…. Karateka should train as martial artists and take part in sport, not train as sportsmen. The situation will be made worse if ever Karate gets onto the television – generations of kids will come to regard it just as a sport.Eddie Daniels
Known for his speed and skill, Eddie Daniels was one of the highest-ranked Karate instructors in the United Kingdom, for many years. He began learning Karate during the ‘Golden Age of British Karate‘. He trained and competed against a who’s who of British Karate.
Eddie Daniels was born on 4 May 1949 in Gateshead, Newcastle. His mother was from Newcastle and his father was from the West African country of Ghana. In 1953, aged 4, he and his mother moved to the city of Birmingham.
Shotokan Karate had been introduced to England in the early 1960s by Vernon Bell of the British Karate Federation (BKF). In 1965, aged 15, Daniels began learning Shotokan Karate at the Kyu-shin Kan club, with fellow student Cyril Cummins.
In 1966 Daniels switched styles from Shotokan to Wado-Ryu. His instructor at the time was a green belt, which at the time was considered a high grade. Daniel opened his own club, while still a white belt. He had around eight students. He and his students eventually joined Jan Bujac’s Wado-Ryu group.
Shigeru Kimura arrived in the UK in 1968 to promote Shukokai Karate. He conducted a number of courses and demonstrations, assisted by Yoshinao Nanbu. Daniels had the opportunity to see them give a demonstration at Crystal Palace. He was very impressed by what he saw.
Daniels attended a number of courses held by Kimura and Nanbu. This included an open course held in Chigwell, Essex. He liked what he was learning. He made the decision to switch from Wado-Ryu to Shukokai, training under Kimura. He remained his student until Kimura’s death.
The Shukokai Karate Union (SKU) was established in 1969. Chojiro Tani was named the SKU’s President. Kimura was named Vice President, with Nanbu named Chief Instructor.
A member of the SKU, Daniels had the opportunity to train with the likes of Stan Knighton, Bob Aikman, Roy Stanhope, and Peter Consterdine.
In 1970 Daniels was selected to the All Styles British Squad. The team was managed and coached by Steve Arneil. The squad contained the likes of Terry O’Neill, Ticky Donovan, Billy Higgins, and Bob Rhodes, to name a few.
Tournaments during this time were an opportunity for practitioners to show what they had learnt during their training. No quarter was given in tough competitive matches and matches frequently resulted in injuries. Daniels was building a reputation for being a fast and skilful competitor. At the 1972 British Karate Control Commission (BKCC) Championships, it was his toughness that was on display. In the early rounds of the tournament he defeated Hamish Adam, and Steve Cattle, to face Bob Rhodes in the quarter-finals. He made it to the semi-final where he faced another Shotokan competitor in Bob Poynton. During the bout, Daniels took a knee to his head. He was taken to hospital, with a suspected broken jaw. Luckily, he was fine. He checked out of the hospital with the intention of returning to his bout with Poynton. However, by the time he got back to the venue, the competition had ended.
By the 1980s Shukokai has become an established style of Karate in Britain. Daniels had also become one of the faces most associated with the style. In 1980 he established the Shukokai Karate Federation (SKF), with its main dojo in the town of Worcester. The SKF members of the English Karate Federation (EKF).
Through the hard work of instructors like Shigeru Kimura, Shukokai Karate had spread around the world. In 1981, the 1st Shukokai World Tournament was held in the United States. Held every two years, it became a fixture in the tournament calendar.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, Daniels built the SKF into one of the biggest Shukokai associations in the United Kingdom. The SKF was also recognised as one of the official organisations for Shukokai Karate in the United Kingdom. The SKF had grown to have several clubs across the Midlands.
By 1989 Daniels was married to his wife, Solfrid, and they had a son, Audun. Both Solfrid and Audun practised Karate. Solfrid became a member of the SKF National Squad, until her retirement in 2006.
On 7 July 1995, the Shukokai World was shocked by the sudden death of Shigeru Kimura from a heart attack. He was only 54 years old.
Following Kimura’s death, the Kimura Shukokai International (KSI) was established by his senior students. Its aim was to promote his style of Shukokai Karate and also act as a governing body for the style.
The KSI was led by Kimura’s four most senior students:
- Eddie Daniels – Head of the Shukokai Karate Federation
- Bill Bressaw – Head of the American Shukokai Karate Federation
- Chris Thompson of South Africa
- Lionel Marinus of South Africa
The four men had trained with Kimura for over twenty-five years. They were the joint Chief Instructors of the KSI.
The KSI world Championships were held in Kobe, Japan in 1995. Daniels was the coach of the English team. His son Audun competed in his first World Championships.
In 1999 Daniels received a special award from Combat Magazine, for his outstanding contribution towards the development of martial arts in the United Kingdom and the world.
In 2000 the KSI World Championships were held in Germany. Daniels was the coach of the English team. His wife Solfrid made history by winning four gold medals, in a single KSI World Championships. She won the Women’s Heavyweight Individual Kumite; the Women’s Individual Kata; the Women’s Team Kumite; and the Women’s Team Kata. Four years later she became Women’s Kumite Champion at the Shukokai World Tournament.
As the Chief Instructor of the SKF and the coach of the English National team, Daniels teams were successful and well-respected. The National Team’s successes include that included:
- 2013 KSI European Championships held in Finland- 13 Gold, 3 Silver, 4 Bronze
- 2014 KSI World Championships held in South Africa – 1 Gold, 6 Silver, 6 Bronze
- 2016 KSI World Championships held in Stockholm, Sweden – 5 Gold, 3 Silver, 11 Bronze
- 2019 KSI European Kimura Cup, held in Anadia, Portugal – 5 Gold, 5 Silver, 6 Bronze
At the 2016 KSI World Championships held in Germany, the four Chief Instructors of the KSI were promoted to 9th Dan. The following year Audun Daniels was promoted to 6th Dan at the KSI World Chief Instructors Course (WCIC).
Many students within the SKF and the KSI always looked forward to seminars for courses conducted by Eddie Daniels. He had the ability to explain complex concepts to his students in a way that was easy to grasp. He had an amazing wealth of knowledge, whether it be on kata, kumite, or the real world applications of Karate. In 2019 he gave a number of seminars in Germany, Canada, and Finland.
In 2019 Solfrid Daniels became the first woman in the KSI to be promoted to 7th Dan. She received her promotion at the KSI World Chief Instructor’s Course (WCIC) held in New Jersey, United States.
On 25 January 2020, Eddie Daniels died peacefully in his sleep. It happened during a family visit to Turkey. This came as a shock to many people, as he was still in very good shape. His funeral took place on 5 March, in Sedgley, West Midlands, at the All Saints Church.
Eddie Daniels was not a man who sought publicity. He was all about his Karate. Having an immense wealth of knowledge, Karate was first and foremost a martial arts to him. For him, competitions were just one aspect of the larger Karate picture. Many of his students have successfully represented England at an international level.
Daniels has an important place in Britain Karate history, especially with his teaching of Shukokai Karate. His legacy continues through his wife Solfrid, his son Audin, and his granddaughter Mia.