Sensei Greg Eck
Sensei Greg Eck is the co-owner of Downers Grove Boxing and MMA as well as one of the instructors. As a young man in high school, Sensei Eck found himself being bullied by a classmate and turned to learning martial arts in order to defend himself and regain control of his school life. He found American Kenpo Karate in 1983 and has never looked back. He continues to train towards his 2nd-degree black belt stating,
“The more you achieve, the more you realize you don’t know. There’s so much more out there to learn. It’s a constant thirst for knowledge to improve your skills. There’s always someone who can offer you something else.”
This philosophy has kept him training for over 30 years (with the occasional interruption).
You can find Sensei Greg running the Tuesday evening Kenpo classes. He enjoys teaching and throws himself into it, viewing it as a way to honor the teachers who helped him along his journey.
“So many others have given to me, that it’s impossible to pay them back. So my only choice is to pay it forward. That’s how I give thanks and respect to what they’ve given me. The gift they’ve given to me has changed the person I am.”
Despite starting training in karate to protect himself, Sensei Greg believes that American Kenpo offers far more than just a means of self defense.
“The skills you learn in Kenpo help to improve everything else you do physically (speed, quickness, strength and balance used in all other sports and activities). It also strengthens you mentally.”
In 2015, Sensei Greg and Sensei Tom Volz started Downers Grove Boxing and MMA. When the gym where he’d been training for years closed, Sensei Greg, despite having another small business he’s run for 22 years, stepped up to ensure the boxing and karate students had a place to continue their studies.
“This is a place where my extended family meets. We all started out as customers at one point, but over time, this place has a real and lasting effect on you. I didn’t want to lose that extended family.”
His welcoming attitude is reflected in his quote about new students,
“Every time I see a new student, I see myself in that person. I see my first day when I wasn’t sure what to expect and thought that maybe I was in over my head.”
With the new location and name for the school, this married father of 4 and part-time soccer coach is focusing on growing that extended family of Chicago-land’s top, and most welcoming, Boxing and Karate facility.