Judo Woman – Keiko Fukuda, Wish You Were My Granny

About The Woman - Judo Woman

by Angelcortada, Flickr.com

When I was in school – I used to get a bit of a hard time, because at that time I was taller than most. So you know how kids are. After years of sibling violence by my two bigger sisters, I could take of myself! But was still a gentle soul. So I tried to avoid fighting unless I had to.

My big sister was a tough nut, with some pretty rough friends she routinely promised to (saying this politely) “punish my bullies”! A boy having his big sister or any woman beat up his bullies? Not cool, not cool at all! I wanted a big brother desperately, but you don’t always get what you want.

Not about me – Relax it’s not a post about my family history. I was reading the news yesterday and one thing jumped out a cool story about a 99 year old female Judo master “ Keiko Fukuda” who sadly passed away, this week. You’ve probably read the same story, it was everywhere. Even though it’s a sad story it’s also a cool one, because until her death she was the highest ranked woman in the world in Judo. That got me thinking, what an epic grandmother she would’ve been! Like a big sister, mum, teacher and big brother all rolled into one small tough bundle. Can you imagine in the playground:

“my dads bigger than your dad”

“my dad could beat the jelly out off your dad”

“my granny could beat the bejeebers out of both your dads, their brothers and Chuck Norris!”

Keiko Fukuda – All joking aside the life of Keiko Fukuda was an amazing person. Her grandfather “Fukuda Hachinosuke” was a samurai, and Jujutsu master. One of her grandfather’s students founded Judo! If that wasn’t amazing enough there was something special about this woman from an early age, when she chose to study Judo – at a time when women didn’t practice the art! She was the student of 3 Jujutsu masters in her time, studied Judo under the founder of Judo (Kanō Jigorō)! Not only the highest ranking woman in Judo, but in the history of Judo! What an inspiration she is.

I read somewhere that when she started, her family thought she might marry a Judo teacher rather than actually studying it seriously (they got that one wrong), which wasn’t the done thing for a Japanese woman of that generation. However sadly she never married or had kids. She was quoted as saying one of her earliest concerns about studying Judo, was having to “spread her legs”. If you know anything about Asian culture, especially Japanese culture that’s pretty taboo even now. Whether you agree or not, women need to sit politely in most social situations, so can you imagine what it would have been like a 90 years ago! On the other hand if you know anything about martial arts, balance and strong wide stance is crucial in defense and offense, which I guess really went against the grain for a Japanese woman of those times.

Her personal motto was: “Be gentle, kind, and beautiful, yet firm and strong, both mentally and physically.”

Keiko Fukuda, was a real pioneer for the sport of Judo, and for women practicing martial arts. Rest in peace Judo, Jujutsu samurai grandmother! Wish you’d been there instead of my big sister and you were way cooler than my hypercondriac , smoking, complaining, tight fisted granny.

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8 thoughts on “Judo Woman – Keiko Fukuda, Wish You Were My Granny

  1. That is an inspiring story. I’ve been living in Japan a while now and didn’t even know about her >< Or that judo is a relatively recent martial art. So much new knowledge in one post ^^

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