Sunday, June 8, 2008

Professor Georges Sylvain Retires

A couple of weeks ago, Professor Georges Sylvain, founder of Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu, retired from the world of martial arts at the age of 72. He has contributed a great deal to the development of martial arts in Canada over the past 50 years, so it truly is the end of an era. I consider myself very lucky to have trained under him and worked with him to as a training model for several of his video productions. Here is a little about this extraordinary man.

Professor Sylvain began his training in combative arts over 50 years ago when he served with the Canadian Military Police during the Korean War. Mr. Sylvain undertook training in Judo, Jiu-jitsu, Karate, weapons, standard police techniques and boxing.

When he developed and founded the art of Can-Ryu Jiu-jitsu, he wanted to make it the most effective self-defense system possible. With this intention, he allowed each and every technique that would eventually become the curriculum to be tested on him personally in a variety of conditions.

Professor Sylvain is renown throughout North America having taught defensive tactics at police forces and academies all across the continent, including the Smith and Wesson Police Academy. For the 25 years, he taught defensive tactics for the Law and Security program at Algonquin College. He won a number of awards for his teaching excellence and dedication to his students. His books on police tactics from a policeman's perspective have sold in over a dozen countries and are used as text books by law and security programs abroad.

In the mid-sixties, Professor Sylvain was a top-rated karate competitor, chief instructor of one of Canada's first Jiu-jitsu schools, a cop, author of "Scientific Method of Police Fighting" and the chief self-defense instructor for the RCMP.

In the days of full-contact karate Professor Sylvain wrote an article stating that the competitors that would gain the most success in the future of the sport would have to combine their karate techniques with those of boxing. Soon after, kickboxing was born.

Professor Sylvain was Jean-Yves "Iceman" Theriault's initial trainer in the early part of the 23-time world champion career. He also became an integral part of TSS Productions, which promoted martial arts and kickboxing extravaganzas in Ottawa.

On his retirement, Professor Sylvain gave Ed Hiscoe Shihan (my Sensei back in Ottawa) the task of carrying on his legacy. He truly is an inspiration and I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to learn from him.

I'll sign off this post with the opening of my book, Weapons of Opportunity, which quotes him:

Weapon #1: A Can of Beans

A weapon of opportunity is an object that lies conveniently at hand at the moment of an attack, and is used as an improvised weapon in defense.

For example, let’s assume you went to the grocery store and bought a can of beans. The clerk places it in a plastic bag for you to carry home. While you’re carrying it to the front door of your home, you’re suddenly pounced upon by an assailant. Reflexively, because you were caught by surprise, you swing the bag with the can of beans back at him, hitting his head. The can of beans has now become a weapon of opportunity. You didn’t buy it with the purpose of walking around the city and hitting people over the head with it. You used it because that’s what you happened to have in your hands with which to defend yourself when you were subjected to an unprovoked physical assault.

In self-defense, there are no rules, only results.


Antipodean Charm said...

Before my injury-enforced retirement, I had the great privilege of training in many black belt seminars under the instruction of Professor Sylvain. Occasionally, I had the privilege of training with Sensei Lori in those classes - the same sensei who taught me to punch properly when I was a coloured belt... half the effort needed, twice the pain delivered.

I will never forget anything that I learnt in those seminars - we sweated that training into indelible parts of our brain. It was tough, hard, a little frightening, but a lot of fun.

Your post brought back a lot of good memories. Thank you for the wonderful homage to a great man.


Lori O'Connell said...

Yes, it's good to remember. Like how you were the first person to knock me out with a strike to the brachial plexus origin. ;)