1986 Recipient: Award of Excellence
Keiko Fukuda (born April 12, 1913) is the highest-ranking female practitioner of Judo in the world. She received the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation Award of Excellence at the Special Training held at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut hosted by Phyllis Drescher.
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Fukuda Sensei began her practice of Judo in 1935 at the age of 21. She was invited to study Judo by Kano Jigoro, its founder, because of his relationship with her grandfather, Fukuda Hachinosuke. Years before, her grandfather had taught Tenjin ShinyM-ryk Jujutsu to Kano. Fukuda Sensei is the last living pupil of Dr. Kano.
The United States Judo Federation awarded Fukuda Sensei a rare red belt in 2001 for her lifelong contribution to the martial art. In January of 2006, at its annual Kagami Biraki New Years celebration, the Kodokan Judo Institute awarded her the 9th degree black belt (9th dan). She is the only woman to ever hold this high rank from any recognized Judo organization.
Fukuda Sensei teaches at the Soko Joshi Judo Club in the Noe Valley district of San Francisco, California. Fukuda also teaches at the annual Joshi Judo Camp, a camp she founded in 1974 to give women judoka an opportunity to train together.
In 1973, Fukuda Sensei published Born for the Mat, an instructional book intended for women about the kata of Kodokan Judo. She revised and expanded that book by writing Ju No Kata: A Kodokan Judo Textbook, published in 2004 by North Atlantic Books. It is a pictorial textbook for performing Ju No Kata, one of the seven Kodokan Kata.