I have no objections to sportive Karate as such. I think it can go together very well with Karate as a way of life. It is just a shame that most of the competition people are only interested in winning and earning. It often lacks brotherhood as we experience here during Karate training sessions. There is no common goal, such as improving and developing Karate. Most people quit when they reach the age that competitive, sportive Karate is no longer possible. Fortunately, there are some individuals who start following the traditional way of Karate after their competitive period.Pascal Lecourt
Technically, a very gifted martial artist, Pascal Lecourt has been an ambassador for Taiji Kase’s version of Shotokan Karate. He has described Kase as his ‘Spiritual Father‘, whose Karate has guided his life.
Pascal Lecourt was born on 3 April 1959, in the Normandy town of Rouen, in France.
Around the age of 13 Lecourt started practising Judo. He did this for around three years.
Lecourt started practicing Shotokan Karate in 1975, aged 16. He started training with Gerald Dumont, who was a student of Taiji Kase. At the time, Dumont was a 2nd Dan. He began practicing Karate in 1968 and started training with Kase in 1971. Kase started teaching in France in 1967. He had been invited to teach in Paris by Henri Plee.
In June 1976, Dumont moved from Normandy to the region of Brittany. Lecourt tried training at several local Shotokan dojos but found the Shotokan they practiced was very different from Kase’s version.
Rather than attend a dojo he didn’t like, Lecourt started attending courses held by Kase. Kase held courses in different towns around France twice a month. Lecourt also attended courses held by Gerald Dumont in Brittany. To attend the courses Lecourt would sometimes have to hitchhike or travel by moped. He even attended courses abroad. He was a white belt at the time and was very dedicated to his training. He practiced what he had learned.
Lecourt liked training with Kase because his style was based on reality. He was inspired by Kase, who was a strict teacher. The training was tough. Kase also invited instructors such as Keinosuke Enoeda, Hiroshi Shirai, Satoshi Miyazaki, Takeshi Naito, Masao Kawasoe, and other instructors to help teach his courses.
In 1978 Lecourt started teaching Karate informally to a few friends and acquaintances.
By 1979 Lecourt had been promoted to 1st Dan. He and a group of friends started attending courses held in Crystal Palace, London. They converted a camper van to travel to England. It had been adapted to include furniture and a bathroom.
Lecourt had formed a close relationship with Kase. Kase invited him to travel to Japan with him. He stayed at Kase’s home. He had the chance to train at Kase’s personal dojo, located in the garden of his home. Kate advised him to model his Karate on Hiroshi Shirai, who he considered to be one of the best Shotokan practitioners.
In 1985 Lecourt opened a dojo in his hometown of Rouen, Normandy. He had started teaching professionally in 1981.
By 1987 Lecourt was married. That year he made a return visit to Japan with his wife.
On 15 April 1987 Masatoshi Nakayama, the Chief Instructor of the JKA died. This led to a period of infighting between different factions within the association.
In 1989 Kase left the JKA, having founded the World Karate-Do Shotokan Academy (WKSA), alongside Hiroshi Shirai. The Association was free of the politics that plagued Shotokan Karate. It also taught Kase’s style of Karate called Shotokan Ryu Kase Ha.
On a visit to Japan in 1989, Lecourt had the opportunity to meet Kyudo Master, Suhara, at the Enkakuji Temple. Kase also advised him to meet Iaido Master, Otake.
Through the 1990s LeCourt was a frequent assistant to Kase. As his assistant he learnt a lot from the master.
In 2004 Kase established the Kase Ha Shotokan Ryu Karate-Do Academy. He appointed Lecourt as the head of the academy.
On 24 November 2004 Taiji Kase died in Paris. Lecourt had been Kase’s student for around 30 years. He had lost his mentor. He made it his life’s work to continue the legacy of Kase.
In 2005 France Shotokan Ryu Kase Ha was established eight months after Kase’s death. That year a gasshuku was held in Rouen.
A memorial training course was held in honour of Kase in Hasselt, Belgium in 2008.
Lecourt was awarded his 7th Dan in 2016. This was the first dan grade he did not receive from Kase.
Between 27-28 October 2018, LeCourt was invited to Grahamstown, South Africa, to give his first South African seminar. He was invited as a guest of the newly formed United Shotokan-Ryu. He was following in the footsteps of Taiji Kase, who had made frequent visits to South Africa in the 1960s, during the infancy of Shotokan in the country.
Pascal Lecourt frequently gives training courses across Europe, Israel, Cambodia, and Australia. He continues to live and teach in his hometown of Rouen.
Apart from Karate, Lecourt is also a student of Kyudo.