Hanshi John Therien: a highly respected figure in the world of martial arts

Posted: March 22, 2021

Born in Vanier and raised in Lowertown Ottawa, John Therien launched his storied career in martial arts as a teenager, after stumbling upon a sign outside a small gym on Rideau Street. He had dabbled in judo at the local community centre, but after discovering Jiu-Jitsu, a word he could barely pronounce, he knew at 19, that would be his calling. 

 After achieving his black belt in 1968, Therien decided to open his own school in Vanier, and Therien Jiu-Jitsu & Kickboxing Dojo. It took off from there, and more than 50 years later it remains one of Canada’s largest and most successful Martial Arts schools, with ties to more than 200 martial arts schools around the world. Over the years, his school attracted many students from all over Ottawa. His teachings included such groups as Security Detail of the Prime Minister, RCMP Swat Team, Ottawa Police, as well as the children of Prime Ministers. He has certified over a thousand Black Belts in Jiu-Jitsu.    

Over the years, Therien’s coaching expanded to other disciplines including kickboxing, where he managed and developed the astonishing career of 23-time World Kickboxing Champion Jean-Yves Theriault.  He also joined the Professional Karate Association (PKA), and is widely credited with the development of the sport in Canada and abroad.  

In 1992, Therien founded the World Kobudo Federation (WKF),  a non-political multi-discipline martial arts organization with affiliates in 32 countries and thousands of members. The WKF promotes top-level martial arts training and respect through seminars and camps, as well as other martial arts events. It has served as a key unifying body for the highly fragmented martial arts world with its disparate philosophies  

John Therien is highly respected the world over, as a teacher, coach, visionary executive, promoter and humanitarian. He has received many awards and honours and was inducted into the Canadian Black belt Hall of Fame as well the Canadian Jiu-Jitsu Hall of fame. But there is perhaps no higher honour than the title of HANSHI (Leader of Leaders ) bestowed on him by the Shaolin Monks from China, after achieving his 9th degree Black Belt in Can-Ryu Jiu-Jitsu. 

Hanshi John Therien remains a highly respected figure in the martial arts world and in the community, as a generous volunteer, businessman and contributor to countless organizations and causes. In 2014, he received the Mayor’s City Builder Award in Ottawa, where he lives with his wife Terrilynne.


Join us in honouring John Therien and his fellow inductees on March 29, 2021 at 8:00 pm on Roger22 or youtube for the virtual 2020-2021 Induction Awards Ceremony.