The Letters of Sarah Mayer 1

For those who don’t know, Sarah Mayer was the first non-Japanese woman to earn the rank of Shodan (first degree black belt) in judo, which she did in 1935 after less than a year of training. She is a very interesting and important figure in martial arts history, but most martial artists (judoka included) don’t know anything about her. I first learned about her in 2008, when I moved to Arizona and started doing in-depth research on karate and judo, and have known that she supposedly wrote letters about her travels and training, but I had never seen those letters–until now! As it turns out, they are available on the Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences website, and apparently have been for quite a long time! For an interesting look into history, check them out:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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About Noah

I began training in karate (Shuri-Ryu) in the Summer of 2006. Subsequently, I started training in judo, kobudo, and iaijutsu within the next 6 months. During my training there, I earned the rank of Sankyu (3rd Degree Brown Belt) in Shuri-Ryu, Gokyu (Green Belt) in judo, a certification in the use of the bo, and passed proficiency tests for the four tachigata of Shinkage-Ryu iaijutsu. I moved to Arizona in the Summer of 2008, and continued training and researching karate at home. I continued regular training in judo at a local club until 2010, when I was able to start training in Shorin-Ryu with Sensei Richard Poage. I have been training with him ever since, and currently hold the rank of Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) in Shorin-Ryu under him. In addition, I began studying KishimotoDi under Sensei Ulf Karlsson in 2014.

One thought on “The Letters of Sarah Mayer

  • Chucksmanhood

    A couple of days ago, whilst browsing Youtube, I came across a documentary about how martial arts were introduced to Great Britain. They talked a bit out Mayer and even quoted a few lines of her letters.
    According to the doc’ she trained Judo in England (for how long I don’t know) before arriving in Japan in 1934 and earned her BB in ’36.

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