French Audrey Tcheumeo reacts after defeating Japan Ruika Sato during the -70 kgs final, on February 12, 2017 at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, during the Judo Grand Slam Paris 2017.   / AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK        (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)
The Paris Grand Slam
22:46 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Thierry Marx is a renowned French chef

Marx credits judo with make him calmer, more efficient

He wants to encourage more young people to take up judo

CNN  — 

He is the owner of a two Michelin star restaurant and the author of a series of popular cooking books.

Yet Thierry Marx maintains the secret ingredient to his success can be found on the judo mat rather than in the kitchen.

“Judo, like cooking, involves the mastering of gestures … the mastering of time,” Marx tells CNN in a quiet corner of Le Sur Mesure, his restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris.

It also teaches the “capacity to remain serene even in the most stressful moments,” he adds.

Thierry Marx has a passion for both Japanese sport and cuisine

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Marx was raised in the old working class Menilmontant neighborhood in the 20th arrondissement of Paris.

And he credits “The Gentle Way” with offering a welcome distraction in his youth.

“I was very bad at school, I failed a lot and we were in a very poor neighborhood,” he says. “Judo was free, so I dreamed of Japanese films and Japanese sports.”

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The martial art, and the control of body and mind that comes with it, eventually motivated Marx to follow his dreams.

He has previously spoken of how he joined the French army as a young man before switching military fatigues for the chef’s whites.

Since then, Marx has traveled the world, gained a reputation for his innovative approach to cooking and served as a judge on French television show “Top Chef.” He also became a black belt judoka and continues to practice the sport four times a week.

Marx takes part in a training session with a Mongolian judo team

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Social mobility through martial arts

Marx is now keen to share these positive experiences and the life lessons gained through judo with a new generation of Parisians.

Together with his coach Benoit Campargue – a former European Championship-winning judoka and coach to two-time Olympic gold medal winner Teddy Riner – he is hoping to introduce more people to the sport through the “Pass’Sport Pour l’Emploi” (Passport for employment) program.

The initiative includes three-month-long courses for the unemployed that aim to help get them work as security officers.

Marx wants young people to get involved and say, “I’ll feel better with my body and my spirit and now I can approach employment.”

Campargue, meanwhile, argues that judo can bestow valuable lessons about rules, respect and politeness that can be transferred to other areas of participants lives.

With an array of successful restaurants and business ventures behind him, that’s certainly a recipe whose success Marx can attest to.