Women and BJJ: Yvone

Duarte, the First

Female Black Belt in

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

I came across this piece the other day about Yvone Duarte, the first female black belt in BJJ. There had been some debate and somewhat of a quest to figure out who the first was, so it’s good to see that they have figured it out.

Duarte was a fierce competitor, winning both her weight class and absolute several times in the late eighties and early nineties. This is particularly impressive since she fought at 52kg, just under 115 pounds. She received her black belt from Osvaldo Alves, who is, to put it lightly, a true legend and founder of the art of BJJ. She went on to become the head of the BJJ federation in the state of Brasilia, and has reached the 5th degree black belt.

I think it’s important that stories like this get told. BJJ is in a better situation now with regards to female practitioners and competitors than it was when Duarte was starting out. It’s important to remember that, for a long time, no one seems to have remembered who she was.


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