This week in history (22 January – 28 January)

On 22 January 1964 the British Karate Federation (BKF) formally accepted the Japan Karate Association’s (JKA) invitation to become their agents in Great Britain, in response to a letter dated 19 December 1963.

In the letter, written by Vernon Bell to Masatomo Takagi, the BKF agreed to the following terms with the JKA:

  • The payment of a registration fee to the JKA.
  • The wording of the official registration diploma to include all domains coming under the legal jurisdiction of Great Britain.
  • Anyone wishing to join the JKA would have to first become a member of the BKF.
  • Anyone wishing to join JKA could not do so directly. They would have to do so through the national federation of the county acting as as the JKA’s representative.
  • An official certificate of affiliation would only be forwarded by the JKA headquarters once the registration fee to therm had been paid and also the terms for membership had been agreed.
  • The BKF would be the only authorized association to conduct gradings and confer belts on behalf of the JKA.
  • Ranks above 3rd kyu could only be conferred by a JKA approved examiner.

In the same letter Bell also inquired about the Shodan diploma and badge that were promised to him.


On 26 January 1964 Tetsuji Murakami performed his last official grading for the British Karate Federation (BKF) at their Blackpool dojo.

Murakami’s association with the BKF had begun in July 1959, when he arrived in England from France. He conducted his first lesson and grading at 12 Maybush Road, Hornchurch.

Murakami has been described as an exceptional exponent of Karate, teaching Yoseikan, a form of Shotokan Karate. Vernon Bell described him as a good and popular teacher. He had been awarded his 1st Dan by the Japan Karate Association (JKA).

When Murakami arrived in Europe, it was assumed that he was the JKA’s European representative. However, following correspondence between Vernon Bell, Jurgen Seydel (Bell’s counterpart in Germany) and Masatomo Takagi of the JKA, it transpired that Murakami did not represent the JKA.

Bell and members of the BKF felt betrayed. Correspondence continued between Bell and the JKA. The JKA indicated they that would not recognize any grades bestowed by Murakami.

On 16 November 1963 Bell applied for the the BKF to become members of the JKA. The BKF would become affiliated to the JKA and severe tie with the Yoseikan association.

Tetsuji Murakami eventually moved back to Japan in 1968. He became a student of Shigeru Egami learning Shotokai Karate. He was eventually awarded his 5th Dan from Egami. He eventually returned to Europe teaching and promoting Shotokai.


On 27 January 1934 Raymond Fuller, one of the students present at the founding of the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB), was born.

Fuller started his Karate training in January of 1964 at Vernon Bell‘s Horseshoe pub dojo, located in London. At the time the British Karate Federation (BKF) were affiliated with Yoseikan karate. Fuller, a painter and decorator, was aged 29 yrs. He had served in the British army. He had first become interested in karate after watching a British television programme called “Whicker’s World”, hosted by journalist Alan Whicker. In the documentary karateka in a Tokyo dojo were practicing various techniques.

When the BKF became affiliated with the JKA, Fuller like many of his fellow students reveled in the new training under Hirokazu Kanazawa. When Kanazwa’s year long contract ended in 1965, Fuller was one of the students who joined the KUGB, breaking away from the BKF, eventually helping to run the organisations main dojo in Blackfriars, London.
After several years with the KUGB, Fuller left to form his own association Thames Karate, a founding member of the English Karate Governing Body.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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