news news Rick Littlewood - Kodokan 8th Dan

find a club

ak wb nw wn cd ca so


coaching resources

“do or not do - there is no try”
Rick Littlewood - Kodokan 8th Dan
Wednesday, 03 January 2018 11:27

On December the 13th the Kodokan promoted Rick Littlewood to 8th Dan in recognition of his achievements since attaining his Kodokan 7th Dan in 2005.

Promotion to 7th Dan or higher (men) and women’s 6th Dan or higher is decided by the International Special Council (ISC) which is the supreme council meeting at Kodokan to deliberate Dan promotions for foreign applicants.
This council consists of three 10th Dans (Abe Sensei, Osawa Sensei and Daigo Sensei) and a 9th Dan (Matsushita Sensei) and the Chairman is Mr. Uemura, President of the Kodokan.

Rick's application was approved for recommendation to the Kodokan by the New Zealand Kodokan Committee (NZKC) and was submitted in March 2017.

However, as the International Special Council meets irregularly, at most only a few times a year and only when when more than one application for 7th Dan or above has been submitted from overseas applicants, Rick's application for promotion was not considered until the ISC met earlier this month.


JNZ congratulates Rick on this significant recognition of his achievement in Judo.


In considering his application, the ISC took into account Rick's regular attendance and wins at the Kodokan's High Grades Shiai and Japan Masters Championships, study and practice of Nage -no-Kata, Katame-no-Kata, Goshin Jutsu, Kime-no-Kata, Ju-no-Kata, Itsutsu-no-Kata & Koshiki-no-Kata.

Among his achievements was being selected as NZ's first Judo Olympian when he competed at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games finishing 9th equal. The single loss was to the eventual gold medallist (Sekine, JPN) by Hantai in the 4th round. Unfortunately, the draw system used at the time meant that he didn’t qualify for a repechage, whereas in some of the subsequent Olympics his wins would have potentially placed him 5th.

The ISC was also aware of various other significant achievements such as an award from the Kodokan in recognition of entering the All Japan High Grade Competition 20 times. He also received a Technical Excellence award on 5 occasions at the All Japan High Grade Competition and at the Japan Veterans International Judo Tournament he won the gold medal 8 times.

Rick competed in New Zealand Judo tournaments from 1962 to 1985 winning the national championships on multiple occasions and was the gold medallist at the Oceania Championships in 1973 and 1975. He also won various New Zealand Masters events between 1986 and 2013.

Rick started Judo in 1959 at Hastings Judo Club, and from then to 1964 was also a member of Otago University, Dunedin & Invercargill Judo Clubs.

In 1965 he went to Japan as a 1st Kyu to further his Judo and joined the Doshisha University Judo Club.

During his time in Japan he was promoted in 1965 to Kodokan 1st Dan, in 1966 to Kodokan 2nd Dan, in 1967 to Kodokan 3rd Dan and in 1971 to Kodokan 4th Dan and prior to competing at the Munich Olympics he trained at the Kodokan as well.

Subsequent Kodokan promotions were to 5th Dan in 1977, 6th Dan in 1985 and 7th Dan in 2005.

Rick returned to New Zealand in 1972 after the Munich Olympics and at that time was appointed as coach by Judokwai NZ (1948) Inc. Since 1983 he has been Sensei/Coach of Auckland University Judo Club.

He represented NZ at the 1973, 1975 & 1979 Oceania Championships and during this time also gained his National A Referees licence.

At various times during the 1980’s and 1990’s Rick was a member of JNZ Grading Commission and the NZKC.

Since his promotion Rick has commented that many years ago when he was a Kodokan 6th dan entering the all Japan high grades shiai he was the only lonely foreigner and the same has been the case whilst he competed in the Kodokan High Grades 7th Dan Shiai.
Because of this, it has been a long held dream to become the only ever foreigner to enter the Kodokan High Grades Shiai as an 8th dan and thus joining many Japanese friends who already compete as 8th Dan's. So, next April Rick plans to achieve his dream of competing as an 8th Dan and the NZKC and Judo NZ join in wishing him all the best for another successful competition result at the Kodokan High Grades Shiai.

Jim McPhee
Chairman, NZKC and JNZ Board of Directors Member


upcoming events

JNZ Members Forum

JNZ Congress

IJF World Kata Championships
Cancun, Mexico

National Championships

Event information is available on the documents page