Hello Claire, can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Claire-France Thevenon but lot of people are calling me by my nickname Panda. I’m a black belt from France and I’m a professional BJJ fighter. I train at the academy Infinity near Paris and I’m now the teacher of my own academy the Panda Supa Crew.
Is it your first time participating in Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship?
It will be my fifth time competing at the World Pro. It such a great competition. This country is as passionate for BJJ as I am ! It’s always on my schedule now. For me the best time was my last participation in 2019, before the pandemic. I went into the finals and had one of my best results in my BJJ career.
How is your training going leading up to the championship?
I’m in a new academy now and it’s a new start for me. I have new coaches, David Pierre-Louis and François Laurent, who are really dedicated to my training – so I’m in a really good condition of training. I also spent lot of time in Brazil with my friends at Alliance SP during the pandemic so I think my general level has increased.
How did the sport of Jiu Jitsu impact you on a personal level? Why do you recommend youth to practice the sport?
I’ve always been passionate about martial arts, I’ve trained a lot of Judo too. Today, Jiu Jitsu is my life and I teach BJJ and Judo. BJJ is great for kids because it teaches them to be flexible on the mat and in life. It teaches you how to have a good spirit and a nice attitude as a human being and as a member of society.
How is your training going leading up to the ADWPJJC?
For me training is training and I always love it, but before a big competition like the ADWJJC I do more physical conditioning that I do not enjoy.
How do you see Abu Dhabi hosting global Jiu Jitsu championships and giving the chance for athletes to compete against the best in the world?
The first time that I decide to go to Abu Dhabi, I had lot of false ideas about this country. I discovered this place and now I’m really pleased to go back there every year. UAE invest a lot in the World BJJ development and now Abu Dhabi is one of the Capitols of Jiu Jitsu like Brazil or California. UAEJJF is a very serious organization which respects the athlete and this is a great opportunity to compete there.
Who influenced you the most in developing your BJJ game?
My game is really inspire by Bernardo Faria’s game. The guy is as nice as the game ! I’m also a fan of Alliance‘s style of BJJ.
Would you like to give any advice to our readers that would help them either on the mat or in their lives?
Listen to your coach, never stop trying, never stop Jiu Jitsu and don’t listen to other people ! Life is short so do BJJ and have fun !