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Zé Marcello

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José Marcello Rodrigues, commonly known as Zé Marcello, is a well-respected jiu-jitsu black belt under Sérgio “Bolão” Souza and the co-founder of the Icon Team, one of the largest grappling affiliations in the European continent with over 100 gym affiliates. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Zé Marcello was also one of the top competitors in the sport with medals at the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) World Championships and Brazilian Nationals.

Zé Marcello Jiu-Jitsu

Full Name: José Marcello Rodrigues

Nickname: “Zé” which is the shortened version of José in Portuguese.

Lineage: Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Sérgio Souza > Zé Marcello

Main Achievements (Adult):

  • 1st Place Urban Gorillaz (2006)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF World Championships (1998)
  • 2nd Place CBJJO World Cup (1998 / 2002)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF World Championships (1999)
  • 3rd Place CBJJ Brazilian Nationals (1998)

Main Achievements (Masters):

  • 1st Place IBJJF European Open (2008**)

Main Achievements (Colored Belts):

  • 1st Place IBJJF World Championships (1997 brown)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Pan Championships (1997 brown)
  • 1st Place CBJJ Brazilian Nationals (1996 brown)
  • 1st Place CBJJ BR Team Nationals (1997 brown)
  • 1st Place Super Liga Brasileira JJ (1997 brown)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF Pan Championships (1996* brown)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF World Championships (1996 brown)

* Absolute
** Weight and Absolute

Favorite Position/Technique: Well-rounded

Weight Division: Meio Pesado (88,30 kg / 195.0 lbs)

Team/Association: Icon

Zé Marcello Biography

José Marcello was born on March 17, 1971, in Niterói, a city located in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro.

A physical person by nature, Marcello was very active while growing up practicing and competing in an array of sports such as volleyball, football (soccer), handball, athletics, snowboarding, and surfing, being particularly successful in the latter at a regional level.

Not content with his busy sporting schedule, at the age of 12, Zé Marcello added karate to his weekly activities, another sport in which he competed extensively for the best part of 7 years.

Jiu-Jitsu appeared in Marcello’s life by way of his surfing lifestyle. In December 1991, 20-year-old José started working at the Redley surf shop in Niterói. Coincidentally, two of his work buddies, “Marcão” and “Cicinho”, were avid BJJ practitioners and it was by their influence that Zé formally initiated his grappling journey in January 1992 at a local gym.

Immediately drawn to jiu-jitsu, after just two months of training Zé Marcello entered his first inter-club tournament where he submitted a heavier blue belt, further cementing his love for the mats. From then, competing became a regular occurrence for José, who was particularly active in the local Liga Niteroiense de Jiu-Jitsu (LINJJI).

A natural talent, Marcello earned his blue belt in just 6 months from coach Luiz Paulo, an instructor with whom José worked up until his brown belt. The Niterói native would later go on to train with one of Rio de Janeiro’s legendary black belts, Sérgio “Bolão” from whom he earned his black belt in December of 1997, in a ceremony led by the late Carlson Gracie.


Zé Marcello is recognized in Europe as one of the pioneers for jiu-jitsu, a work he started back in 1998. That year Marcello taught his first workshop in Biarritz (France) after an invitation from his student, Yannick Beven. After that initial contact with the Old Continent, Marcello started visiting and touring across several other European Countries teaching jiu-jitsu for a few months out of every year.

While maintaining his yearly European tour, in 2006 Zé Marcello moved to England where he started a network of jiu-jitsu academies, beginning in Slough and Milton Keynes, areas and later spreading to Watford, Luton, Peterborough, Norwick, Eastbourne, and even venturing to Northern Ireland (Belfast).

In 2012 José was able to combine two of his favorite activities, jiu-jitsu, and surfing after he received an invitation to lead a jiu-jitsu academy inside one of the biggest surf-shops in Europe, Quiksilver Boardriders. A business located in one of the most important surf spots in Europe, Ericeira in Portugal. The Brazilian coach remained on the Portuguese coast for two years, setting the groundwork for his affiliate before returning to the UK.


A name that is strongly linked with the Zé Marcello brand is Team Icon Jiu-Jitsu, a workgroup that is well recognized on European soil with over 100 affiliated gyms. The team was created in 2010 by Zé Marcello and his students Anderson Pereira, Alexandre Izidro, Jean Pierre, Berilo Junior as well as Marcello’s longtime friend Sérgio Vita. This flag was raised with the intention of having all these coaches’ students competing under the same shield, much like the instructors had competed for the same team back in Brazil.

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