SARAH MAYER and the KŌDŌKAN: Early European Women’s Judo in Japan

Callan, M. and Spenn, A. (2016) SARAH MAYER and the KŌDŌKAN: Early European Women’s Judo in Japan. In: Applicable research in Judo; Proceedings Book. Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia, pp. 12-15. ISBN 978-953-317-044-2

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Sarah Mayer was the first foreign woman in Japan to be awarded a shōdan (black belt) for judo. She was awarded shōdan by Isogai Hajime at the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai in March 1935, having earlier trained at the Kōdōkan, and met Professor Kano. Mayer is an important figure in the history of women’s judo internationally. This research focusses on Mayer’s relationships with senior figures in the Kōdōkan at that time. Hatta Ichiro, Samura Kaichiro, Mifune Kyuzo, Isogai Hajime and Nagaoka Hideichi. Four of whom went on to be awarded 10th dan. There is discussion about the 50th Anniversary of the Kōdōkan.
Based on original primary biographical research material, understanding her relationships gives insight into global gender issues in sports history. Sources include: Kōdōkan Library and Archive, National Archives of UK, and Mayer Letters in the Bowen Archive, Bath
The way Mayer was treated in Japan was highly unusual. She was not separated from the men, but expected to fight against and even bathe with them. All of the male teachers under whom she learnt in Japan, accepted her, not as a woman, but as if she had no gender, despite her being attractive and feminine in western terms. The research is presented in the context of the positive influence made by women’s sport on the struggle for female emancipation during the early 20th century. Her journey is an important example of historical global interaction in the sporting arena. The efforts of Mrs. Mayer led the way for all the female judoka in Europe.
Keywords: Judo, Kōdōkan, History, Women, Kano, Biography, Gender

Publication Type: Book Sections
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Sport > Area > Sport Social Sciences
Depositing User: Mike Callan
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2016 10:38
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2017 10:46

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