I’m blogging again.
Naturally, that means English Karate Unification is once again back on the agenda.
Once again the impending prospect of unification makes me happy. Once again the stick-in-the-mud obstinacy of an obstructive old guard makes me despondent.
I have been involved to varying degrees with previous failed attempts to unify. The realist at this point would say; “Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before. History proves this is a lost cause. Leave them all to it.”
Unfortunately, I am an optimist who dearly wants to see karate administered professionally, and believes and hopes that karate can be brought together under the single banner of a common cause - to manage and promote this fine and noble pursuit of ours to the benefit of its practitioners and the wider public.
This time around four bodies were invited by the Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA- formerly the CCPR) to join talks: Karate England, whose lead members include the KUGB and Shikon; FEKO, a long standing federation with many august officers from both traditional and sporting traditions; the AMA (to which my club is affiliated) a multi-style large and disparate group of karateka; and the WKF-mandated English Karate Federation.
Three of the four groups have announced on their websites the establishment of the umbrella body to be called the ”English Karate Council”. (As an aside the name is not a new one- indeed I competed in the EKC National Championships at Crystal Palace in the late eighties, when the EKC rivalled the English Karate Board for NGB status.) The fourth body, EKF however has withdrawn from the talks, and no statement appears on their website.
In an instance of déjà vu it seems that WKF statute 21.9 is to be blamed; “because the EKF now consider that their participation in the new body would result in the withdrawal of the WKF mandate and this result was not acceptable to the EKF Board”. I choose my words carefully because I truly believe this to be a lame excuse by certain members of the EKF board. They claim that the WKF’s statutory ban on “sporting relations” with “dissenting groups” would be compromised.
Firstly, however draconian an “old boys’ club” the WKF board might be I do not believe that there cannot be found a statutorily acceptable arrangement by which the WKF representative could also be represented on the National Governing Body. Indeed a number of commentators have already suggested possible solutions to that conundrum. Furthermore it is my understanding that such arrangements already exist in other WKF member countries, where some members openly compete in WUKF, WUKO, and WKF tournaments, with either the overt, or at least tacit consent of the WKF. Secondly, as a former EKF member, I can vouchsafe the fact that there are members within the EKF who would welcome recognition by Sport England (not least for the funding opportunities recognition might bring). I cannot believe that the full EKF membership has been consulted on their boards decision to refuse to join the party.
I take some comfort from the EKC statement that; “the door is always open for them to rejoin at any time”, and urge the EKF board to reconsider. Not all English karateka wish to compete, but all English karateka deserve the dignity of recognition and support of the national sporting Governing Body.
By Martyn Skipper