Leka Vieira is one of the most important figures in the history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, being the first female black belt World Champion of the sport (1999), Leka took women’s BJJ to the next level raising awareness to that side of the sport, paving the way to the new generation. She was also the first known woman to graduate another woman with the black belt in Jiu Jitsu (Cindy Omatsu).
Leka Vieira Jiu Jitsu
Full name: Alessandra Vieira de Souza
Nickname: “Leka” appeared when she started practicing Handball in her early teens; it is a shorter way of saying Alessandra.
- 3x World Champion (1999, 2002, 2005);
- 3x Pan American Champion (2001, 2002, 2003);
- World Silver Medallist (2000);
- ADCC Silver Medallist (2005)
Weight Division: Peso Leve (64kg-141lbs)
Favourite position: Guard
Team/Association: Checkmat BJJ
Leka Vieira Biography
Alessandra Vieira, AKA Leka, was born on the 14th of March, 1976 in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. She practiced sports competitively from a young age, namely handball but as she turned 16 she had a bad injury – ligament damage – on her knee. After the rehabilitation period, which lasted 6 months, she tried to return to handball but her old team had been dissolved. In dealing with the excess weight she had gained while on the side lines, she looked for another sport to practice. Her heart was divided between Tae Kwon Do and Jiu Jitsu, but as a friend of hers did BJJ, Leka decided to join her for a class. She loved it from the start and started practicing it vigorously.
Becoming very passionate about the sport, Leka started practicing Jiu Jitsu diligently – 6 times per week, 3 times per day – receiving her blue belt from her instructor Aloisio Silva in an astounding timeframe of 6 months. This intense training regime started bearing fruits as Leka became one of the top competitors in the country. The professional attitude brought to the mats and competitions by Vieira helped raise the bar in the women’s division and precipitated her unquestionable black belt status by 1998.
In 2001, after one of her many travels to the United States to compete at the Pan American, Leka Vieira was invited to help start a women’s only class at Rigan Machado’s academy in California. Leka loved America and especially Los Angeles, so she jumped on board and settled in the country, she would later become a proud US citizen.
The years of competition, hard work and sacrifice took their toll and by 2008 Leka Vieira decided to take a break from jiu-jitsu. During that break she got married and became a mother. In 2010 Leka started training again with the desire to get back in the game and try to test her technique against some of the young blood in her division; unfortunately a series of injuries to her spine and later ligament damage to her knee (ACL) prevented her from doing so. She made a second comeback, this time as a coach, joining the Checkmat academy and leading their affiliate gym in Valencia – CA.
Black Belts awarded by Leka Vieira:
Cindy Omatsu (Black Belt awarded together with Rigan Machado)