International Women’s Day

March 8th, 2021 is designated as International Women’s Day. I am honored to have been taught by many strong martial arts women during my time training and wanted to take a moment and show my appreciation. Id also likes to share a story from the Karate Nerd himself, Jesse Enkamp.

International Women's Day

“One of the most famous women in Karate history was Tsuru Yonamine. ?? According to the writings of Gichin Funakoshi, at the age of 16 or 17, Tsuru was attacked by a thug who tried to rob her. Fortunately she managed to escape without being harmed, but decided to learn martial arts. ? Accepted as an understudy to a famous teacher, Tsuru trained diligently and ultimately progressed to a level superior to almost any man.

In fact, her sensei maintained that the only boy in Okinawa that she could not defeat was Sokon ”Bushi” Matsumura [1809-1899], who would later become known as the grandfather of modern Karate. Hearing about her skills, young Matsumura couldn’t believe that a female could be stronger than a male and decided to challenge her in “kake-damashi” (a traditional way of testing someone’s skills). Having great difficulty trying to control her, he was nearly thrown to the ground. As if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, the final shock came when she clutched his hand and proposed marriage to him! As strong as young Matsumura sensei was, he stood speechless in front of his opponent finding her beauty and spirit irresistible. Ever since then, Tsuru became the most famous female martial artist in Ryukyu Kingdom. ? [Note: This photo is not of Tsuru Yonamine, but rather an Okinawan woman from the same era to illustrate what she might have looked like.] Japanese to English translation by Patrick & Yuriko McCarthy.”