The history of our group is linked to Harada Sensei's arrival in
Europe and more particularly in France in 1963.
He first taught for a short while in various dojos, mainly in Paris. After some rather unpleasant events, quite typical of the kind of jealousy which abounds in the world of karate, events which are related in his memoirs ( Reminiscences by Master Mitsusuke Harada ), he had to leave France less than a year after his arrival.
After staying in Belgium for some time he finally settled in Great Britain and from there travelled through the rest of Europe.
However, some French karateka had already decided to continue working with him and kept in touch joining the British courses till the days when it was again possible for Harada Sensei to come back to France and teach in the late sixties.
At the time karate was enjoying an unprecedented boom, partly due, as it sometimes happens, to a trend in films which of course brought a mixture of good and bad. There was great potential for financial and social gains to be obtained in the official circles and greed quickly took over while practice and hard work often took second place.
This explains why at one time Harada Sensei was compelled to dismiss a certain number of his early pupils who most obviously were using him and what he represented for their own social and financial profit. Strangely, their individual technical capabilities as well as their understanding of our activity were usually as reduced as their greed for money, honours, grades and official functions was great.
So in 1972 our group found new peace and was able to start again on a sounder basis, and subsequently developed in an atmosphere of hard work and personal involvement, never trying to join the hunt for customers, for our aim was to preserve our freedom of practice and working methods. Such an attitude was of course helped by the fact that none of our instructors made money from their teaching.
Since then, and without any break, we have regularly met for courses under the technical leadership of Harada Sensei, analysing, questioning our methods, and building up a pedagogy based on physical and physiological realitites without getting lost in the pseudo-oriental and metaphysical muddle which is so frequent in karate and many other martial arts.
It will be obvious to any serious pupil that it is not enough to have joined a course, or several for that matter, twenty or thirty years ago, to claim that one is competent in Harada Sensei's method of teaching, or to pretend to be his or her pupil - Unfortunately, many of that kind crop up everywhere !
Our group's real instructors and executives have to reassess regularly their capabilities and prove their technical as well as teaching abilities ; in a word, to follow the inevitable evolution of teaching methods which cannot afford to be content with established ways. Those who pretend to know everything and never prove anything are but crooks, characters who take advantege of school names and claim masters just to hide their own incompetence.
The list of black belts and instructors who are really recommended by Harada Sensei is updated regularly, and a photo that was taken next to the master at the end of a course has never been a proof of anything. Like all other arts, karate is a long-term process which cannot tolerate cupidity and cheating. There are no short-cuts, no secret tricks.
Ours is a lifetime engagement, and this is the price to be paid if one is to improve and enjoy practising a fascinating activity. Such an attitude may make us a marginal group, but it expresses our collective as well as our individual freedom.
KARATE DO SHOTKAI - France. is linked to the other KDS branches throughout Europe and elsewhere. It is a trademark as well.