The many great benefits which Karate brings to all its practitioners have the potential to be experienced by a much larger number of young people and adults. But there currently exist significant barriers to this:
· There is no unified clear and consistent voice to represent, explain, promote and advertise the benefits of karate generally in all its forms, both as a sport and martial art.
· There is a consequent lack of understanding of karate by the public, and also by key opinion formers and decision makers involved in sport.
· Karate is therefore seen as being outside the mainstream of sport and physical activity.
· There is no Sport England recognised National Governing Body for Karate; hence no access to public funding to help Karate.
Karate needs a Governing Body, recognised by Sport England, that will:-
· Promote Karate to sports bodies, government and the media
· Encourage more participation and provide a code of practice for all clubs and associations to assure schools, local authorities and the public that all members of the Governing Body will provide quality Karate instruction
· Be a “light touch” Governing Body that will lead, not dictate, or in any way prevent or interfere with Karateka training and/or competing with one another
· Be served primarily by volunteers who give their time for the good of Karate, thereby precluding personal conflicts of interest caused by financial vested interests – keeping costs down in the process
· Not allow World Karate Federation or any other rules to interfere with the proper development of Karate in England
· Enable Karate to apply for Sports Lottery funding
Karate is the most popular martial art with participation rates higher than Taekwondo and nearly three times more than Judo. Sport England’s Active People Survey which is the national benchmark for sports participation, give the number of adults (people over 16) practicing as nearly 80,000. Given that many clubs have a large junior membership we could conservatively estimate the total number of Karateka in England at over 150,000. This is really important and illustrates the inherent strength of karate as a sport and physical activity. However, Karate – unlike Judo and Taekwondo – has not received any Sport England or UK Sport funding for 5 years. The current Whole Sport Plan approved for Judo for example attracts an investment of £5m over the 3 year plan period. I am confident that karate has the potential to grow significantly, given the impetus from a Sport England recognised NGB.
Sport England have set out a number of criteria which must be satisfied before a National Governing Body can achieve recognition. Most of these criteria can be met by the current bodies, i.e. Karate England and the English Karate Federation; but there is a major stumbling block. That is the ‘uniqueness’ criteria. Sport England require that a Karate NGB must represent at least 75% of those practising karate in England. This requirement cannot be satisfied so long as karate is divided in this country. Why is Karate divided?
As many of you will be aware, the former Governing Body, Karate England 2005 had all Sport England funding suspended in August 2006 following concerns expressed by their financial officer. This resulted in the trading arm of the Governing Body becoming insolvent and despite strenuous rescue efforts, it went into administration the following year. A great deal of recrimination and soul searching followed and throughout 2007, attempts were made to re-establish a united Governing Body for Karate. Indeed in February 2008, a meeting was convened by Sport England at their London offices to which representatives of two of the main Karate groups were invited.
These groups were, and are, Karate England (which at that time included NAKMAS) and the English Karate Federation. A proposal to create a small working group, supported by Sport England was agreed by all present. This working group was to create a unifying agenda for Karate in England leading to a new unified Governing Body which could be recognised by Sport England. However, following the meeting, the Vice President of the English Karate Federation, Mr Dinsdale, wrote to Jennie Price Chief Executive, complaining about the process and the initiative stalled.
At the instigation of Karate England a further meeting was held by Sport England at their offices in London on 26th November 2010. This meeting was attended by John Bell, Abdu Shaher, Molly Samuel-Leport, Noel Mantock and Bob Poynton representing Karate England, Carl Lindley, representing the English Karate Federation (EKF) and Mike Dinsdale representing the World Karate Federation (WKF). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a way forward following unsuccessful individual applications from Karate England and the EKF to Sport England for recognition as the single National Governing Body for Karate in England.
Agreement was quickly reached on the main benefits of unification such as presentation of a united front to sports bodies, local authorities and the media, shared expertise on coaching and minimum standards and codes of practice. However it was made clear by Carl Lindley that, from the EKF point of view, any merger of the two governing bodies would require all KE Member Associations to agree to abide by WKF Rule 21.9. We asserted that this Rule was divisive and unfair and was holding back Karate in this country. Furthermore, the EKF has historically not applied the Rule consistently and we gave examples of where some EKF members had been sanctioned for infractions and others had not. Sport England had offered to host a follow-up meeting this month but EKF ignored this opportunity; Sport England have offered a further meeting next month but the EKF have again not responded.
We feel that it is time to unite Karate in England and to realise the benefits of having a true ‘sport-for-all’ spirited Sport England-recognised body where all Karate practitioners are welcome. The Board of Karate England invites all like-minded colleagues to support the campaign for co-operative all-inclusive-type unification by making their views known and help to set Karate on the right road for the future.
**STOP PRESS: the Chief Executive of the Sport & Recreation Alliance (was CCPR) has invited all of their Karate Member Organisations* to a meeting to discuss unification.
Karate England Board May 2011
*English Karate Federation; FEKO; Karate England; NAKMAS
** This meeting is due this friday 28 October 2011 and we will give a full report following that meeting.