Sensai Claire – an inspiring woman

Sensai Claire Brown has enjoyed judo throughout her life. I caught up with her to find out about how and why she has achieved so much….

As a child, Claire was a keen participant of ballroom dancing – a hobby which developed her balance, coordination and general fitness. When she read a leaflet advertising an 8-week judo training program at the same location, her interest was sparked: very soon she became immersed in that sport too, extending her own learning beyond the training program to span several years. After a while, a decision was needed and Claire had to choose between dancing and judo. Luckily, she chose judo but maintains that dancing gave her a good foundation upon which to build her physical skills.

At ten years old, Claire was in the Southern Area squad and Hampshire squad. She trained thrice a week and participated in advanced classes one weekend a month where lessons lasted from 9am until 4pm. Now that’s hard work! On the plus side, she got to take Friday afternoons off school in order to get to the competitions and training.

At 14 years of age, Claire fought in a team event in Dusseldorf, Germany. The team won. Aged 15, Claire won the bronze medal in a national judo competition; aged 16, she won gold at the National Championships in Crystal Palace and was overwhelmed when Olympic silver-medallist Nicola Fairbrother presented the award to her.

Claire eventually stopped judo after some years: a teacher-training course was undertaken at King Alfred’s and family commitments ensued. Some years later, around 2011, when Sensai Paul Hamilton advertised judo at Claire’s son’s school, Claire brought herself back onto the mat to support her son… which seemed a good enough excuse at the time. Soon after, she was encouraged to participate more fully in the sessions and with an enhanced disclosure from her profession, Claire was encouraged to join AWE Judo Club and jumped at the chance to revamp her judo career.

She was tested for 1st Kyu by Pete Powell and pushed to work on revising and polishing her theory in order to qualify for her black belt. She successfully competed At High Wycombe Kyu-grade cup and was awarded a trophy. Proceeding then to win the Hampshire Closed Competition, she beat a handful of opponents much heavier than herself, and then formed part of the Hampshire Ladies Seniors’ Team three years in a row. In 2013, Claire won the British Masters Open, and in 2014 at Kidderminster she won all of her fights except the last one: an earlier fight had caused her a broken rib – that she fought in spite of – and in that last fight, it was probably broken a bit more when her opponent turned Claire onto her back and squashed down on her. Nevertheless, Claire came out with the silver medal.

Since her come-back four years ago, Claire has completed a Level 1 coaching qualification, been certified as a judo referee, and gained her first Dan and 30 (of 100 points) towards her second Dan. Additionally, she has got through to the British Masters Competition and GB squad. Claire is now in the Hampshire Squad and focusing on the World Masters in Amsterdam and the European Masters in Hungary – both later this year. Motivated by love of the sport and her peers, the only thing now stopping Claire is money: it is not cheap to stay in Hungary for 4 days.

Overall, Claire has won over 140 medals for judo and does not intend to stop there. Please support Claire in her Masters’ Competitions so she can further her inspiration to those who know her.