In a world dominated by men, a tiny 98-year-old named Keiko Fukuda is the highest ranking woman in judo history and a true living legend. In July 2011, Fukuda made world history when she was awarded the 10th degree black belt – judo’s highest honor. She now has the distinguished title of “Shihan” (grand master) and is the only woman in the world to hold this honor. Fukuda is also the last living disciple of Jigoro Kano, judo’s founder.
In 1934, Fukuda was preparing for marriage, like most young women in Japan. But when she met Jigoro Kano, her life’s path was radically altered. She gave up marriage, family, and her homeland to pursue her life destiny – spreading judo around the world.
In 1966, she immigrated to the U.S. as a single woman, hoping to make a living by teaching judo. Her move to the U.S. caught light of rank injustice within the Japanese judo system. With the help of American women’s rights activists and her judo students, Fukuda began her struggle up the male dominant ladder of judo.
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