Get to know the coaches: Danny Sargent

Given the regular presence of numerous coaches on the mat each week, encountering a session with a different coach can be quite overwhelming. To ensure everyone feels warmly welcomed, we are delving into the backgrounds of our coaches in this blog series.

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Danny Sargent in Anthens

Get to know the Gentle Giant

Hey! I’m Dan Sargent and I’m a coach here at United Judo. I’m a competitive 2nd Dan and you’ll probably see me in junior classes but I help out at other club nights too. I’m competitive by nature and have had quite a history in competitive Judo making hundreds of friends and connections I still hold today. I have supported the club for several years now and always have something new to show you. I know I’m as tall as the Empire State Building but really I’m a gentle giant, so don’t be afraid to say hi.

What are some of your judo achievements?

I have many competitive titles including the British Champion 5 times, I represented Great Britain at the Youth Olympics too which was an amazing experience. I also competed in the under 21s European Junior Cups which I won two junior medals. Moving on from my junior years, I competed for GB at the World, European, Commonwealth, Kano Cup and not to mention the Paris Multi Nations too.

Danny Sargent at Kent Internationals

What got you into judo?

I started Judo when I was six years old, a few years ago now! Initially starting with my brother Bill Jnr and my father Bill Snr – there was always that healthy competitive nature between us all competing which I always found motivated me.

What was your first Judo club?

The first club was the Domakwai and my family also trained at the YMCA at the top of West Hill in Dartford. Those were the days as I’m sure my brother would say the same! It’s funny I don’t think the kids doing Judo know how lucky they are when they tell me being thrown hurts on the sprung floor mat space.

How long have you been doing Judo?

Like mentioned earlier, I’ve been doing Judo a very long time and I must admit I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Wouldn’t change a thing!

What's your favourite thing about Judo?

My favourite thing used to be competing for my country and making my family proud. For me, it was always about topping my last achievement and finding that next goal, once you’ve ticked that box you move on to the next one and repeat. Now my love for the sport has shifted to a different aspect – now I find my favourite part of the sport is guiding children through the sport I love. Maybe it’s for the first time, maybe for continued competitors, each of them will need something different from my Judo knowledge and I really appreciate that. I asked Dave Quinn to coach my children Judo which I think shows how highly I regard him and I was immensely happy to join the coaching team at United.

What's your best Judo memory?

Actually, it’s a weigh-in story, there was one time at the National Teams when my brother was so close to the weight group that it was nerve-racking. As Bill stepped onto the scales we could see the numbers going up and up as they slowed reaching his limit, so I just peeked over his shoulder and tried to distract the staff member a little “Would you look at that you’ve made it” I said! Little did they know I was holding Bill up by his belt ever so slightly, the aim was to just keep him under not take kilos off haha! But rest assured, he made the weight and we were golden to hit the tatami.

There was also another time where my son Harry was too light for his weight so we filled up water bottles and strapped them to his calves... But that’s a story for another time.

Dan Sargent and Bill Sargent at the Europeans

What places has Judo taken you?

Where do I even start, I’ve been very lucky to travel quite a far bit with Judo. I did the Worlds in Rotterdam and Austria, Continental Champs in Ankara and Anthens, the Commonwealth in Malta, Europeans all across Europe and of course Japan too.

Who is your favourite Judo player or icon?

I would have to say mine was always Robert Van de Walle, he was an incredible player. A true inspiration, watching him on the mat was like magic. After his 5th Olympic games, I actually caught him at a training camp – needless to say, he threw me around like a rag doll. Ended the practice with a very sore back!

What is your favourite Judo throw?

I think if you watched me throughout my Judo fighting career you’d see one throw that shines through. It was of course a left-handed Uchi Mata! By far, my favourite throw.

What is your one Judo wish?

Personally, I just want to see more kids going far in the sport. Judo can open doors for you in more ways than just the sport itself, you can get true life skills from this sport that will help your confidence, mental health and self-motivation. My wish is to see kids go from school level to national or international level and realise their dreams can become a reality, just like I did.

Photos provided by Top Judo – see here