Our People

OUR COACHES

Kwang-Sun Yoo 5th Dan – Head Coach

I first started judo when I was 14 years old after watching my high school judo team. Prior to this, I played baseball and tae kwon do, but after seeing how strong and athletic the judo players were, I decided to try the sport.

I love judo for the mental strength it gives you and for the respect you develop for the people you train and compete with. Judo is my job and I have travelled the world competing and coaching for the last few decades.

My most memorable tournaments are the 2005 Super World Cup in Paris, and the 2006 Super World Cup in Hamburg both where I won gold.

I have a Master’s Degree in Sport Science Judo Coaching and a 5th Dan in Sambo. Before taking up the “Coach in Residence “at UWA Judo Club, I was a national judo coach for India and helped to train many Indonesian judoka in Korea.

I enjoy coaching judo, developing strong players and teaching them new skills. I love UWA Judo Club for its good people, their friendly nature and their supportive team.

Kouta Nagamura 3rd Dan – Junior Coach and Assistant Senior Coach

I have been doing judo since 2002. I started swimming and baseball but I learned about the fun of throwing people in judo and started judo. I love judo because it not only trains the body, but also trains the spirit. Thanks to judo my body and heart have become stronger.

When I was in junior high school, I competed in the All Japan Judo Tournament. I continued to study judo at a strong club in senior high school.

I continue to practice judo because I can meet many people through judo. I would like to teach children how to practice and enjoy judo so that they can learn respect and courtesy. I would like to teach adults not only the fun of judo, but also new skills.

I love UWA Judo Club. This is because everyone is kind, and everyone likes judo. From now on, I would like to teach more people the fun of judo at UWA Judo Club.

John Commerford 1st Dan – Junior Coach and Assistant Senior Coach

I started judo at the ripe old age of 4 nearly 5 after a local judo club did a demonstration at my school in England.

Judo has taught me to have pride and respect not only for others but also in myself.  I have had highs and lows in my judo life, but these have shaped me into the person I am today.  The friends I have met along the way, I have formed an everlasting bond with. That is what I love about judo. It is a journey and you never know where it will take you and who you will meet along the way.

I have been three-time British National champion and have won multiple National and International medals.  I also had the pleasure of representing Great Britain at a Junior Worlds and Europeans.

I am not one for gyms so practising judo is a great way to keep fit.  It also a great stress reliever after a hard day at work.

I have been coaching since I was 15 years old as it was a way of funding my fulltime training programme at Camberley Judo Club in the UK.  I like that I can help kids have an interest of a positive nature.  Judo gave me so many opportunities and I now like passing on the knowledge I have gained to all members.

UWA Judo Club has something for everybody from the beginner to the Olympic athlete.  Since joining the club in 2006 after a 5-year break, I have made so many friends, reacquainted with old friends and reconnected to the sport I love.

Peter Swan 4th Dan – Junior & Schools2Dojo Coach

I started judo at UWA Judo Club in 1989 whilst a student at the university. I had studied jujitsu and karate before but found I really enjoyed and connected with the hands-on physicality of judo training. After graduating from UWA I lived and trained in Japan for one and a half years where I attained my black belt.

Upon my return from Japan, I competed extensively in the Australian tournament circuit and was ranked second in Oceania. I was a member of the Australian National Judo team in the nineties and was privileged to represent Australia at the Kano Cup in Japan and in the US Open in America.

After retiring from competition, I continue to train to increase my technical knowledge of judo, maintain my strength and fitness and to interact with other members of the club.

Teaching others has always been a passion of mine, so it was only natural for this to extend into judo. From my early days as a coloured belt, I was always involved in teaching beginners and this has developed into teaching more technical aspects of judo. I now specialise in the teaching of kids and gain great satisfaction from seeing them develop physically and emotionally from the challenges of judo practice.

UWA Judo Club has always been my home. The club caters for students of all ages, abilities and interests and I am proud to have been a part of it for so long.

Peter Woollons 4th Dan – Kata & Technical Grading

Judo has been a part of my life since I first walked into a bush dojo in 1973. The tatami was saw dust with a train tarpaulin stretched across it. It wasn’t the best but it was all we knew. 40 plus years later, I’m now a 4th Dan – not sure how that happened! Like many of my judo friends, we didn’t chase grades they just sort of came along as we studied judo.

I have been involved with the UWA Judo Club basically since its inception. There’s still a lot of us around from that time, that’s the sort of club it is. People who leave stay in contact and when they visit, it’s like they never left.

The focus of the club is developing judo in Western Australia and helping anyone who is interested in learning. To do this we exchange with clubs and people from around the world which ensures that as judo evolves we keep learning as well.

The club is inclusive – I like that. Our youngest members are barely out of nappies and our oldest are probably heading back into them. I keep going for the friendly banter, to be a part of helping others achieve their goals, because I’m still learning, because I have just enough judo knowledge to realise how little judo knowledge I have and because the club respects, that whilst judo evolves the fundamental philosophy remains rooted in the ideals of its founder, Jigoro Kano. Particularly – mutual prosperity and maximum efficient use of energy.

Melissa Dennehy 2nd Dan – Kinder Judo, Kata & Technical Grading

I started the sport later than most at age 23. Shortly after, I moved to the UK and Ireland for 4 years where judo served as my community and social hub. I trained at several competition focused clubs, which in turn had me competing regularly, most notably in the international Irish Open tournament.

Due to health reasons, I took a 7-year break from the sport and started back after seeing the joy on the face of my 3-year-old at her first judo class. I started helping in the kids’ class, then gradually began training with the adults. A few months later I competed at the state titles and won gold, then went on to the nationals the next year where I won silver in shiai and bronze in the nage no kata.

I’m due to finish my Level 1 IJF accredited coaching course in December. I sit on the National Veterans and the Risk and Audit Committee of Judo Australia. I’m also the secretary of UWA Judo, and I coach the kindy and kata classes in addition to running the state veterans Dojo Dinosaurs training sessions. I love coaching the kids, tapping into their interests and energy to get them to be the superhero that is inside us all. Watching people learn and progress, from young to old, old to older, geriatric to Jurassic is especially rewarding.

Judo is for everyone. It’s not just about players on the mat and winning medals. It challenges every aspect of your day to day life, and its teachings only better you as a person. UWA Judo Club is a fantastic place to start or continue your judo journey. It’s a family of people passionate and dedicated to the sport, there to support you on your judo path, wherever it takes you.

Clive Smith 5th Dan – Saturday Senior Judo Coach

I started my judo journey in 1956 as an 18-year-old in Wales.

In 1961 I achieved my first dan, and my second dan followed in 1962. Shortly after, I trained at the Renshudan and Budokwai Judo Clubs in London.

I think that judo is the best sport in the world. It's in my blood! I love it, and even at the age of 80, I continue to love as much as I did 63 years ago. I still train regularly as judo keeps me active both in the mind and body.

I have been at UWA Judo Club since it first started in 1988. I was coaching a Saturday class at the Claremont Police Boys Club and once it closed, I was asked by UWA Judo Club to coach their Saturday class. I have been coaching that class for the last 31 years and will continue to coach the Saturday afternoon adult’s session for as long as I can. UWA Judo is a great club. It welcomes everyone, from tiny children to people my age with warmth and an eagerness to pass on judo knowledge.

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