Pauline Laville was born on the 8th of January 1945 in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire. Like many of the early karateka, Pauline first studied the art of Judo starting at the age of 12, joining the Middlesbrough Judo club in 1957 where she trained for 4 years grading to the rank of blue belt.
At the age of 17, Pauline switched to the art of Karate and joined the Middlesbrough Karate Club (Boundary Road) which was at that time associated to Vernon Bell’s BKF (British Karate Federation). Pauline’s first karate instructors were Fred Kidd and Walter Seaton. The style of karate was Yoseikan, a variant form of Shotokan founded by Minoru Mochizuki who had trained directly under Gichin Funakoshi, (founder of Shotokan Karate).
By the end of 1963, aged 18, Pauline left her native Middlesbrough and moved to London with her older sister In March 1964, Pauline attended Vernon Bell’s Horseshoe Pub Dojo in Clerkenwell, London to continue with her Karate. Bell was the founder of the karate movement in Britain and became the first British Karate Black Belt in 1957. Pauline soon travelled to Bell’s other Dojo’s like Pauline aged 19 (1964) the British Legion Hall in Upminster. In 1964, Pauline attended her first ever grading in karate and became the first woman to grade in the BKF by Vernon Bell gaining the rank of 8thKyu. In 1965 Bell agreed to sponsor a visit by the JKA (Japanese Karate Association) with the aim to spread the style of Shotokan and help the future development of karate in the UK. The first display took place at Kensington Town Hall on April 21st 1965, the second at the Hornsey Town Hall on 24th April 1965 and the third at the Poplar Town Hall on 26th April 1965. Pauline who attended all three displays became the first BKF female student to Shirai, Kanazawa, Kase, Enoeda 1965 demonstrate karate to the British zpublic. In attendance were Japanese instructors Taiji Kase, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Keinosuke Enoeda and Hiroshi Shirai. This led to Bell asking the JKA for Hirokazu Kanazawa to remain in England.
When Kanazawa’s contract was not renewed by Bell, Pauline along with many of Bell’s other top students who now preferred Kanazawa’s instruction left the BKF and decided to set up their own organisation. After a gathering in the Admiral Napier Pub, Eddie Whitcher came up with the KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain), inviting Kanazawa to become their chief instructor.The KUGB eventually moved its administration to Liverpool where Keinosuke Enoeda was operating from. Pauline was part of a team led by Kanazawa with the assistance of Enoeda who gave a demonstration arranged by John Chisholm for a group of film stars who were filming at Elstree Studios. Peter Sellers (James Bond), Lee Marvin and John Cassavetes (Dirty Dozen).
December 1967 Pauline became the first woman in Britain to be awarded 1st Dan Black Belt in karate graded by Kanazawa. In 1968 Pauline trained with Masatoshi Nakayama, who was the head of the JKA and most senior student of Gichin Funakoshi, at the JKA’s summer course held at Crystal Palace Sports Centre. From the course Pauline was photographed by a local Newspaper performing attack on Nakayama which later appeared in “Karate” magazine.
Kanazawa in 1969 left for Germany and saw Enoeda move to London and took over as head of the KUGB. Also in this year Pauline married Raymond (Ray) Fuller in Camberwell, London. Ray was another of the original students of Vernon Bell and a cofounder of the KUGB. Blackfriers Dojo Pauline’s next media coverage saw her appear in a 1970 Japanese television documentary about Enoeda’s journey and exploits in England. 1970 also saw Ray and Pauline began to open dojo’s in South London and Kent areas and becoming leading instructors for the KUGB. They were regularly travelling around the South of England as their tuition was in high demand. In 1973 Pauline appeared in a TV documentary on the BBC television programme ‘Nationwide’ followed by the BBC’s BBC’s Nationwide 1973 educational programme ‘Open Door’ in 1974. In 1975, Enoeda sent Pauline along with the KUGB’s other squad members to New York for one of America’s top tournaments. On arrival, Pauline could only enter for the Kata as there was no female Kumite at that time, but because her standard in Kata was recognised as being too good, the event organisers entered Pauline in the men’s category where she finally came 2nd. This led to an offer to remain and coach in the USA but Pauline had too many commitments back in the UK. In 1975, Ray and Pauline now 3rd Dan Black Belts, left the KUGB and with their already existing clubs set up Thames Karate International.
Bexleyheath Dojo 1977 – Thames had now grown to over 60 clubs with a membership of 4,000 students and joined the Governing body FEKO (Federation of English Karate Organisation). In 1979 the Thames group splintered due to the earlier separation of Pauline and Ray. In this year she also appeared in Fighters (Martial Arts Magazine). In 1980 Pauline and her family moved to San Francisco. While there, Pauline trained under Richard Kim 10th Dan, Head of Zen Bei Butoku-Kai (IAKF).
Returning to England in 1983, Pauline set up International Shotokan Karate affiliating to the EKC. Because of her high profile this led to various positions on the EKC council. Pauline appeared in various karate magazines in 1985, 2003, 2009 and in 1988 VMA (Video Martial Arts) profiled Video Martial Arts 1988 Pauline on their new video concept magazine 4th edition feature under the title “Women in Martial Arts” which was released for sale in 1989. She was a founder member of the EKGB (English Karate Governing Body) formed in 1991 with the amalgamation of the English Karate Council (EKC) and The English Karate Board (EKB) again holding various positions on the board. From opening the Karate Shop, Welling in 1985, which started as a hobby, Pauline went on and founded Blitz Corporation Ltd in 1993 turning it into one of the largest martial arts supplies companies in the UK with the help from her husband Lee and three children Elida, Danny and Jason.
For Pauline, one of her proudest moments was gaining an Honours Degree and Masters in Theology while studying at Newbold College, Binfield in Bracknell. Pauline started her own Charity called the Children of Christ, an outreach programme helping those who were giving up on life and empowering them with the knowledge and confidence to keep going.
Sensei Pauline Laville-Bindra 8th Dan was one of the highest graded women in the world of karate. For those who had trained under her, she was their inspiration, a loving mother who doted on her children, a kind and generous person who cared about others and determined through her faith to help and make a difference to improve people’s lives.