Vinícius Coelho, commonly known as Villeem Coelho is a well-respected jiu-jitsu instructor and founder of the Gracie Barra Academy franchise in the Jacarepaguá neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, one of the strongest talent building programs in the sport with connections to the development of modern-day grappling champions such as Jordan Vaisman, João Soeiro, Lucas Norat, Pedro Lucas, Gabriel Machado, Gabriel Revoredo to name a few.
Villeem Coelho Jiu-Jitsu
Full Name: Marcus Vinícius de Oliveira Coelho
Nickname: “Villeem” is a label that derives from Vinícius’ childhood. As Coelho lived in a smaller village in the region of Jacarépaguá as a kid, his friends used to call that location Vini’s Village (Vila do Vini in Portuguese). According to Master Vinícius, with time, the “Vila do Vinni” phrase started merging into one, “Villeem”. The name associated with Coelho today.
Lineage 1: Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Walter Guimarães (> César Guimarães) > Vinicius Amaral > Vinícius Coelho
Lineage 2*: Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Carlos Gracie Jr > Mauro Santos > Vinícius Coelho
* Despite Coelho’s black belt being physically awarded by Vinícius Amaral, Mauro “Sapão” Santos had remained present in Villeem’s jiu-jitsu life throughout his grappling life, including this period. The belt ceremony was a technicality, therefore Villeem saw Mauro as his true lineage.
- 1st Place FJJR Rio State Title Tour Stage (2008)
Favorite Position/Technique: N/A
Weight Division: Peso Leve (76,00 kg / 168.0 lbs)
Team/Association: Gracie Barra
Vinícius Coelho Biography
Vinícius Coelho was born in 1975, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, growing up in the large borough of Jacarepaguá, located in the city’s Western Zone.
The first time Villeem saw jiu-jitsu at work was at the famous Jiu-Jitsu Vs. Luta Livre Challenge of 1991 (more on that episode of grappling history here). Watching those no-holds-barred fights on TV changed Coelho’s perception of hand-to-hand combat. Shortly after the famous event, a close friend of Vinícius, Mr. Mauro Santos – also known as Sapão – showed the young Rio de Janeiro native more jiu-jitsu footage, convincing Villeem to do a trial class at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy of Carlos Augusto.
Although Coelho started his tuition at Augusto’s gym, and he did have many classes with the Master, his instructor was mostly the aforementioned friend, Sapão, a purple belt at the time, who taught at this venue despite being a student of Carlos Gracie Junior in Barra da Tijuca.
Although associated with the Gracie Barra franchise from the very beginning of his career through Sapão, Coelho’s jiu-jitsu knowledge was the product of a melting pot of grappling styles. From the more traditional methodology of Master Carlos Augusto early in his development, to his strong Red Shield roots through Mauro Santos (and the wide variety of Team GB coaches who interacted with Villeem from early on), all the way to the Carlson Gracie lineage of Vinícius Amaral, the man who promoted Coelho to black belt.
The influence of Game Fight’s Vinícius Amaral appeared in Villeem’s life once Mauro Sapão moved to the South of Brazil to work at a local academy. Without his mentor, Villeem drifted away from BJJ for a while, up until Amaral opened a gym near Coelho’s home. Returning to jiu-jitsu under the tutelage of Vinícius Amaral and Marcelo Nigue, Villeem Coelho would earn his black belt in 2006.
When Mauro “Sapão” Santos returned to Rio de Janeiro, Coelho rekindled with his coach, earning his first (2009), second (2012), and third black belt degrees from his long-time friend and instructor. It was also during this period that Villeem officially joined the Gracie Barra team, then opening his own GB franchise in Jacarepaguá, Rio de Janeiro. A club that would quickly become one of the biggest talent producers in the world.
Sadly, coach Mauro passed away at the young age of 43. Coelho’s subsequent 4th degree would be awarded by another GB legend, Vinícius Draculino.