Socks & Shoes Off: Tora Black Belt Academy

Socks & Shoes Off is a gentle, heartwarming documentary about Tora Black Belt Academy - an unusual karate club in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, run by a formidable yet inspiring woman, who gets everyone from toddlers to grannies to take their socks and shoes off and learn karate together.

Put the kettle on, make a cup of tea, then curl up on the sofa and spend an hour with the empowering Trieda, her team of motivated Mum's & Dad's, and their troop of amazing kids.

  • Julie Robinson
  • Julie Robinson
    Accidents Happen
  • Julie Robinson
    Accidents Happen
  • Allen McLaughlin
  • Allen McLaughlin
    Director Of Photography
  • Allen McLaughlin
    Camera Operator
  • Jenni Wilson
    Camera Operator
  • Ross Blackmore
    Sound Recordist
  • Ross Blackmore
    Dubbing Mixer
  • Steve Malcolmson
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    59 minutes 35 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 14, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    35 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 1080 50p
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Julie Robinson

Julie was born in 1978 and grew up in Aberdeen with her parents and younger sister. When she turned 18, she moved to Glasgow where she spent four years at The University Of Glasgow earning a BEng Hons degree in Electronics with Music. It was there where she met Julian Robinson, who would later become her very supportive husband and special effects artist of choice.

Julie graduated in 2000 and, a few months later, joined BBC Scotland as a Trainee Vision Engineer based at Broadcasting House in Glasgow. Following a two year trainee-ship, she worked her way up to the role of Lighting Console Operator, where she still works today, only part-time as she has taken time out to raise her two children.

In her limited spare time, Julie runs Jumbled Up Productions, through which she enjoys working on various film projects. The first was Accidents Happen, a short black comedy written, produced and scored by Julie, with the rest of the roles being filled by her friends and work colleagues. Julie then followed this up (a few years and a second child later) writing, producing and making her directorial debut with Socks & Shoes Off: Tora Black Belt Academy, an hour long documentary about the people involved in a local karate club.

Some of her vision and lighting work credits at the BBC include:

Mrs Browns Boys, The Life Of Riley, The Weakest Link, The Kids Are Alright, Frank Skinner's Opinionated, Ask Rhod Gilbert, National Lottery Jetset, This Is Your Life, Question Time, Top Of The Pops Saturday, Copycats, Children In Need, Hogmany Live, The Mod, Celtic Connections, BAFTA Scotland Awards, Robert Burns' World Tour Of Scotland, The Saturday Show, Live & Kicking, Get 100, Nina & The Neurons, Newsnight Review, The Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Proms In The Park, T In The Park, Live 8, Harry Potter At The Castle, Grandstand, various coverage of The Edinburgh Festival, and many live sporting events including Football, Rugby, Golf, Badminton, Athletics, Snooker, Indoor Bowls, Mountain Biking and the Great Caledonian Run.

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Director Statement

When my daughter was around 18 months old I took her to a local gala day where we witnessed a display by a local karate club, Tora Black Belt Academy. The set-pieces, all to music, were fantastic, and my daughter was captivated watching them. I had done karate myself, back when I was teenager, but I gave up when I began training for my brown belt as I moved to Glasgow to go to University and never really got back into it. I remembered how much I had enjoyed it and after seeing so many teenage girls in the gala display who could obviously handle themselves, I decided that I wanted to get my daughter signed up, if for no other reason that to selfishly have a little peace of mind when she grew up and set off into the world by her self.

So I telephoned the number that I found on a flyer and was greeted by a woman, who's voice alone seemed to leap out of the phone. I went along to the next class, which happened to be a special self-defence class celebrating the 100th anniversary of the death of Emily Davison, militant activist and suffragette. There I met Trieda Henderson. An immensely strong and powerful woman, in all senses, who flat out refused to allow me to simply drop off my daughter and sit at the side. I was forcibly encouraged to take my socks and shoes off and join in. By about half way through the class she had me heavily pinned to the floor and proceeded to show me how to very easily get out of that position. I decided that this woman had an awful lot to teach me - and my daughter - and I was intrigued by her. She was something very, very different, indeed.

In the years that followed, Trieda and her team of Sensei's (other Mum's and Dad's who were also encouraged to start karate when they initially took their children to sign up), proceeded to positively influence my life and inspire me to be me again, something that is very easy to forget when you become the mother of young children.

Tora Black Belt Academy changed my life. My Documentary "Socks & Shoes Off: Tora Black Belt Academy" is an attempt to share those positive feelings and inspirations with as many people as possible.