Friday, November 13, 2009

Your Friday meditation--Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful: the story of Keiko Fukuda

This is an excerpt from a work-in-progress documentary telling the beautiful, powerful story of Keiko Fukuda, the highest-ranking judoka alive; the granddaughter of a Samurai; and the last living disciple of Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo. At age 93, after working toward it for her entire life, Sensei Fukuda was finally promoted to ninth dan. Via Lauredhel of Hoyden About Town, who writes:
[...] Fukuda talks about how she was ‘frozen’ at fifth dan (fifth degree black belt), for no other reason than that she was a woman. She was finally promoted to ninth dan at the age of 93. She talks, emotionally, about having had to choose between marriage and judo.
In the film, Fukuda, who at 96 still teaches in San Francisco--yet another reason to envy those lucky Northern Californians--is shown, in archive footage, demonstrating the exquisite ballet of power and grace that is known as the kata. She is also shown teaching a present-day class, getting out of her wheelchair to demonstrate an armlock; she gives her students homework, too: Go home and ponder the essence of the word "ju" for a year.

Ju, like many Japanese words, carries many layers of meaning within the shell of its lone syllable; it translates approximately as soft, gentle, flexible, adaptable.

San Francisco filmmaker Yuriko Gamo Romer of Flying Carp Productions continues to work on this documentary and is trying to raise funds in order to complete it. Please go here for information on donating.

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