GIRLFRIEND OF THE WEEK: Keiko Fukuda 98 YRS YOUNG – Awarded 10th-degree black belt

Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful
a film by Yuriko Gamo Romer

“[Keiko Fukuda] was recently videotaped getting out of her wheelchair to demonstrate a move meant to flip an opponent on his back.” source: ABC News

Fukunda may appear fragile – just 4 foot 10, 100 lbs, but I think she could take Chuck Norris.  Her credentials are impressive.  Not only has she earned a 10th degree black belt at the age of 98, the first woman EVER to do so, her grandfather, Hachinosuke Fukuda, taught  jiu jutsu to Jigoro Kano.  Kano developed Japanese judo in 1882.

“Fukuda continues to teach classes three times a week to women and girls as young as 14 at the Soko Joshi Judo Club in the Noe Valley area of San Francisco.” says the ABC News story.

In the video above, Sensei Fukuda says,”The Kodokan was old-fashioned and sexist about belts and ranks. They just decided women didn’t need any ranks over 5th degree. I was 5th degree for 30 years. This was Kodokan’s sexism.”

This wonderful film clip shows the pain of choosing Judo over marriage, a choice she had to make in her era. Today, she has led the way for all women and continues to be an inspiration.