8 OCTOBER 2008

While some of Vladimir Putin's previous exploits such as darting tigers in the wild should be marked 'don't try this at home', there is one hobby the Russian premier is urging the world to share.

The tough guy leader marked his 56th birthday with the launch of an instructional judo DVD – a release which follows other images of the leader fishing, riding and bringing down a tiger with a tranquilliser gun.

Let's Learn Judo With Vladimir Putin had its premiere in St Petersburg on Wednesday, with a presentation by the politician himself. Though wearing a suit for the event rather martial arts attire, Mr Putin was enthusiastic about his new venture.

Modestly describing his appearance on the DVD's cover as "an advertising trick", he told the gathering that viewers would be learning "not from your humble servant but from real geniuses". These include Yashuhiro Yamashita, a Japanese world and Olympic champion in the sport.

The Russian leader, a judo black belt, does, however, demonstrate a series of throws and holds on the disc, throwing an opponent to the mat.

One head of state who could soon be on the receiving end of the former KGB agent's skills is Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr Putin told French journalists their president expressed an interest in judo and "we have decided to do some training together".

Photo: ©
Mr Putin, a judo black belt, launched a DVD to teach people martial arts skills. Here he floors an opponent during a class in 2000, but the Russian leader has been practising the sport since he was 13 Photo: © AFPClick on photos for gallery
Photo: ©
The release of the DVD coincided with Mr Putin's 56th birthday Photo: © AFP