In the last 4000 years we have seen women in the military in a variety of posts, but only in some countries have they been in combat. In more recent years we have seen an increasing number of women being sent to the front line, however we are, undeniably and as ever, in a society that opts for male dominated combat.
But show me a man would dare confront a frightened mother defending her child and not fear for his life? There is an ongoing debate about a woman’s ability to defeat a man, even though women are evidenced to be as strong given the right training. Ancient warrior women and Amazonian women have proved to be just as awesome, just as capable of fighting and defending, and some cases, far more frightening.
So 400 YEARS of military placements! And yet, only in the last 50 have we been allowed to start even PRACTICING martial arts?
In 1957, ‘Rusty’ Kanokogi competed in the New York State YMCA Judo Championship and WON. Rusty’s entire team was forced to give up their medals, however, when it transpired that Rusty was, in fact, a woman.
The Mother of Judo
In 1954, and Jewish woman in New York City called Rena ‘Rusty’ Kanokogi (nee Glickman) married a Japanese Judoka, and became interested in Judo. So much so that in order to be able to practice the sport, Rusty cut her hair short and used bandages to flatten her chest.
The denial of Rusty’s gold medal New York State YMCA was such an unjust and humiliating punishment that she attended every single meeting and tournament possible, demanding that woman’s Judo be recognised as a sport.
Using her own hard earned money, Rusty organised the first woman’s judo championship at Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum in 1980, and threatened to sue the International Olympics Committee and ABC television for discrimination if she wasn’t able to get women’s judo added to the Olympics in 1988, which it was.
In 2008, Glickman’s hard work and determination were recognized by the Emperor’s Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan’s highest honors, and she was presented the “Emperor’s Award of the Rising Sun,” given to foreigners who have had a positive influence on Japanese society. In 2009, 50 years after she had been stripped of her YMCA judo medal, the New York State YMCA awarded her a gold medal to honor her lifetime’s work .
Rena Kanokogi, “the Mother of Judo,” died of Leukemia at the age of 74 in November 2009.
I attended the BJA’s World Cup for women (Birmingham, 2010), and it was inspiring to experience at atmosphere so full of strength and calm. These were women who have trained hard, maintained focus and sculpted their physiques for their sport. What is it the legendary Roy Castle used to tell us when we were kids? ‘Dedication’s what you need.’ And dedication is most certainly what these women have.
So I say, if a woman wants to fight let her fight. And give her a fighting chance by giving her all the training she could possibly want or need.
WIth thanks to http://factsanddetails.com/ for their article on ‘Judo and the Jewish Grandmother’