98-year-old woman earns top judo black belt rank
A 98-year-old woman standing just 4'11" has achieved one of the highest honours in the world of martial arts after being promoted to tenth dan black belt in judo.
Sensei Keiko Fukuda, a Japanese-born American, is just the fourth person on the planet who currently holds the distinction, and only the 15th person in history to be awarded the honours. The other three people who are currently tenth dan 'judoka' are all men living in Japan.
Fukuda, who took up the sport in 1935 and still teaches judo three times a week at a women's dojo in San Francisco, was thrilled with her promotion.
"All my life this has been my dream," said the woman who is the last surviving student of judo's founder, Kano Jiguro.
Fukuda is not exaggerating. She eschewed traditional Japanese arts such as calligraphy and tea ceremonies - not to mention her marriage - when she took up the sport in her 20s, she then spent 30 years stuck as a fifth dan black belt due to a regulation prohibiting women from being promoted beyond that level.
She managed to break down that rule in 1972 and was the first woman to become a sixth dan black belt and has since continued to climb the ranks and inspire her students with her personal motto: "Be gentle, kind and beautiful, yet firm and strong, both mentally and physically