Sensei Keiko Fukuda, the last surviving student of Judo founder Kanō Jigorō, has officially been promoted to the rank of 10th dan — the highest black-belt degree in her sport — becoming the first woman to reach the rank, and only the sixteenth person to achieve it since the martial art was founded in 1882.
Oh, and did I mention Fukuda is 98 years old?
“All my life,” Fukuda, who started practicing judo in 1935, said, “this has been my dream.”
Fukuda is no stranger to breaking barriers. In 1972, following a letter campaign to reverse the longstanding rule prohibiting women from rising above 5th dan(which kept her at the same level for nearly two decades), she became the first woman promoted to 6th dan.
And she’s not done yet: Fukuda continues to teach judo three times a week at a women’s dojo in Noe Valley.