12 Best Judokas in History [2022 Update]

We are here to celebrate the Tokyo Olympics 2022 with the best judokas in history.

Judo, like any other martial art, is all about defending and attacking your opponents.

This sport began in Japan in 1882 and gradually spread throughout the world. Judo is now a part of the Olympic Games.

As many people are aware, judo is an evolved form of jiu-jitsu, which is another type of martial arts.

The philosophy of judo, on the other hand, influenced the development of other martial arts such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Sambo.

12 of the greatest judoka players in history

The main goal is to force the opponent to yield by applying pressure to their arm joints or neck.

While the judo practitioner and the judo uniform are both known as Judoka.

Let us now begin the countdown to one of the greatest judokas in history.

12. Ishii, Satoshi

Satoshi Ishii began Judo when he was in the fifth grade of elementary school. Ishii’s talent and his father’s guidance propelled him to the top of the judo world.

Furthermore, the gifted player has achieved and received recognition in judo and mixed martial arts.

The player is signed to the Professional Fighters League. Furthermore, he was a brilliant and talented player from the start.

As a result, he earned his first gold medal at the Junior World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in 2004. In 2006, he won silver in the 100 kg division at the Asian Games.

Ishii won a gold medal in Olympic Judo, a silver medal at the 2006 Asian Games, and two All-Japan Judo Championships while representing Japan at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

11. Mifune, Kyuzo

Despite his lack of recognition and achievement, Mifune has had a massive impact on the sport.

Kyuzo Mifune is even revered as the Judo god. And, once again, he is regarded as one of history’s greatest tacticians after the founder of judo, Jigoro Kano.

Mifune achieved the shodan (“beginning dan,” or 1st dan ranking) in Kodokan judo after 15 months of training and the Nidan (second dan) in just four months.

Mifune has never lost in the annual Red and White Kodokan tournament. Mifune was already a Godan (5th dan) and an instructor by 1910.

As a result, Mifune became known as the God of Judo, which is how we now know him. As time passed, his Godan rose to nine dan, and his popularity and reputation skyrocketed.

Throughout his career, he was known as one of the most influential judo instructors. His accomplishments also include receiving the Order of the Rising Sun in 1964. Third Class.

10. Hitoshi Saito

The player is regarded as one of the greatest judokas in history. Hitoshi Saito is a Japanese champion who has achieved success in the Olympics and other championships.

Hitoshi has two Olympic gold medals, the first in the open weight division World Judo Championships in 1983.

Similarly, the winner of the other championship could no longer retain it and, as a result, brought a gold medal to the Summer Olympics in 1984 in the heavyweight (+95 kg) division.

In 1988, he won the title and the gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics game.

After such a successful career, Hitoshi decided to contribute to the judo community by becoming an instructor.

After retiring, he became an instructor for the All-Japan Judo Federation and Kokushikan University.

He was the coach of the Japanese Judo team that competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Before his death in 2015, the Japanese Emperor bestowed the man with the Order of the Rising Sun.

9. Wim Ruska

In 1972, the legendary judo player won two gold medals in a single Olympics game that included heavyweight and absolute classes.

Wim Ruska is a legendary judoka from the Netherlands. He has won numerous fights and is widely regarded as one of the most dominant judokas in history.

He began his judo training in the Dutch Navy before traveling to Japan for additional instruction and assistance.

As a result, Ruska is training with coach John Bluming. He received numerous awards and accolades.

He won seven European titles between 1960 and 1970, for example. Five were in the +93 kg class, and two were in the open class.

Similarly, in 1967 and 1971, he won two World Championships and two Olympic medals. However, his triumph was overshadowed by the Munich massacre, which occurred just days before the 1972 Summer Olympics.

The Judoka was inducted into the International Federation of Judo Federation Hall of Fame in 2013.

8. David Douillet

He is one of the judo players who has received numerous awards and recognition. Furthermore, David Douillet, a French politician, played a significant role in influencing people to practice judo.

David was drawn to Judo at the age of 11 due to his interest in martial arts. In 1991, he won his first Senior French Championship as a result of his consistent efforts and dedication.

Douillet’s accomplishments and recognition are numerous. David won his first gold medal in the heavyweight division in 1996. He also won four world championships and one European championship.

The player is one of Judo’s most decorated judokas in history. He was appointed Secretary of State for French Nationals Abroad after retiring. Later, he was appointed Minister of Sports.

David is involved in a variety of sporting goods, working goods, camping equipment, and excursion equipment.

Most recently, he appeared in a judo simulation video game. David Douillet judo is the name of the game.

7. Teddy Riner

Teddy Riner, a French judoka, is a world champion and one of the best judokas in history.


Likewise, he has five European Championship gold medals and two Olympic gold medals.

Teddy began his judo career in Levallois-Perret, France, as a member of the Levallois Sporting Club. He won his first title in 2006, as well as World and European junior titles.

As a result, he was unstoppable after that. During his first senior title in the European Judo Championship in Belgrade in 2007, he received numerous awards and medals.

Riner also became the world’s youngest world champion when he won the 2007 World Judo Championship in Rio de Janeiro.

He was named a Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur in 2013 for his contributions to Judo. In 2021, he won the gold medal at the Judo World Master in Doha, Qatar.

6. Ilias Iliadis

Despite his retirement, he is one of the Judoka who will never be forgotten. Ilias Iliadis is a living legend, and we can’t get enough of him on the field.

Ilias is a Greek Judoka who was the first athlete to march into the Bird’s Nest Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

The 34-year-old began his Judo career as a child, competing for Greece in international competitions.

Then he scored his first Judo goal. Ilias, 17, reclaims the gold medal in the half middleweight class, 81 kg, from the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

Six years later, at the World Judo Championships in Tokyo in 2010, Iliadis won gold in the 90 kg division. In 2011, he won the European Judo Championship in his weight class.

Later in 2014, Ilias Iliadis was named Greek Male Athlete of the Year for his contributions to Judo.

5. Masato Uchishiba

Here are our picks for the top five judoka players of all time. Masato Uchishiba is a Japanese judoka who has won two Olympic gold medals.

The desire to win while giving his all shaped him into the judoka we know today.

He won two gold medals, the first at the Summer Olympics in the men’s under 66 kg class, defeating Slovakia’s Jozef Krnac.

The first game was held in 2004 in Athens, Greece. While his second gold medal came at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where he defeated France’s Benjamin Darbelet.

In April 2010, he started coaching the women’s judo team at Kyushu University of Nursing and Social Welfare in Kumamoto Prefecture.

Later that year, he was suspended from judo due to a sexual harassment allegation.

4. Anton Geesink

Anton Geesink, a ten dan judoka from the Netherlands, is one of the first non-Japanese to win a gold medal.

He is regarded as one of the greatest and most well-known judokas in history. His talent and desire to be the best earned him several judo titles and championships.


Anton was one of a few judokas with the International Judo Federation’s 10th Dan rank (IJF). And the only non-Japanese player to be awarded the 10th Dan.

Anton began his career by competing in the European Championship in 1951, where he won his first title.

He eventually won twenty more European titles, propelling him to the ranks of the world’s best judokas.

3. Nomura, Tadahiro

The Japanese player is regarded as one of the greatest judokas of all time. Finally, our selections for the top three best judoka players in history.

He is also a record-breaker as the only judoka to win three Olympic gold medals in a row. And even set a record in lightweight activity (60 kg division).

Nomura began judo training at the age of six at his grandfather’s dojo. He won numerous local and national competitions during his high school and junior high school years.

Later, in 1996, he won the All-Japan Selected Judo Championship for his weight class.

Then, in the same year, he made history by winning his first Olympic gold medal by defeating Girolamo Giovinazzo at the Atlanta Summer Olympics.

In 1997, the talented judoka won the All-Japan Selected Judo Championships and a gold medal in his weight class at the World Judo Championships in Paris (60 kg)

In 2000, he returned to the All-Japan Selected Judo Championships for the third time, winning the 60 kg weight class for the third time and earning a second trip to the Olympics.

People considered him the best judoka in his weight class because of his achievements in judo (60kg).

2. Yamashita, Yasuhiro

Here’s our selection of the second-best judoka players in history. While Yasuhiro Yamashita is now retired and working as an instructor, he had a remarkable judo career.

He is a member of the International Judo Federation and the All-Japan Judo Federation. Yasuhiro is regarded as one of the most successful judoka in history.

After being inspired by judo founder Kan Jigor, he began judo in primary school and had already earned a black belt by junior high.


And, once again, became one of the youngest judokas at the time (19 years old) to accomplish such a feat.

After winning the World Judo Championship in 1984, he was awarded the Japanese National Prize of Honor.

Ladies and gentlemen, Kano Jigoro. Finally, here are our picks for the top judoka players in history.

1. Kano

Kano is credited with bringing Judo to the international stage.

People adore and admire him, earning him the title “Founder of Judo.”

Kano invented the use of black and white belts, as well as dan ranking, to demonstrate relative standing among martial art discipline members.

His contribution and effort in Judo are enormous and unquantifiable. As a result, he will be remembered as the greatest Judoka in history.

In the 1910s, he was a key figure in introducing judo and kendo into Japanese public school systems.

The legend was the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee, representing Japan in the majority of the Olympic Games from 1912 to 1936.

He is the recipient of the First Order of Merit, the Grand Order of the Rising Sun, and the Third Imperial Degree.

Kano was inducted into the International Judo Federation (IJF) Hall of Fame in 1999.


Here is a list of the world’s top 12 judokas.

Who are your all-time favorite judokas? Please feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts in the box below.

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