We invite your personal comments to be added to the memorials below.

Len Palmer 1921 - 2009

Len Palmer
Left to Right Bryn Williams, Alan Francis, Chris Thompson and the late Len Palmer at the
2007 CYBERBUDO Budosai event at Bisham Abbey.

It is with great regret that we announce the death of Len Palmer, aged 88 one of the founding fathers of organised karate in England.

Len was a leading light in the original English governing body for Karate, the BKCC and gave many years of his life to helping the development and organising of karate in the 60’s and 70’s. He is mainly remembered for his long-term role as secretary of the British Karate Association (BKA) to which he gave much time. Len hoped the BKA would evolve on the lines of the British Judo Association, where clubs nationally could be in membership of the one national karate body and thus automatically benefit by official recognition. This was considered by Len to be important for national and international competition, also contributing to a controlled development of the sport. However, the rapid growth of karate took many by surprise so that the BKA then became just one of seven main karate groups.

In the late 1960s a murder trial took place at the Old Bailey in which the accused’s defence was that he had been taught karate and but had no idea how effective his blows could be. The trial judge recommended an official inquiry into karate which resulted in the Home Office deciding that karate activity was acceptable, but growth and development needed standards and control.

The British Karate Control Commission was formed and the British Karate Association, with Len Palmer as secretary, was a founder member of this Commission along with six other major, mainly style-based, organisations.

Len Palmer’s ideal dream of the BKA becoming the umbrella organisation to which all clubs, irrespective of style, could belong never materialised as he would have liked. Nevertheless he played an important part in the early development of karate nationally and lived to see the number of karate groups exceed 200.

He was a good administrator with a genial and pleasant manner who will be remembered by all, particularly those who experienced the rapid growth years of the 1970s. He remained interested in karate development up to his death.

Charles Naylor 7th Dan

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of senior SHOTOKAN sensei CHARLES NAYLOR 7th Dan at 73 years old. We extend all our condolences to his family. Please see the click through for a profile (courtesy of the KUGB) of this very senior KUGB instructor/official.

Charles Naylor 7th Dan (left). Right - March 1962, students gather around the late Tetsuji Murakami following a course at the “Red Triangle” Liverpool, with a very young 4th kyu Charlie Naylor squatting 1st left. Also included in the photo are Andy Sherry, Alan Smith, Terry Astley, Frank Cope and Fred Gille.

John Leese

John Leese
John Leese (right) watches a throw at the late Sensei Vernon Bell’s class in London in the early 70’s

It is with very great regret that we have to report the sudden death on 23rd Feb of a senior student John Leese (aged 60).

John started training in Jujitsu in 1970 with the late Sensei Vernon Bell and continued for the next 37 years as a very keen student of Jujitsu studying for the past 17 years with Sensei Terry Wingrove. John was universally popular with both students and instructors and was always willing to help his club and Association the International Jujitsu Federation. John lived in his West London home , he was unmarried and his social life centred around his martial arts. John was unique for a very particular reason, he had been a brown belt for 35 years and never once did he complain about his grade and set an example to all with his keen interest and attitude that his grade wasn’t important just his desire for knowledge. He would travel many hours on public transport to attend classes carrying his trademark oversized bags. He would then join in the humour generated by remarks about the 3-piece suite he had in his bags.

For his application and loyalty and dedication we honour him with the award of a postumous Black Belt, 1st Dan. His funeral was held in his hometown of Manchester on the 12th March.

We will miss you.

Dr Vernon C.F Bell (1922-2004)

Image (right) from The Times - Bell, centre, with the four original British Karate Federation students in 1957. The first BKF dojo opened in 1958.

Click here to read Dr Vernon Bell's obituary in the Times Online.

Click here to read a scan of the original published obituary in the printed Times (PDF).

Vernon Bell

Tetsuji Murakami 1927 - 1987

Tetsuji MurakamiOn Sunday 21st Jan approximately 40 people gathered at a very picturesque cemetery in Paris to pay their respects on the 20th anniversary of the death of a renowned Japanese pioneer of karate in Europe, Tetsuji Murakami. Instructors and former students of sensei Murakami came from 5 countries to honour this early ambassador of karate. A short ceremony at the graveside was lead by sensei Jacques Fonfrede on behalf of the French contingent, Jose Patrao from Portugal,Terry Wingrove from England and representitives of Italy and Spain.

Following the visit to the grave the group went to a very nice dojo complex for lunch then demos by the various groups. The atmoshpere was so convivial that it was decided to hold an International budosai in Paris this Nov. to celebrate the 50th anniversary of sensei Murakamis arrival in Europe in 1957. I must say it brought back a lot of memories to me as its 48 years since I first ventured across the Channel as a a very wary 18 year-old to train in Paris with Murakami sensei and I have such a lot to thank(?) him for as he motivated me to go to Japan and spend 21 years there enjoying budo.

Former friends, students and instructors of sensei Tetsuji Murakami gather at his grave in Paris
Former friends, students and instructors of sensei Tetsuji Murakami gather at his grave in Paris

Murakami sensei came to Europe teaching the Yoseikan version of Shotokan karate and Aikido and was the first Japanese karate instructor in England (July 1959) This dynamic small man motivated not only me but Alan Ruddock, Andy Sherry, Terry O’Neal, Charlie Naylor etc and was the forerunner by 6 years of the “big 4” Shotokan instructors sensei Kase,Enoeda,Kanazawa,& Shirai that arrived in UK in 1965. In the ‘70s Murakami sensei had contact with Egami sensei in Tokyo and changed his style to Shotokai which caused a very big headache to his followers as he reinvented himself and spent the next 15 years+ promoting Shotokai in Europe prior to his death at 60 years-old in 1987.

Terry Wingrove

Prof. Dr. Heribert Czerwenka-Wenkstetten 9th Dan HanshiProf. Dr. Heribert Czerwenka-Wenkstetten 9th Dan Hanshi
Professor of Psychology, Vienna University and Co-founder of EJJU & IJJF

On the 4th August, 2006 the remaining founding father of the EJJU, IJJF, Professor Dr. Heribert Czerwenka-Wenkstetten Hanshi Kudan passed away in Vienna.

Professor Dr. Heribert Czerwenka-Wenkstetten Hanshi Kudan had taught many times in England and was well known as the Martial Arts partner for many years of the late Dr. Vernon Bell. Prof. Wenkstetten conveyed his knowledge and experience acquired in Budo magnanimously.

He worked tirelessly in his professional life at Vienna University and was an outstanding authority on college education.