In France, we discovered jiujitsu through the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Royce Gracie, just like the rest of the world. It was on a videocassette that Christian Derval, the orginator of BJJ in France, we all watched the victories of Royce Gracie.In France, we discovered jiujitsu through the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Royce Gracie, just like the rest of the world. It was on a videocassette that Christian Derval, the orginator of BJJ in France, we all watched the victories of Royce Gracie.
In September of 1995, Rickson Gracie was brought by a French martial art magazine came to make a big seminar for one week in our academy “Cercle Tissier”. Over 400 guys came to work out with Rickson. In 1996, the first team of eight French guys went to Brazil for the first world championship of Jiu Jitsu without knowing the rules of BJJ.
They were surprised at first that there was no contact and no punches unlike there were in the UFC they had seen. Finally, Christian Derval fought in the masters category and took third and the other fighter fought too.
Then in April of 1996, Rickson came back to France, for the famous “Martial Art Paris Bercy Show”. After the show, he gave a seminar in Thonon les Bains in the south of France and then Marseille.
Then still in 1996, Aurelien Derval, the son of Christian, Guy Mialot and Christian Derval traveled to a seminar of Rickson Gracie in New York where Christian Derval became the Rickson Gracie representative and earned his blue belt from Rickson Gracie the first in France.
In December of 1996, the “Cercle Tissier” academy invited Helio Morera Soneca, World Champion in at 61kgs black belt for 3 weeks. Soneca taught a lot of jiu jitsu to the students of “Cercle Tissier”.
Then the separation of Guy Mialot and Christian Derval came and they were no longer partners. Christian kept in touch with Rickson Gracie and stayed the only one representative of Rickson in France until 2001 (from 1997 up to 2001).
Unfortunately it was impossible to adjust the American system of seminars and traning with the French sports system. Rickson Gracie could not come in France because he asked a lot of money. In France, we have a lot of laws for all the sports and you can`t do what you want.
Christian Derval worked to improve the organization of BJJ in France. So in January of 2000, the BJJ French federation was born. It includes 30 academies in France and governs the rules of who can have a degree to teach BJJ (required by French laws) and works to create an administrative structure in the country.
The BJJ developed like that in France. Jiu Jitsu is now 10 years old in France and still growing fast.
Today, we are the FJJBDA, Fédération de Jiu Jitsu Brésilien et Disciplines Associées this means, the French federation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There are probably 50 French academies in this federation. We have 3 French black belt guys: Christian Derval: 2nd degrees, Patrick Bittan, and Thierry Rijvas.
To receive our belt, we must pass a technical test. To become a teacher of Jiu Jitsu, we must follow a weeklong seminar with a skills test at the end. It`s not like in Brazil. In France, you can follow the seminar and to become teacher if you are blue belt or better.
Of course, there are other academies, which are not in the French federation. They prefer to be independent. So, they have not the advantages of the federation. Soon most likely they are going to become outlawed by French law.
About Laurence CousinLaurence is the top female competitor in Europe today. She is undefeated as a purple belt in competition. She has only ever lost in Brazil to higher belts in the Copo do Mundo and the Mundial where she took third in both. She is a fierce competitor and will be fighting next year in the USA at Grappler’s Quest and the Pan Ams.