This week in history (16 December – 22 December)

19 December

On 19 December 1963 Vernon Bell received a letter from Masatomo Takagi, the General Manager of the Japan Karate Association (JKA), requesting that the British Karate Federation officially act as the authorized representative of the JKA in Britain.

Earlier that year Bell had received a letter from Takagi indicating that Tetsuji Murakami (Yoseikan Karate), who had been teaching and grading on behalf of the BKF, was not the official representative or delegate of the JKA to Europe. This was in response to a letter Bell had written, requesting clarification of the BKF’s status with the JKA and also of Murakami’s credentials.

It seems Murakami had not been entirely honest with the BKF about his credentials. He had trained with the JKA. However, he was not a 3rd Dan under the JKA as he had claimed, but was rather a 1st Dan. He had also claimed that he was the JKA’s representative in Europe.

Bell accepted Takagi’s offer. The BKF severed ties with Yoseikan Karate and became the official representatives of the JKA in Great Britain.


21 December

On 21 December 1957 Trevor Guilfoyle and Gerald Tucker become the first karateka in  Britain to be graded to 3rd kyu, under the British Karate Federation (BKF). The grading was conducted by Vernon Bell at 12 Maybush Road, Hornchurch, London.

Guilfoyle and Tucker were two of Bell’s earliest students, taking part in the first Karate class ever held in Britain, in 1956. Both men were regularly part of the Karate demonstrations given by Bell.

Gerald Tucker was employed as a physical education teacher. He was twenty-five years old when he started training with Bell in 1956. He went from 6th kyu (white belt) to 3rd kyu (green belt) in less than six months. Unfortunately, Tucker resigned from the BKF in 1958 after taking up a new teaching position in Somerset.

Trevor Guilfoyle was described by Vernon Bell as the greatest expert he ever trained, going 6th kyu to 3rd kyu in less than six months, aged only nineteen. Initially, he had started training with Bell in Judo. Guilfoyle temporarily resigned from the BKF in 1958, to join the SAS. It is believed he may have died while serving in the army.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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