FanDuel - WFBC

August 07, 2011

Woman, 98, Earns Judo's Top Belt: At age 98, Sensei Keiko Fukuda of San Francisco has become the first woman to be promoted to judo's highest level of 10th degree black belt -- a mark reached only by three people in the world. "All my life," this has been my dream," said Fukuda, who was kept at lower belts for decades longer than less-skilled men, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

posted by rcade to other at 01:18 PM - 24 comments

There's no shortage of politics and isms in martial arts. Thing is, Fukuda sensei's rank was awarded by USA Judo. Whether the Kodokan recognizes it, remains to be seen.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:42 PM on August 07

I bet I can kick her ass and I don't even have a belt. The fact that a 98 year old can earn the rank sort of diminishes it's value and puts into perspective just how ridiculous the whole belt system is in the first place.

posted by Atheist at 10:29 AM on August 08

Big talk there, fella.

(Also, I'm pretty sure martial arts belts aren't given out based on who can beat up whom.)

posted by kmzh at 11:10 AM on August 08

I bet I can kick her ass and I don't even have a belt.

Oh, so that's why you're constantly showing your ass in public.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:40 PM on August 08

If Kung Fu Panda taught me anything, it is that elderly martial arts experts are the baddest of all.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:09 PM on August 08

I bet I can kick her ass and I don't even have a belt. The fact that a 98 year old can earn the rank sort of diminishes it's value and puts into perspective just how ridiculous the whole belt system is in the first place.

It's "its," but that's by far the least stupid thing you wrote.

posted by Hugh Janus at 02:18 PM on August 08

(Also, I'm pretty sure martial arts belts aren't given out based on who can beat up whom.)

Precisely the point. Belts in martial arts usually have nothing to do with anything except how much time and money a person has paid the Dojo.

IMO you deserve a life black belt for living to 98 and it's a nice story.

I appreciate any old person who chooses to remain active and they deserve the props for it.

"who was kept at lower belts for decades longer than less-skilled men"

Is this a claim of discrimination? If I am understanding this correctly, for decades they gave belts to less qualified men (less qualified than a 98 year old woman?) now suddenly at 98 she has finally become the 10th degree black belt. Sounds honorary to me and that is nice but hardly real.

If black belts had any real meaning, not everybody could earn one even after 90 years of trying.

posted by Atheist at 02:31 PM on August 08

Precisely the point. Belts in martial arts usually have nothing to do with anything except how much time and money a person has paid the Dojo.

What does this have to do with "usually"? Do you actually know anything about Fukuda sensei?

If I am understanding this correctly, for decades they gave belts to less qualified men (less qualified than a 98 year old woman?)

She hasn't actually been 98 for decades, fyi.

Sounds honorary to me and that is nice but hardly real.

If black belts had any real meaning, not everybody could earn one even after 90 years of trying.

Well, clearly you've got a raft of opinions, which seem to come from Spike TV and bad martial arts movies, but it seems clear that you don't actually know anything about Fukuda sensei or about the rank that she has just been awarded. You come along playing internet tough guy and tell us that you bet you could kick a 98 year old woman's ass, and that therefore her rank must mean nothing and not be deserved, and it's like watching someone with spinach on their teeth give a speech. It's embarrassing to watch, honestly.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:52 PM on August 08

..it's like watching someone with spinach on their teeth give a speech. It's embarrassing to watch, honestly.

It's only embarrassing for the person with spinach in their teeth. Otherwise it's entertaining, humorous and a bit sad to everyone else.

Not in that order

posted by BornIcon at 03:21 PM on August 08

First of all when I said I could kick her ass I was being sarcastic. GET IT like a black belt x the tenth degree means something. She's 98! Have a sense of humor. Could anybody really believe that was serious. The only serious aspect of my comment was the fact the belts mean nothing and this was a pretty good verification of that. Actually I am finding it humorous that anybody would want to start attacking me because I said I bet I could kick her ass, she is 98 years old. I suppose that gives surviving the round a whole new meaning. OH pile on if you like but if you took what I said seriously, try to get over it.

"You come along playing internet tough guy and tell us that you bet you could kick a 98 year old woman's ass"

Once again for those who are paying attention, the joke is EVEN I can kick the ass of a 10th degree black belt IF they happen to be 98 years old. That is hardly playing internet tough guy.

posted by Atheist at 04:59 PM on August 08

FWIW Atheist, I got it. Maybe I have a more sarcastic since of humor than most.

posted by Folkways at 05:50 PM on August 08

Thanks at least someone got it. Excuse me while I dust off after being piled on and ground into the dirt by internet tough guys looking for a fight where none existed.

Hugh Janus. Chastise me and imply I am stupid, for an accidental apostrophe? That really went far in proving how much smarter you are.


and this "She hasn't actually been 98 for decades, fyi."

Of course she hasn't although she has been passed over for 3 decades since she was a killing machine of almost 70. I am pretty sure her skills have been sharpened over the last 30 years since she was 68. My apologies.

posted by Atheist at 06:20 PM on August 08

Oh, so that's why you're constantly showing your ass in public.

+1

Once again for those who are paying attention, the joke is EVEN I can kick the ass of a 10th degree black belt IF they happen to be 98 years old.

... Well, keep working towards that humour black belt.

posted by tron7 at 06:29 PM on August 08

Obviously I haven't earned the humor black belt although I was awarded one after 78 years of working hard at the comedy dojo. I guess they just felt they should give it to me after $7,879,265.00 worth of lessons.

Actually I can use the black belt to keep my pants up as suggested by LBB.

posted by Atheist at 06:33 PM on August 08

First of all when I said I could kick her ass I was being sarcastic.

Then you think she could kick your ass? Having trouble figuring out the joke.

posted by rcade at 08:18 PM on August 08

I guess they just felt they should give it to me after $7,879,265.00 worth of lessons.

You realize that she's one of the original students of the founder of judo, and she's been teaching judo for decades, right?

posted by kmzh at 10:47 AM on August 09

She's actually the only surviving deshi of Jigoro Kano.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:22 PM on August 09

You realize that she's one of the original students of the founder of judo, and she's been teaching judo for decades, right?

So can someone with a grasp of judo explain how she improved enough at 98 to become a 10th-degree black belt? It's pretty tough for me to view this as anything but ceremonial, but maybe that's exactly what it is if only three people before her had ever attained it. Sounds like Scientology.

It's "its," but that's by far the least stupid thing you wrote.

It's fun when people do this in a thread where the quotation marks are wrong in the fucking summary. Are we to assume Rogers is an idiot also, or are we willing to think it was just an error?

posted by wfrazerjr at 12:16 PM on August 10

Can't it be both?

posted by yerfatma at 12:26 PM on August 10

So can someone with a grasp of judo explain how she improved enough at 98 to become a 10th-degree black belt?

That's a bit like saying "Can you explain how someone who hasn't played baseball in twenty years improved enough at 60 to get elected to the Hall of Fame?" The analogy isn't perfect, but elevation to 10th dan has more to do with lifetime achievement and contribution to the style (which is ongoing, btw) than it does with your current ability to do a wicked kokyunage/bat .400. The main difference is that you retire from baseball, you don't retire from judo.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:03 PM on August 10

LBB, I think your anolgy is spot on (and I'm jealous I didn't think of it), but in my mind it makes it ceremonial. I don't think it diminishes the honour in the least, though.

Thanks, yer. Fortunately, I had just put my Timmies down before reading that.

posted by wfrazerjr at 01:35 PM on August 10

When I was working in Japan, one of the Marines in my shop was a very good judoka. He was all Marine Corps heavyweight champion, and he had attained his black belt from a Japanese Judokan. One afternoon he told me that his sensei had asked him to come to a meet in Hiroshima (about 25 miles from the base where we worked). He really didn't want to go, but his sensei seemed to think he should. As it turned out, the meet wasn't a meet at all, but was the award ceremony for his 2nd degree black belt. It wasn't based on skill level, rather it was for his contributions in teaching the sport to other Marines and to the young people on the base. This reinforces the opinion that MS Fukuda's award is more honorary than it is for actual skill.

posted by Howard_T at 03:56 PM on August 10

This reinforces the opinion that MS Fukuda's award is more honorary than it is for actual skill.

That's assuming that there is no "skill" in teaching it to people.

She's one of only 16 people to ever attain the 10th degree of black belt in Judo. She deserves the respect for earning it.

posted by grum@work at 07:46 PM on August 10

Also -- this is where I think my Hall of Fame analogy breaks down -- rank isn't awarded to people who aren't still doing something and contributing something to judo. A judoka who stopped training twenty years ago and stopped teaching ten years ago and hasn't done anything since but play golf, is not going to be awarded rank.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:19 AM on August 11

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