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Clémence the judoka

Black belt, balance, values and friendship. She found it all in the dojo.

She started doing judo at eight and her goal is to keep doing it at eighty. For Clémence Bouvet, judo is not just about training and conquering belts; it brings balance and friendship into her life.

When Clémence Bouvet was a child she and her family conveniently lived next door to a dojo; a club for judokas which are people practicing judo. She got curious about what they did in there and one day when she was eight her parents brought her inside.

“It was so close to home, inexpensive and anyone can do it no matter if you are young, old, short or tall. Judo immediately felt fun so it was not a hard choice to start practicing it,” remembers Clémence.

In judo you wear belts that symbolizes the progress of how well you master the sport. The first belt is white and you get it from your teacher. It works the same all the way up until you get the brown belt, after that comes the admirable black belt.

“When you obtain a black belt it needs to be validated by a commission, and there is a big ceremony around it. There are several levels within the black belt, but there is actually one more level to reach after that – the red belt.”

Clémence climbed all the levels up to the brown belt. Her hardest challenge in judo yet was to get the black belt.

“There was so much preparation of the kata, which is a series of techniques you need to master in order to get the black belt. I invested a lot of time in this for several months. Finally one day when I was 18 I got my black belt during a ceremony and I was utterly happy.”

But there is much more to it for Clémence than just the pride in the color of the belt she is wearing. Judo, a Japanese word that best translates as “gentle way”, conveys fundamental values which are called the judo moral code. It consist of friendship, courage, sincerity, honor, modesty, respect, self-control and politeness.

“Each and every one of these values are equally important to me. Friendship not the least – I have so many friends who I train with and we share fantastic judo moments. I even met my boyfriend in the dojo,” Clémence says and smiles.

When she is practicing or competing judo she is 100 percent concentrated on the task, always waiting for the right opportunity.

“I constantly need to surpass myself. And I still learn more and more at each training and game. There is always some technique that I could better master, some details to get completely right. I also love to compete and the excitement of the game.”

Even though judo is an individual sport it is also a sport that promotes mutual support.

“In order to progress, we need to help each other, it’s the same for everyone. I really like this part of judo, to see someone else reach their goals after hard work and a lot of commitment.”

Daytime Clémence works within Marketing Communications at Getinge’s office in the French city Ardon, to promote the Getinge brand and offering to customers in France.

“I love my job! Every day is different just like when you practice judo. You need to stay calm, alert and laser focused on the task.”

And there are more things for Clémence to achieve at the tatami, which is the carpet where judokas wrestle:

“Practicing judo means keep challenging myself. My mentor is 80 years old and still do judo. He even has the white red belt, and there is no doubt that later on I’ll try to climb the ladder just like him.”