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The visitor was Keiko Fukuda. The highest ranked woman in judo, with a 9th degree black belt, at 96 Fukuda is a still active and vital link to both the roots of judo and Japan’s samurai era. Her grandfather, Hachinosuke Fukuda, was an instructor of Tenjin Shinyo-ryu Jujutsu. One of his students was Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo; the elder Fukuda was a mentor to Kano and there are Tenjin Shinyo-ryu movements in some of the kata developed by Kano.
In 1935, the 22-year-old Keiko Fukuda was pursuing studies typical for a young lady of the era: ikebana, chado, and shodo. Because of her family background, Kano invited her to come study judo at his school. Judo quickly became the center of her life. She trained with Kano (and is today his last living direct student) as well as with well-known instructors like Kyuzo Mifune. She was a good friend of Shoji Nishio in those days, and remembers when Nishio was invited by Kano to go train in aikido with Morehei Ueshiba as part of an exhange of students between the arts.
In 1990, in a celebration in San Francisco, the Japanese government honored her with the Order of the Sacred Treasure, 4th class. The United States Judo Federation awarded her a red belt in 2001- one of only three - for lifelong contributions and in 2006 at the annual Kagami Biraki, she received her 9th degree black belt at the Kodokan Judo Institute.