The East Coast Combat Hapkido School has its roots going back to late 1996 when Master Eric Rushton received the first International Combat Hapkido Federation Charter in Canada. Master Eric first taught Combat Hapkido in a local Community Centre and eventually moved into the Woo Yong Tae Kwon Do dojang on Hood Street in Halifax. Master Mike Fournier joined the Combat Hapkido program in the Autumn of 1996 and soon became Master Eric's first Combat Hapkido Black Belt as well as the second ICHF Black Belt in Canada.
Master Mike, Master Eric and GM Woo Yong Jung went on to establish FJR International Incorporated in 1999 and Self Defence Canada was created, modeled after the ICHF’s Self Defense America; the Combat Hapkido program was taught under the Atlantic Self Defence Training Centre banner and specialized in street defence tactics. The Combat Hapkido program grew, which resulted in many visits by GM Pellegrini to Halifax to deliver Combat Hapkido seminars. The school also supported and participated in seminars hosted by some of the other premier martial arts schools in Halifax.
In 2000, the school moved to Alderney Drive in Dartmouth. The school was set up in an old shop that was mainly used as a storage depository of what can only be described as junk that no one else wanted or had little or no use for. After disposing of the junk, some painting, building a training floor, and change rooms we opened our doors in less than two weeks after the move and the school's active student numbers grew to 27 students in less than four months.
The program quickly expanded and seminars were delivered to private security groups like the IWK Security Force and night club security personnel. Master Eric and Master Mike later traveled to Ashville, North Carolina to certify as International Police Defensive Tactics Institute (IPDTI) Trainers. With this new certification, Master Mike was able to secure a contract with Success College to deliver Close Quarters Defensive Tactics training and IPDTI certification to the College's Correctional and Policing Foundations Program students.
The Chain Lake Drive Era
2002 was a busy year. The school moved again, this time to Chain Lake to occupy a larger facility. That same year Master Eric and Master Mike traveled to Lexington, Kentucky to participate in the 10th Anniversary of the International Combat Hapkido Federation. It was a great weekend of seminars, meeting other school operators, topped off with a banquet attended by some 300 attendees.
It was also in 2002 that the IPDTI and CPF Close Quarters Defensive Tactics training moved from Success College to the Chain Lake Combat Hapkido School. The IPDTI certification was readily recognized and accepted by the Canadian police forces and Correctional Institutes, which helped some of our students become police and correctional officers.
The school continued to grow and expand by offering noon-hour fitness classes and other self-defence courses. It also established a popular Youth Combat Hapkido program and an ITA Tae Kwon Do program. In 2004, Master Mike opened an independent Hapkido School and pursued other interests; he re-enlisted into the Canadian Forces' Intelligence Branch in February of 2007 and was posted to the Electronic Welfare Squadron in Kingston, Ontario and a Tour of Duty in Afghanistan in 2008-2009. Master Mike remained in Kingston and moved to the Joint Support Group/Joint Operational Support Group Headquarters as the Intelligence Officer (J2) until his posting to Halifax, Nova Scotia in October of 2012.
Meanwhile, Master Eric continued to operate the school in Chain Lake where it grew in popularity. He hosted another ICHF GM Pellegrini Seminar and became more involved in province's martial arts community. In order to turn his full attention to an urgent family matter Eric sold the school to a senior instructor who continued to operate it until January 2012 when the Combat Hapkido School was obliged to temporarily shut down. Nevertheless, Master Eric continued to occasionally train with a few of the remaining senior belts.
The New Era of Combat Hapkido in Halifax
In early 2012 Master Eric and Master Mike met to discuss his pending return to Halifax and agreed to open a new Combat Hapkido School with the intention of re-establishing a Combat Hapkido program reminiscent of the original program from the early days. Master Eric and Master Mike decided to focus on the more eclectic martial and philosophical aspects of Combat Hapkido.
Tribute to Master Eric Rushton CMA CFO
Master Eric Rushton dedicated 30 years of his life to the martial arts, attained the rank of 5th Dan in Combat Hapkido and was a student of Grandmaster Pellegrini since 1996. It was after having read an article on GM Pellegrini and Combat Hapkido that he took the steps to bring Combat Hapkido to Halifax. As it turned out this was the first Combat Hapkido Charter to be issued in Canada and only a few years after GM Pellegrini officially founded the ICHF.
It goes without saying that Master Eric Rushton was a Combat Hapkido pioneer in Canada and played an active part in influencing the development of the martial arts in Halifax and Nova Scotia.
Master Eric officially retired from the martial arts in 2013 to concentrate on his life with his new wife and to pursue other interest. Although he was no longer an active martial artist he remained a part of the East Coast Combat Hapkido family. We are, collectively, thankful for his vision, in bringing Combat Hapkido to Halifax.
Sadly, Master Eric passed away at home with his wife by his side in February of 2017, after a valiant battle with cancer. Like a true warrior, he courageously battled, always believing he could beat his cancer. He will not be forgotten. In fact, GM Pellegrini took a few minutes of the 2017 Seminar to pay tribute to Master Eric Rushton that brought tears to a few participants. Thank you for your wonderful words, GM Pellegrini.