List of celebrity judoka

List of celebrity judoka

The following is a list of celebrities or otherwise famous people who have trained in the martial art and sport of judo.

Academics & Educators

* Moshé Feldenkrais (scientist/healer/author/teacher, b.1904 d.1984) held a Doctor of Science in engineering from the Sorbonne, and was the founder of the Feldenkrais Method which was designed to improve human functioning by increasing self-awareness through movement. Feldenkrais started learning judo in 1930, [ [ Past Personalities] - The Budokwai] and met Kano Jigoro in 1933. He became a close friend of Kano, and corresponded with him regularly. [ [ Some History] from the Australian Feldenkrais Center] Kano chose him to be one of the doors through which the East attempts to meet the West. [ [ Feldenkrais and Judo] by Dennis Leri] He was one of the first Europeans to be awarded a black belt (in 1936), and he received his 2nd dan in 1938. From his position on the European Judo Council, he began to scientifically study Judo, later incorporating the knowledge he gained through his self-rehabilitation. He founded the French Judo Association [ [ Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc., (1904 - 1984) Biography] (] and published three books about judo.

* Terry Halpin (computer scientist): Halpin is an Australian academic who is well-known in the field of modelling information systems, having authored five books and over one hundred technical papers. He holds a black belt in judo. [ [ Asymetrix Corp.'s Dr. Terry Halpin - Black Belt Design] DBMS Interview - September 1995]

* Kano Jigoro (educator, b.1860 d.1938): Kano was director of primary education for the Japanese Ministry of Education (文部省, Monbushō) from 1898-1901. He played a key role in getting judo and kendo made part of the Japanese public school programs. He was also a pioneer of international sports, and became the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), serving from 1909 until 1938. Kano was the founder of judo.

Actors & Entertainers

* Lucille Ball (actress): Ed Parker, the founder of American Kenpo Karate, taught judo to Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance on the "I Love Lucy" show. ["The Godfather of Grappling" (authorised biography of LeBell) by "Judo" Gene Lebell, Bob Calhoun, George Foon, and Noelle Kim. 2005. Page 13 (includes photo).]

* James Cagney (actor b.1899 d.1986): Cagney was a judo black belt. [ [ "James Cagney is a judo black belt"] (] See Cagney performing numerous judo techniques in this extract from "Blood on the Sun". [ [ Excerpt from the movie "Blood on the Sun"] - showing James Cagney using judo]

* Melanie Chisholm (formerly "Sporty Spice" of the Spice Girls): had to withdraw from her involvement in the TV series The Games in 2003 due to a knee injury sustained in the judo competition against 2002 Miss World Azra Akin. [ Ex-Spice Girl Mel C faces surgery] - BBC News, 12 September 2003]

* George Harris (judo movie star): Harris starred in a feature film tiled "Judo's Gentle Tiger", also known as "The Year of the Gentle Tiger". A forerunner to "The Karate Kid", it was shot in the late 1970s, and was later broadcast as an NBC daytime program. Harris also appeared on talk shows and was twice a guest on "To Tell the Truth". He was a two-time Pan American judo champion, and four-time US National judo champion. [ [ Ten Questions with George Harris] - by Rebecca Barnett. Published in "The Masters, Judo for Adults" (2000)]

* Brian Jacks (BBC "Superstars"): achieved national fame for his outstanding "Gym Test" performances on the BBC programme Superstarscite web|url=|title=Superstars: A brief history|publisher=BBC|accessdate=19 October|accessyear=2006] and made him a household name in England. [ Judo Heroes] - 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games website] His victories in the British and European Superstars lead to the creation of the branded computer games: Brian Jacks Superstar Challenge [ [ BBC MICRO Brian Jacks Superstar Challenge] YouTube video.] and Brian Jacks Uchi Mata. [ [ Uchi Mata] Commodore 64 game site] In 1984 he briefly appeared on the BBC show "Micro Live", where he set up his new Atari 800XL with his family. [ [ Micro Live Brian Jacks follow up] - YouTube video.] Jacks was the youngest ever British 8th dan in judo; was an Olympic medallist; and competed in over 3000 tournaments.

* Gene LeBell (stuntman/actor, b.1932): LeBell has worked on over 350 films and TV showsimdb name|0494061|Gene LeBell] and is commonly known as "the Godfather of Grappling" and "the Toughest Man Alive". [These nicknames were immortalised in the titles of two books about LeBell.] He was awarded his 9th dan black belt in judo in 2005. [ [ Gene LeBell biography] - at the "USA Traditional Kodokan Judo" website (a program of the "USJJF")]

* Chuck Norris (actor): Norris's introduction to martial arts took place in South Korea after enlisting in the U.S. Air Force in 1958. He left Korea with a black belt in Tang Soo Do, and a brown belt in judo. In his movies he can often be seen executing O Goshi, Uki Goshi, Seoi Nage, Waki Gatame and Tomoe Nage.

* Peter Sellers (actor/comedian, b.1925 d.1980): Sellers practised judo and was appointed President of the London Judo Society in 1962. [ [ Judo] (] [ [ Biography of Peter Sellers] ] [ [,8816,896128,00.html The Shy Man] - Time Magazine, 27 April 1962 (prior to being appointed President of the London Judo Society)]

* Valerie Singleton OBE (English television and radio presenter): Singleton started taking judo self-defence classes for women at the Budokwai in London in 2002. [ Tired of the gym? Belt up for judo] - Daily Telegraph, UK, October 2002.]

* Bo Svenson (actor): The lead actor of the original Walking Tall movies is a third degree blackbelt in judo. He was also the 1961 Far East Judo Champion in the Heavyweight Division. [ [] ] [ [ IMDb entry for Bo Svenson] ]


* Yves Klein (French Artist, b.1928 d.1962) A 4th dan black belt and instructor, he published a book "Les Fondements du Judo" ("The Foundations of Judo") in 1954. ["Les Fondements du Judo" ("The Foundations of Judo") by Yves Klein. Paris:Grasset, 1954.] Judo also strongly influenced his art and philosophy.


* Matsutaro Shoriki (sports commissioner / media mogul / politician, b.1885 d.1969): owned one of Japan's major daily newspapers, and founded Japan's first commercial television station. He also was elected to the House of Representatives and appointed to the House of Peers. He became Nippon Professional Baseball's (NPB) first commissioner in 1949, and in 1959, he was the first inductee into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, and is known as the "father of Japanese professional baseball". In 1957, his biography was published in New York, titled "Shoriki: Miracle Man of Japan". In 1969 he was awarded judo's highest rank by the Kodokan: 10th dan.
* Taki Theodoracopulos: shipping heir and businessman, writer, columnist.


* Azra Akin (2002 Miss World): won the judo competition in the TV series The Games in 2003.

* Laetitia Casta (Actress/Model): Casta was the official face of L'Oréal, Dior, and Chanel. She was the "Guess?" Jeans girl in 1993, and has appeared on over 100 magazine covers. She was Rolling Stone's Hottest Model of the Year. Casta has a brown belt in judo. [ [ Laetitia Casta - Biography] - at]

* Yasmin Le Bon (English supermodel): she and her husband Simon Le Bon practice judo at the Budokwai in London.


* Simon Le Bon (lead singer and lyricist of the pop/rock band Duran Duran): he and his wife Yasmin Le Bon are practicing judo at the Budokwai in London.

* Billy Thorpe (rock musician of Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs): learned judo from a coach of Anton Geesink in Brisbane, Australia. Thorpe used judo to throw two policemen who attacked him in a violent false arrest in Sydney, Australia in 1964. ["Sex and Thugs and Rock 'n' Roll (1997)" by Billy Thorpe.]


* Terence Donovan (photographer and film director b.1936 d.1996): directed Robert Palmer's music video Addicted to Love, which won the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. It was his idea to feature pale skinned models pretending to play backup, [Interview with Robert Palmer on a late night talk show.] the visual element that made the video so memorable. He was also a black belt in judo and co-authored a popular judo book "Fighting Judo" with former World Judo Gold medallist Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki. [ [ "Fighting Judo", by Kashiwazaki and Donovan, 1985] (]

* Guy Richie (film director): Guy Ritchie trains regularly in both judo and BJJ. He has a black belt in judo. [ [ "I am used to getting a good rumping from the critics. So what?"] by Charlotte Edwardes, Daily Telegraph, UK. September 26, 2005.]


* Ben Nighthorse Campbell (U.S. Senator for Colorado, 1993–2005): Campbell won three U.S. national championships and a gold medal at the 1963 Pan American Games judo competition. He was captain of the U.S. judo team in the 1964 Summer Olympics, and was chosen to carry the American flag during the closing ceremonies.

* William Hague (leader of the Conservative Party in the UK, 1997–2001): long-standing practitioner at the Budokwai in London. Judo is credited for transforming him from a "weak indecisive" "bit of a weed" into an "action man". [ [ How judo made a man out of Hague] ] [ [ Lord Coe] - Guardian interview discusses how Coe introduced Hague to judo. 2 May 2008.]

*Pierre Trudeau (former Prime Minister of Canada, 1968–1979 and 1980–1984): 2nd dan black belt, Takahashi School of Martial Arts in Ottawa. [ Takahashi, M. et all (2005). "Mastering Judo". USA: Human Kinetics. ]

* Vladimir Putin (Russian President, 2000–2008; Russian Prime Minister, 2008–): Putin was awarded 6th dan (prestigious red & white belt) at the Kodokan in 2000. [ [ Black-Belt President Putin: A Man of Gentle Arts] by Yasuhiro Yamashita] In the 1970s, he was awarded a "Master of Sports" in both judo and sambo. Putin has described judo as "my favorite sport", and he continues to practice it. [ [ Vladimir Putin: the NPR interview] U.S. radio station National Public Radio New York (November 15, 2001)] In 2004 he co-authored a book about judo, published in Russian as "Judo with Vladimir Putin" and in English as "Judo: History, Theory, Practice." [cite book | last=Putin | first=Vladimir V. | coauthors=Vasilii Shestakov, Alexey Levitsky, Aleksei Levitskii | year=2004 | month=July | title=Judo: History, Theory, Practice | publisher=North Atlantic Books | id=ISBN 1-55643-445-6 ] The book has now been made into a film called "Judo with Vladimir Putin". Here is a short video clip of Putin executing a throw. []

* Theodore Roosevelt (US President 1901–1909): Roosevelt was the first world leader to learn judo, and the first American to reach brown belt. [ [ Presidential Judo] by Tom Ross] A very keen judoka, he took lessons up to three times a week from judo's first-ever 10th dan, Yamashita Yoshiaki. Roosevelt was instrumental in appointing Yamashita to teach judo at the US Naval Academy. [ [ Professor Yamashita Goes to Washington] by Joseph R. Svinth, in Journal of Combative Sport, Oct 2000]

* Ulla Werbrouck (Belgian politician, 2007–): Olympic gold medalist and six-time European champion.


* Albert II (Prince of Monaco, 2005–): 1st dan black belt. [ [ Albert II, Prince of Monaco - biography] ]


* Jeremy Glick (September 11 "Flight 93" counterattacker): Glick's last words to his wife on United Airlines Flight 93 were: "We're going to rush the hijackers." Then he put down the phone. [ [ Heroes: Facing the End - The Fight for Flight 93] Time cover story.] Glick was US National Collegiate Judo champion in 1993. [ [ Jennifer Glick: Jeremy's Heroes foundation commemorates brother] - CNN. 9 November 9 2001] [ [ A Friend, a Father, a Hero] by Adrian Wojnarowski. Bergen (NJ) Record. September 14 2001]


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