Published on

Coaches Jason McIntyre, left, and Mark Warburton, are both 5th degree black belts coaching at Sarnia Olympic Taekwondo Martial Arts Academy. Glenn Ogilvie

Cathy Dobson

Six weeks after opening a new taekwondo school at Paterson Memorial Presbyterian Church, Mark Warburton already has 50 students.

Six days a week, and some Sundays, he and fellow coach Jason McIntyre are in a large room in the church basement, encouraging, correcting and looking for champions.

“Here, every student is more than just a customer. The goal is for each one to exceed their potential,” says Warburton, 33.

He and McIntyre are both 5th degree black belts and have decades of taekwondo experience between them.

“I started when I was 12,” said Warburton. “I liked it because it’s dynamic, it’s intense and there’s high energy. I like that it’s an Olympic sport too.”

Perhaps that’s behind his decision to call the new school Sarnia Olympic Taekwondo Academy, teaching martial arts and sports instruction.

Warburton has coached at other taekwondo outfits in Sarnia/Lambton but wanted to be independent so he can share his own philosophies and design his own programs.

“I want to bring a higher standard to the sport,” he said. “Here, we have recreational and competition programs and I intend to train both like champions.

“I think the sport has lost its attention to detail and I want to bring that back.”

Since opening in January, students at Warburton’s school have brought home seven international medals from the U.S. and Canadian Taekwondo Championships.

The key to success is an open mind, hard work and a coach who sets goals, he said.

“Parents ask me if this will make their kid more violent. I think it does the opposite,” Warburton said.

“When you train, you get the agitation out in the gym and you become a more peaceful person.”

Warburton works by day as a cook at Mucho Burrito and teaches at his academy by night and on Saturdays. His goal is to eventually have 200 students and a self-sustaining business.

Students can start as young as four years old. Memberships include unlimited classes and cost $60 per month for ages seven and older. Ages four to six pay $250 for a six-month session.

Prices vary if more than one family member joins.

Call Mark Warburton of Sarnia Olympic Taekwondo at 519-384-3528. Paterson Memorial is near the corner of Wellington and Russell.


Sue Wright, formerly the executive director of Senior VIP community support services, is the new area rep and tour leader for a travel company for women only.

The Women’s Travel Network is a Toronto-based company that organizes international tours for groups of 10 to 16.

“It’s particularly great for single women who want to travel,” says Wright, who is currently on her first trip with the company to India.

When she returns, she’ll be organizing a Tuscany tour in September.

Contact Sue Wright of Women’s Travel Network at 519-845-0447 or by email at [email protected].


Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce members are off to Toronto March 10 and 11 to speak to provincial politicians and their policy teams about local issues impacting the business community.

Up for discussion are the area’s burgeoning bio industries, a proposed heavy haul route, advocating for a new bitumen energy refinery, increased technology commercialization and Lambton College’s Centre for Health Education.

Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.

More like this