Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 17, 2011.

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Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful tells the story of Fukuda's lifelong journey to become the highest ranking woman in judo history.

Although we have surpassed our Kickstarter fundraising goal of $15,000 - thank you, backers! - we are still a ways from reaching our real goal, finishing the film. We are completely floored by all of your support - and we need more of it! Every pledge we receive after today will help us further into the rough cut, shoot the 10th degree celebration, and get us closer to finishing the film, and honoring Fukuda Shihan's legacy. Please help us make the most of the remaining days of our Kickstarter campaign & spread the word to your friends and family. Any size pledge is appreciated and the more backers the merrier. This Kickstarter campaign is helping us with the foundations and larger donors, who love to see the crowd participation! Together we will get there sooner!

With gratitude,
The BSBGBB Team

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Story:

Throwing thousands of years of tradition to the wind, Keiko Fukuda chose to follow her own destiny and become the highest ranking woman in judo’s history. Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful tells the inspirational story of Fukuda’s lifelong journey, spanning four continents, nine decades, and two distinct cultures, to overcome adversity and ultimately transform into a living legend.

Today, at 98-years-old, Fukuda has achieved judo's highest honor - 10th degree black belt - and has earned the distinguished title of "Shihan" (grand master). She is the only woman in the world to have reached this pinnacle in judo, but this monumental achievement did not come without sacrifice. She gave up marriage, braved the burning embers of post-WWII Tokyo to teach judo, traveled around the world to spread judo, and faced decades of gender discrimination within judo's rank system. 

Fukuda Shihan's personal motto is "Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful." She believes one has to experience and embrace the philosophy of judo with one's entire body and soul. Her wisdom and teaching methods have been an inspiration to the women she has taught throughout her 77-year judo career. Today, Fukuda Shihan still teaches judo at her all-women dojo (studio) in San Francisco three times a week and continues to be a role model for women and men alike.

Our documentary film, Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful, chronicles her lifelong dedication to judo and fulfillment of her dreams against all odds. Please donate, help us finish the film, and allow Fukuda Shihan's legacy to live on.

How the film came about:

In 2005, I was flipping through O Magazine and came across an article about a 92-year-old judo master, Keiko Fukuda. Her story instantly intrigued me. Not only did she live in San Francisco, like me, but she literally lived around the corner. I walked over to her judo dojo, which is also in our neighborhood, and introduced myself. A short while later, I embarked on a wonderful journey with her and began documenting her lifelong struggle to pursue her dreams and achieve gender equality in judo.

Who is Keiko Fukuda?

Fukuda was born in Tokyo in 1913, where two generations earlier her samurai grandfather was the first martial arts master to Jigoro Kano, who went on to found judo. In 1934, Fukuda was invited by Kano to join his new women’s division, a progressive idea at a time when males dominated the sport. Judo literally translates as the “gentle way” and, as most martial arts, began as combat technique. During peace times it was cultivated as a spiritual practice. Judo’s black belt has 10 degrees, but gender discrimination dictated that women hit a ceiling at 5th degree, until 1974. Fukuda herself was frozen at 5th degree for 30 years, while her male colleagues advanced.

Facing her own struggle for independence as a young woman, Fukuda defied tradition, choosing not to marry when she realized that as a wife she would have to give up her beloved judo. Her teacher, Master Kano, charged his students with the responsibility to spread judo around the world. For Fukuda, this became her life’s vocation.

Today, Fukuda, at 98-years-old, less than 5 feet tall, and weighing barely 100 pounds, is still a force to be reckoned with. She continues to teaches judo several times a week and has achieved judo's prestigious 10th dan. She is the last living disciple of Master Jigoro Kano, judo's founder, and is the world's only direct link to judo's origins.

The buzz:

By recently being awarded 10th dan (10th degree black belt) in July 2011, Keiko Fukuda has made world history. She is the only woman ever to receive this highest honor in judo. As a result, the media has run with the story and coverage has been extensive. Visit the film's press page to listen to a BBC or NPR radio segment about Fukuda, read about her in TIME Magazine, watch a clip of her on ABC News, and more.

What will my contribution go toward?

Your generous donation will help us get closer to finishing our film. In addition to applying for funding from various foundations, we are hoping to raise $15,000 through our Kickstarter campaign. Here's a breakdown of where the money will go:

-$10,000 will go towards finishing editing a rough cut of the film. Essentially, this means fueling all the moving parts to make this possible - the machines (computers, editing equipment, hard drives), the people (director, associate producer, editor, assistant editor, interns), and the late-night coffee to keep us all going.

-$5,000 will go towards hiring a composer to create a score for the film.

*Note: If we do not reach our Kickstarter goal of $15,000, your contribution will not be processed and you will not receive a reward. That's just the way Kickstarter works; it's all or nothing. So, please, spread the word and help us reach our goal!

Tax deductible contributions:

Not only are your contributions to the film very much appreciated, but they are also tax deductible! Why? Because we are partnered with a non-profit fiscal sponsor, The Center for Independent Documentary. *Please note that your contributions are tax deductible minus the value of the "reward" you'll receive back.

Keep in touch:

Please visit the film's Facebook page and be sure to check out the film's official website, too. Also, check out clips from the film on our YouTube Channel.

Other questions?

Feel free to email us at: info@flyingcarp.net

FAQ

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    A warm, fuzzy feeling of helping to carry on Fukuda's legacy, plus a "Thank You" on the film's website.

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    14 backers Limited (36 left of 50)

    Two "Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful" buttons, plus a "Thank You" on the film's website.

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    1 backer Limited (14 left of 15)

    A "Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful" compact, round mirror with the calligraphy image of Fukuda Shihan's motto, plus a "Thank You" on the film's website. (See "Updates" section for calligraphy image)

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    A copy of the finished film on DVD signed by the filmmaker, plus a "Thank You" on the film's website. Please add $5 for international shipping. (Note: Availability date of DVDs may vary depending on the film's distribution date, but rest assured, you'll get your signed copies!)

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    Two "Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful" magnets depicting beautiful vintage black-and-white images of Keiko Fukuda practicing judo (kata forms) in 1974, plus a copy of the finished film on DVD signed by the filmmaker. Also, a "Thank You" on the film's website. *Please add $5 for international shipping (See "Updates" section for images of magnets, which are the same as the photographs at the $650 pledge level. Also, see FAQs for DVD info)

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    7 backers Limited (13 left of 20)

    A "Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful" canvas tote bag with a silk-screened calligraphy image of Fukuda Shihan's motto. Also, a copy of the finished film on DVD signed by the filmmaker, plus a "Thank You" on the film's website. *Please add $5 for international shipping. (See "Updates" section for calligraphy image & FAQs section for DVD info)

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    An exclusive "Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful" canvas cap with an embroidered calligraphy design, plus a "Thank You" on the film's website. Please add $5 for international shipping.

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    A copy of the biography "Bow from the Heart: The Life of Keiko Fukuda, 9th Dan" signed by Fukuda, a copy of the finished film on DVD signed by the filmmaker, plus a "Thank You" on the film's website. Please add $5 for international shipping. *(See FAQ for DVD info)

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    One month of judo lessons at Fukuda's Soko Joshi dojo (studio) in San Francisco, a copy of the biography "Bow from the Heart: The Life of Keiko Fukuda, 9th Dan" signed by Fukuda, an exclusive "Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful" canvas cap with embroidered calligraphy design, a copy of the finished film on DVD signed by the filmmaker, and your name listed in the film's credits. Also, a "Thank You" on the film's website. *(Please note that because the Soko Joshi Women's Judo and Self Defense Club is an all-women dojo, this reward is only available to women. Also please note that travel to and from the dojo is not included in this reward. See FAQ for DVD info)

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    Two beautiful vintage black-and-white photographic prints of Keiko Fukuda practicing judo (kata forms) in 1974. The prints will come mounted and signed by both Fukuda and the photographer, Cathy Cade. Also, a copy of the finished film on DVD signed by the filmmaker, your name listed in the film's credits, and a "Thank You" on the film's website. *(See FAQ for DVD info)

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    A custom-made bronze statue of Keiko Fukuda, a donation to Fukuda's judo scholarship fund, a copy of the finished film on DVD signed by the filmmaker, and your name listed in the film's credits. Also, a "Thank You" on the film's website. Please add $10 for international shipping. *(See FAQ for DVD info)

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    A framed original brush calligraphy done by Keiko Fukuda of her motto, "Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful," a copy of the finished film on DVD signed by the filmmaker, plus your name listed in the film's credits. Also, a "Thank You" on the film's website. Please add $10 for international shipping. *(See FAQ for DVD info)

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    Two tickets to the film's premiere in San Francisco, CA (does not include travel or airfare; premiere date TBA), a hand-crafted Japanese Kokeshi doll in Keiko Fukuda's likeness, a copy of the biography "Bow from the Heart: The Life of Keiko Fukuda, 9th Dan" signed by Fukuda, a copy of the finished film on DVD signed by the filmmaker, and your name listed in the film's credits. Also, a "Thank You" on the film's website. *(See FAQ for DVD info)

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Funding period

- (51 days)