Clondalkin Grandmaster John (80) is still getting his kicks

By Maurice Garvey

THE grandmaster of Clondalkin John McGrane celebrated a unique 80th birthday on July 15 – picking up a lifetime karate award and enjoying a free dinner in the Laurels.

John, a resident in St John’s Crescent, is one of the best known names in Irish martial arts – a career spanned 50 years, earning black belts in many disciplines.

John McGrane collage July 2016

Only last June, John received his Kaicho 10th degree black belt in the Black Dragon.

John received his lifetime award from the Irish National Shotokan Karate Association in conjunction with Shotokan Clondalkin.

“I was over the moon,” said John, who has now retired but “still well able” and involved with his local Shotokan club in Clondalkin Leisure Centre, delivering seminars and advice.

He continued: “It blew me away. Stephen Hughes, a fantastic instructor from the Clondalkin club was there, and Peter Boyle, Grandmaster Kenpo and President of Onakai. They brought me out to dinner in Laurels.”

John began his karate career in England in 1969, motivated to do so after seeing the threat of violence on the street.

John continued: “I thought to myself ‘I’m not having any of this’ so I joined up to do Ju-Jitsu. There was only two belts back then – white and black. To get black you had to be extremely good. I was with them for seven years, all the degrees came from Japan, and we were linked with the Red Triangle in Liverpool.”

Upon his return to Ireland, John spent time with brother Tommy at his Oriental Martial Arts Academy.

Tommy, Chief Instructor Karate Union of Ireland, passed away in 2015.

He continued: “Tommy was the main man – a brilliant instructor. We were only trained by Japanese, that’s why we could go on and be champions. He was loyal to the Japanese, whereas I tried different disciples. But he was as good as any Japanese.”

John trained the Irish team to a clean sweep at the World Police Games in Vancouver in 1988.

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