Shihan Andre Gilbert started training in Karate in the early 1960’s under the tutelage of Sensei Roger Lessourd, who was the Canadian head of Kyokushinkai Karate at that time.
Roger Lessourd taught a mixture of Kyokushin, Shotokan and Kung Fu at his schools. One day upon arrival in class, when Shihan Gilbert was still an orange belt he was required to fight all 40 students present. In those years this was a common request of students; and was called “to do the line”.
Shihan Gilbert achieved the rank of Shodan, first-degree black belt, in 1968. Wanting to learn advance his Kyokushinkai skills, he relocated to New York where he honed his Kyokushin techniques studying under renowned Kyokushin masters Shihan Shigeru Oyama and Shihan Tadashi Nakamura. In one test of his skills, Shigeru Oyama made him compete in 27 consecutive fights after which Shihan Gilbert was so bruised and worn out he was bedridden for three days and only able to only drink water!
Shihan Gilbert returned to Montreal in 1971 and opened his first Dojo on St-Michele Boulevard. In 1972-73 in addition to running his very successful dojo and continuing to travel regularly to New York for training, he also worked as a bodyguard for several internationally known celebrities including Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Diana Ross.
In 1974 Shihan Gilbert was named regional director and Brach Chief of Kyokushinkai in Canada by Sosai Masutatsu (Mas) Oyama, the founder and head of The International Kyokushinkai Organization (IKO). This was in recognition of his leadership and strong character, and his efforts in building Kyokushinkai Karate in Eastern Canada.
In 1975 after a rigorous three day selection process, Shihan Gilbert had the honor of being selected to represent Canada at the first World Open Full Contact Karate Championships in Tokyo, Japan. There he finally had the opportunity to meet and train with his mentor Mas Oyama for the first time. Since that day, he has participated in many training events at the Tokyo Kyokushinkai Honbu with Mas Oyama, as well as many seminars held at Mount Mitsumine.
In 1981 Shihan Gilbert relocated his school to the corner of Guy and Sherbrook streets in Montreal, Quebec. In 1996, the school was moved to its current location at 4010 Sherbrook Street West. It became the Honbu for Eastern Canada and there are now over 40 dojo’s spanning from Ontario to New Brunswick affiliated with Shihan Gilbert’s organization.
In 1985 he passed his pre-test for 6th dan in the presence of Sosai Oyama in New York. All candidates were required to then take part in a 6-day training camp in Japan to finish their testing. Shihan Gilbert completed this task and officially obtained the rank of 6th dan and the title of Shihan in May of 1990. He was expected to test for the rank of 7th dan in Tokyo, Japan in May 1994, but much to the Kyokushin world’s dismay, Sosai Oyama passed away in April of the same year.
Shihan Andre Gilbert is currently Branch Chief for the International Karate Organization Kyokushinkaikan for Eastern Canada. His organization is the largest Kyokushinkai Karate group in North America with over 8000 students at his Honbu and affiliated member schools.
In 1979, Shihan Gilbert broke 4 ice blocks with his head. On the 14th of December 1986, he broke 16 ice blocks with his hand (by groups of 4) placed around him. He is the only one to have accomplished this feat in Canada. He is renowned for his ice breaking and makes demonstrations at various Championships.
Sensei Darren Lenkorn started training with Shihan Gilbert at his honbu dojo in Montreal in 1988 and he has been Sensei's teacher for some 26+ years. The Toronto Kyokushinkai Dojo is part of his Organzation.
Shihan and his Eastern Canada Organization have achieved the highest combined overall success in the North American Kyokushinkai Organization. His students have become elite level competitors including becoming Canadian and North American Kickboxing champions, Intercontinental Welterweight Boxing Champion, The only Canadian to reach 4th place at the World Kyokushin Karate Championships, Women’s World Champion and many National and North American Karate champions.
Seminars, clinics and demonstrations have taken Shihan André Gilbert to the four corners of the world in order to promote the Kyokushin Karate style.
As the official Canadian Kyokushinkai representative, he appeared on many radio and television shows between 1973 and 1990 such as; Parle Parle – Jase Jase, Ad Lib, Samedi Magazine, Garden Party, Les Carnets de Louise, Wow, l'Or du Temps, Sylvain et Tony.
He hosted and produced a self-defence information show, between 1978 and 1980 on CF Cable TV.
In 1988, he made a karate demonstration on "Cocologie" show.
He wrote two books; Le Karaté, Éditions de l'homme, 1980 & Le Karaté pour Tous, Éditions de l'homme, 1991
In 1995, he co-produced a video on karate "Kyokushin A State of Mind" distributed in many countries.
He promotes karate as the:
Organizer of the annual Eastern Canada Full Contact Elite Championships since 1988.
Organizer of the North American (All Divisions) Championships in Canada every 2 years.
Organizer of the One Match (One try / on fight) show.
Organizer of many televised kickboxing and karate fights.
He participated in the movie productions: 1971: "Ma maîtresse", stuntman with Pierre Lalonde.
978: "L'homme en colère", extra with Lino Ventura.
1978: "Caro Papa", mob boss with Vittorio Gassman.
1979: "La main de Dieu", documentary on karate (Japanese production).
In 1977, he played the part of an instructor on the CFTM television show "Chez Dominique".
He participated in advertisement for the War Amps, and Coca-Cola where he broke ice blocks with his head.