Name: Grant Eccles Rank: 6th Dan (Jan 29th 2016)
Mr Eccles has trained since 1987 and is a past national junior team coach. He has a physical approach to training and enjoys seeing people’s skills and self confidence develop as their training progresses. He is a current member and former director of the ITFNZ Tournament Committee and has officiated at both National and International Tournaments.
A Q& A with Mr Eccles:
At what age did you start learning Taekwon Do ?
14 Years old.
What ITF club did you first join and who was your Instructor ?
First ITf club was the Lims TKD Matamata club in 1987 – my first instructor was Mr Murray Clarke. The first ITFNZ club I joined was the Massey University Club in 1991. The instructor was Mr Lawrence Mantjika (then 2nd dan, now 5th dan) and he is still my instructor and great friend.
When did you become a 1st Dan?
December 13th 1992. Master Paul McPhail (then a 4th dan) and Mr Norman Ng (past president of ITFNZ, now retired) were the examiners, and the grading was held over two days at the Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School on Ferguson Street.
You are now Instructor of Hamilton Club – did you set this club up? How long has it been running?
I started the club in 1999 (I was then a 2nd Dan) after moving to Hamilton from Orewa. Our first dojang was at the Forestlake School hall. Eventually the club outgrew that hall and we moved to our current dojang at Maeroa Intermediate in 2001.
Have you been an Instructor at some other Club before?
I actually began instructing at the Lims Matamata club when I was a teenage blue belt – the instructor travelled from Hamilton and every now and then he would be unable to make it so I had to take class. I remember getting to training one night and the instructor having to rush back to Hamilton because of an emergency. I had no idea what to do for training so I did free sparring for an hour and a half! (some say nothing has changed haha). I was the assistant instructor at Massey University Club for 3 years and the head instructor for 6 months while Mr Mantjika went back to Bali for a while and also was the assistant at Glenfield club in Auckland for two years (Mr Murray Greenfield was the then instructor).
What are some of your greatest achievements in Taekwon Do ?
Training for 25 years! More seriously, I regard successfully starting and maintaining the Hamilton Club as a major achievement, as well as earning the trust and respect of my students and seniors.
What has been the highlights of your Taekwon Do Career to date ?
There have been many highlights along the way, but some that stick out are:
- Grading to 4th Dan before Grandmaster Charles Sereff.
- Representing New Zealand as an Umpire at the ITF World Champs in Canada in 2007
- Meeting General Choi several times and receiving a compliment from him after demonstrating Po-Eun tul.
- Along with Mr Steve McQuillan coaching the 2002 NZ Junior team to the ITF Junior World Champs. That was the first NZ team that was truly successful at a world champs and put NZ firmly on the map.
- Watching the first student that I taught since a beginner successfully grade for his first Dan.
- Meeting my wife through TKD training……….
Have there been any major disappointments in your Taekwon Do career ? If so, what ?
I have been pretty lucky in this regard in that none really spring to mind. There have been negative times but I firmly believe that it is important to focus on positives and always look forward.
Do you have any personal Taekwon Do goals for the future? If so, what are they?
My goals are to continue to instruct and be of value to my students, to try and improve my technique, and to continue to be an ambassador for the art. In the short term I hope to grade for 5th dan in the next few years and attend another world champs in either a coaching or officiating role.
How do you think Taekwon Do in New Zealand is developing in comparison to other countries? (or styles)
We are at the forefront of ITF TKD worldwide. Although it is hard for us to gauge because we are so isolated from the rest of the world, our technique and standards are of the highest quality. This becomes evident when we attend events overseas and is often commented on by practitioners from other countries. I believe that this stems from the quality of our seniors and their dedication to the art over many years.
Which practising Taekwon Do Instructor(s) do you admire the most and why ?
As far as I am concerned anyone who instructs on a regular basis has my admiration because I know how hard it is. However I will single out the following individuals:
- Mr Lawrence Mantjika – my first ITFNZ instructor and one of the most spectacularly talented practitioners and instructors I have ever seen, both physically and mentally.
- Master Paul McPhail – a walking encyclopedia of TKD. Great technique and great skill at imparting that knowledge to students.
- Grandmaster Charles Sereff – an absolute pioneer of TKD worldwide. General Choi’s right hand man for decades and a great friend of ITFNZ’s.
Do you have a favourite technique ?
Back piercing kick. Great for sparring (if you can do the kick fast enough), great for destruction, great for self defence, just great!
What is the highest level any of your students have achieved ?
A student I instructed as a white belt at Massey University is now a 4th dan. From Hamilton clubs first intake of students I now have several 1st dans.
Do you have any comments on what you think are the most likely attributes a student needs to progress through the ranks to 1st Dan and higher ?
Attitude is everything, as is commitment and a good training ethic. You can’t beat time on the dojang floor in terms of improving your skills. You also have to be willing to work hard physically and mentally. Having a good set of ears to help you LISTEN to your instructor helps as well!
“Training hard, grading easy. Training easy, grading hard” – General Choi