Robert Heale Mason
Shihan Robert Mason has been involved with martial arts and martial sports since 1962. Additionally, he has a strong academic background having graduated with honors in Developmental Psychology and worked in both the clinical and academic fields on a post graduate level. During the 1970's while training in karate in England he became associated with the Professional Karate Association through his instructor George Sfetas, who at that time was the President of the European Branch of the PKA (Professional Karate Association). Following his move to the United States in 1979, Mr. Mason immediately began to work with professional karate athletes in the USA. He did return to England in 1981 as a judge for the London Superfights, a major British event involving many British and European titles. In 1982, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Mr. Mason promoted his first televised event for ESPN, featuring a European team against a US team. Later that same year Mr. Mason promoted a second major event, also in Fort Lauderdale, with four state title fights as a quadruple main event. Once again ESPN televised the show nationally.
Mr. Mason is the President of the American International Karate Institute, and has taught classes in Plantation since 1980 for AIKI. Shihan Mason is President of the University Karate Center, a Martial Arts facility he founded in 1982 in Plantation, Florida. The school has a current enrollment of over three hundred students. Mr. Mason is the Chief instructor in the USA for the Mugendo™ kickboxing system and has graduated over one hundred Black Belt students. His expertise has extended to include all aspects of Martial Arts and Martial Sports, from teaching and administration, to promotion of events, training officials, writing rules and compiling ratings. Mr. Mason was the Director of Ratings for the Florida Affiliation of Martial Arts Events (FAME) from 1986 until 1998. He also served five terms as the FAME President. FAME sanctioned up to twenty sport karate events a year in Florida, and was considered to be one of the best run open martial arts associations in the USA. FAME stopped sanctioning events in 1999.
Educated at Holbrook School in Suffolk, England, Mr. Mason graduated in 1966. Following completion of advanced level studies in English Literature and History at Medway College in Kent, he moved to London in 1968, where he worked as the Assistant Production Manager for a major textiles company. Seeking a change of career, he moved on to attain an Honors Degree in Developmental Psychology from the University of Sussex. He trained as a Post Graduate in Clinical Psychology at St. Francis Hospital and Collwood School in Haywards Heath. Prior to moving to Florida, Mr. Mason lectured in General, Social and Developmental Psychology, Statistics and Experimental Design at Eastbourne College in Sussex, England. Upon first moving to the USA in 1979, Mr. Mason worked as a therapist and deputy team leader for the South County Mental Health Center in Delray Beach, Florida. In 1981 he decided to focus his attention on Martial Arts and has worked in psychology only on a limited consulting basis since that time.
At present, Mr. Mason remains involved in martial sports as Chairman of the Board of the International Sport Karate Association (ISKA), and International Commissioner for the ISKA, the foremost worldwide sanctioning body for Sport Karate, Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts. He continues to evolve programs to develop martial arts as a personal growth medium for both adults and children. This interest motivated him to found the American International Karate Institute in 1980 and the University Karate Center in 1982, and remains the primary reason for his involvement in martial arts as an instructor.
Article from Action Martial Arts Magazine
If you watch ISKA Kickboxing on ESPN you probably recognize him right away as one the gentlemen who presents the winner his belt. Shihan Robert Heale Mason has been involved with ESPN since 1982, and currently serves as the ISKA’s International Commissioner for Kickboxing and Chairman of the Board. But these are only a few of the activities for this English karate master.
Mason owns the University Karate Center in Plantation, Florida where he keeps a hectic teaching schedule that includes karate, kickboxing, self-defense and fitness kickboxing, as well as chairing the American International Karate Institute. MASON was Director of Ratings for FAME (the Florida Affiliation of Martial Arts Events) from 1986 until 1998 and served five terms as President. He has been instrumental in establishing rules, compiling ratings and training officials for sport karate events ever since he stepped on American soil in 1979.
As a youngster in England though, MASON was not really looking to the martial arts as a career goal. He just wanted to fight. He described himself then as “small for my age” and took to fighting as early as nursery school much to the dismay of his teachers. He says rather reluctantly. “I really liked to fight and usually beat up the other kids”. His uncle, who was involved in one of the first martial arts schools in England, began trying to steer his nephew in the right direction, teaching him some much needed discipline along with proper technique. When MASON entered the RHS Naval Academy he took up boxing as well.
In 1966 he graduated from Holbrook School in Suffolk, England, completing advanced studies in English Literature and History at Medway College in Kent in 1968. After a brief stint as assistant production manager for a textiles company, MASON entered the University of Sussex and began studying Developmental Psychology where he earned an Honors Degree. He did post graduate work in Clinical Psychology. Before coming to the United States, Professor Mason lectured in General, Social and Developmental Psychology, and Statistics and Experimental Design at Eastbourne College in Sussex.
MASON still continued his martial arts and began training under Japanese stylists TATSUO SUZUKI (Wado Ryu) and MEIJI SUZUKI (co-founder of the Mugendo system) in London in 1969. MEIJI was a Judo champion in his youth and also trained with HIRONORI OHTSUKA (founder of Wado Ryu). OHTSUKA, a Grandmaster in Aiki-Juijitsu, also studied Okinawan Karate as one of Gitchen Funakoshi’s first students in Japan. His style of Wado Ryu is a compilation of both Aiki-Juijitsu and Okinawan Karate. So, of course, MEIJI SUZUKI’s system of Mugendo is a blending of these as well as Judo. (Are you still with me?) Eventually MASON added kickboxing to the mix (along with other techniques he’s perfected) to customize his own style of Mugendo he calls Mudokai.
In 1979 MASON decided to move to the United States. His wife, who longed for a warm sunny climate, convinced him that Florida would be perfect. MASON would concentrate on promoting sport karate here. He immediately began working with professional karate athletes promoting team events and sponsoring title fights from the Fort Lauderdale area. His first event in 1982, featuring a European team versus and American team, was televised by ESPN. His second event which included four state title fights was once again shown on ESPN. And his relationship with ESPN continues today. The show ISKA Kickboxing goes out to over 100 million households nationwide, and besides kickboxing also highlights various karate tournaments from time to time including the U.S. Open from Orlando, Florida. They usually broadcast the power breaking competition as well as some of the kata and weapons performances…a great promotion for tournament martial arts.
The ROBERT HEALE MASON University Karate Center in Plantation, Florida was born in 1982, the same year Mason was dubbed Chief Instructor for the Mugendo system in the United States. His school stresses personal development as well as self-defense, and he personally encourages the “mind-body-spirit” connection. His psychology background gives him the edge on motivational teaching as he inspires students to be focused and disciplined in all aspects of their life. Being in tune within ourselves allows us to enjoy playing the game of life, and allows us to learn about being in tune with others,” he tells his students.
Since ’82 the University Karate Center has flourished. MASON now teaches his own style of Mudokai to over 300 students and has graduated over 100 black belts. Classes run seven days a week for children and adults. The UKC also offers fitness kickboxing, and tai chi. UKC students compete regularly on the national and local circuits, and MASON has produced many state and national champions.
If you enter the UKC website you can click on the newsletter that MASON produces and find out all the activities of his dojo including summer camp, picnics, student promotions, demos, martial arts tips and other articles relating to the arts hand-picked by MASON himself. You can even schedule your child a “Karate Birthday Party”, 1 ˝ hours of demonstrations, karate games and a mini karate class.
Through the years Mason has established his reputation as a dedicated promoter of sport karate. He as been interviewed by the press in Japan, Europe, Brazil, Australia, and of course the United States. He was featured in “The Karate Voice”, a Florida publication, and was involved in a British film documentary on kickboxing. He appeared in the movie “Miami Models” as the head Ninja and choreographed the fight scenes—it runs on TV quite often. He did the commentary for the ISKA television series when it was on Sports Channel, and has written for several martial arts magazines including “Combat” and “Sport Karate News”.
MASON knows all the big martial arts movie stars, but particularly admires CHUCK NORRIS. He calls NORRIS an “excellent role model for what a mature martial artist can be. We should all hope to grow up to be like CHUCK." Other favorites of his include KAREN SHEPHERD, CYNTHIA ROTHROCK, and ERIC LEE. He considers BILL ‘SUPERFOOT’ WALLACE to be "an all round great guy. He still loves teaching his seminars and he’s still got the left leg!"
MASON always has his eye on the upcoming youngsters and says ERNIE REYES, JR., is one of the most promising of the youth competitors out there. “ERNIE is a very deep young man, with an intelligent and inquisitive perspective on reality. His father, who is one of the USA’s great instructors, in my opinion, must be very proud of how he’s doing.” He also likes the style and talent of MIKE CHATARANTABUT. “He teaches good seminars and takes time to sign autographs…a tremendous talent!"
Martial artists sometimes tend to get “tunnel vision:, when it comes to their arts, making it an all-consuming passion, but in keeping with his philosophy of being well-rounded, MASON finds time for some of his other pastimes including music and website design. He has played guitar since 1962 (performs at some of his school’s functions) and is currently practicing “a two-handed style that involves playing a 7-string Ibinez with my left hand a 6-string Gibson with my right hand simultaneously. My hero is MICHAEL BIANCO”. BIANCO is another two-handed guitarist. He also admires JENNIFER BATTEN (a two-hander as well) who played with MICHAEL JACKSON for 12 years and now backs rocker JEFF BECK. “I got to see her play twice with BECK last year. She got me backstage passes to both gigs and is a huge MICHAEL BIANCO fan.”
Designing a website for the University Karate Center ignited yet another interest. MASON now designs sites for his friends and associates through his company Way of Harmony, Inc. You can find some of his designs on the World Wide Web at mudokai.com and www.funkicks.com, his school sites, as well as www.kickboxer.net, www.iska.com, and the musician site for www.michaelbianco.com. They all look great. I guess he’s also a Web Master.
This is just an amazingly busy schedule, but MASON says he loves it and accomplishes most of his day’s activities on only 2-3 hours of sleep, a practice he doesn’t recommend. “I wish I could get more,” he adds.
His credentials include a rank of Chief Instructor in Mugendo Kickboxing a head Master designation in his own style of Mudokai Mixed Martial Arts, and a 3rd Dan in Wado Ryu Karate Do-a combination of Shindo Yoshinryu Jiujitsu and Karate. He also studied Goju Ryu and Aikido.
SHIHAN ROBERT HEALE MASON is a youthful looking, mustached gentleman with a charming English accent. He is married and has a grown up daughter who lives in England. She trained in Karate with her dad beginning at age 4 and received her black belt at 14. She graduated from Bhasvic College in Brighton, England and currently lives in Nottingham, England.
(c) 2003 By Chandler Edmunds