WORDS BY TODD KUCHEL
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAM KROEPSCH
Following a well-orchestrated transformation of the Nuriootpa High School stadium into a Taekwondo training ground, enthusiastic pupils patiently await their instructor.
Duan Maguire began learning from Master Paul Cooper at ILYO TAEKWONDO eighteen years ago at the age of six, simply because her brother and his friend started it.
“I didn’t want to be left out so I tagged along,” she says.
“It helped me focus, not only during training but at school too. I just loved how it made me feel physically and mentally. I am a calm, centred person because of it.” – Duan Magurie
Duan had never enjoyed ball sports like everyone expects when you’re tall. However, in Taekwondo, she took an instant liking to the fitness, flexibility and kicking involved in the discipline.
“It helped me focus, not only during training but at school too. I just loved how it made me feel physically and mentally. I am a calm, centred person because of it.”
Duan persisted and trained up to five times a week for most of her schooling years.
She became a black belt at the age of 13 which was a big achievement for her at the time.
She often competed in sports Taekwondo at a state and national level where she fought
to become the National Taekwondo Champion in 2010.
It was in these final years of school when she began coaching and training others to compete in Taekwondo.
“It taught me effective leadership and communication skills which contributed towards my double degree in Middle/Secondary School Education,” she says.
While she was studying at university, Duan would travel back to the Barossa to train and teach Taekwondo on a weekly basis.
Duan is also involved in hosting and organising State Taekwondo events as well as being a board member of the South Australian Taekwondo League.
Tragically, toward the end of her studies, Duan’s Head Instructor and founder of ILYO TAEKWONDO, Master Paul Cooper became extremely ill with cancer.
He spent the last six months of his life training and preparing Duan for her fourth Dan Black belt grading which would enable her to run her own club and grade other students to their next belt level.
Duan successfully passed the excruciating 5.5 hour physical and mental exam. However, soon after Paul Cooper passed away.
With the help of Paul’s daughter, Zoe Cooper, Duan was honoured to take over the ILYO TAEKWONDO club and continue supporting the community he had built over 30 years.
Zoe Cooper now runs her own ILYO TAEKWONDO club (sister club) in Narooma, NSW, which Duan is the Head Instructor of. Duan travels to Narooma, NSW three times a year to grade the club’s students.
Since taking ownership of ILYO TAEKWONDO, enrolments have grown and lessons have developed from one standard hour and a half class for ages five and up, to three tailored classes in two locations that suit a range of age groups.
When Duan began training, there was an average class size of ten. Now Duan has seventy students, the youngest being two and a half, the oldest fifty two.
“To be honest, not a lot of students stick with it,” Duan admits. “Some students do not have the patience or persistence to make it to their black belt. The determined students stand out.”
For those who persist, Taekwondo can open a range of benefits. In addition to increased mental and physical agility, Taekwondo athletes have opportunities to represent the state nationally, internationally, or even in the Olympics.
This year Duan is taking students to Bendigo to compete in the National titles. This competition is held and attended by Duan and her students annually in different locations around Australia.
A beginner may compete once they have reached their yellow belt, which takes at least three months of training to acquire.
After this they would then have the chance to compete against other athletes at the similar level of training.
Other belt levels are awarded over time and according to individual skill levels.
Duan understands the intimidation of a student’s first class, but I can assure you, there is no need for concern.
Duan is a nurturing instructor whose gentle playfulness is absorbed by her students; creating an environment that is structured and discipline without urgency or intimidation.
I was astounded to learn that such a composed woman also teaches psychology, English and Visual arts at Nuriootpa High School and commutes from Adelaide each day.
Duan is clearly someone who is passionate about actively contributing to the community and takes pride in sharing her knowledge with others.