Alix Jeanguillaume’s handlebar moustache is not the only thing that has seen impressive growth during the pandemic period: so too has his reputation as a martial artist.
This year alone the Frenchman nicknamed “La Stache” has compiled a 13-2 record across all disciplines, which includes three world kenpo titles, one championship belt, and a bronze medal at the recently concluded GAMMA European Championships.
When asked for the secret of his success this year, the soft-spoken 33-year-old says it all boils down to one thing: “Work.”
“I work hard at it every day and have an understanding family that supports me,” he continues. “There is no secret, just work hard every day.”
Born in Besançon, France, Jeanguillaume first cut his teeth in martial arts at the age of 4, beginning with judo, followed by karate and wrestling.
He currently holds a 2nd dan black belt in judo while also practicing jiujitsu, grappling, and Pancrace. Over the years he has been crowned World Kenpo Champion four times and won the French National Karate Championships in 2014.
He is also a model, personal trainer and lead singer in a blackcore metal band. Throughout it all, he is first and foremost a devoted husband and doting father.
Standing 6’0″ tall (183 cm), fully ripped and covered in tattoos, Jeanguillaume cuts an imposing figure inside the ring. But he says it’s not his physicality that sets him apart from most of his opponents, but rather his mentality.
“I just show up and do my job, day after day. When I show up for a fight, it’s a game for me,” he says. “I love it.”
Fresh off three world titles won at the 17th World Kenpo Championships in Turkey from 25-31 October, Jeanguillaume arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine looking to add two more titles to his name at the GAMMA European Championships that ran from 5-9 November.
He cruised past Adam Janca of the Czech Republic on Day 1 in the -77.1 kg/-170 lbs Elite Men’s MMA division but fell short of his goal when he “destroyed” his foot on the knee of Ukrainian opponent Oleksandr Khutorianskyi in his Striking MMA debut the following day. He then succumbed a couple hours later to an expertly executed arm bar from Polish opponent Marcin Blaziak in the MMA semifinals.
Despite the setbacks, Jeanguillaume was pragmatic about his performance in Kyiv: “I lost my two battles of the day but finished third in the European MMA Elite category. I have nothing to add, it’s all good. They did their job and I did mine.”
Jeanguillaume was part of a five-man French team in Kyiv that included Aurélien Teyssonneyre, Abdellah Bellaoui, Florian Rousseau and Houssem El Mokhtari. He says the camaraderie of the team is especially important when on the road, especially when resources are scarce and the number of support personnel is limited.
“We are a small team. We are like a community,” he says. “Exceptionally, I don’t have a coach here, but everyone here shares everything and the value comes from the spirit of the team.”
Compatriot Teyssonneyre (-93.0 kg/-205 lbs Elite Men’s MMA) also took home bronze at the Europeans, but otherwise it was a steep learning curve for Les Bleus in the Ukrainian capital.
“It is important to note that all my athletes are amateurs. I brought only amateurs here to help them grow and develop,” said Team France Manager and President of the Commission Nationale de Kenpô & Arts Martiaux Mixtes Eric La Rocca. “In our country, MMA was only legalized last year by the government, so we are building slowly and steadily, doing things the correct way for all our athletes.”
Jeanguillaume says it is crucial for the development of MMA in France for current martial artists like himself to set an example in the ring and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
“It’s very important to engage the next generation, to be a role model and an inspiration,” he says. “Everything we do now is to help encourage the next group of athletes coming along.”
Having competed in 15 bouts already this year, La Stache says it is too early to say whether he will take part in any more events this year. After such a busy ten and a half months, he can be forgiven for wanting to put his feet up for a while.
“We worked hard this year. Now I have the right to rest for a little while – just enough to allow my left foot and ribs to recover. Then I will get back to work.
“I’ll keep the smile, the stache, and will move forward together.”