A long-time student and assistant of Steve Arneil, David Pickthall was a top competitor who competed nationally and internationally in both kata end kumite. He made the successful transition to being a top coach. As an instructor, he has helped some of the best British talent, including the likes of Emma Markwell, Wei Cheung, and Darren Stringer.
David Pickthall was born on 23 November 1962 in Crawley, England. He was the youngest of two children, having an older sister.
In October 1976 Pickthall joined the Crawley Dojo where he started learning Kyokushin Karate. He trained in the junior class alongside his older sister.
The Crawley Dojo was run by Steve Arneil and it was a member of the BKK (British Karate Kyokushinkai) which had been established in 1965. The dojo had been established in 1969 by John Jenkins and Peter James.
Pickthall grew to love his Kyokushin training under Arneil. In July 1980, aged 17, he was graded to 1st Dan by Arneil. Two years later he was graded to 2nd Dan. August 1986 saw him graded to 3rd Dan.
Pickthall developed a love of teaching quite early. At the age of 21, he began assisting Arneil by teaching at the Crawley Dojo.
After a 25-year association with the IKO (International Karate Organisation), Steve Arneil and the BKK resigned from the organisation. He established IFK (International Federation of Karate).
At the 5th World Open Tournament held in Japan in 1991, Pickthall finished in 13th place. Four years later he retired from active competition. His tournament successes include:
- British Team Clicker Championships – 1st place (1982, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1999, 1999, 2005)
- British Team Clicker Championships-2nd place (1981, 1984, 1987, 1996, 2004, 2011)
- British Team Clicker Championships – 3rd place (1979, 1991, 2003, 2006)
- British Men’s Clicker Championships – 1st place (1985, 1987, 1988, 1990)
- British Men’s Clicker Championships – 2nd place (1983)
- British Men’s Clicker Championships – 3rd place (1984, 1991)
- Ibutz Oyama Cup – 2nd place (1983)
- British Knockdown Championships – 1st place (1990)
- British Knockdown, Championships – 2nd place (1988, 1992)
- British Knockdown Championships – 3rd place (1985, 1986).
- British Kata Championships – 1st place (1985, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1994)
- British Kata Championships – 2nd place (1988)
- British Kata Championships – 3rd-place (1993)
- European Kata Championships-2nd place (1988, 1989, 1990)
- English Regional Knockdown – 3rd place (1989)
- Swiss Clicker Championships – 3rd place (1990)
- French Open Knockdown – 3rd place (1990).
- World Oyama European Knockdown Championships – 1st place (1993)
- All Japan Shidokan Knockdown Championships – 1st place (1993).
- World Shidokan Knockdown Championships – 3rd place (1994)
After his retirement, Pickthall became a coach for the BKK National Team. He held the role for both the 1st and 2nd World Tournaments.
In May 1996 Pickthall was graded to 4th, Dan. He received his 5th Dan in May 2001. He received his 6th Dan in October 2009. All these gradings were conducted by Steve Arneil.
In 2003 Pickthall became the coach for the Great Britain Team. He held the role until 2013. He also became a member of the BKK Executive Committee.
Because of his extensive workload, Steve Arneil relinquished his teaching role at the Crawley Dojo in 2008. Pickthall and Neil Madeley took over the teaching at the dojo.
On 28 March 2011, the 1st Conference of the Kyokushin World Union was held in Moscow. The Conference was for the discussion of the possibility of the separate Kyokushin organisations coming together to compete against each other internationally. The aim was to eventually become an active member of the Olympic movement. Russian, Yury Trutnov of IKO-1 chaired the meeting. Liam Keaveney and Pickthall were sent as representatives of the IFK on behalf of Steve Arneil. There were also representatives from the Kyokushinkan, the KWF (Kyokushin World Federation), the Shugokai Foundation, and representatives from most of the major Russian Kyokushin associations.
On 30 November 2011, it was announced that the KWU (Kyokushin World Union) had been established at a founding conference. The event was attended by the likes of Yury Trutnov of the Russian Kyokushin Association, Hatsuo Royama and Tsuyoshi Hiroshige of KI (Kyokushin-Kan International), Kenji Sugekawa. of the Kyokushin Foundation, Steve Arneil and David Pickthall of the IFK, and Loek Hollander of the KWF.
In 2013 Pickthall was appointed the Vice-President of the IFK. That year he was also responsible for coordinating the 4th IFK World Championships held in England. The event attracted 230 competitors from 36 countries.
Between 27-28 May 2017, the 5th IFK World Championships were held in Sibiu, Romania. There were 400 competitors from 40 countries. On the last day of the championships, Pickthall was awarded his 7th Dan by Steve Arneil and IFK Committee.
On 14 January 2021, Steve Arneil sent a letter to the IFK members stating that he would be retiring as President of the IFK and David Pickthall would become his successor with immediate effect. The IFK Executive Board had previously agreed with the decision on 3 January.
Pickthall became only the second president of the IFK. Arneil remained on the Executive Board as the Founder of the IFK. Liam Keaveney was appointed Vice-President of the IFK.
On 2 July 2021 Steve Arneil, the founder of the BKK and the IFK, died, aged 86. British and world Kyokushin lost a true legend.
The IFK celebrated its 30-year anniversary in 2022.
On 1 October 2020, the 44th British Open Knockdown Tournament was held in Crawley. The event also incorporated the 12th Cup of Europe. They were 270 competitors from 22 countries.
David Pickthall continues to train at the Crawley Dojo where he is a Chief Instructor. As President of the IFK, he frequently travels the world conducting training seminars. He is also a member of the KWU Executive Committee. One of his primary goals is to see more interaction between the IFK and other Kyokushin organisations.