Henri Courtine was a special figure of French and world judo. The first 10th dan in his country, he was also considered one of the first great stylists of judo, one of the first champions and he was the first national technical director in France. Analysing the development of judo in the country and its popularisation cannot therefore be done without associating it with this outstanding figure of French sport.
He was born on 11th May 1930 and in 1954, aged 24, he entered his name on the list of major international medallists, when he placed 2nd at the European Championships in Brussels, open category. A year later he repeated that silver medal at the European Championships in Paris. The following year, 1956, Henri Courtine stepped on the podium of the first World Championships in Tokyo. He went on to obtain several European titles before passing to the other side of the barrier, by becoming national coach.
In 1966, he became the first French 6th dan, along with Bernard Pariset and the same year was appointed National Technical Director of the French Judo Federation, before becoming its administrative director.
From 1979 to 1987, he was the Sport Director of the International Judo Federation.
When he was promoted to the rank of 10th dan, Henri Courtine said, “With judo, I learned, I got better, I lost, I won. In '54 I was the best, in '55 I was worthless, but that was a long time ago. The responsibilities I took there forced me to go back to school. Today my book is finished. At my age I wouldn't dare to give a technical demonstration, out of respect for the discipline. Tenth dan? Nothing has changed. I will continue, as judo taught me." (L'Esprit du Judo - December 2007).
The man's modesty is on par with what he has accomplished during his career, both as an athlete and as a manager and leader. Thank you Mr Courtine for everything you have contributed to French and international judo. Rest In peace.