Kyoshi John Leroux


John Leroux
John Leroux

I was first interested in martial arts because of the character Kwai Chang Caine in TV series Kung Fu, and also out of fear of getting hurt by others.  My parents always pushed me to turn the other cheek.  That was tough going being French and growing up in a rural English community at time when there was some political strife.  It turns out my first martial arts teacher (a Bruce Lee fanatic) may not have had any formal training, but he helped me to face some bullies.
In 1977 I started Judo – then in 1979 found a Tai Chi instructor which I found so cool because of its Chinese origin and the movements were more like Kwai Chang Caine.   However, my tai chi instructor was only in our town for a short time.  I was then approached by the owner of the martial arts school that offered Tai Chi, Yoga, Jujitsu and karate.  He was the karate teacher Sensei Paddy Savage.  He had an incredible presence about him – very charismatic and crazy muscular.   He convinced me that it wasn’t about beating people up that they meditated and karate was about being strong on the outside and on the inside.  Then a few years later Sensei Savage suffered a serious back injury.  In 1981-82 as a green belt, I took over teaching classes for Sensei for nearly a year in his main school and some satellite locations in nearby towns.
Most Improved Student Award from Karate Institute of America signed by one of my martial arts heroes Chuck Norris in 1983 after spending an entire summer of training in Ohio with Denis Janes (Kajukempo), and then Pennsylvania with Nick Gracenin (Wushu) and then Detroit with Bill Adams (Isshinryu Karate). One of the best summers of my life – these awesome martial artists had me live with them and train with them everyday (such amazing human beings).  I Received my 1st kyu Brown belt in 1984.  That’s when I started University taking kinesiology at the University of Guelph.  I took a summer job in British Columbia during EXPO 86.  While in BC had an opportunity to continue my training, was offered by the Japanese Karate Association to grade to black belt but I did not want to grade with anyone but Sensei Savage.  I fell in love with BC and transferred to the University of British Columbia and change my major to business.  I graduated in 1990 with my Bachelor of Commerce.
I receive my Shodan and Sensei designation in 1989 with Sensei Savage.  Unfortunately, Sensei Savage lost his schools in Canada.  I don’t believe he still teaches martial arts.
Currently I hold the rank and title of 7th Dan Kyoshi with Kancho Okuyama of Toronto, Canada as well as Kaicho Hokama of Okinawa, JP.  These amazing instructors very different in their teaching styles yet nevertheless inspire me to learn and be more.  They push me and have shown me so much kindness.
I have had the pleasure of meeting, training and learning both about technical martial arts as well as business and I owe a little to each and everyone of them.  However, there is one that stands out for me; Kyoshi Dave Kovar.  I have been with him since I think ProMAC started.  He is someone I aspire to be like.  I like his approach of being a martial artist first, an instructor second and a businessman 3rd.   I believe mastering the first makes the other two possible with proper application.  I am still working on it though – I keep finding myself a white belt in so many areas – its kind of funny.  It’s good thing I like to learn.
Karate helped me to be more.  Yes, I was a hyperkinetic young boy who could not sit still.  I believe I may have been labelled ADHD and highly medicated.  However, martial arts training helped me to focus.  My grades became better with less homework. My ability to take tests improved.  My confidence in my ability to learn if I applied myself inspired me.  You could say my lamp had been lite.  An interesting thing happened in my last year of high school – my father said I was training too much and that I had to stop.  I did stop, but so did my studies.  Karate was my prescription.  I secretly went back to training (I think Mom knew but she didn’t say anything) and my grades went up.
I teach karate because I felt first-hand how karate can transform you.  The culture the comradery and trust and the clarity that comes from living a healthy lifestyle.  A sense of calm and awareness with less fear.  I don’t know what I was so afraid of, but martial arts training allowed me to live a much fuller life.

Maybe 10 years ago Master Fariborz interviewed me in his amazing Dojo in Woodland CA.  I had recently married my wife Nathalie Leroux.  Since then we have had 2 wonderful children – Akira and Vincent.  They are both participating in karate a few times a week that’s not counting all the times my son beats me up.  Wow!  My kids are active – I already thought my parents were amazing raising me and my 2 sisters and now you can multiply that my 10.  My Mother and Father are my living heroes – I can talk about them for hours about their stories and how they inspire me, love and support me.  If only one day my daughter and my son will think of me in a way close to the way I think of my folks.

Some of my favorite quotes that influence me most:
“Take health, happiness and prosperity to everyone you meet”
“Karate is like boiling water, you must constantly add heat or it will cool”
“Give so much time to improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others”
“Be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble”
“One must not hasten the bloom of the flower”
“NO be there when punch come”
“Don’t think….Feeeel”  - reminds me of another “Paralyses by analyses”
“A child is not a vessel to be filled by a lamp to be lite”

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John Leroux World KarateFIT Centre Ottawa Ontario

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