Friday Fun: Fukuda Keiko Sensei

  • Fukuda Sensei is 98 years old, and teaches Judo three times a week at a San Francisco dojo she’s run for more than half a century.
  • Fukuda Sensei is the highest-ranked female Judoka in the world.
  • Fukuda Sensei is the last living student of Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo.
  • Fukuda Sensei traveled daily through Tokyo during the WWII fire bombings. To teach lessons.
  • They told Fukuda Sensei women couldn’t promote above 5th degree black belt. She made them change their minds. They tried again when she wanted 9th degree, with similar futility.
  • Fukuda Sensei refused an arranged marriage because her future husband wanted her to quit Judo. She did this in Japan. During the 1930s.
  • If Chuck Norris gets squirrelly, Fukuda Sensei tells him to cut a switch off the backyard tree. And Chuck Norris says “yes, ma’am.”
Last year, filming commenced on a documentary of her life story.

If you’re as inspired as I am by this project, I challenge you to donate a little to the cause of getting the film through post-production and out into the world. Find out how at

So does this man

Even if you can’t contribute directly, keep an eye out for this film once it hits the world. Fukuda Sensei’s story is touching and inspiring. I can’t wait to see it told.

Thanks for listening


Shameless Self-Promotion

It’s March, and as I come closer to publicizing this project I figure some you out there might be interested in where to find other examples of my work. In prior incarnations, I’ve done three other blog projects, all with varying degrees of success.

Learning From Captain Mal was my first blog. An attempt to enjoy the character of Malcolm Reynolds from the too-brief television show Firefly. It’s self-help and business management advice from the point of view of an outlaw spaceship captain. Nothing too terribly deep, but I do think I got his voice pretty well.

Ultimate Black Belt Blog was a requirement for one of the most challenging years of my life. The “UBBT” is a year-long ordeal for people serious about using martial arts as a vehicle for improving themselves and their communities. The blog is my personal journal of that year.

After School Karate provided information on material, self-defense, nutrition and scheduling for students in an karate program I ran at four elementary schools in my area. The project was a school fundraiser with proceeds going to the PTA or PTO for the school.

All of these blogs are several years old now, and the intervening years have been the ones where I learned the most about writing. Still, they may be interesting to some folks. I hope they at least amuse.

Thanks for listening.


Real Self Defense

The other thing I do is martial arts. I’ve taught for more than 12 years, including a stint coaching a Japanese high school team in Kyushu. I spent years running a full-time martial arts studio.

I’m always interested in seeing good training put to use. The video below is a perfect example of a martial arts master using what he knows. R-rated due to language, but work safe.

Let’s review what the bouncer demonstrated about real self defense:

  • He didn’t let his ego or emotions get into the confrontation.
  • He used humor in an attempt to defuse the situation.
  • He kept his body language neutral and inoffensive.
  • He refrained from using violence all the way to the point where he discovered violence wasn’t necessary.

Somebody with less training might have had to put hands on the young idiot. Instead, both walked away – and maybe the idiot walked away a little bit wiser.

Thanks for listening.

A First for February First

Check out this month’s issue of Black Belt Magazine for an article by little ol’ me. It’s a piece on non-combat benefits of self-defense training.

Basically, we martial artists spend hours learning to defend ourselves against a human attacker despite the fact that assault and homicide are incredibly rare in the developed world.

Fortunately, martial arts training gives us tools to fight the real killers. Falling skills and situational awareness help us avoid accidents. Staying in shape and stress reduction reduce our chances of contracting heart disease and some kinds of cancer.

That’s the synopsis. Go find an issue if it sounds interesting. This is my first appearance in an internationally distributed glossy magazine, so yay!

A Day of Numbers

Last night Auburn beat Oregon by a single field goal scored in the final two seconds of the game….and to tell the truth, it was a closer match than those numbers show.

On the subject of numbers, I spent the day listening to Freakonomics on tape while I played with my son and cleaned up a bit. Freakonomics, by award-winning economist Steven Levitt, explores phenomena in our society by applying the data mining and number crunching commonly used in economics.

What I find refreshing about Freakonomics is its approach to research. Levitt doesn’t seem to have an axe to grind. He’s interested in numbers, and follows where they take him. It’s so rare anymore to see somebody ask a question without already having an answer in mind.  It reminded me of a two-volume history of the Brazilian martial art capoeira a read a while back. A history of Brazil is by nature a history of slavery, but this writer was interested in martial arts. He told the story of slavery with as little political fooforaw as I’ve ever seen on that particular subject.

Another fascinating point in Freakonomics was just how much numbers can tell us. In one example, Levitt explored the effect an ignorant-sounding name has on a person’s life. He found that the name itself has little effect, but having been born to the kind of parent who would give you such a name (typically unmarried, under 20 and poorly educated) has a huge effect. I’m impressed that numbers can split a hair so fine.

Where Freakonomics fails is at the same point where it succeeds. Levitt’s reliance on and fascination with the data helps remove bias from his research. At the same time, it made some of his conclusions feel cold, heartless, even inhuman. Just like last night’s score tells only part of the story from that game, Levitt’s data can only hint at the broad spectrum of the human experience.

Thanks for listening.

Quiero Taco Bell

So last night I joined by brother and father for the Blazers/Rockets game at the Rose Garden. I am not a huge fan of basketball, but I do like sports and I love going to live events. Even if the action’s not the best, the energy is fun.

As it turns out, Taco Bell has a deal running with the Blazers – they may have this with NBA teams nationwide – that if they score 100 points in a single game, everybody who showed up gets a coupon for a free chalupa. That’s right, folks. A. Free. Chalupa. If the Blazers scored 100 points. This would have made more sense with the late 90s/early 2000s Blazers. It’s a fair bet they were always craving late night fast food.

Halfway through the 4th quarter, the Blazers have 95 points. We get possession and start moving down the court. The following things happen:

  1. The Blazers’ mascot, “Blaze,” comes up on the jumbotron. Instead of his warmups, he is wearing a sombrero and sarape. He is holding maracas.
  2. The entire crowd – 20,000 fans – begins chanting “Cha-Lu-PA! Cha-Lu Pa!” to the rhythm of Blaze’s shaking maracas.
  3. The Blazers miss the shot, Houston gets possession. Everything returns to normal.
  4. The Blazers regain possession. Start again with step one.

Normally I’m a big participator in this kind of action. I didn’t go all the way to Alaska to not get a picture hugging the guy in the tacky bear costume. Nor did I go all the way to China to avoid doing tai chi with octogenarians in the park. I didn’t go to the Blazer game to not raise my voice alongside 20,000 of my countrymen and demand my share of the American Dream. However, I was unable to participate in this particular event. I was too busy trying to stop myself from laughing my colon right out my left nostril.

Portland’s beloved basketball team has a talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Just ask the 1991-1994  Chicago Bulls. They nearly failed us, missing shot after shot and letting Houston close up the gap aggressively in the last six minutes of the game. But with a three-pointer and a lay-up, they managed to break 100 to the roaring of fans. People were hugging each other over these free chalupas. All in all, one of the more bizarre spectacles I’ve witnessed so far this year.

I wonder what stuff like that does to the point spread.

Thanks for listening.