Our Team


Kyoshi John Richards

Founder & Chief Instructor

Kyoshi John Richards 9th Dan, is the chief instructor and founder of Zen-Shin Martial Arts Academy and has over 40 years experience in shotokan karate and martial arts. Karate is his passion and he has dedicated most of his life to the practice.

Karate has taken Kyoshi all over the world from competing, teaching seminars and personal body guarding for multiple stars. Kyoshi has experience in a variety of different martial arts - Ju Juitsu, Thai Chi, Judo, Boxing and Kickboxing as well as Karate.

Kyoshi now teaches at the following club locations: The Zen-Shin Studios- Birmingham, Mere Green and Digbeth

All Zen-Shin Instructors are appropriately qualified and DBS checked


Melanie Richards


Hello, my name is Melanie Richards. I started karate when I was 17, and loved every minute of every class. Whilst I was doing my nurse training I used to take 2 buses to make sure that I still got to karate 3 or 4 times a week. I started teaching when I was around 20 years old and I have been a black belt since I was 21. I always enjoyed teaching my students. I used to teach my classes in Longbridge, Erdington and Four Oaks.
My personal karate journey has been interrupted 4 times whilst I was creating future karate kids. I have been a 3rd dan for 20 years and I have been married to Kyoshi John Richards for almost 32 years. Although I love karate, my greatest love are my children- Jumoke, Abian, Afiya, Xolisweh.
My current role at Zen-Shin is to coordinate and organise the team so that we give our students the best possible experience. You will probably see me in reception at soho hill 😁


Sensei Jumoke Richards

Senior Instructor

Hello my name is Sensei Jumoke 🥋. I am the eldest, and loudest of Kyoshi John Richards’ children. You can catch me in the Dojo most days teaching our amazing students at Zen-Shin Academy on Soho Hill, Handsworth. I also do things behind the scenes, such as developing our website and members’ area, and creating content for our YouTube channel.
I started karate when I was 4, and have continued to study it all my life. I love karate because it has ensured that I am physically fit, and mentally engaged. Karate has given me an awareness and confidence that allows me to navigate my life with more success.
My decision to take teaching seriously happened after teaching English in China for a few years. That teaching role battle hardened me to connect with students, and adapt to different circumstances and challenges. It was during this time in China that I was able to get exposure to different martial arts. Although the efficacy of each martial art may be self-evident, none had the same appeal to me as Karate.
Since childhood I have always been into Kata. I enjoy the level of focus that is required to perform. It can be used as a meditation, or just as a way to condition your body. As a young black belt I competed in many different competitions all over the country. Competing in Kata gave me the confidence to perform in public, and pushed myself to overcome my own mental limitations.
As I have got older, and my understanding of karate has expanded. I have put more of an emphasis on learning the application of the kata from a self-defence perspective. Fitness and strength are important parts of my training, and I encourage them in my lessons.
Ultimately, Karate has been a journey of self-discovery. Karate’s guiding principles remind me to be the best version of myself, not only for me, but for my family, and the next generation.


Sensei Abian Richards

Senior Instructor

Karate Experience: 25 years
Teaching Experience: 7 years
DBS Checked: Yes
First Aid Certified: Yes

Sensei Abian (3rd Dan) is the son of Kyoshi John Richards and has been practising karate his whole life.

At the age of 18 Abian won 1st place in kumite at the WKA world championships in Spain.

Karate truly is a part of who he is, but he also has other martial arts influences like Kickboxing and Thai boxing. Abian teaches Karate and takes our Kickboxing & Muay Thai classes. He likes to challenge himself and his students to stretch and strengthen their bodies and minds through movement.
Abian in inspired by the capability of the human body and our adaptability. He uses locomotion and calisthenics to build strength, flexibility and body control.

Abian teaches at the Zen-Shin studios and our Digbeth academy and also teaches private sessions to work on personal goals.

First aid certified


Sensei Afiya Richards

Project Manager & Instructor

Hi, I'm Sensei Afiya. I may be the first person you speak to/see from Zen-Shin because between my mom and I, we are the people on the end of the phone and in reception to answer any of your questions.
I am also an instructor (3rd Dan) at Zen-Shin, I teach the karate classes along side Kyoshi J Richards (my dad) at our Mere Green club. As well as our kickboxing classes at Soho Hill with my brother (Sensei Abian).
A little bit about me: I started karate at a very early age (technically 2 years old... I didn't want to sit and watch my big brothers in class, I had to join in too) and have been training ever since. I have competed in competitions in kata and kumite and am probably a bit of an all-rounder... With a particular appreciation for the mawashi-geri (roundhouse kick) 😋.
My love for karate has transformed into a love for Japanese culture and language. I have been lucky enough to travel to Japan twice and it is still top of my list to travel to again 🇯🇵.
My hobbies outside of my martial arts training are yoga, dance - any type of movement really! I enjoy a good audiobook, usually about human behaviour and natural healing (I studied psychology at uni). These days I like learning about our mind-body connection and how powerful our thoughts are to our health and overall wellbeing. This is what inspires me to do better. On that continuous journey of self-development.
I guess i'll leave it there for now!


Sensei Jane Garrett

Instructor & Referee

Sensei Jane has been practicing Karate with Zen-Shin for 10 years has has received her 2nd Black Belt. She started Karate after her two children joined Karate as saw the benefits that it had on them.

Jane has refereed as a Zen-Shin referee.


Sensei Abdul Hafeez


Sensei Abdul is a 2nd dan black belt and has been training for 13 years and has been running his karate club in Saltley for 7 years. Abdul's students range from the age of 5 years old to 15 years old.


Sensei Frankie Richards


Sensei Frankie is a 1st Dan black belt and has been training at Zen-Shin for years. He is the Instructor at Bartley Green karate club and assistant instructor at the Saltley Dojo.
Frankie has competed in multiple international karate championships, his most recent victory was at the 2015 WKU World Championships in Spain where he came 1st place in kumite (heavy weight category).

Frankie has a background in many sports - semi professional american football, rugby and athletics and has 20 years experience as a close protection body guard. He is now training for his black belt and is on our instructors course.

First aid certified & DBS Checked


Sylvia John


Hello, my name is Sylvia John. My martial arts journey started when my two daughters began training at Zen-Shin. I was so inspired by the teaching and training that I became a member. I have 12 year’s experience and have received my 2nd Dan Black Belt in December 2022.
I love the art and discipline of Shotokan karate, it has improved my fitness levels and karate skills.

I love the Zen Philosophy and how it teaches the importance of respect, acceptance, and resilience. These are principles I value, and which tie in with my own spiritual journey and self-development. I am also privileged to have formed long lasting relationships over the
years through being a part of Zen-Shin. The fun, the challenges and the people are all what has kept my passion alive for karate and for this club.

Full profile

Sensei Paul Beckford


Sensei Paul is the karate instructor at our club in Harborne.