Written and composed by John Casserly
Sensei John McGrane started his martial arts career almost 50 years ago, when in 1967 he began training in various styles in the Greater Manchester area in the United Kingdom. John became a member of the Martial Arts Commission of Great Britain and began training in styles such as Jiu~jitsu and Kung Fu amongst others.
On his return to Dublin in 1969, John began looking at the martial arts landscape in Ireland. He tested the waters, training in Kenpo, Wado and Shotokan which were all gaining notoriety in the country at the time in various clubs around the Dublin region. It was in 1974 when John joined Church St. Shotokan Club that he really began dedicating himself to the martial arts. The standard of the club absolutely blew him away and it was as this point that he wanted to build a career in the martial arts. In the years that followed John was graded in Shotokan by renowned names such as Eonada, Kato, Tomita, Pointon and Sherry. In his early days, John also had the pleasure of training in Kenpo with Tommy Jordan and Peter Coyle, both marvellous instructors also. After gaining experience and grades to his name, John then embarked on opening his own karate club in the early 80’s, The Red Dragon Karate Club of Whitehall. In his time here, John produced European and World champions whilst also continuing to build on his own knowledge, training in various styles himself. Dans in the Karate Union of Ireland, the JKA and a Masters in Muay Thai all followed. John also had the pleasure to train with the world renowned Thomas D. St. Charles in the Chinese Okinawan Kempo Association and with close friend and first class instructor, Professor George Canning in Mugendo.
Once again striving to improve and grow, John started his own association, the Oriental Martial Arts Academy (OMAA). Within this academy, John once again produced European and World champions. The club also spawned many future world class instructors who are now passing on John’s great wealth of knowledge. One of John’s proudest moments came when he was chosen to train the Irish Police Force in Templemore and the Phoenix Park. John personally trained 5 members of the force in Kumite who then went on to represent An Garda Siochana at the World Police Games in Vancoover in 1988. The team went on to win a bronze, silver and a gold medal at the games. On the team’s triumphant return, John was awarded a medal from An Garda Siochana for his fine work.
John has also spread his wealth of knowledge even further afield, taking a team of fighters all the way to Thailand in the late nineties with good friend Sensei Brendan Donnelly. On the 28‘” June 1997, John was awarded a 10‘” Degree Black Belt from the Technical Committee of the OMAA After 30 years active in the Martial Arts, to be awarded such an honour in the Martial Arts was a truly outstanding moment in John’s career and life as a whole. Even in the twilight of his career John has continued to attempt to grow his repertoire in the arts gaining experience with the Famous High Street Kempo Club and working with fabulous instructors such as GM Maurice Manhon, GM Shay Paget and GM Barney Coleman. Going back to the High Street club where he once attended an association meeting almost 50 years previously was very special for John as he was able to reflect on his fine career in the arts and go almost full circle
Other more recent experiences include involvement with the Dragheda Martial Arts Club, ran by close friend, Sensei Michael Donnelly and the Belmullet Mayo Karate Club, ran by the Mills family, Sensei John Mills and Shihan Geraldine Mills.
Recently turning 80 years of age (July 2016) and with a career in the Martial Arts spanning nearly 50 years, the Irish National Shotokan Karate Association have chosen to award John with a Lifetime Achievement award. To receive such a prestigious award from his peers was an absolute honour for John and he can look back at a fantastic career in the Martial Arts spanning a half century with pride. Along the way he has made some wonderful friends here and abroad and John would like to take this time to tank each and every one of them for all their help and admiration they have shown him throughout his career.