Abingdon Judo Club has six coaches. Sensei Siobhan takes the majority of the sessions supported by Veerle Kersemans and Matthew Harrison, however when schedules permit, Sensei Bart and Sensei Andy take a session.
Sensei Siobhan Tierney – 3rd Dan – Abingdon Judo Club Head Coach
I have been doing judo since the age of 6 years old when I first started at Abingdon Judo Club. My biggest achievement was a Bronze Medal in the British Nationals when I was 16 years old. I also won a number of area medals as well as a Bronze at the British University Sports Association Judo Competition. I have been coaching Judo since I was 16 years old when I used to assist my coach when he taught at the Convent School in Abingdon. I also taught at Shunen Judo courses and competitions.
At Warwick University I was the Women’s Team Coach and Team Captain as well as getting heavily involved in the Men’s Team Coaching.
I achieved the British Judo Association’s Level 2 Club Coach in 2007 and after spending 7 months teaching full time in a number of Private Schools, I took over Abingdon Judo Club in 2008.
I love coaching at Abingdon Judo Club. We have such a huge variety of players from different backgrounds with different abilities. I believe that if you can make Judoka enjoy a session they will work harder and keep coming back. I want all our Judoka to enjoy Judo and fulfill their potential. All players have the ability to reach Black Belt if they put in the time and the effort and I hope that many AJC players go on to reach their potential.
I have been lucky enough to have been taught Judo by many fantastic Judoka from a young age including Sensei Akinora Hosaka (Kodokan 8th Dan), Neil Adams (2 x Olympic Silver Medalist & World & European Champion), Jane Bridge (First British Female World Champion), Ian Rose (Paralympic Bronze & Silver Medalist & World Champion) amongst many others as well as having trained with Sam Ingram (Paralympic Bronze & Silver Medalist). I aim to give similar opportunities to AJC members by running Masterclasses with elite players such as Gemma Gibbons (London 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist), Colin Oates (European Silver Medalist and Commonwealth Champion) and this year Sally Conway (Rio 2016 Olympic Bronze Medalist).
In 2018 I was proud to be selected by the Northern Home Counties to visit Japan on a coach education course. We were lucky enough to experience coaching at all levels from age 4 to university level in Japan. We even visited Tokai University, where we watched Olympians train!
Matthew Harrison – 1st Kyu – BJA Level 1 Coach
As a child I was fortunate enough to learn Judo and thoroughly enjoyed my time on the mat, but like so many things in life other pursuits and commitments got in the way and my time playing Judo was cut short. Fast forward 20+ years and my daughter comes home from school with a flyer from the AJC offering a free introductory session, as I still remember the core values and beliefs that I learnt from my time as a player I wholeheartedly supported her choice and was more than happy to add Judo to the litany of after school activities.
After a year of sitting on the sidelines and watching her grow and develop as a player, I noticed that I was getting itchy feet and wishing that I was on the mat. I took the decision to regrade from a novice, as honestly how much are you going to remember after 20+ years, well the answer to that is actually quite a lot and amazingly there is still some muscle memory left from the techniques I learnt and was drilled on as a youngster.
In April 2017 I achieved my 2nd Kyu (blue belt) and was asked by Sensei Siobhan if I would be interested in taking a more active role in the club; assisting with the coaching of the Junior session. I jumped at the chance and am proud to say that as of September 2017 I have passed my BJA level 1 coaching assessments and am now an assistant coach at the AJC.
In my wildest imagination, I never thought I would become a qualified Judo coach when I first decided to get back on the mat. So why not come on down, give Judo a try and see where your journey takes you.
Chris Tynan – 1st Kyu – BJA Level 1 Coach
Chris has started his coaching journey by supporting the junior and beginners course and aims to complete his BJA Level 1 coach award in 2018. Chris started Judo as a junior reaching 2nd Kyu; he joined Abingdon Judo Club in 2016 whereby he gained his 1st Kyu and has gone from strength to strength. He is beginning his journey towards his 1st Dan black belt this year which we know he will achieve as he has beautiful Judo and is one of the best people in the club to partner with to make your techniques look good!
Sensei Andy Hope – 1st Dan – Men’s Contest Coach
Andy has been doing Judo at AJC since he was a child, and has agreed to lead on improving men’s randori and contest skills within the club. Andy should have won his 1st Dan in 2010 after winning 30 points in his first grading, however took a break due to work commitments and came back to Judo in 2016 where he won his 1st Dan by winning his line up on the day. Andy is an extremely accomplished contest Judoka winning medals in many national competitions, and he will be supporting the AJC men in the future.
Sensei Veerle Kersemans – 4th Dan
I started judo at the age of nine in a small village called Gierle in Belgium. I am very passionate about judo and love the sport’s ethos and the respect between judo players. On the tatami I have always been a little warrior; although my judo talent was limited, judo taught me to never give up and always believe in yourself. This led to one of my biggest successes in my judo competition career; winning the final at the Belgian National University Championships against Catherine Jacques who was Ulla Werbrouck’s, (one of Belgian’s greatest judokas) successor. I always loved participating in competitions and I attended as many as I could. Thanks to my super supportive parents, I was on the tatami nearly every weekend, either competing in championships, getting Dan grade points at tsukinami shiai or attending regional and national training sessions. Some of my other main achievements include team gold at the Belgian National University Championships, individual bronze at the U20 Belgian Nationals, and individual bronze at the U20 Flanders Open Championship and 7th at the Belgian Ladies Open Arlon. Whilst I have always loved contest judo, I am now focussing more on the technical aspect and coaching the youngsters.
After a 6-year break from judo, I joined Abingdon Judo Club in 2017 when my son of 5 started judo. However, sitting on the bench as a spectator was very hard so I was delighted to be invited onto the mat by Sensei Siobhan. It has been a pleasure to be involved in coaching the children and offer my expertise.
This year, I have been able to make the senior sessions as well; it feels so good (well, very sore afterwards…) to play judo again and to be so welcomed by the club. Next up the wish list is to get my Belgian coaching certificated validated in Britain. So my judo journey continues.
Some other milestones:
1st Dan, Flemish Judo Federation, competition: 1996
2nd Dan, Flemish Judo Federation, competition: 2001
3rd Dan, Flemish Judo Federation, competition: 2004
4th Dan, British Judo Association, technical: 2019
Youth coaching grade, Flemish Judo Federation: 2001