For years Patricia Lage was regarded as the first female black belt in jiu-jitsu, a subject BJJ Heroes helped put to rest with 3-year long research of which we wrote about in our “Quest for the First Female Black Belt” article back in 2014. Our research revealed Yvone Duarte to be the 1st female black belt by a 5-year margin over Patricia, earning her rank in October 1990.
During this year of 2020, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation decided to award both Duarte (January) and Lage (April) their 6th degree, making them the highest-ranked females in the history of this sport. This came at another historic year for women’s jiu-jitsu as 2020 will celebrate the 35th birthday of the first-ever jiu-jitsu event with female participation, an event organized by Yvone Duarte herself, which was sponsored by the Brazilian bikini brand, Bum Bum Ipanema (still holding strong to this day).
Patricia Lage had earned her 6th degree from a different organization back in 2019 but was not officially recognized by the international federation, while in Duarte’s case, she will be due her coral belt very soon if one is to follow the minimum belt requirement standard by the IBJJF.
Although both these legends have taught our martial art in the past (Duarte being the first woman to ever hold her own team in BJJ), they currently run successful careers outside of jiu-jitsu, while still active in training and with workshops/seminars.