Legends of our time

In the dynamic world of martial arts, judo stands out as a discipline that goes beyond physical prowess, emphasising values of respect, discipline, and mutual benefit. As we navigate the currents of contemporary judo, it’s essential to pay homage to the legends who have left an indelible mark on the sport. These judo titans not only dominated the mats with their exceptional skills but also became ambassadors of the sport’s philosophy. Join us as we explore the journeys of some of the judo legends of our time, individuals who have become synonymous with excellence and sportsmanship.

Scroll down to see a few of these icons…

Teddy Riner

Teddy Riner, often referred to as the “Gentle Giant,” is a living legend in the world of judo. Hailing from France, Riner has been a dominant force in the heavyweight division. Boasting an incredible record of multiple World Championship and Olympic titles, his technical proficiency, coupled with his calm demeanour off the mat, has earned him respect and admiration globally. Riner’s legacy extends beyond his victories, as he continues to inspire the next generation of judokas.

Teddy Riner in action

Keiko Fukuda

Born in 1913, Keiko Fukuda is the highest-ranked female judo practitioner in the world. At 96 years old she achieved her 9th Degree black belt (Kodokan), studying Judo for more than 74 years when she sadly passed on in 2013. She was the last surviving student of Kano Jigoro and continued her Judo career in USA to achieve her 10th Dan. A trailblazer for women worldwide!

Fukuda Judo Legend of our time

Shohei Ono

Representing Japan, Shohei Ono is a judoka known for his precision and technical brilliance. Ono captured the hearts of judo enthusiasts worldwide with his gold medal performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics. His ability to execute flawless throws and maneuvers with surgical precision has elevated him to legendary status in the judo community. Ono exemplifies the perfect balance of skill, strategy, and unwavering determination.

Ryoko Tani

Ryoko Tan is a Japanese competitor who was once named by the IFJ “Best Female Player Ever”. Through competition heavily she won a total of seven world titles and five Olympic medals within her weight group of -48kg. Tani was a world superstar on the tatami and decided upon retirement she wanted to continue being a icon for thousands by taking up a career in politics.

Looking back at some of our previous judo icons and current judo legends we see an overwhelming ability for individuals to go above and beyond in physical and mental strength. Hard work will go a long way and a 9th Dan is not achieved overnight! It’s important to hold a goal or target to work towards, then as you achieve you restructure that goal to the next step – for instance, if Teddy Riner didn’t set his only goal of an Olympic medal, first it would have been a more reachable achievement then slowly worked it up.

Some photos provided by David Finch – see here