Jean Valiquette, 5th Dan – Quebec
Combat sports have appealed to Sensei Jean Valiquette at an early age. Who else but himself is in the best position to explain this attraction? Let’s listen to him: “I remember vividly the kiai I heard coming from the Diocesan Centre located on the street right next to mine in Saint-Jérôme. At that time, Philippe Wronski, a national team member, taught judo at the Centre. Too shy to join a group, I practiced with friends judo techniques learnt from a book. In my backyard, I had set an old mattress that served as our judo mat.”
To make sure that the winter wouldn’t freeze his enthusiasm, he moved his passion to the house’s basement. He candidly admits: “Inspired by a pair of boxing gloves my father had given me, I set up a boxing ring in the basement, fully equipped with a speed bag and a punching bag. I wouldn’t miss any televised boxing match. At that time Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) reigned supreme in the boxing world.”
In January 1983, aged 29, a co-worker introduces him to karate. He practices in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, under the supervision of Emil Pavaliu. Lured by this experience, Sensei Jean Valiquette undertakes a long journey to the “always better and ever higher” goals. Here are few milestones: In June 1986, he gets his first kyu in Chicoutimi from no other than Sensei Nakayama. In November 1986, he receives his black belt. The many setbacks notwithstanding, he persists and reaches his second Dan in July 1993. In 2006, in Gaspé, he is awarded the Sandan grade, a stepping stone to the Yondan grade that followed in Lévis in 2011. The Godan grade became his at the Haliburton meet in June 2016. That same year, he climbed on the highest step of the podium during the kata bunkai Canadian Championship. At the same event, he won silver in team combat competition. Since receiving his 7th kyu, he has been training with Sensei Bryan Mattias of Laval.
From 2011 on, Sensei Jean Valiquette teaches as Assistant Instructor at the Dojo Shotokan des Laurentides. The last words belong to him: “Teaching is very fulfilling. It’s a good way to recharge one’s batteries. It doesn’t matter whether one practices karate to stay in shape, to discipline oneself, for the love of competition or to fight. Each individual has his own objective and finds in it what he is looking for. Karate is a philosophical way of life where hard work and perseverance can guide one through a long journey. My only regret is not having started earlier.”