Great British Judo Fighters of Our Time

Great British Judo Fighters of Our Time

There are many reasons why we pick our chosen martial art.  But, it takes a special type of indivual to be placed into the lime-light and ignite a spark.  Those sparks can either be blown into huge fires, gently flicker on through a martial art journey, or fizzle out.  Here are just a few who are responsible for igniting a spark all over the world.  Through their dedication and determination, they prove that with hard work, anything is possible.

Neil Adams MBE

Born in Rugby, Neil is an English judoka who won numerous Olympic and World Championship medals in judo representing Great Britain.

His impressive mountain of judo medals include multiple British Titles, 5 gold and 3 bronze medals at various European Championships, 1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals at the World Championships and 2 silvers at 2 consecutive Olympic Games.  He was the first British male to win a World Title and to simultaneously hold a World and European Title.  Neil is also the official commentator of the International Judo Federation and author to some of the worlds greatest judo titles. On 20 September 2008 he was promoted to 8th Dan at the age of 49.

Craig Fallon Great British Judo FightersCraig Fallon

Craig Fallon is the most successful British male judoka since Neil Adams, joining him as one of only two Briton’s to hold both World and European titles in succession. He is renowned for his exciting, attacking judo, and his ability to escape from dangerous situations. After an impressive record at junior level, Craig Fallon first shot to prominence at senior level when he won the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. In doing so, he beat the World bronze medallist John Buchanan en route to the final where he dispatched India’s Akram Shah to take gold. However, this was just a taste of things to come.

With a multitude of National and International titles under his belt, Craig also boasts an exceptional record of 1 gold and 2 silver World Titles, 7 gold and 1 bronze World Cups and, 2 bronze and 3 gold European Cups, as well as participating in 2 Olympic Games.

Ray Stevens

At the age of 16, Ray gained his black belt and competed in the Great Britain squad from 1980 to 1997. He was known as the most technically capable fighter in Britain and is also the head of the oldest and most prestigious Martial Arts club in Europe, the Budokwai. Ray’s record includes mutiple British Titles, 2 European Titles (1 silver, 1 bronze) and he was also selected to represent the United Kingdom in 2 Olympics, where he achieved a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.  Ray holds the rank of 6th Dan in Judo awarded to him in 2001 and is now the Vice Chairman of the British Judo Association.

Karen Briggs MBE

Karen Briggs is widely regarded as the first woman champion to become a complete fighter.  Many men, sceptical about women’s competitive judo in the early 1980s, grudgingly acknowledged that she had all the attributes of a champion – clean and varied techniques, perfect fitness, fierce fighting spirit, and a speed and determination that took her to the top.

In a long and distinguished career, she won four World Titles, six Europeans Titles and numerous other events as well as  representing the U.K. in the 1992 Summer Olympics.  Brigg’s career was coming to an end at the time that women’s judo was accepted on the Olympic programme, and unfortunately, she had to retire after dislocating her shoulder in the semi-final of the Barcelona Olympics against Ryoko Tamura, the Japanese champion.

Briggs was the ultimate professional, both on and off the mat. Her daily fitness regime included a gruelling mixture of running, swimming, weight training and stretching. She realised at an early stage in her career that fitness had to be attained using careful and meticulous planning and execution. This lesson paid huge dividends for her and helped her to be strong and supple enough to become a champion. In August 2015 Dr Karen Briggs was inducted into the IJF hall of fame.

Euan Burton MBE

Two-time World bronze Medallist Euan Burton made history when he became the first non-Asian to win the Tokyo Grand Slam in 2010 by defeating South Korea’s reigning Olympic medallist Kim Jae-Bum by ippon and went on to represent Great Britain at the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Olympics.  Burton was named Scotland’s flagbearer for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and fittingly, after announcing his retirement, won gold in the 100kg category. Burton is currently concentrating his efforts as a development coach for JudoScotland and was awarded an MBE in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to Judo.

Karina Bryant - Great British Judo FightersKarina Bryant

Born in London, Karina started her judo career at the age of ten, joining Camberley Judo Club. Her notable achievements include 7 medals (4 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze) at various European Championships and 7 medals (5 silver, 2 bronze) at the World Championships.  Karina was also selected for 4 Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. See the following link for her bronze medal performance:


Above are just a selection of some of Great Britain’s greatest Judo fighters.  The endless list will continue to develop as a new wave of judoka come through the ranks of  a notably efficient martial arts discipline.


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