About Welsh Judo

History of Association

The Welsh Judo Association has a rich and illustrious history that dates back to its founding member, Alan Petherbridge MBE, 10th Dan. The association was established following Alan’s remarkable judo career, which began after his service in the British Army. Alan was a member of the Swansea Judo Society, later known as the Samurai Olympic Judo Club, founded in 1949. In 1953, he became the first Welsh judoka to achieve a 1st Dan and represented Wales at the first Home International.

Alan Petherbridge’s judo career soared to new heights as he went on to represent Great Britain at European, World, and Olympic levels. He became part of the Olympic Team for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first Welsh judoka to achieve this feat. After retiring in 1966, Alan continued to contribute to the sport as the first official British Judo Team Manager and Chair of the Technical Board of the British Judo Association. His significant contributions to judo were recognised with an MBE in 1977, and he was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in 2010, leaving a lasting legacy for generations of Welsh judoka.

During the early days of judo in Wales, another iconic figure emerged, Steadman Davies MBE. Although Llanelli was known for rugby, it also became home to one of Wales’ oldest judo clubs, the Sanshirokwai, founded by Steadman Davies in 1958. Steadman’s interest in martial arts was ignited during his military service in India, China, and Korea. Upon returning home, he established the Sanshirokwai, which became an integral part of Llanelli life, producing generations of legendary Welsh judoka like Daniel Davies, Helen Duston (nee Morgan), and Lisa Griffiths.

The Welsh Judo Championships were established, and in 1986, Welsh Judo was represented at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games by a full team of male and female judoka. Over the years, Welsh judoka have achieved significant success at the Commonwealth Games, securing a total of 19 medals, making judo one of Wales’ most successful Commonwealth sports.

The Welsh Judo Association continued to evolve and expand its support for judo in Wales. In 2009, the new National Dojo was opened at the Welsh Institute of Sport in Cardiff, allowing for a full-time judo training programme with sports science and medical support. This initiative, supported by Sport Wales, provided a high-performance training environment for judoka from across Wales to excel and integrate into various British Judo elite level programmes.

In more recent times, Natalie Powell from Irfon Judo Club became the first female Welsh judoka to represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games in 2016. She also achieved the first-ever number one world ranking in the International Judo Federation world rankings for a Welsh judoka in 2017. Welsh Judo has also supported other areas of judo, with Judoka like Stan Cantrill and Kyle Jones winning European and World medals in Veterans and ID championships respectively.

Today, the Welsh Judo Association is a modern and vibrant organisation committed to fostering personal growth, physical and mental development, and moral values among its members. The association acknowledges the contributions of generations of judo practitioners who have helped shape the sport in Wales and aims to continue Jigoro Kano’s vision of making society better through judo.

As the Welsh Judo Association continues to support judoka throughout Wales in reaching their potential, it remains deeply connected to its storied past while embracing the promising future that lies ahead for judo in the country.


“Building a better society through Judo”.

Embracing the core principles and values of Judo to enable Judoka and the communities they serve to realise their full potential


A recognised sport in Wales renowned for empowering individuals and transforming society