Jacques Legree

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Jacques Legree

Jacques Legree is a pioneer of Kyokushin Karate in France. An uchi-deshi of Kyokushin founder, Mas Oyama, he has done a lot to promote the art in the country.

Legree was born on 11 February 1944 in Rennes, France. He grew up in a single parent family. His father was not in the picture.

On leaving school, Legree joined the Merchant Navy. After leaving the Merchant Navy, he trained to be an engraver. He eventually moved to Switzerland for work.

While in Switzerland, Legree began learning Kyokushin Karate. He trained at the dojo of Dutchman Bred Kese. Kese, a Kyokushin 2nd Dan, instilled in him the discipline he had been missing.

Legree immersed himself in his Karate training. He trained three times a week. During each session, he participated in several full-contact fights.

Wanting to take his Karate to the next level, Legree decided to move to Japan. In 1971 he became a ‘Young Lion‘ at the Kyokushin Hombu. He became an uchi-deshi (live-in student) of Mas Oyama in Tokyo. Training at the dojo was tough, as was to be expected. It was particularly tough on foreigners who had to prove themselves.

By 1974 Legree had completed his internship at the Kyokushin Hombu. On his return to France he established a dojo within the AC Boulogne-Bilancourt (ACBB).

In 1975 Legree was introduced to Dutchman, Jan Kallenbach, from whom he studied Taikken. Kallenbach was a Kyokushin karateka who had studied Taikken from Japanese master, Kenichi Sawai. Sawai was a noted Japanese martial artist, responsible for introducing the modified version of the Chinese martial arts, Yikuan, to Japan. He called the style Taikken. It is a style of fighting that focuses on developing natural movement and fighting ability.

For the next couple of years Legree focused on establishing Kyokushin Karate in France. He had become the recognised face of the style in the country.

In 1979 Legree became a national technical judge for the French Federation of Karate and Associated Disciplines (FFKDA).

By the turn of the century Kyokushin Karate had become an established style in France. This was largely due to the hard work of Legree. He held a number of demonstrations, courses, and competitions. As a teacher he developed a good crop of students.

On 28 March 2009, Legree helped organise the 23rd Martial Arts Festival at Paris Bercy. The festival, and annual event, had 18,000 spectators in attendance. The event was normally organised by Karate Bushido Magazine. This year it was held in conjunction with a small Kyokushin tournament.

The 9th Open Weight Kyokushin Championships were held in Paris on 28 November 2009. There were 166 competitors from 19 European countries. This was a record number of competitors for the tournament.

There were a number of special guests in attendance. This included IKO General Secretary, Katsuhito Gorai, and IKO International Committee member, Loek Hollander. IKO President, Shokei Matsui was also present. He awarded Legree and Stanislav Blizniuk with their 6th Dan certificates.

Jacques Legree has been a pioneer of Kyokushin Karate in France and has also held numerous courses around Europe. Through his teaching he has helped build the style in the country, providing a number of top students. He continues to teach and promote Kyokushin Karate.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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