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Mario Reis Suffers Backlash From Female BJJ Community

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One of the most interesting aspects of jiu-jitsu is how it appears to exist in a dichotomy of discourse, a clear divide between the substance of the debate and the trends coming from Brazil – where the sport was born, and the Northern Hemisphere (USA + Europe) where most of BJJ’s industry is based today.

A clear example of this was the recent clash between Alliance Porto Alegre’s head coach Mário Reis and the sport’s female community, which was itself a result of Reis’s most recent school policy of excluding female athletes from his team’s competition training. The debate regarding this measurement generated very heated discussions between some of the biggest names in jiu-jitsu and lit up Brazilian social media over the past week, but was completely missed by the American audience. What sparked this feud? We will try to explain below.

HOW DID IT START?

Mario Reis (right).

Mário Reis is one of the best featherweight competitors in the sport’s history, having since retired to focus on his coaching career, reaching equal success in that profession. For those lesser acquainted with Reis’s work as a team leader, he’s developed names such as Nicholas Meregali, Fábio Alano (Kamikaze), João Paulo Neto, Murilo Amaral, Moacir Mendes Jr., and countless others. Truly one of the most successful coaches in the BJJ world today.

Now on to the substance of the matter: One of the most well-known training schedules of the Alliance Porto Alegre Academy is the midday sparring class, a session that was set for the workgroup’s competitors. What caused controversy here was that more recently coach Mário Reis vetoed female athletes from participating in such class, with the exception of his ex-wife (former middleweight champ Monique Ellias).

On an 8 minute long leaked audio message to one of his students (Roberta, a regular student of the 12 pm class), provided through WhatsApp, Reis explains that the decision was made to exclude her from that schedule as she did not fit the profile of the class. Going on to say that her inclusion would tarnish the development of the competitors in the room, who would have to go easy when sparring with her when what was required of them was to go 100% during the said schedule.

Mario went on to reference that all other female students, even the competitors, were also excluded from this class and explain that there were at least 5 other daily classes on the school’s schedule to choose from, further clearing up that these female competitors would not fit the level of intensity that is expected from the midday schedule, the exception being Monique Elias and a few other non-professional male competitors who, according to Reis, could take the roughness of the training.

THE BACKLASH

On the other side of this veto were a few female competitors who vehemently disagreed with the decision and went to social media to voice their discontent. One of those voices was that of 2018 brown belt world champion Juliane Wiggers, one of Mario’s black belts.

On her Instagram post, which gathered 2600 likes and over 700 comments, Wiggers – who had not competed since the World Championship, being unclear if she is training at the moment, started out by writing: “Recently my team’s coach denied entrance to all women on the academy’s competition training (only one female will be allowed for reasons I do not know). He alleged that women get in the way of men’s training and that men dislike rolling with females as they are much physically weaker than men. He fabricated this excuse to hide his misogyny”, continuing her message by claiming that she had not spoken to her coach at the time of her rant, asking for women to unite in exposing such acts.

Wigger’s post spread like wildfire and has had plenty of our sport’s highest personalities give their opinions on the matter, the loudest being Mahamed Aly, who spoke about the matter on his YouTube channel, showing his support for the decision of Reis, as well as Luanna Alzuguir and Ana Carolina Vieira, who went on Mayara Munhoz’ podcast this week – Jiu-Jitsu Frames channel on YouTube, to express their opposing views to those of Mario.

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9 Comments

  • Joe Mama says:

    A line in your article characterizes Reis as excluding female athletes, but by your own admission, that is not the case. The article therefore makes slanderous statements that could cause Reis reputational damage. A true journalistic outlet would ask themselves whether this is about being female, which is what the excluded athletes allege, or whether it is about toughness in an invite-only session at a private business, since several females are apparently invited. We should not foment feaux outrage and false sexism for click-bait stories.

    • BJJ Heroes says:

      There is no outrage on BJJ Heroes side, we were merely reporting on the matter and more than open for a debate on the issue. Reis does express in his audio message that it is his belief the class is not suited for females as they are not physically equipped to roll with the males, saying that the only exception was Monique. Nothing here written was slanderous, if anything, we softened the words expressed by Mario and somewhat shielded him by not doing a real word-for-word transcript as we felt it would steer focus from the real debate at hand.

      • joe mama is right says:

        except it clearly says that multiple females were included… so clearly gender doesnt play a role besides the FACT that the majority of females cannot handle the intensity brought to them by men going 100%.

        • BJJ Heroes says:

          Not multiple. 1 female, which he said would be the only exception.

          • Joe Mamma ain't wrong says:

            We saw where you said she would be the only exception, we just also saw where you said there would be a few other exceptions too. You can’t simultaneously have only 1 exception and also have a few more exceptions, which is probably the reason for the confusion here.

            “..further clearing up that these female competitors would not fit the level of intensity that is expected from the midday schedule, the exception being Monique Elias and a few other non-professional competitors who, according to Reis, could take the roughness of the training.”

            The way you worded this, i.e. “*these* female competitors” and then “the exception being Monique Elias *and a few other non-professional competitors*” definitely make it sound like multiple women are invited to the class and that he simply doesn’t think most can keep up. If that is not the impression you want people to get then you should edit it to make it more clear. Who are the few other non-pro competitors if they are not women? You absolutely said it as if they are other females, if you meant non-pro males then say that. Being unclear about that probably also adds to people’s suspicion about the legitimacy of this post, since not mentioning that most non-pro males competitors are not allowed either would go hand in hand with trying to make it seem like simple sexism, if it isn’t.

          • BJJ Heroes says:

            I understand your confusion. Yes, those “others” were non-pro males. Thank you for pointing this out, it is now amended.

    • Haybjj says:

      So are any men excluded for not being tough enough?

  • Ray says:

    But it says it right here:

    “…the exception being Monique Elias and a few other non-professional competitors who, according to Reis, could take the roughness of the training“.

  • Ruleofpatriarchy says:

    Women don’t belong in martial arts. Deal with it.

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