Abingdon Judo Club has six coaches. Sensei Siobhan takes the majority of the sessions supported by Veerle Kersemans, Matthew Harrison and Chris Tynan, however when schedules permit, Sensei Mark and Sensei Andy take a session.
Sensei Mark Maidment – Contest 4th Dan & Technical 5th Dan – Abingdon Judo Club Founder and Technical Officer
I started playing judo at in 1971 aged 5 at a club in Didcot. My Sensei was Marolin Chambers 2nd Dan. I loved judo from the start, especially Morote Seoi Nage, but for years I was the smallest and lightest player in the club.
After a few years at Yellow belt we would stand up in grade order the line of players would go from the tallest to the smallest with me making a small hole in the middle because I was still smaller than the smallest beginner on the end, my friends were asked to join the second lesson but I was not allowed because of my size. However I loved Judo so much that I would do the first lesson then stay for the second lesson and hide behind the other players whenever matte was called!
In the second lesson the green belts all played along with hiding me from Sensei but I don’t know when she figured out I had not gone home with the first lesson! The green belts were always teasing me about my size so I wanted to get them but they were too tall and strong for my Morote Seoi Nage and we were not permitted to use Tomo-Nage below green belt which I was constantly being told off for using! Eventually because I was so small the coach changed the rule to allow me to do Tomo-Nage on any green belt and above player which was fine by me as they were the ones I wanted to throw anyway!
I attended every Oxfordshire Area Championships, Mixed League Easter and Summer Course which were organised by my Sensei’s father Mr. Jim Chambers 6th Dan, who I remember was a very kind and funny man and an incredible promoter of judo. He founded Oxfordshire Judo which had thousands of players and formed a large group of other Judo coaches some of whom later became my teachers again as an Adult namely Colin Morton 4th Dan and Martin Ackland 3rd Dan, possibly the most enigmatic and joyful Sensei I have ever been lucky enough to meet. Also at these O.J.C. courses I remember meeting a small Japanese sensei who I later discovered was Matsuru Otani, Kenshiro Abbe also taught the O.J.C coaches so I will have some of his judo but sadly I do not remember him.
When my friends were winning their Green belts, because I was so small they said I couldn’t have one and did not grade me for 2 years. I detested having to wait until eventually with either Morote Seoi Nage or Tomo-Nage I could throw every Green belt in the club and even some of the Blues so they had to give me a green belt too but only after I became Oxforshire Area Champion. I also became Oxfordshire Area Champion 6 times as a Senior.
My largest and hardest competition was in Herlien in Holland where I came 5th, however, whilst I really enjoyed contest judo from 2nd Dan onwards my focus has always been more on coaching more than contesting.
My Dan grade history is below:
1992 B.J.C. Contest 1st Dan (1 year)
1993 B.J.C. Contest 2nd Dan (2 years)
1997 B.J.C. Contest 3rd Dan (4 years)
2004 B.J.C. Contest 4th Dan (7 years)
2007 B.J.A. Contest 4th Dan
2013 B.J.A. Technical 5th Dan
6th Dan T.B.C.
As a Senior I trained at both B.J.C. and B.J.A. Clubs and whilst I visited numerous clubs my main ones were Faringdon and Wantage to start with then High Wycombe centre of excellence, Windsor B.J.C, National Squad Training and of course always my own Abingdon Judo Club.
I started teaching judo as a Blue belt in 1991 and in 1992 I opened my first club in Abingdon, shortly after which a 6 year old trouble maker named Siobhan Tierney started her Judo career! Now AJC is run by my student and friend Sensei Siobhan Tierney 2nd Dan. After a further 7 years part time coaching (6 weekly lessons at 3 clubs) in 1997 I founded Shunen Judo Company Ltd (dedication to ones objectives) and commenced teaching full time in Schools in Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, and Bristol teaching 350 players per week.
My judo ethos is traditional Japanese judo for all, my greatest achievements in Judo are all my students many of whom are now scattered all over the world but the highest grades I know of are Thomas Grandjean who will soon be a 4th Dan, Siobhan Tierney 2nd Dan and Andrew Hope 1st Dan. I would simply say to all those I have been lucky enough to have taught; If you are still playing/teaching judo well done and thank you but if you are not, well done and thank you anyway but why not? Judo needs YOU!
Sensei Siobhan Tierney – 2nd Dan – Abingdon Judo Club Head Coach
I have been doing judo since the age of 6 years old, taught by Sensei Mark 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 Sensei Mark 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 from Sensei Mark 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).
This year 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 – 3rd 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
Youth coaching grade, Flemish Judo Federation: 2001