Love: Sensei Keiko Fukuda Becomes First Woman to Earn Judo’s Highest Honor

The 98-year-old has finally earned her 10th degree black belt.

By Jamilah King Aug 10, 2011

It took decades, but 98-year-old Sensei Keiko Fukuda finally promoted to judo’s highest honor: 10th degree black belt. In doing so, Fukuda became only the fourth person — and only woman — to earn the distinction.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The martial arts promotion by USA Judo brought 98-year-old Fukuda to tears at the women’s dojo where she still teaches in Noe Valley. 

She gave up marriage and left her homeland to dedicate her life to judo, fighting gender discrimination that kept her at lower belt levels decades longer than men less skilled than she.

"The time was right," said U.S. Judo Federation promotion board member Eiko Saito Shepherd.

Along with Ernestine Shepherd, the weightlifting champ who’s in her 70’s, Fukuda’s journey is a helpful reminder that it’s never too late to live out a dream.

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