Oaklands Centre, Warsop April 24th 2010
Sensei Charles Fletcher – 25/02/1930 to 20/12/2009
When you seek it
You cannot find it
Your hand cannot reach it
Nor your mind exceed it
When you no longer seek it
It is always with you.
The following few words provide an outline of the one aspect of Charles Fletcher’s life that we were blessed to share; the Judo Years.
The early judo years began back in 1950 whilst Charles was serving in the RAF where he trained with Abbe Sensei and Otani Sensei.
But our memories of Charles start in the 1970s.
The year was 1976 and the start of a great friendship where respect, trust and honesty was installed in all by Charles. The training was hard and friendships were formed for life in those early years. Many of the youngsters from the 70s are here today, not as young but still the best of friends.
The respect and trust from early years is still plain to see – if it could be hit, thrown or punched they did it.
The club was known as the SSDC – Shirebrook Self-Defence Club. It covered karate and judo. As Charles was the senior grade, and at that time 3rd Dan judo, the club developed into a judo club. The club became part of the TJA (Teacher’s Judo Association) and remained so until the early 80s.
The trips to do martial arts demonstrations all aboard his trusty Rover car. The trips to Sheffield for training sessions. In the 70s this was a great look at life for the youngsters involved.
Charles looked at all of the youngsters under his trust as his own children; they were looked after in safe hands.
In the 80s the area expanded under the guidance of Charles and was known as the Notts and Derby Area Kyu Shin Do Clubs.
This was due to the loyal youngsters now coming of age and taking on the responsibility of opening their own clubs. Charles was extremely proud of this.
By the end of the decade the area had judo clubs in Ollerton, Shirebrook, Warsop, Chesterfield, Edwinstowe, Rainworth and Staveley.
Charles was senior coach and senior grade at all of these. The quality of the training and the skills gained by the students was respected wherever they went.
In 1991 the Area joined the Bushido Zazen International Martial Arts Society. The respect shown to the area by the Bushido was without doubt. The respect for Charles from other parts of the country was at times a little difficult for him to accept.Being such a quiet and private man the attention was more of an honour to him than something everyone of his friends need to know about. Local people will never appreciate the position Charles held in the martial arts world.
The wild parties at the Easter Convention, yes, Charles Fletcher was present at the party in Ivy 55 when we got 48 people in an 8 berth caravan; as were many others but they may choose to remain silent.
He was one of the lads to be included and treated as normal, not the senior grade you had to place on a pedestal.
During the 90s his students from the Notts and Derby Area travelled to many national judo events with excellent success – Charles was proud of each and everyone of them.
The 00’s saw Charles experience health issues. These issues never got him down. One night speaking of his health issues he said “It’s not going to beat me you know” and on that occasion it didn’t. This was the true character of the man. Life was for living – he never stopped training and was without doubt as fit as many of us until the end.
He shared his knowledge with all around him and we are all grateful for that and better people for having known him.
His wife Edie often joked that she played second best to judo and martial arts for many years and we are all thankful to her for lending Charles to us.
The Friday night before his passing he was laughing and joking in his hospital bed. He said he had better than he had felt for a long time, on leaving he said
“You better go its snowing, I’ll be alright, I’ll see you soon”
This is the way you should remember Charles; always laughing and joking, always looking to the future with a positive look toward life.
We shall all miss him dearly and although he may not be here with us tonight he will always be with each and every one of us.
– Sensei Charles Fletcher