Photos: David Peabody
There is a strong affinity between the
philosophy of Shotokan Karate and
Freemasonry, and this led to the formation
in 2002 of the Shotokan Karate Lodge No.
9752, which is made up predominantly –
but not exclusively – of brethren with
a past or present interest in martial arts.
The principles and tenets of the Craft
ever bear a near affinity to those practised
by instructors and students of Shotokan
Karate in their dojos – martial arts training
centres – and their daily lives.
If ever there was a physical and spiritual
activity in total harmony with the objectives
of Freemasonry, then it is surely Shotokan
Karate. Both Art and Craft have been
enriched by the formation of the Lodge
which, by its very nature, ensures that
brotherly love, relief and truth are practised
daily beyond the temple door, and in ways
that bring credit to the movement, the
Lodge and its members.
Forming the Lodge, which meets at
Freemasons’ Hall in London, was the
original idea of Michael Randall, the first
Master, Anthony Kirby and John Green,
its secretary. Michael Randall studied under
Dr Vernon Bell, who introduced the art into
Britain in 1956, and was among the first in
the UK to be graded to black belt under the
Japan Karate Association. He represented
Great Britain in kumite (sparring) in 1970.
In 1976 he was British team coach for
the Shotokan Karate international team that
visited Japan. In 2003 he was awarded the
MBE for services to karate. At 8th Dan
he is Europe’s top non-Japanese Shotokan
Karate sensei – Master.
Other members who are leading martial
arts exponents include Mick Dinsdale,
general secretary of the English Karate
Governing Body (EKGB) for many years
and European individual silver medallist
(open weight) in 1977, while Mick Billman
currently serves on the EKGB. Anthony
Kirby has published books on the art,
and along with Gursharan Sahota and
Dave Clark, they are all Shotokan Karate
Masters who have competed at world
or European levels.
Gursharan Sahota was originally from
Kenya, but has lived in Bedford since he was
12. He opened his first club in the Luton-
Dunstable area in 1981 and in 1993 formed
his own organisation TISKA – the
Traditional International Shotokan Karate
Association. He now has a wide network
of clubs throughout Britain and in many
other parts of the world.
Overseas members come from Greece,
Brazil, Bermuda, Lebanon, Barbados and
the United States, and include Jouk Barakat,
the former Lebanese judo champion.
Dave Clarke has represented Barbados
in international competitions and is an
international judge. In addition, several
members – such as Mick Billman – are,
or have been, part of the security teams
of royalty, foreign dignitaries and pop
and sporting celebrities.
Membership of the Lodge is drawn from
all over the UK and abroad. In the short
time since its formation, the Lodge has
already conducted 13 initiations, with nine
more candidates waiting to join and has
attracted a further eight joining members.
To make meetings more interesting, a
Lodge innovation is that during ceremonies
candidates are dressed in a white karate suit –
known as a gi – and wear a white belt.
So how did the words “Shotokan
Karate” come about? Shotokan is made up
of two words – shoto – the pseudonym of
Okinawa teacher Master Gichin Funakoshi,
who introduced the ancient oriental art to
Japan in 1922 – and kan – which means
“hall”. The literal translation is therefore
“Hall of Shoto”.
Shoto means “pine waves” and Funakoshi
chose this name because the rustle of pine
leaves at night under the starlit heaven after
training alerted him to the deeper, more
spiritual aspects of nature, life and “The Way”
of karate. Karate is formed by joining two
Japanese words – kara – which means
“empty” and te – meaning “hand”. Karate is
therefore simply translated as “empty-hands”.
Further information about the Lodge
can be obtained from its website at
from the secretary, John Green, 268
Carterhatch lane, Enfield, Middlesex EN1
4BG. T. 020 8482 4359 or email:
Paul Hooley MBE is a member of
Shotokan Karate Lodge No. 9752
Web site created by Mark Griffin