This week in history (17 December – 23 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 (BKF) 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 theBKF, was not the official representative or delegate of the JKA, to Europe. This was in response to a letter Bell had written requesting clarification ofthe 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 to become a part of the JKA. The BKF severed ties with Yoseikan Karate and became the official representatives of the JKA in Great Britain.


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 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. 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,  also going from 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.


On 23 December 1911 Kenko Nakaima was born. He was the grandson of Norisato Nakaima, founder of the Okinawan family Karate style, Ryuei-ryu.

Kenko Nakaima, the third headmaster of the style, is credited with opening it to non-family members. One of his top students was Tsuguo Sakumoto, a  three time WKF Kata World Champion..

Author: Patrick Donkor

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