This week in history (11 Mar – 17 Mar)

13 March

On 13 March 1957 Vernon Bell was awarded his black belt in Yoseikan Karate from the Fédération Française de Karaté, under Hiroo Mochizuki and Henri Plee.

Bell had started training with Plee towards the end of 1955. He had made frequent visits to Plee’s Paris dojo. After around eighteen monthes he graded for his 1st Dan. Bell recalled grading with Jurgen Seydal, Vladimiro Malatesti and Bernard Cherix, the founders of Karate in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland respectively.

The grading consisted of performing Pinan(Heian) katas in slow motion then at a fast speed. This was followed by ippon kumite and sanbon kumite.

Bell’s license shows he was awarded his grade on 13 March 1957 and his certificate was dated 1st April 1957.

One final thing to note. Bell to make the following payments:

  • 3000Fr Fédération Française de Karaté for affiliation fees.
  • 3000Fr to the Japanese Karate Federation Yoseikan for affiliation fees.
  • 2500Fr for his Shodan karate diploma.

14 March

On 14th March 1946 Michael Billman, a high ranking Karate administrator, was born in the East End of London.

At school, Billman had been a keen rugby player, having trials with the Saracens Rugby Club. On leaving school he took up amateur boxing. In 1969 he began his Karate training at a club run by John Van Weenan in Tottenham, London.

Billman has trained with many top senseis. In 1973 he earned his 1st Dan from Hirokazu Kanazawa. In 1976 he earned his 2nd Dan from Masao Kawasoe. In 1979 he became one of the first karate-ka to be graded to 3rd Dan by Sadashige Kato. In 2008 he received his 8th Dan from the World Karate Federation.

Billman has held major positions in English, British, European and World Karate. These include:

  • President of the English Karate Federation(EKF)
  • Vice President of the British Karate Federation (BKF)
  • Chairman of the European Karate Federation Technical Commission
  • Member of the World Technical Commission
  • Member World Karate Federation Disciplinary and Legal Commission
  • At the request of WKF Technical Commission Chairman, Tsuguo Sakumoto, served on the World Sports Commission.

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