Jacques Sandulescu

Chairman, Kyokushin-kan International Committee

Jacques Sandulescu"Big Jacques" Sandulescu had been Mas Oyama's close friend and "gaijin brother" since the early 1960s, when they met on one of Sosai's early trips to the United States. It's a meeting made legendary in the "Karate Baka Ichidai" comic books, with the result that people always ask Jacques, "Did you fight him?" (Isn't that always how strong men become friends?)

Let the answer remain shrouded in mystery; what we can say is that Jacques - then a Greenwich Village coffeehouse and jazz-bar owner, today an author and actor - trained with Sosai for six hours a day up to the rank of nidan, and received one of Sosai's own belts. Though Sosai did award Jacques a 6th dan consonant with his advisory status, Jacques has never worn it and still trains in that "old" belt.

Jacques helped to arrange some of Sosai's spectacular demonstrations that introduced the power of karate to the U.S. The photos here give a sense of how close they were, and remained to the end of Sosai's life. Jacques is still training and still active as an advisor to Kyokushin-kan and a friend to many Kyokushin Karateka around the world.

Perhaps the reason Jacques understood Sosai so well is that hardship, physical strength, and the will to achieve the impossible had been so central to his own life. Jacques had been taken prisoner by the Red Army in his native Romania in 1945, when he was 16.

After working for 2 years as a slave labourer in the Donbas coal mines (now in the Ukraine), he was injured in a mine cave-in, and then escaped in mid-winter to avoid the amputation of his legs. You can read his autobiography, DONBAS, on the net at http://donbas.com. He is adding a special epilogue about his friendship with Sosai Oyama, including more photos.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 14 May 2009 01:19 )