Jacques Tapol, 8th Dan, world champion in 1986, is never stingy with ideas. For 10 years, in his club in Paris, the Kikentaï, he has organized Kagami Biraki, a traditional event symbolically marking the revival.

This year, 23 students braved the strike and the cold to live an unforgettable night. 4 training sessions interspersed with 2 hours of sleep on the tatami, a jogging and a break test to finish at 9 am…

By Ludovic Mauchien / Photo : LM

Jacques Tapol, the warrior

From his title of world champion in 1986, Jacques Tapol said that “it is anecdotal and I would have preferred to be a Just man during the Vel d'Hiv”. When he fought in the French team (70s-80s), he read Bobby Fischer, a chess genius, and Musashi, especially his "Gorin No Sho", to better understand the fight.

He did not change. At 64, Jacques Tapol is neither a follower of fencing practiced in the modern sports version, nor a madman of the Japanese ancestral tradition. But he remained martial in his approach, while developing a pedagogy filled with humor. In short, he is himself when he teaches…

Kagami Biraki, a Samurai tradition

Kagami Biraki is an unmissable event in Japan which is celebrated 10 days after the New Year, on January 11. It marks the beginning of things. The tradition dates back to the 17th century. This ceremony was celebrated for the 1st time by the 4th Shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty. One day, before going to war, he gathered his Daimyo (feudal governors) to open a barrel of sake. The battle was won, making this ceremony a respected custom every year.

Literally, it means "to open the mirror". In Shintoism, the spirits (kami) do not reside in the sanctuaries but descend from the "High Plain of Heaven" during ceremonies. When they join the world of men, they need a receptacle (rock, tree, animal, very often an object) which is generally hidden from public view. Only priests have access to it. Shinto celebrations are an opportunity to take the receptacle out of the sanctuary. It is generally an object considered to have a strong symbolic meaning, most often a round mirror. Kagami Biraki, the opening of the mirror, thus designates the event which consists in opening the door of the altar in which the mirror is enclosed, and by extension the "body" (Goshintai) of the Kami. In a way, the "light" of the Kami, a kind of dawn, the beginning of a cycle, is exposed to the view of the faithful.