View Full Version : In memory of Pierre Simon, Shihan, founder of the Oshinkan Dojo, Toulouse, France

Liam Keeley
5th July 2015, 23:31
It is with deep regret that I announce to the Budo world the passing of a pioneer of koryu in France, Pierre Simon, founder of the Oshinkan Dojo in Toulouse, at the request of his widow, Claire Simon.
Pierre was born in the south of France in 1941 and passed away on May the 3rd, 2015. While in France, he practised and taught Aikido for ten years in Toulouse and was graded to 3rd dan. He also taught Yoga for 15 years before moving with his family to Japan in 1984 to further his study of the traditional martial arts of Japan.
On his arrival in Japan Pierre dedicated himself to the koryu with an almost fanatical intensity. He and his family made great sacrifices to maximise his training time. His training record is unique in its breadth and depth.
He studied Shinto Muso ryu under Kaminoda Sensei, attaining 5th dan and Oku-iri-sho. For his studies of Negishi ryu shuriken-jutsu under Saito Satoshi Sensei he was awarded the rank of Shihan. Towards the latter part of his stay, he also took up Shoreikan Goju ryu Karate and was awarded shodan.
He was determined to join a school specialising in the sword, and so he and Claire joined the Tatsumi ryu, one of the most complete of the few remaining Sogo Bujutsu. They made a long trip by car from Tokyo every week to Sakura City in Chiba Prefecture to study Tatsumi ryu under the late Kato Takashi sensei and his son, the present Headmaster of Tatsumi ryu, Kato Hiroshi Sensei. Both Sensei are recognised by the prefectural government as "Intangible Cultural Assets."
Before leaving Japan, Pierre, Claire, and fellow student of Tatsumi ryu, Liam Keeley, took part in the unique Tatsumi ryu shugyo of "kazunuki," in which the two central Iai kata of Tatsumi ryu are performed 1,500 times each for a total of 3,000 kata. For their study of Tatsumi ryu, Pierre and Claire were awarded mokuroku rank.
Pierre and Claire trained in Toda-ha Buko ryu naginata-jutsu under Nitta Suzuyo Sensei at Nakano dojo, where they overlapped with Ellis Amdur for three years before Ellis returned to the USA.
Also training at the Nakano dojo during the time Pierre was there were Meik Skoss, Kent Sorenson, Bill Fettes, and towards the end of their stay, Liam Keeley.
Ellis, Pierre, Claire, Meik Skoss, Kent Sorenson, and Liam Keeley were all later awarded Shihan licences in Toda-ha Buko ryu.
Bill Fettes returned to Australia after being graded shoden in Toda-ha Buko ryu, and is now a policeman in Adelaide, South Australia. When I told him of Pierre's passing, he wrote, " I was totally shocked. He, along with you, Meik and Phil (Relnick) were my closest friends over there and he was also a neighbour, so we shared our own little training schedule as well. He was one of the toughest, yet most gentle people I have met and a true warrior. His family came first - even ahead of his training - and he doted on them. No doubt he would have been alive to the the end - the last time I heard from him he was still with the yamabushi and about to turn 70. "

Bill has kindly authorised me to use the following extract from his forthcoming book of memoirs of training in Japan and China, "Sitting at the feet of the Masters,".
"Of all the friends I’ve made in budo, Pierre Simon was as close as any. He was a French budoka whose father was a high ranking officer in the French military, and Pierre had grown up tough. He had overcome a crippling shoulder injury to become one of the most respected Western weapons practitioners in Japan. To watch him getting warmed up could be painful, but he would just tuck it away and plug on. On the many mornings we trained together we would have some interesting conversations.

“Hey Pierre, how’s your shoulder?”

“Still connected.”

“How’s your toe?”

“About the same.”

“Your back?”

“Well, in the next life perhaps... Ready?”


We had completely different backgrounds both socially and budo-wise. We also differed in our philosophies and our approaches to the way – he was very much Japanese arts and weapon oriented. Nevertheless we developed the peculiar bond that arises between people who struggle through the same problems. There was about as much demand at that time for French teachers as there was for high school dropout Australian teachers of English (practically none) so we both lived very much hand to mouth and gasshuku to gasshuku and we were constantly on the lookout for jobs, as much for each other as for ourselves."

Pierre's interests were not limited to the martial arts. He also studied sword-polishing and the shakuhachi (bamboo flute). In later life he became fascinated by Shugendo, and he wrote two master theses on the subject. He was involved in fieldwork in the Katsuragi and Omine mountains of Japan until the age of 70. On his return to France in 1992, he established the "Oshinkan" dojo in Toulouse to provide a training place for the correct transmission of koryu in France. He is succeeded as Dojo-cho of the Oshinkan by his widow, Claire Simon.
His son, Benjamin (43), is currently training at the Oshinkan dojo in Tatsumi ryu, Toda-ha Buko ryu naginata-jutsu. Negishi ryu, and Shindo Muso ryu. Just recently, on June the 27th, 2015, three of Pierre's senior students, including his son, Benjamin, Patrick Senesse (43), and Laurent Bannwarth (43) completed the Tatsumi ryu kazunuki shugyo, one of his long cherished dreams.
Those who would like to know more about Pierre are referred to a lengthly interview article by Germain Chamot focusing on him in the French language publication Dragon Magazine Special Aikido No. 8 (April 2015).

Liam Keeley