The Early Years
Grand Master Frost was born at Gosford on the Central Coast of New South Wales and spent his early years growing up at Morisset on the western side of Lake Macquarie. A competent horseman by the time he was 5 Grand Master spent many hours after school or on weekends roaming the bush with his father and grandfather honing his riding skills, learning to muster wild cattle and brumbies and studying bushcraft and hunting and survival skills. Master Frost’s Grandfather, a Blacksmith by trade was a renowned bare-knuckle fighter in the area who accepted all challenges and in 40 years was never defeated. Grand Master recalls he had arms as hard as the iron he worked with and would swing his big hammer hour after hour without tiring. As a boy Grand Master would often have to help in the forge, working the bellows or hammering horseshoes into shape, hard repetitious work that his Grandfather insisted he do, knowing full well the benefits of discipline and physical work for a fast-growing boy.
At seven Grand Master Frost was already an enthusiastic wrestler and the unofficial primary school champion. Wanting to emulate the feats of his grandfather he decided to try fist fighting with not quite the expected results, so he enlisted the help of a bigger cousin and a family friend. As things turned out the family friend, Allan Ball was a merchant seaman working the trade routes between Sydney, Newcastle and South East Asia. He was learning a hybrid Chinese style of Karate / Kung Fu from Singapore (which meant absolutely nothing to the Grand Master at the time) and was very happy to have someone to teach and would show Grand Master Frost the new techniques he had learnt when he returned to port after each trip. These lessons lasted about 2 years until Mr Ball’s family moved away. Grand Master doesn’t remember a lot of the technique he learnt then but enough stuck to help him through some sticky situations as he was growing up and to sow the seeds of a lifelong passion for the martial arts and eastern philosophies.
Between the ages of seven and twelve, Grand Master Frost did what most boys in those days did, played sport. Rugby League, Soccer and Athletics all lasted a season or so but none held his interest for long so when the Boy Scouts opened in town Grand Master Frost joined as soon as he was old enough. The fun, discipline, bushcraft and camping activities suited perfectly and Scouting became a big part of life. Of course, competing on horseback in the local Agricultural Shows and Gymkhanas was still his main interest.
When Grand Master Frost was 12 his family moved to Raymond Terrace, north of Newcastle where his father had bought a butcher shop. Most afternoons during his high school years were spent helping out at the shop and learning the butchering trade.
After the move scouting activities continued but at first Grand Master wasn’t to keen on swapping his old felt hat for a sea scouts sailors cap, nor rowing up and down the river instead of trekking through the bush. Even so, he persevered and in hindsight, it is clear that his new scoutmaster, Mr Dave Russell was to have a big influence in Grand Master Frost’s future. Mr Russell was a WW2 Navy veteran, a strict military disciplinarian, a Band Master, a Motor Cycle Racing enthusiast and a Jujutsu expert.
Grand Master Frost enjoyed the discipline of Mr Russell’s style of scouting and once he joined the brass band enjoyed the discipline and precision required in being a part of a 30 piece marching band but mostly Grand Master enjoyed Mr Russell’s stories about motorcycle racing in the ’30s, the occasional war story and (mostly painful) demonstrations of his jujutsu technique.
On weekends Grand Master Frost continued to pursue his love of horses travelling to local rodeos and agricultural shows competing in camp drafting and other sporting events, by the time he was 15 he was a regular competitor following the circuit every weekend from February through to October. In those days all shows featured a travelling boxing troupe and between events, he would go to watch the fights, sometime he would pay, other times he would try to sneak in (usually resulting in a clip over the ears). As time went by he developed a friendship with several of the young fighters and would hang around with them on Saturday nights after he finished competing, often engaging in light-hearted impromptu bouts but learning much from these young professional fighters.
After finishing high school Grand Master commenced his apprenticeship as a butcher with his father at Raymond Terrace. He continued to compete on the rodeo circuit for another couple of years until the pressures of growing up and other interests started to take hold. When Grand Master Frost was 17 he and his father bought a property in the lower Hunter Valley and set up a Feedlot to grow cattle for the family butcher shops. Grand Master Frost worked on the farm as well as in the butcher shop for the next year.
Needing a break from working 7 days each week Grand Master took some time off and travelled north through western New South Wales to Queensland living off the land and camping in remote areas. This time spent around the outback towns and pubs and working in bush camps on cattle stations in northern Queensland was a time of learning. In the late 60’s life in rural Queensland was hard, there was no electricity, no communication, pack horses were still used on the stations and Aboriginal stockmen were paid a fraction of the wage of white workers and could not enter a ‘white’ hotel. To work in the bush you had to hold your own, men were men, you worked hard, drank hard and fought hard or you packed your swag and left. As a young man, Grand Master Frost was enthusiastic in his endeavours to do all three well and was grateful for the lessons learnt from his father and grandfather and glad on numerous occasions for the martial arts and boxing skills he had learnt.
Upon receiving the news that his grandfather had died Grand Master Frost decided it was time to go home to finish his apprenticeship and renew friendships. Life seemed much the same and he slipped back into a routine but it wasn’t long before he felt something was missing and started looking for new challenges. Motocross was just taking off in Australia and looked exciting and Grand Master Frost had been riding bikes for several years so built a track on the farm and started training seriously for this new sport. It wasn’t long before he started racing in competitions around NSW. He also went back to music, having played in a brass band during his high school years he started playing the trumpet again and learned to play the guitar. This led to a couple of years of playing and singing on and off in a duet at local hotels and at parties.
Grand Master Frost finished his butchers’ apprenticeship and decided it was time to travel again. Packing the panel van with the essentials, butchers kit, saddles and harness and the Motocross bike Grand Master Frost headed to Brisbane where he lived for several months with friends and worked casually as a butcher. On weekends he would race in the local Motocross competitions or explore the mountains or beaches of the region. After leaving Brisbane Grand Master travelled north following the Motocross circuit, winning petrol money sometimes and at other times taking casual jobs to make money. At Rockhampton Grand Master Frost competed in the Queensland state titles winning the QLD Unlimited State Champion title.
After reaching Cairns Grand Master Frost travelled back to North West Queensland and worked for 6 months on a cattle station. In the 2 years since his last visit, many things had changed. Landcruisers had replaced the pack horses, road trains had replaced droving and refrigeration had replaced corned beef 7 days per week. But life was still hard and the men tough and the cattle camps were still where men came to test their metal. Cattle duffing was still considered a part of daily life and every Ute still had a rifle behind the seat and disputes over cattle ownership (or women) occasionally lead to gunfights. Aboriginal rights had improved and so had their pay but changes take time and Grand Master found himself fighting on several occasions to defend the rights of a Koori friend when they would visit the local hotel. Leaving Queensland Grand Master Frost travelled to the Northern Territory seeing the sights along the way and doing the odd casual job, the next 3 months were spent enjoying Darwin before travelling home via South Australia and Victoria in time for Christmas.
Over the next couple of years, Grand Master Frost married and built a house on the family farm and started a business breeding pigs to supply the family butcher shops. The business grew and Master Frost was winning numerous awards and supplying pork to butcher shops throughout the Hunter Region. During this time Grand Master Frost, working closely with the NSW Department of Agriculture was responsible for the introduction into NSW of the new cuts of pork that are sold in supermarkets and butcher shops today.
By the early ’70s Master Frost started looking at martial arts again and tried several styles including Jeet Kune Do, Goju Ryu Karate and Kyokushin Karate but none really caught his attention until in the mid-’70s when Grand Master Frost commenced Taekwondo training and decided this was the martial art he wanted to do. Within 18 months and still only 2nd Grade he was appointed Branch Instructor at Raymond Terrace by Grand Master Chong Chul Rhee starting a career that has lasted over 40 years. Training in the early years was hard there was only 4 classes and one Black Belt Taekwondo Instructor in Newcastle at the time, the other Instructors were 4th grade Blue belts so everyone was learning at the same time as they were teaching. Classes were very physical and the sparring more so. The Black Belt Instructor had been an amateur boxing champion and brought his fists to class so bloody noses and split lips were nightly occurrences and a broken rib or toe meant one night off training. By the end of the ’70s, taekwondo was booming and Grand Master Frost was teaching 5 and 6 days per week to classes of 80 – 100 students. In 1979 Master Frost began his studies of Japanese Shiatsu Massage Therapy and Korean Zen Meditation.
The early ’80s saw a change in direction on the farm, as markets changed Grand Master sold his piggery and built one of the largest chicken farms in the Hunter Valley. He also started manufacturing and selling martial arts equipment by mail order which led to the opening of the Hunter Regions first martial arts supply shop. Before long Grand Master Frost was supplying kick bags and uniforms to schools and shops around Australia, NZ and the UK and even sent punching bags to the Antarctic. The business grew and Master Frost set up a factory in Newcastle making uniforms and a workshop on the farm making exercise equipment and in particular leg stretching machines. Grand Master Frost produced the first Australian made leg stretcher called the ‘Oz Stretch’ and for the next 10 years sold 100’s around the world.
In about 1982, Grand Master Frost in partnership with Rhee Taekwondo Newcastle/Hunter Region Chief Instructor (and security dog training expert) Paul Neary, established K9 Equipment manufacturing and selling security/police dog training equipment around Australia and Papua New Guinea. When visiting PNG Grand Master would Instruct at the Port Moresby Rhee Taekwondo class thus becoming arguably the first (and probably only) RTKD Instructor to teach ‘Internationally’.
The ’80s were a busy time for Grand Master Frost, he was managing a farm, a martial arts shop, a uniform factory plus manufacturing exercise equipment and security dog equipment. He was also teaching Taekwondo 4 plus times per week, overseeing 10 Dojangs and trying to be a good husband and a good father for two growing children.
In the 80’s Grand Master Frost (as a silent partner) with his friend, well-known karate instructor and writer Glen Levick promoted the ‘Hunter Valley Challenge’ a series of full-contact martial arts tournaments in Newcastle. The tournaments were a great success drawing competitors from NSW, QLD and Victoria. Grand Master Frost also made several visits to Hong Kong and Taiwan during this time (on buying trips for his martial arts shop) and took the opportunity to try several Kung Fu styles and refresh some of the lost knowledge from his childhood training days.
Throughout the ’80s Grand Master was also involved in theatre and attended numerous courses and workshops in acting, voice production, stage fighting and stunt work, clowning and circus skills and Peking Opera. He also learned about building sets, operating lights and sound and choreographing fight scenes. Grand Master acted in a number of productions but preferred to design and build the sets and operate the lights. Choreographing the fight scenes and forging replica swords and knives (utilising some of the skills learned from his Grandfather) were his favourite tasks.
On Boxing Day 1989 the Newcastle earthquake forced a change in Grand Master Frost’s workload when his martial arts shop and factory were flattened. As there was no chance of re-opening the shop Grand Master decided to sell the business to a Sydney firm and take a break for a while. Of course, the break didn’t last long and Grand Master Frost soon found he was running a theatre ticket booking agency, opening a Korean / Japanese Restaurant in Newcastle, completing a 12-month Business Management Course through the University of Technology Sydney, studying Public Speaking with Harry M Miller and training in Business Financial Management through the University of Newcastle.
In 1992 Grand Master Frost packed his family in a Motorhome to spend the year travelling around Australia. With his wife, a professional actor and his children, both accomplished actors and Master Frost’s dubious acting ability they formed a professional theatre company and performed in festivals, schools and communities all over Australia. During their travels, Grand Master trained at whatever martial arts school happened to be in the town they were visiting. Styles included: Rhee Taekwondo, WTF Taekwondo, ITF Taekwondo, Goju Karate, Kyokushin Karate, Shotokan Karate, Boxing, Tai Chi, Muay Thai and Gracie Jujutsu. After returning home from a wonderful year of travel Grand Master sold his restaurant and ticket agency and settled into a quieter lifestyle on the farm ‘for a while’.
Grand Master Frost had returned to the farm and to teaching class and overseeing his other Dojangs in Port Stephens and concentrated on opening new centres and maintaining a steady flow of new students through his existing Dojangs.
Around 1994 Grand Master Frost presented a weekly series on Self Defence on NBN Television’s ‘This Morning’ program.
In 1995 Grand Master Frost walked the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea for the first time.
Also in the mid-’90s, Grand Master took over the Rhee Taekwondo Central Coast Region and started teaching there as well as running the Port Stephens headquarters Dojang at Raymond Terrace.
Grand Master Frost was a member of the Board of Directors of the NSW Chicken Growers Association for several years in the mid-’90s and was also a member of the Board of the Hunter Valley Theatre Company for a number of years from the mid-’90s. Grand Master Frost was President of the Raymond Terrace branch of the Liberal Party for most of the ’90s and served on the Theatre, Arts and Heritage Advisory Committee for the NSW Government for most of that period.
In 1995 Grand Master Frost started planning his next venture which came to fruition in December 1998 when he opened a 3 screen Cinema Complex and Restaurant in Raymond Terrace and the Rhee Taekwondo administration for the Newcastle / Hunter Valley Regions was moved to his offices. Also in ’98 Grand Master along with several prominent theatre producers and directors established Shakespeare et al, Newcastle’s only professional theatre company.
In 1999 after 30 years of farming Grand Master sold his Chicken Farm at Seaham but kept his house and 10 acres. Grand Master Frost also opened a second 4 screen Cinema complex at Singleton in the Hunter Valley and in partnership with his son Ben established Inline Advertising.
In 2001 after a couple of years of non-stop work (cinemas are open from 9 am to midnight), constant travel between the two cinemas and continuing to teach Taekwondo at least 2 or 3 nights per week Grand Master Frost decided something had to go. So Singleton Cinema was sold and Grand Master took a break and headed to Kokoda for his 4th trek.
2002 proved to be a reasonably quiet year. An ANZAC trek to Kokoda, teaching Taekwondo 4 nights per week and producing 7 professional theatre productions in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley Wineries and of course running the Raymond Terrace cinemas.
To Be Continued…