Meet the Coach – Danny Harper

Name: Danny Harper

Club: Craven Judo Academy

What is your judo background?

I started judo aged 6 at Kendal Judo Club, when my late aunt introduced me to the sport alongside my cousins. At first I was a recreational player and only really started competing nationally when I was 12 years old as a Pre-Cadet.

After training as part of the North West Area Judo Squad I went on to win British Championship medals at the Pre-Cadet, Cadet & Junior age groups.

I trained full time for 7 years at Kendal between 2006-2013 and have travelled all over the world to train and compete; including Canada & Japan.

Since I started coaching in 2014 and turned 30 I went into competing on the Masters judo circuit and won the British Masters as well as taking a bronze medal in the Europeans that were held in Glasgow & gold in the Commonwealth Judo Championships in Walsall, 2019.

Most recently following increasing my training during lockdown, I went back to the British Senior Championships in 2021 to try and win the medal which was missing from my collection; I’m happy to say I got over the line taking a bronze medal at +100kg!

How did you get into coaching?

I started my life in coaching by working alongside Mike at Kendal as a support coach at the club sessions.  I then got my Level 2 coaching qualification in 2011 and started working as the Schools Judo Coach for Kendal Judo Club before setting up my own club; Craven Judo Academy in 2013.

What is your coaching role?

I currently find myself coaching at all levels, I am the head coach at Craven Judo Academy running 15 hours of classes a week to a members aged 4-55.  I also run an outreach SEN Judo class at our local SEN School in Morecambe.  I am the lead ETDC Coach for the North West Area running weekly sessions for our area’s competitive players. I am lead DiSE coach, tutor & assessor at Kendal Judo Club & have recently been selected to be a GB Home Nations Coach.

What is your coaching philosophy?

With hard work everyone should, and can, reach their full potential as a judo fighter; whatever that may be.

What motivates you as a coach?

To give others the same enjoyment & life lessons & opportunities that were provided to me by this wonderful sport.

What has been your most memorable moment(s) as a coach?

I have many but they always come back to seeing a player reach a milestone in their judo journey and looking back fondly on what they were like when I first met them and the experiences we’ve shared along the way.

What are your coaching ambitions going forwards?

I want to look back in 5-10 years and see a mat full of Dan grades at my club.  I also have the ambitions of seeing one of my players compete on the IJF World Tour.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to be a coach?

Like practicing judo, as a coach you never stop learning or developing.  Don’t be worried about pinching ideas, developing them and making them work for you.  Self reflection is huge; ask yourself is there a better way to get your session content across. Finally my your mat environment a place where everyone thrives, no matter what their age, abilities or social / economic background; in short create a dojo culture where no one wants to miss your sessions!

Are you interested in starting your coaching journey? Find out more here