Yvone Duarte was the first woman to achieve the grade of black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a grade awarded by Master Osvaldo Alves on October 1990. This incredible pioneer of the sport was one of the main forces behind the implementation of a female division in Jiu Jitsu competitions in 1985. Yvone Duarte was also the first female to start her own BJJ team and, in 1997, Yvone was a fundamental part of the restructuring occurred in Brasilia’s Jiu Jitsu Federation (capital city of Brasil). Yvone Duarte Jiu Jitsu Full Name: Yvone Magalhães Duarte Nickname: N/A Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie sr > Reyson Gracie > Osvaldo Alves > Yvone Duarte Main Achievements: Rio de Janeiro State Champion (1985, 1986, 1987 weight & absolute) Brazilian National Champion (1991, 1992 weight & absolute, 1996 absolute) Favourite Position/Technique: Cross Choke & Armbar from Closed Guard Weight Division: Peso Pena (52kg) Team Association: Osvaldo Alves Yvone Duarte Biography Yvone Duarte was born in 1963 in Rio de Janeiro, but moved to the town of Boa Vista, located in the northern Brazilian state of Roraima. She started practicing sports from a very young age, achieving medals in gymnastics, swimming, volleyball and basketball before moving to Rio de Janeiro when she was around 14 years old. In 1978, influenced by her older brother Pascoal Duarte (today a BJJ coral belt), she started doing Jiu Jitsu, being taught first by her brother and Sergio Penha, later joining them at the Osvaldo Alves academy. Jiu Jitsu became an obsession of Yvone’s who trained relentlessly, adding conditioning workouts to her already intense routine. With so much of her efforts going to BJJ, she wanted to test herself, and being a highly driven individual that she was, Yvone began pressing everyone she knew inside the Rio de Janeiro federation to open a female division, this was a completely new idea in the sport. Her voice was finally heard in 1985 with the first female category being open, the competition caught the eye of the “Bum Bum, Ipanema” bikini brand who saw the marketability of a female division and sponsored the event. The first competition with a female division was open to white and blue belts with only one weight category, which was up to 60kg. The division was won by Yvone Duarte. With the success of this first event, more competitions started being held with female divisions. Yvone kept competing for over 10 years, remaining unbeaten throughout her competitive career. In the late 1980’s Yvone moved to Brasilia, capital of Brazil for her work with the University of Brasilia. At the time only one Jiu Jitsu academy was established in the region, belonging to the Barreto brothers. Duarte saw the opportunity to open her own space which she called ‘Black Belt’, becoming, more than likely, the first woman to start her own team in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The team’s name would later be changed to ‘Equipe Yvone Duarte’ due to a request made by Sergio ‘Bolao’, a senior black belt that started a team with the same name in Rio, roughly around the same time. On October 1990 Yvone Duarte received her black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from the hands of her master Osvaldo Alves, the same instructor who awarded her all her previous belts. Her CBJJ (IBJJF) certificate arrived early in 1991. Being an influential figure in the development of the sport in Brasília, Yvone Duarte was handed the important task of professionalizing the highly disorganized Brasilia Jiu Jitsu federation and linking it with the CBJJ (now known as IBJJF – International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) in 1997. After completing the task, Yvone was invited by the leader of the international federation, Carlos Gracie Junior, to preside the capital’s organization, an invite she refused as she was pregnant at the time and felt she would not have the time to commit to the job. Yvobe Duarte kept active in the sport, not as a competitor but as a coach, giving seminars and private classes wherever her work took her becoming in the process a 5th degree black belt. She moved to Europe and established herself in Rome, Italy with her husband.