Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jean-Marie Rousseau and Savate in China


Source: http://fisavate.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=152&Itemid=28&lang=english

Written by Julie

Who are you?

It's a question that I ask myself everyday in as much as I have looked for myself for a long time without ever finding myself. I know only that, after 63 years of existence, I am not a being who is completely fulfilled, but that I still want to discover myself… For Savate, which is our subject, I am well aware that I entered into this world very late, really by chance, having been growning up in an athletic environment and having attempted in vain to shine in a lot of other sports during my studies.

In fact, it was in the university restaurant of the Bd Raspail of Paris that I came across a small poster announcing the start of a course by Michel Marlière, a teacher of Sports and Physical Education in the local universities, and also Jussieu. It was in this place, at the start of the 1970s that my passion for "French Boxing" (one no longer dared to say Savate at this time) began. I can also say that Savate has been one of the founding elements of my life.

How did you find yourself engaged in Savate?

"Engaged" is the right term because, from the start, I threw myself into the practice of Savate, not only as a participant in a sport, but subscribing body and soul. I never got far in the competitions, my biggest triumph having been a 'mediocre' victory in university championships. At the same time, I joined the French Federation (then affiliated to the French Federation of Judo and associated sports), practiced the Cane, and soon taught the two disciplines, before becoming Silver Glove, then Moniteur and next Professor and 'militant' in every way: notably I had launched a bimonthly newspaper, « Le Petit Boxeur Français Illustré », of which I was editor in chief (Frédéric Aymard was the Director of the Publication), under the patronage of Count Pierre Baruzy and under the protection of all the main players of the era, Bernard Plasait, Marc Kunstlé, Bob Alix, and supported by formidable champions like Guillaume, Paturel, Charmillon, Augais, and then Richard Sylla of course… Apologies to anyone that I forget, but who I admired no less!

Is Savate your job or your passion ?

I had planned to enter a significant occupation and I am not afraid to say that Savate allowed me to finance a part of my studies, as I was already a father of two children (I had five children who all did Savate and one of whom was champion of Belgium in 'Combat' last year). I taught at the Cité universitaire d’Antony (Croix de Berny), at Cachan and in the studio of the Stade Français in rue de Chazelle in Paris. Some years after entering into professional life, I resumed the teaching of Savate, in addition to my work at Tours, where I organized big international Savate tournaments (with my friends and students Robert Mander and Jean-Luc Stiévenard), that cost me a lot of money despite 3000 seat venues full to bursting point.

What do you think you have achieved in Savate ?

I understand the meaning of your question but the Anglicism of the word ‘achevé’ drives me to reply that I have never 'finished' anything, not even my more docile fighting partners. To reply more concretely to your question, I fulfilled some dreams, of which the most glorious was the creation of the International Savate Federation in 1985, under the honorary presidency of Count Pierre Baruzy and the instigation of the president of the French Federation of BF Savate, Pierre Gayraud. I was then vice president of this French Federation, with 'International' responsibilities and we had, together as a team of friends and colleagues, successfully undertaken this tremendous adventure in the company of a handful of other countries. I recently read that there were ten other member countries, among which I remember Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Senegal... I chaired this International Federation for three years, but had to abruptly interrupt my mandate following a move in my professional career to Rwanda in Africa. Nevertheless, in this short period of time, I had undertaken important missions in many countries, among which I particularly like to quote the United States. I went there several times, accompanied often by officials such as Michel Roger, but also by champions, male and female, who have made their mark in international Savate, such as Gilles Le Duigou, current president of the International Savate Federation, or Hubert Abella, assistant DTN who accompanied me last month in our mission to China.

What is your role in Savate today?

I came back to Savate as a spectator and supporter of my son Benoît, but a combination of circumstances has allowed me to come back to some temporary responsibilities. In quick succession this year, there was an invitation to participate in a strong delegation of FIS for recognition by the IOC (to meet Jacques Rogge) in Lausanne. My peers kindly had included me as a past-president and I am immensely grateful to them. In the aftermath, it was proposed to present the candidacy of Savate as a demonstration sport at the first World Combat Games in Peking, August 28th to September 5th 2010. The last minute admission of Savate to these SportAccord Championships in cooperation with Chinese authorities has not been easy. You can imagine for yourself how much it was necessary to argue, to sell, to implore, to obtain this place!

What do you think about the international development of the Savate?

I reply immediately that I appreciate and (why not) am grateful to the presidents that succeeded me, Alain Salomon, Michel Roger, Alexandre Walnier, Jean Houel, but especially with respect to the current president, my friend Gilles Le Duigou, for the work accomplished and the results attained. To go from eleven countries (were there even that many?) to sixty-six affiliated countries is already remarkable. To be able to organize international competitions each year in the three disciplines, Assaut, Combat and Canne, for male and female athletes, similarly for school and university students, in all weight categories, leaves me in complete admiration.

What are your future intention/ideas for Savate?

Plainly, because I cannot finish this interview without explaining why I came back to Savate and what motivates me again to return to this adventure, I will first remind you of my solidarity with all those that appreciate our values and have tasted the joys of our friendly sport.

The mission that I took to Peking last month with Joël Dhumez, vice President of the French Federation, and of some other federations, confederal and international (no less), with Hubert Abella, assistant DTN and the four tremendous Savate athletes (Mike Lambret, Tony Ancelin, Christelle Lambret, Cindy Demarle), formed part of the plan for international conquest by Savate.

Two very precise aims drove the team that went to Peking for the World Games. Working with the president Gilles Le Duigou and with the precious assistance of Julie Gabriel with regard to communication, we had set ourselves two principal objectives:

- On one hand the definite recognition of our sport Savate in the showcase of SportAccord, and

- On the other hand the introduction of Savate to China, the biggest sporting nation of the world since the 2008 Olympics.

We can consider today that these objectives are a good way towards achievement. They are begun and they must be confirmed, we must not be satisfied with half-open doors, but “convert them” as one says in rugby.

In Beijing, before the closing ceremony of the Games, the president of Sportaccord himself, Mr. Hein Verbruggen, granted the whole Savate delegation an interview during which he confirmed the participation of our sport in future Games. The same evening, we were invited to the closing ceremony of the Games and were received with words of welcome and encouragement by all official members of the SportAccord Combat Games.
The networks of the Centres Culturels Français and Alliances Françaises in China (a group of fifteen all over China), made aware by the delivery of documents (historic and cultural) through the cultural services of the French Embassy in Beijing, should be informed following our discussion with the Centre culturel français of Beijing, of the timeliness of offering courses in Savate.

On the Chinese side, the links already made, starting with the important Beijing Sports Competitions Administration Centre, and its Director, Mr Sean HAI (HAI Si Wen) have promised us the benefit of their support for our next projects or work with the officials of Chinese sport.

In addition, the Beijing Bokesen Sport Culture Development Company Ltd, a private sport organisation in China, has discussed a very promising project of cooperation. This corporation, together with the Chinese television CCTV and, the support of Chinese public authorities, proposed during the meeting of our delegation and its president, Mrs LIU XiaoHong, and its manager, Mr. ZHOU Jianjun, to prepare cooperative agreements to rapidly allow the participation of Savate in their national and international championships, with the suggestion to begin awareness and training seminars in Savate. Clearly, we are only at the beginning of such cooperation, but it indicates our will to win to our cause the big sporting nation of China. All this story of the meeting of cultures is ambitious and brings a provisional view on the future of Savate… a story in which I would like to play a role.


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