Shobukan Karate

Master Henry Plee

Henry Plee was a French martial artist who is considered as the 'father of European and French karate'. He was one of the rare 10th dan karate masters living outside of Japan, and one of the few Westerners who held this rank. At the time of his death, Plée was also the oldest and highest karate ranking Westerner alive, with more than 60 years of fighting arts, including 50 in martial arts. He was a pioneer in introducing karate to France and Europe, and has taught most of today's highest ranking karate masters in Europe.

Henry Plée was born in Arras, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France on 24 May 1923. His studies were interrupted by World War II in 1940.

An only son, Henry Plée started his sports career with gymnastics, weight lifting, French savate, English Boxing, Greco-Roman wrestling, Ju Jutsu, and Fencing with his father Alcide Plée, who was a sword master since 1912. He diversified into judo in 1945 at the 'Judo Club de France', Mikonosuke Kawaishi's second club. He was the 96th French black belt and is now ranked 5th dan at judo.

Physically, he demonstrated very powerful kicks and punches. So from 1946, he returned to French savate, also known as French kickboxing, at the club 'Banville' (the only remaining club at that time). He trained with famous fighters such as Rigal, Pierre Plasait, Cayron, and Pierre Baruzy. Despite the high training quality, he was still feeling the need to go stronger and deeper, and was still looking for something else.

He discovered aikido with Minoru Mochizuki, then karate from an article in Life magazine with Fukuda Rikutaro, his Judo Kodokan magazine's translator. Fukuda Rikutaro confided in him that he learnt karate in Tokyo with Gichin Funakoshi. This was the start of his karate career in 1953, with help from Donn Draeger in Japan.

Door entrance to the dojo at 34 rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève

In 1955 he founded his dojo: the Karate Club de France (KCF), which became Académie française des Arts Martiaux (AFAM), which became 'Shobudo', also known as 'The Mountain/ La Montagne' (in French) or as 'Dojo de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève' in Paris. It is the oldest karate dojo in Europe, which has won 32 French, Europe, and world championships since its creation.

Here he taught the four pillars of Japanese Martial Arts: karate, judo, aikido, and kendo. Plée instructed many black belts who, at a later stage, became the foundation of the European karate institutions, and are today some of the highest ranking karate masters in Europe.

He frequently traveled to Japan. There he met with and learnt from some of the most famous karate masters of all styles. He invited many of them to visit him in France. He even financed the visit to France of many Japanese and Chinese martial arts experts. They taught at the Shobudo, where the secrets of karate were being unveiled to Europe.

In 1956, he founded the 'French Federation of Karate and Boxing' (Fédération Française de Karaté et de Boxe Libre), which became part of the 'French Federation of Judo and Associated Disciplines' (Fédération française de Judo et Disciplines Associées - FFJDA) in 1960. Under his influence, the creation in 1966 of the 'European Union of Karate' (Union Européenne de Karaté), showed an independence of karate from the judo federations, and the decision of not favoring any karate style over another. He also served as a Technical Advisor to the 'European Karate Federation (EKF)', and as its General Secretary in 1967.

For 21 years (1950–1971) he financed and published the first bilingual (French/ English) karate magazine named Budo Magazine Europe. He also published another magazine named Judo Kodokan, which was a translation of the Japanese magazine of the Tokyo Kodokan. He wrote books, and appeared in the movie La Vie, l'amour, la mort.

He owns at 'The Mountain' the most comprehensive private Martial Arts library available in Europe. Also located there is his Martial Arts store named 'Budostore', which offers equipments, books, videos, and DVDs. Henry Plée heads a very exclusive European think-tank on Martial Arts, which studies the essence and spirituality of Martial Arts, and he regularly publishes his chronicles on-line.

From 200 karate practitioners in 1961, Henry Plée's efforts have led today to more than 200,000 practitioners in France. The French government considers him as one of the greatest international experts in Martial Arts, and has knighted Plée with the French Ordre national du Mérite in 2008.

Karate & Arputha Yoga Classes


Monday - Friday

05:00 - 06:00 AM


05:00 - 06:00 PM


Monday - Tuesday

04:30 - 06:30 PM


03:00 - 05:00 PM

Training Center - Kolfing Building Near R.C. Church Thirutuvapuram