STUDENTS have been paying tribute this week to an inspirational Leeds karate teacher, who died at the weekend after a long battle with illness.
Ray Wilson, 73, was the driving force behind the founding of the Leeds Karate Centre in the early 1970s and, over the next four decades, went on to play a part in teaching thousands the intricacies of the martial art he learned himself from Japanese master Kanazawa.
Numerous students of his went on to win both regional and national honours, one even playing a part in Oscar-winning Hollywood blockbuster Gladiator.
But, despite his prowess in the sport, Mr Wilson is remembered by most as a shy and modest man away from the dojo.
“I trained under him for five years after he first founded the club and I can honestly say I never had a better coach,” said Kam Sian, who now runs a web development company in Leeds. “He didn’t just teach me karate but how to grow up; he taught me self-discipline and respect - which are always an important part of karate - but he also taught me how to walk with my head held high.”
When Mr Sian returned to the UK from a spell working in the United States in the late 1990s, he took his own children to the dojo where Mr Wilson - known to most in the karate community as “Shihan”, which means “master” - took them under his wing and trained them in the principles of karate too.
“It’s difficult to explain just how much of an inspiration he was to so many people,” said Mr Sian
An experienced mechanic when not running karate classes, Mr Wilson also ran a transport company in Leeds before failing health led to the family relocating first to Hornsea and then Cornwall - although Mr Wilson still travelled back to Leeds once a month to teach karate.
A funeral service will be held at Rawdon Crematorium at 3.40pm on Monday. Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you