This page is dedicated to the late Sempai Jean-Paul Millour
On April 18th 2011 we entered the dojo like any other training night. It was a small class just having come back after the easter break and school holidays were still in place, but Jean-Paul was smiling and happy and ready to train as always. Whilst warming up and practicing the Kanku Kata which he had specifically asked me to go over in the previous session, Jean-Paul began to feel unwell and sat down. Now Sempai never sat down so we knew straight away that something was not right. Despite all efforts of those present and two paramedic crews, a cardiac arrest ended Sempai’s training session this night, and hence we lost our most dedicated member of the dojo and our friend.
It has been published on Facebook by Jean-Paul’s family so I trust it is okay to post here : An excerpt from an email that Jean-Paul wrote a few years back.
“If one day I stay on the Tatami, it… won’t be a glorious death, but why not? I only hope that it won’t stop the others to continue training and that they will gentely push me on the side. Osu!”
This page needn’t be here to keep his memory alive though it feels like an honor for me to make it so.
Sempai Jean-Paul’s Memorial Service Speech :-
I deeply regret that I cannot be here today in person. Things in life don’t always go to plan. It would have been my honour to stand up and express how highly that I, and the rest of the Kyokushin Karate group especially those training at Eltham Martial Arts Academy thought of Sempai Jean-Paul. I have no doubt that my and Sempai’s fellow students, will convey these sentiments through reading this small piece that I have written on my, and their behalf.
To us, he was the “ Sempai”. Translated Literally this means Senior in terms of Rank.
But Jean Paul was more than just a senior rank- he was a person who truly showed all others the way. There was no questioning Jean-Paul’s training ethic and it was a rare occasion that he wasn’t there first in line and setting the standard. Jean-Paul was in fact my longest serving student who started training with me at blue belt level some 12 yrs ago when I took over running the original Eltham Dojo then run by Shihan Kolovos. He had moved dojo’s with me 3 times, and having trained so long many students have essentially ‘grown up” with Sempai at the front of the dojo, guiding and teaching them along the way.
He was always ready to step in and teach a new student, or hand over some friendly advice for an existing one and could always be counted on to stand up and lead a class.
Humble and strong with a dedication that never faulted, there was never a time when Sempai took the ‘easy’ way out in training. His effort was always 100 % and despite (or in spite of) his years, he pushed just as hard in class as any other. Indeed, Jean-Paul was an inspiration and a testament to the Kyokushin Spirit of Osu which we proudly follow. If there is anyone who really meant Osu when they said it, It was SempaiJean-Paul.
I think Sempai was actually a bit of a party animal. I don’t remember a social function or dojo event that he was not present at unless of course he was off travelling somewhere on the other side of the world for work or visiting family etc.
He would always be there, smiling, laughing, and happy and always having a good time. His support for the dojo was un-wavering and he was always involved in Fundraising efforts, with his company Air Liquide even sponsoring tournaments and contributing to their success. His sense of fun and humour will be missed by all. Especially by me as often he was the only one who ‘got’ my bad jokes. Often in class I would say something I thought was witty but on looking around at faces they would just be , well……confused. I would then just glance over at Sempai for a smile and small nod of appreciation. 🙂
One of the 11 Motto’s by Kyokushin Founder Mas Oyama states “ The true essence of the Martial Way can only be realised through hard training. Knowing this, never fear it’s demands”. And Sempai never did. In fact, I believe he relished the hard training. The more tired he got, the harder he would train. At times I would give Sempai the ‘look’ like you can stop now Sempai, that’s enough, and he would shake his head, say osu, smile at his training partner and continue. On his memorial training day that we are holding at the dojo on 21st May, we will train in his honour and also his spirit. We will complete 1000 punches, 1000 kicks and hang 1000 paper cranes from the shomen to ask for luck and prosperity on this next part of his journey. We will do this knowing how much he would have loved to have been part of this event, and indeed he will be. Training along with us in our hearts.
And so Sempai Jean-Paul’s training time on the mat is complete.
He has however left us with an aspiration to continue steadfast In our training and to continue on with his same determination and spirit of perseverance which he evidently upheld in every facet of his life. And that is the true meaning of Kyokushin . Jean Paul did not make Kyokushin his life, but rather he took every lesson to be learn’t and lived his life in it’s spirit.
I pass over now to Dane Hitchins who will read a section of the dojo Kun which is repeated by all students at the end of every training session. As was so aptly pointed out in his online dedication by Andrew Perrett, this dojo kun will always be heard in our heads in a thick French accent as more often than not, it was recited by Sempai Jean-Paul, First in line.
Sempai Kiley Baker on behalf of Eltham Martial Arts Academy
And all Kyokushin Karate Students
( Dane Hitchins then read out the Dojo Kun as at the end of each class to which the students at the service recited back in answer. I am told that this was quite a special moment for his family, and I am sure for his training partners alike)
1000 Paper Cranes, 1000 Punches & 1000 Kicks
Members from other dojo’s who had also trained with Sempai Jean- Paul came along as well as a contingent of students from EMAA. We commenced the training session with the normal bow in, but with a special minutes Silence and Rei (Bow) and a big loud Osu for Jean-Paul. After introducing the class, I opened the crane hanging where we hung 1000 cranes from the ceiling above the dojo Shomen.
Once the cranes had all been hung, we began our 10oo punches. It felt good to see everyone really putting in effort and the loud Kia’s provided a great energy throughout the room. After about 500 , the shoulders began to feel it and the arms got a bit heavy, but still we kept punching. Every student took turns counting and each time we finished a set of 10 this was crossed off on a white-board to ensure we didn’t lose count !
Quick drink break and a stretch and then it was time Kicking Time ! Not surprisingly, 1000 Kicks ( Mae Geri’s ) were much harder than 1000 punches . Or was this just me and have Something to do with being 7 months pregnant ? Not sure ha ha.
Anyway…1000 Mae Geri’s crossed off the board and we are still feeling very enthusiastic and we finished well before time. I decided then to take the class through the Kanku Dai Kata. Kata was Sempai’s Favourite I am sure and as I stated earlier , this was the last thing I taught him. It felt fitting to end the session this way.
Thanks to everyone who came along and took the time to fold the Origami cranes, this special session was a great success and a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.
Again, Osu Jean-Paul.
You and your spirit shall persevere.