Friday, June 23, 2006

92-Year-Old Woman Is Top Judo Master

Read this story of the highest ranked female Judo black belt in history - still going strong!

CBS 5) SAN FRANCISCO A San Francisco woman in her 90's is inspiring others in the ancient art of self-defense and making history as well.

Keiko Fukuda has Parkinson's disease, arthritis in every joint, a triple bypass and has recovered from two heart attacks.

Think you could take her on? Maybe you can. Maybe you can't.

In a small studio in San Francisco's Noe Valley, the 92-year-old Fukuda holds court. She's had a hold on judo the past 80 years. The top female practitioner of the sport - ever.

Fukuda came to lecture in the Bay Area 40 years ago and never left.

She's a pedigree. Her grandfather was a famed samurai jiu-jitsu warrior. She attended the first judo class which ever allowed women.

Fukuda is now a 9th-degree black belt. No woman has ever achieved that rank in history.

"She's the best teacher. In fact, the highest ranking teachers in the world come to study with her," said judo black belt Fran Christie.

Her students can be 70 years her junior. The mind is sharp - her body is not. But her spirit is something else.

"She will start a sentence with, 'When I get old,'" said friend Shelley Fernandez. "She does not see herself as old."

Fukuda is not one to throw her weight around. Unless some unfortunate rookie steps in, not knowing what to expect.

Her stature is small but her importance can not be overstated.

Fukuda has blazed a path that has taken her where no woman has ever gone before, and because of her the history of her sport must constantly be updated.

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