Dave Carnell was the owner and director of Impact Martial Arts Academy. He was regular contributor to Martial Arts Illustrated magazine and was the coauthor of Advanced PE for OCR A2 and the author of Jeet Kune Do: A Core Structure Training Manual.
Dave Carnell began his training in the martial arts at an early age. The inspiration for his pursuit, like most people, took its direction because of the movies and television shows of that time. This was where he took his first glimpse of the impressive and infamous Bruce Lee.
Dave’s foundations were becoming firmly fixed as he dappled with various systems trying to find what suited him best. From Judo, in the beginning, to his first serious training at the local Lau Gar school of Kung Fu, his passion was shaping itself. Training at this school lasted about twelve months until he met a teacher that introduced him to Chi-San-Tao, which was a blend of many arts including Wing Chun.
With his interest in Wing Chun growing, Dave decided that it was this system that he would like to delve deeper into. He met many people during this period and was eventually introduced to Samuel Kwok, a Wing Chun sifu living in the North of England with whom he trained privately for some time. Sifu Kwok introduced Dave to his own teacher, Ip Chun, the oldest son of Yip man (Bruce’s original Wing Chun teacher).
In 1984, while training with various Wing Chun sifu’s, Dave wanted to expand his knowledge as far as the martial arts were concerned. He noticed that each sifu that he trained with had their own views as to the way they wanted things to work. Each teacher had their own individual interpretations of the art so he wanted to find out more about this idea of individual perspectives. Dave found out during this time that Dan Inosanto was coming to England to give a seminar and he decided to go to it with the view of exploring and experiencing another angle. This was to be an major turning point for Dave; he was, “blown away! as he states in his own words. On this seminar, Dave had his eyes opened by the speed, skill and sophistication of, not only Dan, but his two young assistants at the time, Chris Kent and Cass Magda.
Dave describes them and the feeling they instilled in a 1992 interview in Martial Arts Illustrated conducted by Andrew Staton;
These guys were so laid back, so cool. This was what I had been searching for.
After this proverbial “bomb” was dropped, not only did Dave continue to go to all of Dan lnosanto’s seminars, but everyone that came over: Larry Hartsell, Chris Kent, Cass Magda, Richard Bustillo, Ted Wong and Tim Tackett to name but a few.
This continued until Dave himself was inviting them over to conduct seminars for him. After a couple of years of training in this way, Dave was invited over to the states where he was to continue his training on a private basis with Cass Magda. It was from his study and hard work there, that he became authorized to teach. He is now honored to be a Senior Supervising Instructor of the Magda Institute, one of only three in Europe and one of only a handful of people that are authorized to teach the arts of Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Kali /Escrima and Pentjak Silat. Dave is deeply respectful of his teacher Cass Magda, and he continues to draw on him for his Inspiration. Dave is a man that does not believe that the pursuit of knowledge ever stops, and as such has continued to train closely with Cass Magda.
With such knowledgeable and inspirational people behind him, it was not surprising that Dave became a big name in his own right. He was the director of the Impact Martial Arts Academy which he established well over two decades ago, and he was a well sought after Instructor on the seminar circuit where he taught on a regular basis throughout the country and recently he had became the first person to take Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do into Poland. With headquarters in Stoke-on-Trent, the legacy which he shared with his students was expanding with satellite schools across the country. Dave ran a comprehensive instructor training Program which allowed a privileged few to represent his name and that of the Magda Institute. Dave also wrote extensively showing that he not only possessed the physical attributes of perfectly executed technique, but also that he has some of the deepest technical and philosophical understanding of the arts that he taught. With published articles in Martial Arts Illustrated; he was the former JKD editor of the same magazine; and three books behind him, Dave was preparing for even bigger things for the future in his usual relaxed, casual and humble way.
Always the student, Dave also held a Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which was given to him by his teacher Carlos Lemos Jr.
Dave Carnell was training in BJJ under Professor Lucio ‘Lagarto’ Rodrigues and received his Black Belt from Professor Rodrigues. Dave was part of the Lagarto Team.
Dave Carnell’s laid-back coolness found in the young Magda and Kent flooded from him. It showed a man that had a deep, skillful and limitless understanding of what he did and he never ceased to impress even his oldest students. He was at ease and confident with his knowledge and the way that he taught, yet forever lived his life with the attitude that there was always much more to see and to learn. With Cass Magda and Lagarto as his guides Dave continued to grow. And, in turn, guided his own students. His greatest asset was his deep seated desire to pass on and share what he has learned; to show the world the beauty of JKD, BJJ and South-east Asian martial arts.
On Saturday, November 8, 2014, our highly esteemed Magda Institute Association Sifu/Guro Dave Carnell has left this earthly existence.
We have received messages of grief and condolences from all over the world, a testament of how much he is loved, deeply and truly. Thank you Everyone for your considerate thoughtfulness.
This devastating loss has shaken us to the core, with immense, unspeakable sadness and noble respects in every accord. He has given of himself so unselfishly with great love, care and loyalty as a great Martial Artist, Warrior and Teacher, Friend, Colleague, Mentor and above all, a Lighted Soul who possessed the gift of so many talents. He was Sifu Cass’ original student long before our MI Association was established, being a significant force in supporting the very roots of our great MI Martial Arts Family worldwide in the very beginning, over 26 years ago – plus.
Words shall never be adequate to convey the depth and scope of his contributions, lifelong dedication, loyalty to Sifu Cass and our MI Association, principles, philosophies, impossible commitment to excellence, impressive focus in training and deep, sincere love for his students & our MI Martial Artists all over the world. His passion and excitement for training translated into an impressive level of scores and scores of dedicated students that have been enriched by his genius, remarkable abilities, presence, approach, process, unique sense of humor and loving life with gusto.
An emptiness that shall remain with us will be always felt, as he was truly a Titan, a Giant, a remarkable Soul that deserves the highest accolades of remembrance, honor and love. Greatness.
Above all, we can be assured, in Joy, that his legacy shall live on through every lucky student who has received his teachings, energy, love and attention. For every student, who has been nourished with his heart, every move of excellence you express, will have his LIGHT. His Light will be there, expressed through YOU. This gift is priceless. A treasure. It is now up to all to continue and honor his Spirit by moving on and expanding, deepening and exploring more of yourselves. Otherwise, all his efforts would have been an utter waste.
To all of Sifu Dave’s lineage students – know that your MI Clan supports you, fully without compromise.
To Sifu Dave’s nuclear family, on behalf of our MI Association, we express our deepest condolences and love.
We remain united as ONE – MI Martial Arts Family. Together, we bow our heads with great love, honor and respects for Sifu Dave. We Love You and shall endure to make sure your Light will always be acknowledged, appreciated and celebrated.
Dave Carnell’s funeral will be held on Monday, December 1, 2014. There will be a service held at St Georges Church, Newcastle under Lyme, followed by a short service at Bradwell Crematorium.