Friday Hoyden: Keiko Wakabayshi, martial arts virtuoso


Keiko Wakabayashi was featured in the UK Telegraph several months ago (and on Shakesville at the time.)

Martial arts expert Keiko Wakabayshi, nicknamed the “Samurai Granny”, has been hired by [Italy’s] military to train recruits in hand-to-hand combat.

Miss Wakabayshi, who stands exactly 5ft tall, looks tiny compared to her charges who are mostly over 6ft. But the pensioner is a trained master in an array of martial arts disciplines including jujitsu, jojitso, kenjitso, judo, kendo and karate.

She wipes the floor with soldiers of the Folgore brigade at their barracks in Livorno on a daily basis.

Miss Wakabayshi was born in Japan but now lives in Northern Italy.

She tells her students to look at her and believe that nothing is impossible. After flooring an opponent she tells them: “Don’t think it’s unbelievable. The physique doesn’t matter.”

Of course, the media couldn’t resist a sexist barb.

Miles Erwin of the Metro UK chose to represent this tough training of the Italian troops by a martial arts legend as nothing more than humiliation at being beaten by a giiiiiirl:

It’s all you need: months of special combat training and then you still get beaten by a girl –and a grandmother to boot.

Grow up, Miles.


I couldn’t find any video of Wakabayashi in action, unfortunately. So here’s a video of a few of the Ippon victories in the 2006 All Women’s Judo Championships. Enjoy.

Categories: arts & entertainment, fun & hobbies, gender & feminism

Tags: , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Yes, how will those professional soldiers cope, being beaten by an opponent of superior skill and experience. Maybe they’ll take it like men, ay, Miles?

  2. I love that music for the judokas in competition.

  3. Kickass! Quite literally 😀


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