Lothar Lee (Australia)
Lothar Lee (AKA Lothar Wolfgang Etienne) was a Shotokan karate instructor operating in Australia in Townsville, Queensland.
He was reported by his students to their governing body because of their concerns for their safety, and doubt over his claimed grade. What starts out as a disgruntled student railing against a small-town instructor ends up with a confrontation on national television.
Lee’s claims were as follows:
- He claimed that he was a Godan (5th dan) with the Japanese karate Association.
- He claimed that he had studied in Tokyo.
- He claimed that he was insured and licenced through SKIA (Shotokan Karate International Australia) & SKIF (the international governing federation).
The accusations against him were:
- He wasn’t a Godan.
- His school wasn’t insured and recognised by any national/international organisation.
- He was charging for membership and gradings, but the money was not being forwarded to the SKIA.
- He was using SKIA and SKIF material in his advertising without authorisation.
Bullshido Greets Accuser With Customary Skepticism
Bullshido member Kumite Junky [http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53206 introduced his concerns about Lothar Lee to a largely indifferent Bullshido in April of 2007.The thread seemed like a disgruntled student with an axe to grind, and evidence was asked for.
Bullshido member BloodMagus started the investigative Googling, turning up helpful links, but still there was nothing approaching proof.
The thread was dumped in Trollshido, pending further input from the thread-starter, interested parties, or Lee himself.
Days passed with some discussion about how to proceed, and Kumite Junky provided proof that Lee had used the SKIA/SKIF brand on his advertising material, and claimed this was done without their blessing.
Following up some information from Kumite Junky, Bullshido received an email from Mr Brian Cox, memberships officer for the SKIA and a Nandan with the SKIF. http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showpost.php?p=1413985&postcount=35
In reply to your inquiry.
Mr Lothar Lee is not currently registered as an Instructor with SKIA (Shotokan Karate International Australia) or SKIF (Shotokan Karate-do International Federation). He is, however, a current financial member of SKIA. The club at which he is teaching is not currently registered with SKIA or SKIF and he does not hold any Dan Grades registered with either organisation.SKIA Memberships Officer
If Mr Lee is, in fact, operating a Karate Club, he is doing it without the blessing or support of SKIA or SKIF. SKIA intends looking into the matter of Mr Lee and which organisations he claims to represent as a teacher of Karate-do.
In support of his application to join SKIA, in 2005, Mr Lee provided copies of both Yondan and Godan Certificates, clearly marked as being issued by the Japan Karate Association, which are certified by a Mr Peter Schroeder out of Hamburg Germany. The certificates were certified during the 1980's and cannot be verified, after inspection of the photocopies by SKIF Headquarters, in Japan, as actually being issued by Japan Karate Association Headquarters, in Japan. As a result of this, SKIF Headquarters would not be accepting the certificates without additional supporting documentation. As far as I am aware, Mr Lee has not provided any additional documents that would serve to support the Yondan and Godan Certificates he has presented.
That is as much information I am able to give you with regard to Mr Lothar Lee's status with SKIA or SKIF. I hope you find it helpful.
Brian Cox - Nandan SKIF
This proved a number of the accusations: Lee wasn’t insured, affiliated, or recognised as an instructor by the SKIA or SKIF, he was using their logos on his advertising materials illegally, and they didn’t recognise his dan grades.
The Search For Lothar Lee’s Sensei
Efforts were made to clarify the confusion over Lee’s grade, and an email was sent (translated into German by member Mr McFu ) to Horst Schroeder in Hamburg, Germany. Lee claimed to have received his Yondan and Godan from a Mr Peter Schroeder in Hamburg in the 80’s. No response was received to this email.
Bullshido member kohai revealed in this post http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showpost.php?p=1415832&postcount=37 they had come across Lee previously and brought up a number of interesting points, but was unable to provide evidence of these. The post is interesting as it alleges many of tried and tested Bullshidoka techniques; fake certificates which become lost, untraceable instructors, vague timelines etc.
Return To MABS And Evidence Testing
After the thread was deemed worthy of return to MABS, senior members Tom Kagan and It Is Fake inspected Kumite Junky’s evidence rigorously. This cross-examination was necessary to ensure the thread dealt only with facts, rather than conjecture.
Kumite Junky knew much more than he was able to prove, and was gagged to a degree because of the SKIA’s possible pending legal action over Lee’s actions.
A statement from the SKIA that was due in May eventually arrived in June:
I write to inform you that the above named, who was formerly the Instructor at the Townsville dojo, has recently been expelled as an SKIA member.
In short, he was found to have taken membership and grading money from some of his students and not remitted the same to SKIA in circumstances where it was obvious that he had no intention of doing so as these students were never registered with SKIA. He also purported to issue some students with grading certficates which he had clearly created and signed himself and which were not genuine SKIA certificates. He was also unable to establish to the satisfaction of the Executive that he held any properly registered or certified dan-rank within JKA.
He continues to use advertising materials containing representations of the SKI logos and suggesting he has a relationship with SKIF (Japan) which he does not hold. The Executive is undertaking action to have him cease to do so, but, so far he has ignored our requests.
As there is a Police investigation into his conduct, and, also since he has threatened both SKIA and one instructor, Bikram Ghosh, with defamation action, I urge all members and Instructors to use caution in their dealings (if any) with Lothar Lee.
Note, the ‘Above named’ was Lothar Lee.
With that email, most of Kumite Junky’s allegations were proved to be true.
The only thing that was still in the balance was Lee’s actually grade. No reply to the email to Hamburg had been received, and no-one could prove that the JKA certificates were fake.
The trail had gone cold.
National TV, Local Newspaper, And Japan
Kumite Junky – now revealed as Ross Lockhart – resurfaced in spectacular fashion.
Frustrated with the lack of progress on Bullshido, Ross took matters into his own hands and contacted a national consumer television show ‘A Current Affair’ http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/ .
They visited Lee’s dojo and confronted him with evidence of his lying to an undercover reporter, and showed him a letter from Kancho Kanazawa which states unequivocally that Lee was not affiliated with the SKIA or SKIF.
The video shows Lee attempting to remove the reporter and Ross Lockhart from his dojo, and shows an assessment of Lee’s karate technique from a qualified, accredited dan grade, Eddie Hofferman. Mr Hofferman has over 50 years experience in shotokan karate.
The video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&v=8IhEN5QBD8A
The letter from Kancho Kanazawa: http://www.bullshido.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/6562/size/big/cat/500/ppuser/16230
Lee complained to a local newspaper and was given the opportunity to defend the accusations over his credentials. http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2007/09/29/6970_hpnews.html
A TOWNSVILLE karate instructor has defended his credentials after being asked to prove he is qualified to teach martial arts.
Lothar Lee, who operates the Shotokan Karate International Federation North Queensland dojo, is being investigated by Townsville City Council and the sport's governing bodies.
Mr Lee teaches martial arts in the Railway Estate Community Centre, which is owned by the council.
It is unknown how long Mr Lee has been teaching karate in Townsville.
"The council has asked Mr Lee to provide evidence he has appropriate accreditation before he can continue to operate at the centre," a council spokesman said. "We have also asked him to remove any misleading advertising."
Two martial arts associations Mr Lee claims he has membership with, Shotokan Karate International and the Japanese Karate Association (JKA), have both said Mr Lee was not a current member.
But Mr Lee said he is a member, and all of his certification is in Japanese. The certificate he provided to the Townsville Bulletin was out of date. ``I have practised karate for 43 years," he said. "I'm a professional karate teacher from Tokyo. "I was graded in Tokyo and trained in Tokyo."
Mr Lee provided the Townsville Bulletin with a large amount of paperwork. These included several photographs of him attending international martial arts tournaments.
The national organisation responsible for accrediting karate instructors, the Australian Karate Federation (AFK) said it did not recognise Mr Lee as an instructor. AKF national coaching director Pam Smith, who was responsible for coach education and accreditation, confirmed Mr Lee was not accredited with her federation. "He's not at this stage," Ms Smith said. She revealed only in the past two weeks Mr Lee had enrolled in a three-month instructors' course.
SKIA secretary Tim Stephenson confirmed Mr Lee was not a current member of the association. "There is no way Mr Lee was ever a member of SKIA, let alone was he entitled to say that he was an instructor for SKIA," he said. Mr Stephenson said Mr Lee was also not a member of SKIA's parent organisation, the Shotokan Karate International Federation (SKIF). The association has repeatedly asked Mr Lee to cease using its name and logos, as they are registered trademarks.
The JKA also said Mr Lee was no longer a member. "I've gone to our headquarters and we've got no record of him," said JKA president John Russo. Mr Russo said he had been a member of JKA many years ago but was no longer.
Mr Lee received a National Sport Award from Townsville Mayor Tony Mooney for his achievements in karate, following a visit to Tokyo in 2006 to participate in the 9th annual SKIF world championships. The only certificate Mr Lee provided as evidence of his teaching qualifications was a printed certificate from SKIA, which was out of date.
Mr Lee's solicitor Byron Leong said last night his client wanted the opportunity to present `his side of the story' but neither Mr Leong nor Mr Lee contacted the Bulletin with further information before going to press last night.
An Interesting Addition
http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=60212 A thread was started in MABS by user Kanazawa, claiming to be lawyers representing Lee and demanding the site be taken down.
The thread was soon deported to YMAS, as the number of incorrect spelling and grammatical errors made it unlikely it had come from an actual law firm.
The fact that the user registered as ‘Kanazawa’ as opposed to their real name, or the name of their firm made it doubly suspicious.
Lothar Lee was not an SKIA/SKIF instructor, and was using their logos and trademarks illegally.
It was also confirmed that Lee had not passed on grading and registration fees.
Lothar Lee could not demonstrate skills associated with the grade he claimed.
Lothar Lee could not produce any satisfactory evidence of his grade.