Sensei Fukuda: Strong and Gentle


Sensei Keiko Fukuda
Andy Kuo, via Flickr

Can a person be both strong and gentle? Liz Waid and Joshua Leo look at the life of judo expert Sensei Keiko Fukuda.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Joshua Leo.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand - no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A small woman bows. She stands opposite a man. He is much larger than she is. They both stand on a large square mat. The woman wears a white shirt and white trousers. She has a red belt around her waist. The man steps towards her and holds her wrist. The small woman moves her body quickly. The man lands on the mat on his back. He stands up. Again, the woman flips him over onto the floor. How can such a small woman do this?

Voice 2 

This woman is an expert in Judo. Judo is a martial art - it is a structured kind of fighting. People practice it as an art form. This little woman is one of the most famous Judo experts. She is a sensei, a master teacher. Today’s Spotlight is on Sensei Keiko Fukuda.

Voice 1 

Judo began in Japan. It is a combat sport. Two people usually compete against each other. They take turns attacking and defending. But in Judo, people do not use violence to win. Judo is based on giving respect and strength to everyone. Experts in Judo train for many years to learn skills. They use special moves to throw each other to the ground. And they also have to learn how to fall without getting hurt.

Voice 2

Keiko Fukuda’s family was very important in martial arts. Her grandfather taught a different sport called jujutsu. One of his students was a man named Jigoro Kano. In 1882, Kano created a new form of martial art. He named it Judo. This means ‘the gentle way’ in Japanese.

Voice 1 

The main idea of Judo was that gentleness can control hardness. Judo teaches people to use less effort but get a greater result. Jigoro Kano wrote a book about Judo. In it, he describes Judo this way:

Voice 3 

“Using force against a more powerful opponent will result in your defeat. But moving and avoiding your opponent's attack will cause him to lose his balance. Then his power will be reduced, and you will defeat him. This can apply even with differences in power. So it is possible for weaker people to beat much stronger ones.”

Voice 2 

Being good at Judo depends on skill and training. A person’s size is not important. This was very good for Keiko Fukuda. She was only 125 centimetres tall. And she only weighed about 45 kg. But she became the most famous female Judo expert ever.

Voice 1 

Fukuda began her Judo training in 1934. At that time, Jigoro Kano started a new judo school for women. Fukuda explained what happened in the documentary film ‘Mrs. Judo’:

Voice 4 

“I was 21 years old at this time. Master Kano said to me “We have a new women’s judo section. So therefore please come. When I heard that, there was nothing left to question.”

Voice 2 

Judo soon became the most important part of Fukuda’s life. She practiced Judo through many difficulties. At the time, Japan was fighting in World War Two. Tokyo was a very dangerous city. But Fukuda was determined to learn. She travelled across Tokyo every day to practice and teach Judo.

Voice 1 

Fukuda gave up many things to do Judo. She even chose not to have a husband and family. Fukuda knew that without a husband people would not give her as much respect. But she also knew that she could not do Judo if she had a husband. So she made a very difficult choice. Even as an old woman, Fukuda cried about giving up marriage. She said:

Voice 4 

“That was my marriage. I chose Judo over marriage. I never imagined I would live so long with this.”

Voice 2

There were also other difficulties for women in Judo. For many years, women could not move up to the higher levels of Judo. Judo levels are called dans. Students wear different coloured cloth belts around their waists. Each colour represents for a different level of ability.

Voice 1 

The highest level belt colour is black. There are ten degrees or dans in the black belt. Very few people reach the tenth level. To be a tenth dan, people must do more than be good in Judo skills. They must give something to the art form of Judo. This could be teaching students or writing a book.

Voice 2 

When Fukuda was training the Judo Institute had some different rules for women. Women could not go higher than the fifth dan. By this time, Keiko Fukuda was one of the greatest experts in Judo. She knew it was not fair that she could not move to a higher dan. But Fukuda continued to practice Judo. She became a sensei - a master teacher. She wrote books and taught around the world.

Voice 1 

In 1966 Fukuda was in Calfornia in the United States. People at Mills College saw her Judo demonstration. And they quickly offered her a teaching job. Fukuda took this position and moved to the U.S. Later, she opened her own Judo school in California. Fukuda taught there for over 40 years. She encouraged people who did Judo. She especially inspired young women. Fukuda also continued to travel around the world. She did this even when she grew older. In the film ‘Mrs. Judo’, Fukuda told this story:

Voice 4 

“I went to France to teach Judo. People gathered from all over the country. But I heard they were not sure about what an 80-year-old woman could offer. They became sure when I showed them all 40 throwing techniques!”

Voice 2 

Sensei Fukuda also led a movement for women in Judo. They wanted to be able to reach the higher dans. In 1974, the Judo Institute changed the rules. Now women had no limits in Judo. Over time, Fukuda moved up to the ninth dan. Then, in 2011 Fukuda’s dream came true. USA Judo awarded her the tenth dan. She was 98 years old.

Voice 1 

Sensei Keiko Fukuda died in February 2013. She was almost 100 years old. But Judo students will never forget her influence. And they will not forget her most famous teaching:
‘Be Strong. Be Gentle. Be Beautiful.’

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Nick Mangeolles. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Sensei Fukuda: Strong and Gentle’.

Voice 1

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook - just search for Spotlight Radio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Question:

Can a person be both strong and gentle? Do you know anyone like this?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Marianov87
said on June 26, 2013

Hi! I’m from Argentina… and I am learning English since the last year. Really These programs are very important for me because I think that the students need to practice the listening.
I love you!!!

Mariano

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superhoca_81
said on June 27, 2013

be careful of the smal ladıes.. :)

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kenhieuloilam
said on June 27, 2013

We go to beauty. We go to perfection. The life has many beautiful good things. We have many choices of beautiful good things. Beautiful good lives bring everyone beautiful good things. The life has joys and sadnesses. We make the life beautiful. When we experience sadnesses we find joys. Our lives have sadnesses. We find peace. We do not feel we are lonely.

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georgino
said on June 29, 2013

I admire this sport, because show me to control my character and emotion since some years ago I practice this martial art and help me a lot.


Great topic

humble71's avatar
humble71
said on March 31, 2014

Thanks Rena , this program is very good, Ms. Fukuda is an example of discipline for everyone of us , also I’ve learned a lot about this sport , I didn’t know about this martial art that doesn’t apply violence .Thanks Spotlight to educate and influence in a good way to everyone all over the world.

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QuangTrang
said on August 12, 2014

I like Jodu, it use gentle to against hard and do not give hurt to other when fighting. Judo is a good technique for women who are not tall nor big but can against a person who is taller, bicger than them. I wish all women study Judo, it make them healthy and can protect themself in a rap condition.

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on August 13, 2014

Example of life

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Mykola
said on August 20, 2014

Hi all!
She is a very strong woman.
I want to have such willpower that she has.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on August 03, 2016

I think that the Judo gathers between art and sport.
Yes, I know one person is both strong and gentle but at cinema, Stephen Segal hhhhhhh.
God bless you