Rebecca Dreams of Jiu Jitsu

I love Netflix although it can be very dangerous.  As a friend would say,”It will lead you down a rabbit hole.”  During the Christmas holidays I watch several food related documentaries one of which was Jiro Dreams of Sushi. If you haven’t seen it I recommend you do so.  It is about food but the un-lining theme is about fulfilling a dream and following one’s passion.  At the time I wish I could follow my dream with such passion as Jiro did but I felt I couldn’t compare my dream to Jiro’s.  I was also just surfacing from a financial tsunami so I wasn’t mentally ready for any more sacrifices.  I tuck the thought to the back of my head and concentrated on the present.

Two months later I learned Keiko Fukuda passed away at age 99.  I was simply devastated.  Since starting my Jiu Jitsu journey, there were two people I wanted to meet.  The first was Helio Gracie and the second was Keiko Fukuda.

If anyone doesn’t know Keiko Fukuda was the highest rank female Judo master, 10th Dan, in the world.  If you have the opportunity please attend a screening of Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful. It is a documentary about her amazing life and sacrifice to pursue her passion.  What struck a chord in me was when she compared her commitment to Judo to that of a marriage.  She made a conscious choice to dedicate her life to Judo and in 1930’s Japan women didn’t do that.  They were required to marry, have children, and be a loyal wife to her husband.  Keiko didn’t want this.  She wanted to train and teach Judo.  It was a sacrifice that haunted her until her last days because she never thought she would live so long with her decision.

Every time I watch this I cry.  I cry because of the society she was raised in that forced her to make a choice between following her passion and having a family.  I cry because without her sacrifice many women would never have the opportunity to train Judo.  I cry because I am her.  I started training Jiu Jitsu about the time I should have starting thinking about marriage and children myself.  Even though I wasn’t seriously dating anyone at the time I felt in ways I missed many opportunities to meet that ‘special guy’.  And even though I cannot have children now I will never know if I could have then. It was those thoughts that held me back from recklessly fulfilling my passion and it wasn’t until I fully accepted my decision could I call my quest for a Jiu Jitsu black belt a journey rather than a sacrifice. It was during my training camp for 2013 Worlds Champion that made me realize how truly happy I was training and studying Jiu Jitsu that the thought of doing anything else felt like a sacrifice and unfulfilling.

GHAI’m not going to live with regret nor should anyone.  I’m happy I live in a society that allows me to choose between following my passion and having a family.  I’m happy that my decision to follow my passion isn’t looked as a sacrifice but a commitment.  But most of all I admire and applaud the women who have been able to follow their passion and still have a family.  But don’t cry for me.  I do have a wonderful family at Gracie Humaitá Austin and with their love and support I can soar.

About the Author


Rebecca Lee Varady is a blue belt at Gracie Humaitá Austin under Donald Park and Paulo Brandao.  She has been training for 8 years and is a constant competitor in local and national Jiu Jitsu tournaments.  She stays mentally and physically strong by conditioning twice a week at Atomic Athlete.  Outside of BJJ, she enjoys relaxing at home with her books and DVDs.

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