Global Training Report Archives 1997-2016

 

 

  Leka Vieira

 Female Jaguar from Brazil  

(From K-1 Files, Spring 1999)

Translated from the Japanese by Roberto Pedreira 

"In the middle of April when the cherry blossoms are still in bloom, a female jiu-jitsu fighter named "Leka" arrived in Japan. She is an "idol" of the "kakutogi" world, appearing in magazines and television in her native land of Brazil. It is an incredible tale. It might be unbelievable to Japanese that a female fighter can be a "professional" and earn a living from fighting and teaching. By tracing her history in jiu-jitsu, we can see the present situation of the female jiu-jitsu fighters in Brazil, and also find out why Leka came to Japan."                  

!"Sexy Maquina" Leka, hitting the weights. (Photo by Mr. Tsuno)

Interview

Question 1:  When did you begin to learn jiu-jitsu?

Leka: I started in 1992, seven years ago. I remember the exact day. It was October 8.

Question 2:  Why did you learn jiu-jitsu?  

Leka:  At that time, I was a 16 year old high school student. I had a friend who was going to Dojo Jiu-jitsu. She said why don't you come and see the training one time? Actually, when I was a student I was a little fat. I had heard that a jiu-jitsu diet would be good for me to lose weight. In fact, my friend had been overweight too, and had slimmed down due to jiu-jitsu training. So,  that made me a little interested in jiu-jitsu.  With the intention of just watching, I finally hauled my feet to the academy.   

Question 3: It's hard to believe you used to be fat.  

Leka:   Thanks to hard training, my body fat is now 8 %.  

Question 4: 8%! that's like a young male athlete. Returning to the subject, what was your impression when you first saw jiu-jitsu?

Leka:  I was impressed seeing small fighters throwing and controlling bigger fighters. 

Question 5: When was your first fight?  

Leka: It was 6 months after I began training at Dojo Jiu-jitsu. At the Rio State Championship, I fought a member of the Carlson Gracie team. The result was disappointing. I lost by decision. 

Question 6:  It was a white belt fight?  

Leka: No, blue belt.

Question 7: You received your blue belt within six months of entering the academy, didn't you?  

Leka: It was faster than other people. My case was a little different from the average person's. At that time,  female fighters had four years of experience and as much as 20 kilos heavier than me. An average girl  could not have competed with them, but I did.  

Question 8:  Up to now, what was your most memorable fight?  

Leka: There were many but,  the most memorable was at the 1995 Brasil Championship. I was a purple belt at the time. Since the previous year, even though my career was "shallow" and despite my low belt color, word was spreading that I was a strong fighter.  So only two others entered the tournament.  One of them was Vera, who was 36 at the time. She had not fought for a long time, but before that she had a long string of fights and always won. She was a legend among female jiu-jitsu fighters.  When she was a purple belt, finally no one wanted to fight her, so she stopped practicing jiu-jitsu.  Then she heard about me and decided to compete again, specifically to fight me.  

Question 9:   Did you defeat Vera?   

Leka: Regrettably, things didn't turn out well.  Three fighters were competing, Vera, myself, and one other. I fought Vera twice but I was defeated both times. Actually,  in the first fight, I  absolutely think I won, but the referee didn't agree, so Vera was the victor. I immediately challenged Vera to a rematch, but she didn't accept, and retired again undefeated. I wasn't able to erase the shame of having been defeated.

Question 10:  There are few "entries" [fighters in the competition], but is the number of "entries" increasing?  

Leka:  No, not really.  In last year's Rio State Championship there were about 200 fighters. In our Dojo there are almost 35 female fighters.    

Question 11:   Ok, let's change the subject a little.  When did you become the Brazilian champion for the first time?  

Leka:  In the 1996 Brazilian Championship.  However, I didn't have any fights. The next year also, I was the champion, although I didn't have any opponents. In the Rio States championships also there was no one to fight. Everyone ran away from me.  

Question 12:  So now you don't have any rival, right? You have no rivals who can give you a tough fight like Vera, isn't that true? You have no choice but to retire then?  

Leka: No,  I have two rivals now. They appeared last year. First, in May was Daniella. Then in December was Patricia. They, and I, are the three black belt female fighters now. Among them, I'm now the "top" female fighter. However, even though I am the "top" fighter, I haven't had easy fights with them.  Actually, I've lost some times. Therefore, I train everyday thinking about these opponents. Everyone wants to beat me.    

Question 13:  What is your training  schedule.

Leka:   I train 2 hours in the morning, and two more hours in the afternoon. In the evening I teach jiu-jitsu classes. After class, I train for one or two more hours.

Question 14: You spend half of your day in the dojo. Typical young girls wouldn't consider that  an enjoyable way to spend their time.

Leka: Jiu-jitsu is my life.

Question 15: Aren't you thinking about marriage?

Leka:  It isn't because I don't want to marry, but now isn't the right time. There are many things I want to do first.

Question 16:   What are your dreams for the future?

Leka:  I don't have any personal dreams. I want to promote jiu-jitsu for females. By the way, just a little before, I said there were few entries in my division in the competitions,  but in fact several fighters came to Dojo jiu-jitsu to test their abilities against me. Before last year's Mundial, two female fighters came to Dojo for a "challenge match". After the match, we had a good understanding  and trained together. One of those females won 3rd place in the championship. Now, my purpose for coming to Japan is to improve the "appeal" of female fighters in Japan.  And I hope some Japanese female fighters will visit my dojo in Brazil.  

  

 

Training hard pays off. Leka takes opponent's back at 1999 Mundial., and takes home a shiny gold medal. Photo by R. Pedreira.

 

For more about Leka, see Dojo.

(c) 1999, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.