Mario “Esfiha” Queiroga

Mario Esfiha 4th Degree BJJ Black BeltBJJ Black Belt 4th Degree Professor, promoted in 2012
3x BJJ Black Belt IBJJF World co-Champion
BJJ practitioner since 1988
Abu Dhabi World Championship ADCC Veteran
Judo Brown Belt
US Modern Army Combatives Level 3 Instructor
Co-founder of Brasa  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Team since 2003
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Sometime around 1989, a 14 year old boy with the long name of Jose Mario Mac Cord Queiroga was introduced to the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by his father. Mario was welcomed into the academy of “Corpo Quatro” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to train with the professors Alvaro Barreto and Sylvio Behring.
Because Mario was a big fan of a popular form of Arabic pizza called Esfiha/Sfiha that he loved to eat, his BJJ friends named him Ze Mario Esfiha or simply Esfiha. The name stuck, and to this day, Mario is known the world over by the BJJ community as Professor Esfiha.

It was in 1991 that Professor Roberto Traven began teaching at “Corpo Quatro” and remains Mario’s professor still to this day. ProfessorTraven got his black belt from the world renowned Romero”Jacare” Cavalcante one of the “Famous Five” awarded their black belts by the Late Great Rolls Gracie, son of the founder of BJJ and nephew of Helio Gracie who raised Rolls. Some people still believe that Rolls Gracie was one of the best Gracie fighters ever to walk the planet. He died prematurely in an unfortunate hang-gliding accident.

On March 1st, 1993, Traven got together with Professor Alexandre Paiva and founded a new academy named Strike Jiu Jitsu. By that time Mario had already been a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for some time.  He became a member of the Strike Jiu Jitsu Team. Esfiha was beginning his career as an athlete fighting local tournaments. Little did he know at the time how far this journey would take him.

In 1995 Traven, Paiva, Leonardo Castello Branco, Fabio Gurgel, Jacare and few other Jiu-Jitsu instructors founded  Alliance Jiu Jitsu and began their tour de force of the BJJ tournament circuit.
By this point, Mario had been advanced to the level of purple belt and began teaching BJJ. Mario taught concurrently at both Strike Jiu Jitsu Academy and Castello Branco’s Academy for years. At Castello’s school, Mario trained many great fighters including Marcelo Garcia who would often visit Castello’s academy. After Mario graduating high school, Mario taught class morning, afternoon and night to sharpen his skill. Between Strike and Castello’s school Mario used to teach around 6 hours each day.
This time spent on the training mats molded Mario’s life. He developed a deep passion for the sport and made many friends that are still very close to him today. Jiu Jitsu turned out to be Mario’s way of life, and his career flourished as a Jiu Jitsu Professor.
Mario was living Jiu Jitsu, competing, teaching and making a living out of BJJ since 1995.

In 1996, Mario’s teaching had taken on a more permanent role in his life, and he also began competing more seriously at the higher levels available in the many large tournaments all over Brazil.  His accomplishments include:

  • 1st Place in the World Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournament in Rio de Janeiro under “CBJJ”
  • 2nd Place in the World Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournament Absolute Division in Rio de Janeiro under “CBJJ” as purple belt
  • 3rd place, 1997 World Championship, super heavy weight as purple belt
  • Awarded Brown Belt, 1997 (Traven opens his own gym with Mario as full-time assistant instructor)
  • 3rd Place, 1998 Wolrd Championship, super heavy weight division as brown belt

In the end of 1998, after winning a BJJ super fight, Mario was promoted black belt on the podium from his friend and professor, Roberto Traven. In the black belt division Mario achieved the most titles a Jiu Jitsu fighter could possess. He had titles from City of Rio de Janeiro , Rio State, Brazilian Championship, Pan American Championship and World Championship titles.

In 1999, Mario had the pleasure to share the podium with his friends and professors Traven and Castello at the World championships getting the Co World Champion Title in the super heavy weight division. Mario joined Ruas Vale Tudo Team to train with fighters such as Pedro Rizzo (UFC and Pride veteran) , Renato “Babalu” Sobral (UFC and Rings veteran) and Antoine Jaude ( ADCC Champion and the only Brazilian wrestler to make it to the Olympic games). During this period, Mario gained a lot of experience in MMA, Wrestling and Kickboxing/Muay Thai.

In 2000 he also shared the podium with his teammate and friend Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros in the absolute division in the World championships, winning the co champion title.
He also shared the podium in the same competition with his teammate Leonardo Leite from the super heavy weight division. Mario spent time in Helsinki, Finland teaching and competing and was eventually invited to fight in the largest No Gi competition in the world (ADCC) in Abu Dhabi after winning several trials to include an Alliance trial and the National Brazilian Jiu Jitsu trials with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Team x Brazilian Wrestling Team.

As an instructor, Mario has taught classes, seminars, workshops, clinics and has promoted Brazilian Jiu Jitsu students not only from Brazil but also from different countries around the world including the USA, Canada, and Finland. Mario has promoted students in BJJ who today follow in his footsteps and also teach BJJ, expanding the sport and its influence around the world.

In 2001 Mario was awarded with his first-degree black belt under the Brazilian Confederation of Jiu Jitsu “CBJJ,” won the Rio de Janeiro City and Brazilian championship titles in wrestling, moved to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada for about a year, and won different local tournaments while teaching Jiu Jitsu. It was during this period that Mario taught the UFC veteran Jeff Joslin.

In 2003, Mario won third place in his division at the BJJ World Cup under the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Olympic Federation “CBJJO.” During 2003 Brasa Jiu Jitsu Club was founded by athletes such as Mario, Traven , Castello, Demian Maia, Robert Drysdale , Rodrigo Medeiros, Felipe Costa, Muzio de Angelis and others. Mario was promoted to the position of Official Referee in BJJ competitions in the very first course established by the CBJJ for this purpose and for the purpose of further evolving the sport in order to one day bring BJJ to the Olympics. Late in 2003, Mario moved to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada where he taught for three years making new students and training many new champions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. During this time, Mario taught in different places such as London, Toronto, Kitchener in Ontario and Calgary, Red Dear in Alberta advancing many students to higher belt grades. In Niagara, several BJJ visitors from different locations sought Mario’s dojo for training.  Fighters from California and New York as well as fighters such as UFC Veteran Josh Koscheck specifically sought out Mario’s dojo to improve their game because of Mario’s now-established reputation as a world class athlete and teacher.

In 2004 Mario was honored to be promoted to second-degree black belt under the Brazilian Confederation of Jiu Jitsu. Only instructors who are at least second-degree black belt under the Brazilian confederation are allowed to promote students to the grade of the coveted black belt.
Mario had earned a name and rank in the Jiu-Jitsu world, and he felt the need to expand his own personal style and so pursued Judo training in addition to BJJ. Mario received his brown belt in judo from the former Canadian Olympic coach Wayne Erdman. Together with Island Entertainment Group, Mario made a set of 5 Instructional DVDs that are available online and in different stores all over the world to help people to improve their skills in BJJ because he wanted to provide new students with the opportunity to learn the techniques Jiu-Jitsu fighters practice even if they were not yet members of an academy.

In 2005 Mario won third place at the BJJ Pan American Games in California and was later invited to play a small part in a fighting movie called “Blizhniy Boy Final Fight” in Toronto, Canada with the UFC veteran Oleg Taktarov.

In 2006 Mario won second place at the New York Judo states championships, and Team Brasa began a pioneer Jiu Jitsu program in Brazil for blind kids. The program consists of classes for young children that have any level of visual disabilities. Brasa team is looking to expand this program around the world and Mario is one of the key instructors for the program.

From 2007 to 2009, Mario accepted the invitation to train soldiers and civilians in Clarksville, Tennessee at the Clarksville Mixed Martial Arts Academy.  Mario is qualified as a Certified Level 3 Modern Army Combatives Program (MACP) instructor by the US Army in order to train soldiers who aim to apply their Jiu-Jitsu knowledge on the battlefield for real world survival purposes. Modern Army Combatives is a mandatory training program for all personnel in the US Army. Mario trained 5th Group Special Forces soldiers from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and 101st Airborne Division Air Assault.
In 2009 Mario, together with Rodrigo Medeiros, was recruited to train Brock Lesnar for his UFC 100 title fight against Frank Mir.

In 2010 Mario won 1st place at the Rio State Chanpionship FJJ-Rio.

Mario is now located In Austin Texas and teaching full time at Mario Esfiha BJJ. Mario still actively competes and teaches. He aspires to spread the philosophy of his sport and strives to show others how to exemplify the real discipline of the martial arts as a healthy and balanced lifestyle. He looks forward to sharing his knowledge with new students, training professional fighters, and molding future Jiu Jitsu black belts.