MRS. JUDO: BE STRONG, BE GENTLE, BE BEAUTIFUL, documents the life-long journey of Keiko Fukuda’s decision to defy thousands of years of tradition, choose her own path, and become the highest-ranking woman in judo history.
Once in a long while, the life destiny of one woman lines up to make a radical shift for women around the world. 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
On July 28, 2011 Keiko Fukuda broke through a glass ceiling for women when she was awarded the pinnacle of judo, the 10th degree black belt. Fukuda is the first and only woman to hold this honor. Fukuda Sensei passed away on February 9, 2013. She was 99 years old, and had taught judo in San Francisco until just before her death. She was last disciple of judo’s founder, Jigoro Kano.
Mrs. Judo was produced by Yuriko Romer and supported by a California Documentary Project production and public engagement grants.