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Fighter Profiles > World Champions > Karen Briggs
DOB - 11 April 1963
COUNTRY - Great Britain
WEIGHT - U48kg
Sangaku roll into Kami-shio-gatame
Prague, 1991, Silver
Frankfurt, 1989, Silver
Helsinki, 1987, Gold
Landskrona, 1984, Gold
Pirmasens, 1984, Gold
Oslo, 1982, Gold
Madrid, 1981, Bronze
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. Equally strong in groundwork as in standing, she appeared almost unbeatable from the time she won her first world title in Paris, to her last world title in 1989 in Belgrade - apart from when injuries occurred in matches and training. She fractured her leg in two places going for her fourth successive World title in Essen in 1987 (though she tried to carry on fighting…). And she dislocated her shoulder when regaining the title in 1989.
Brigg’s career was coming to an end at the time that women's judo was accepted on the Olympic programme, and she retired after dislocating her shoulder again in the semi-final of the Barcelona Olympics against Ryoko Tamura, the Japanese champion.
She was best known for a very fast yoko-tomoe-nage, which often scored ippon. When it didn't she went straight into ground work generally using a sangaku turnover to move into kami-shiho-gatame. It was this technique which won Briggs her 1989 world title in Belgrade, where she dislocated her shoulder holding Japan’s Fumiku Esaki for ippon. She also used this technique to hold down Ryoko Tamura in the Semi-Final of the 1991 World Championships. Tamura, who has since become Ryoko Tani, went on to become the most successful female judoka of all time. She famously stated that Briggs was the fighter she most admired in judo.
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.