“Be Strong. Be Gentle. Be Beautiful.”

If you need inspiration; if you need proof that age doesn’t matter, or proof of “mind over matter:”

Please read the following. This woman is awe-inspiring! “She is a living treasure from another era,” said Jess O’Brien, martial arts editor of North Atlantic Books, who published Fukuda’s second book, “Ju No Kata.”

“Keiko Fukuda of San Francisco, California, was promoted to the rank of 10th dan (degree) black belt in Judo in the summer of 2011 by USA Judo, the sport’s national governing body. This is the highest ranking one can achieve in judo, but Fukuda is not featured in Bloody Elbow’s world scouting report, nor is Fukuda being courted by the UFC, Bellator, Dream, or any other MMA organization, because Keiko Fukuda is a woman, and she’s also 98 years old.

Meredith May at the The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Ms. Fukuda’s achievement, and if you’re still not impressed, consider this: only three other living judokas have reached the 10-degree black belt level, and they’re all men. Even more importantly, Fukuda is the last surviving student of Kano Jigoro, who invented judo in the late 1800s in Japan.

Kano added a women’s section to his school about 40 years later and invited Fukuda to train because of her martial arts lineage. She was the granddaughter of a renowned jujitsu master who had taught that Japanese martial art to Kano.

She was 21. She felt destined to practice judo. She declined her family’s plans to marry her to a dentist when she met with him and he told her she’d have to give up judo. She wanted to honor her grandfather’s legacy, a family martial arts tradition that passed to her because her father had died young and a brother was in ill health.

Fukuda studied the kata, or choreographed forms of fighting maneuvers, and she became the expert in a slower, gentler version called ju-no-kata.

She rose quickly to a fifth-degree black belt – the highest rank for women at the time – and demonstrated ju-no-kata at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

At 98, she is still teaching the Japanese martial art three times a week at a women’s dojo in Noe Valley, giving pointers from a fold-out chair, wearing her ki – and the red belt that signals her superior rank.

She waves two students over who are practicing fending off a knife-wielding purse snatcher, using finesse and balance to harness power. Fukuda, her hands shaking slightly, holds their fingers and moves their thumbs into their palms. Better. She nods, and the students bow in gratitude before trying the move again.

Fukuda emphasizes accuracy and speed over muscling and winning at all costs. She’s less interested in winning tournaments than she is in passing down respect for the art form.

“I think a lot of why I am 98 has to do with judo,” Fukuda said. “I have my health, and judo is my connection to less stress and difficulty. As far as I know, no one has lived their life completely for judo as I have.’ ” -taken from bloodyelbow.com

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of finding YOUR connection to less stress and difficulty…your connection to peace. It is my belief that if you find it, and harness it, it will radiate out from within you and change your life.

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