Fun Link Friday: Documentary on Keiko Fukuda, Judo’s Only Female 10th Degree

“The belt ranks for women were very old fashioned and sexist. There was nothing above 5th degree for women.” -Keiko Fukuda

Today’s Fun Link is a trailer for Yuriko Gamo Romer’s documentary Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful: The Story of Keiko Fukuda, Grand Mistress of Judo, which will be released in 2012 by Flying Carp Productions.

The last surviving student of Kanō Jigorō, the founder of judo, Fukuda-sensei’s accomplishments include participating in the 1964 Olympics for Japan, opening her own women’s dojo in San Francisco in 1973, and being named one of Japan’s living national treasures in 1990. Fukuda-sensei’s battles, however, were not limited to the dojo: she successfully campaigned against the Kodokan Judo Institute’s rule that women could not rise above 5th dan, refusing marriage and immigrating to the US to continue her life’s work.

In 2006, she was conferred the 9th dan, the highest at the time in the Kodokan. On 28 July 2011, at the age of 98, Fukuda-sensei was awarded 10th dan by USA Judo. She is the only woman of the four people to have ever held this rank.

For more about the film and about Fukuda-sensei:

Help fund the film at Kickstarter

Flying Carp’s Website

Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful’s facebook page

May, Meredith. “Judo master makes 10th degree black belt.” The San Francisco Chronicle. 6 August 2011.

Wilks, Jon. “Keiko Fukuda: Judo 10th dan at 98 years old.” Time Out Tokyo. 16 Aug. 2011.

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4 Responses to Fun Link Friday: Documentary on Keiko Fukuda, Judo’s Only Female 10th Degree

  1. Thank you for suggesting this. It is such a beautiful and moving example for the many women involved in Japanese traditional arts.

  2. Pingback: Fun Link Friday: Documentary on Keiko Fukuda, Judo's Only Female 10th Degree (via What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?) « 外国人と能

  3. Nyssa says:

    I enjoyed this clip a lot. I noticed that the creators’ started a KickStarter Campaign to fund the project (, which might be good to link directly in this post.

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