THE South Glamorgan Karate-do Shotokai celebrates its 40th year since conception back in 1974.

Over the years many locals from Penarth and the surrounding area, have benefited from the clubs top quality coaching and from the strong social bonds forged between members.

The founder of the club was Alan Jones, was inspired to form a locally based martial arts club and the spread the Shotokai way after seeing the organisations founder, the highly regarded Master Mitsusuke Harada in action. Master Harada had pioneered Karate in Brazil, before arriving in Britain in 1963. He was the first Japanese Karate instructor to reside in the UK and by 1966 he had formed the Karate-do Shotokai (KDS).

Alan’s original club began at the Commodore Club on the Pier. During the 40 years in existence, numerous budding Karate students have trained with the club as it has moved venues. The old and new gyms at Stanwell School, Penarth Leisure Centre, Dinas Powys Community Hall and Westbourne House are but a few of the venues that have housed the club over the years. In that time the club has touched the lives of numerous locals. Many of whom, still keep in touch even though they may have moved on or retired.

As result his excellent coaching and drive to develop the club, Alan’s legacy has spread far and wide, benefiting the KDS organisation immensely. Some major KDS names such as Roy Margetts 5th Dan and Ian Mackenzie 4th Dan have a major input into the development of the KDS both nationally and internationally, whilst 3rd Dan Stephen Court teaches at a national level.

Alan stills trains with club each Monday despite old injuries which have tried unsuccessfully, to slow him down. These days Alan mixes Karate with Tai Chi which has developed into another passion for him in recent years.

The present club instructor is Jonathan de’ Claire 4th Dan. Jonathan was hooked by the Karate bug after noticing the club training as he left Penarth Youth Club in Stanwell School as a 14 year old, back in 1976. He was immediately struck by the energy and enthusiasm of the classes and decided to join Alan at the club as one of his budding martial arts students. Today as a highly regarded 4th Dan, Jonathan has coached the length and breadth of Britain and accompanied Master Harada on several overseas courses to assist the Masters deliverance of his method of Karate. Some of the countries Jonathan has taught Karate in are Japan, USA, Portugal, Spain, Estonia and France. All this occurred because he had joined Alan at the Karate club in 1976. The opportunities that have come about as a result being a member of the KDS have shaped Jonathan’s life in more ways than just the physical health elements.

Karate has led Jonathan into several avenues. He was the administrator for the organisation for several years. Through his interest in teaching Karate, Jonathan retrained and redirected his career from construction into teaching. After completing a Science degree and then a Post Graduate Certificate in Education he joined Headlands School where he has taught for the past 12 years. It is at Headlands where the Seniors and Cadets of the club presently train at their gymnasium. Most importantly, Jonathan values the friendships he has made near and far through his association with the KDS and the Penarth Club.

The late Peter Jackson also helped the Penarth Club immensely by forming the junior section around 12 years ago. Peter was quite extraordinary in that he didn’t begin training until the age of 60 and was a 1st Dan Blackbelt by 65. At an age when most people are looking forward to retirement, he was looking to broaden his horizons. Peter became good friends with Master Harada and the pair of golden oldies would often swap stories of their lives over a Guiness. Peter’s legacy, the junior club, continues to thrive under the guidance of Jonathan and two 1st Dans who give up their time to add their experience each week. One of these, Gail de’ Claire has been with the club for 19 years and more recently, Dan Lindfield has added his support to helping the juniors develop. Many of the older juniors have progressed into highly skilled cadets training at the senior club, wearing hard earned black-belts or on the cusp of reaching this special level of achievement. Some use their learning at the club towards GCSE Physical Education or Duke of Edinburgh qualifications.

This year, the 40th anniversary year, the club is going to hold a number of events to consolidate its status in Penarth, so keep your eyes peeled. To begin, there will be a six week newcomers Karate and Self-Defence course starting, to introduce new members into the club (see advert). Both Alan and Jonathan, along with the clubs members would also like to catch up with old members who are interested in renewing old memories and acquaintances on a social night out. If either of these interests you contact Jonathan on Mob: 07875-430001 or e-mail: We look forward to hearing from you on this special year for the South Glamorgan Karate-do Shotokai.