About 40yrs ago I entered my first dojo, just to try this new fad, I stayed there for over 20yrs. English karate was so simple then, there were no politics or money involved just a group of people enjoying karate for what it is and more importantly along the way making long lasting friendships.
I actively encouraged my own children to join, they quickly became far better than me, they entered competitions, we travelled the country training with a whole host of instructors from a variety of backgrounds and from different associations. This was never a problem and I believe this experience made my children far better karateka and just as I did years before they made friends with others from across England.
If we believe all that has been reported these past few years, and from conversations I have had with others it's easy to conclude karate here in England is more divided than at any time in its' history and perhaps the time has come for those in charge to take a long look in the mirror, just when are you going to make some attempt to unite this great sport, or is there an underlying reason as to why you do not want this unification.
In the last couple of days I have done some reading, searched a number of web-sites, made a few phone calls and sent out some e-mails to try to find out some of the background to todays problems, I was actually quite shocked at the number of people who seemed to know the problem but were afraid to speak out for fear of retribution, is this really what English karate has become.
I read through the EKF Articles, ie the rules they abide by or should I correct this by saying the rules they are supposed to abide by, this would be a far more accurate view. It would be a good exercise for all your readers to do they would find it enlightening but as I did quite disturbing.
An interesting Article is Art 8 which mentions "compliance with principles set forth in the Olympic Charter", there are several references to this Charter, but I wonder if your readers have ever read the Olympic Charter For any reader wishing to it's easily found in Google.
Consider this, members of the EKF have been beaten into submission by a rule which almost everybody I have spoken with or contacted believes is immoral or unworkable plus a few adjectives I dare not repeat, that rule, if you haven't guessed is Rule 21.9 which stops all members from having sporting relations with, as described by the WKF, "dissident groups", to you and me not a member. I was shocked to hear of the 'punishments' dished out by the EKF Board for not complying with this rule.
So how does this rule fit in with the EKF philosophy of complying with the Olympic Charter, simple it doesn't. The Charter states quite clearly " The practise of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play." The Charter goes on to say "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement".
It seems for a number of years people have been encouraged to join the EKF because the WKF is the only body recognised by the IOC, I am starting to think that recognition is for the wrong reason as Rule 21.9 flies in the face of the Olympic ideals, this means there is absolutely no chance of karate being an Olympic sport until there is a major change of attitude and direction from those in charge. The Advertising Standards Agency needs to be made aware of the mis-selling of karate.
It's interesting the new board were elected just last week, or should that be a re-cycled board as there appears to be one 'new' face, worryingly the re-election of all of these people means the status quo remains and there is unlikely to be any change of policy or of direction whatsoever.
I would like to finish by pointing out exactly what I believe is wrong with the EKF, and this board has to take full responsibility and should for the integrity of the EKF come clean and explain their actions of the past couple of years, especially the figure head of the board, the President, who with his back-ground should be a man beyond all reproach.
Going back to the Articles..... Art 16.1 "Member Associations, and individual persons, affiliated to the EKF shall undertake to comply with Statutory Norms, Rules and Regulations and all provisions issued by the EKF Board"
Art 44.3 "The Member Associations are responsible before the EKF of the actions of the associations, clubs and individuals that belong to them, as well as of the compliance of all of their components within the Statutes of the EKF"
Art 44.9 "Member Associations and their members are prohibited from having sporting relationships with these dissenting organisations, and with organisations not recognised by the EKF, nor with an association of the EKF which Member Association is suspended" (Olympic Charter?)
Keeping these Articles in mind let me look at an issue which has the President right at its heart and the reason I have picked him out as at fault.
At last years AGM the President, as he is required to do, made his address to the Members and in his report he said this "The EKF has, over the past year, been in conflict with some of its members and some heads of associations over issues like Child Protection and WKF rules. This is not pleasant for anyone but I suppose it is part of the collective learning that we all have to achieve. This is neither personal nor unfair, since the standards the Board sets must be the bench-mark for all of us"
There it is straight from the President, the Board is the bench-mark for all of us.
He further went on, and this is really where the personal and unfair raises its head as well as setting the poor bench-mark for all of us, " My Vice-President, Mike Dinsdale, whose hard work and dedication has led to much of our success, has felt it necessary to resign after a breach of rules by one of his students. I regrettably accepted his decision"
I have been sent copies of exactly what happened in this instance and I find the Presidents report on this to be slightly misleading. He said "resigned after a breach of rules by ONE of his students". The actual number of students was 17, all from the same club in the North East, not one student. What was the outcome of this Associations breach of Rule 21.9, absolutely nothing whatsoever, they were 'let off'.
What is also interesting about this Association at that time is they only declared 17 members for registration to the EKF, which means one of two things, either it was the whole of this Association or its head withheld member numbers from the EKF to reduce their costs. What makes this even worse for both the Association and the President can be found in his 2009 report to the AGM, whilst discussing recognition by Sport England the President said this "It is imperative that all karateka are licensed by their associations, otherwise we cannot verify our exact members in our negotiations with Sport England and we are starved of the funding necessary to provide all the services we are trying to deliver to our members".
The question has to be were 17 the total number of this association therefore the whole association was in breach of Rule 21.9 or did the head of the association deliberately withhold member numbers from the EKF, do not forget the head of this association was the Vice-President and the WKF Rep, how can this behaviour and his actions be simply ignored, remember the Board are the bench-mark for standards.
If we move this on just one year we get a sense of deja vu. The very same club, the very same association did exactly the same thing again and the outcome seems to be exactly the same, there cannot be much more room under the carpet.
This association entered a competition, the EKA Championships, published their attendance and the same as the previous year quickly removed the information from their own web-site. How can our 'bench-mark' board ignore this, again, the members, especially those who have been the victims of the disciplinary procedure for the same offence deserve a full, detailed explanation or an apology and their memberships re-instated or any fines re-paid.
There was a suggestion the organiser of the EKA Championships mislead people that it was alright to enter this competition, but there are two main reasons as to why this does not hold water. Firstly, in March 2010 the EKF put out a statement on its own web-site, it says "The Board of the EKF do not recognise the EKA as it is not a member of the EKF, it therefore follows that the EKF does not recognise the forthcoming EKA Championships". "The EKA Championships is therefore NOT an EKF authorised event and the advice from the EKF Board is NOT to have sporting relations with non-EKF members"
This statement is explicit enough to members that they cannot attend the EKA events, especially as it came directly from the Board and if I'm not mistaken the Vice-President is an integral part of the Board, or he was at that time. I have also read the entry forms for this event and they too are crystal clear, this was an event open to anyone and everyone without karate politics involved, if this wasn't clear enough it also stated they would be held under WUKF rules....mislead, really.
In a letter here on your web-site early last year about the Malta event I also read a quote from the Vice-President, he made it quite clear it was the EKF license holders responsibility to ensure any competition was EKF approved, no excuses. But what we can see here is his own Association completely ignored the rule and entered the events without any repercussions or even a thought of disciplinary action from his fellow board members......this is the bench-mark?
One final quote from the President, this comes from a letter he sent to all heads of associations back in December of 2009. This statement is very much the reason why I have singled him out, and he must answer to the membership for his actions (or non-actions), more importantly he must implement the rules and regulations he clearly defends time and again in his words and statements.
He said this "We have no choice but to uphold the rules of the WKF and the Board has a duty to our members to that end. The argument that another country does not apply the rules so strictly is like telling a police officer who has stopped you for drink-driving that they always let you off for the same offence when you drive in Bolivia or Uganda"
Interesting analogy, as here we have a police officer letting one of his friends off for drink-driving on two occasions. Mr President you have no choice but to uphold the rules, as you said you are the bench-mark for standards, if you cannot or will not uphold the rules then perhaps you should consider your position, it would be untenable.
My apologies,Editor, for going on but this is such an important time for all of English karate, I notice the National Squad failed to produce the goods, not for the first time recently, at a major event. I am absolutely convinced this is because of the divided English karate, far too many of the best competitors are now in alternative organisations.
What is so needed is a coming together of our associations under one banner, hopefully one without the obvious hypocrisy and duplicity.