Teamrock of the French team, World champion in 2012, Kenji Grillon is today a known and recognized fighter in the world and French circuit. Fighter with an iron mind, He tells us about the Bercy 2012 final against Japan’s Ryutaro Araga, whom he won 6-3 in the World’s final.


By Florian Fournier / Photo : D.R


« When I was young, I wanted to be a champion, no matter the sport. Being in Bercy in front of my audience, with 12,000 people on fire, was the perfect opportunity to make my dream come true. An atmosphere like this, as a sports fan, is what I dreamed of the most. So I plunged straight into my bubble, I got all the good vibes to go into battle and fight a fierce battle for 4 minutes against Araga.

I was transcended, I knew my opponent, an unpredictable fighter, technically gifted and capable of everything. In a true Japanese style, I knew that, in order to win, I had to not let him attack first. In this fight, I take the score, he comes back, I take the score again, he comes back again after a little mistake from me, then he takes the score. But at no point did I doubt. I stayed focus on every action. The mental intensity was very important, I came back to 3-3 . With Araga, in all the fights we did, there is not much technical exchange. But, in terms of distance and timing, it’s still very intense.

In this fight, I remember very well a rather paradoxical moment that I don’t recommend today as a coach to my students. With 5 seconds remaining, when I am leading 6-3, I spoil the fight a bit and, in my head, I know I won. Whereas this is an attitude that I don’t advise to my students and that I myself have never done in my career. As long as the fight is not over, anything can happen, especially when there is only a 3 points gap. But in this fight, mentally, I reacted contrary to my principles. I felt untouchable.

The Uraken...

For the Uraken, I went to a good school (laughs). My coach, Olivier Beaudry, was known for that, the “Beaudrillette”. It’s a technique that I worked on a lot in training and at one point, I felt it was the right time to do it. We don't see a lot of it anymore but I was happy to do it. It’s always satisfying to replicate the training patterns in competition. And that allows us to thank at Olivier during the final. This is also the beauty of sport.

The fight over, I explode with joy and savor this moment with the audience. For me, that’s sport, like the soccer player who scores the rescue goal in the 90th minute. The emotion felt at that moment strongly shakes it.

With my injury which happened when I was n°1, this success helped me to come back. I did some mental imagery and this title is a positive part of my career. So, I look for the emotions of this fight to overcome my injury, come back stronger and hope to taste this kind of moment again.

Winning at home with such an audience, I think it’s impossible to do better. But for the blink of an eye, for history and also to close the story, beating Araga in the Olympic final in Tokyo would be great ».