Master Mitsusuke Harada: MBE Interview
Interview by Jonathan de’ Claire
JDC Harada Sensei, firstly, I wanted to congratulate you on being awarded the Member of the British Empire for Services to Karate.
MH Thank you very much. This is a great honour for me, it was also total surprise! My people kept it a secret that this had been applied for and the first I knew of it was when I received a very official looking envelope. It was a complete shock!
JDC How do you feel about being recognised for your services to Karate in the UK?
MH Well……firstly I am very proud. I never dreamed this would be possible. I think I am the first Japanese Martial Arts Master to be awarded the MBE. I am also very happy because I did it whilst following my own way. To think that I have been teaching Karate outside of Japan for over 50 years, I would never have believed it if I had been told that this was my future. I am truly very lucky I think. Through the medium of Karate I have travelled the world, met many people and experienced a whole variety of cultures that, otherwise, would not have been possible had I remained in banking I think. Most importantly, I have made many, many acquaintances some of whom are good and trusted friends who believe in me, this is why I am truly a lucky man!
JDC Harada Sensei, you decided to go your own very early on after arriving in the UK. Why did you decide to take this difficult path?
MH Very soon after arriving in Britain I left the British Budo Council to form the Karate-do Shotokai (KDS). In this way I could avoid any politics and not be influenced by the problems of others. I was free to just develop my practice and that of the KDS as I felt was necessary. So to evolve in this way and then be recognised as giving service to Karate has further confirmed to me, that my path was the right one to follow.
JDC Your people must be very proud of you receiving this great honour?
MH I am also very happy that through me being recognised with an MBE, my people are being recognised too. It is them who are the real recipients of this award and I am extremely grateful to them for what they have given me over the years. If it wasn’t for my groups loyalty and commitment to my beliefs this would not be possible at all. So once again, I would like to thank them for what they have helped me to achieve in my life.
I feel that my recognition is also a great honour for Karate generally. All of our paths are linked from the history past.
On the day I received the award, I was only permitted to take three guests with me. They were all from my 5th dan group and long term friends also, Marie Kellett and Bernard and Gladys Mathieu. I attired myself in a special suit for this auspicious occasion at Buckingham Palace. I really enjoyed the day and receiving my award from the Queen. It is a day that I won’t forget and am very proud to have been honoured in this way and there were good friends to share it with me also.
JDC Recently, you featured on the BBC, what could you tell the readers about this appearance?
MH As you know, I was approached when the BBC learnt of my receiving an MBE. I was featured in the Welsh newspapers alongside Ryan Giggs and others when the honours list was released. The BBC came to my house and interviewed me and some of my people also. They also took footage in my dojo and at the KDS Summer School in Canterbury this year.
It was very funny, they televised this on the Welsh news as a precursor to the Wales vs. Japan encounter at the recent Rugby World Cup. There I was pledging my support for Wales. I had to, it is my home and the Welsh have supported me and so it is natural that I must support them in return. This is human relationship, it should be a 50/50 interaction. I am an honoury Welshman!
Anyway, the interview and the footage were very well produced. I was very happy with this being put onto national television and being able to show Karate in a positive light.