Karen Antunes has become one of the greatest BJJ competitors in lightweight history. She has faced and defeated the best the sport has to offer on her way to becoming a five-time world champion. A huge accomplishment for someone who growing up was never interested in Jiu Jitsu.
As a kid growing up in the favelas of Brasilia, Brazil, Karen always had respect for
Jiu Jitsu. The martial art was the one thing that would keep her brother from returning to a drug addiction for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, that addiction would cost her brother his life. Years after his death Karen, with the encouragement of her younger sister, did give Jiu Jitsu a try. Karen immediately fell in love with Jiu Jitsu saying that she was reborn on the mats, living the first 23 years of her life as one person, and after
Jiu Jitsu, becoming a completely different person. She has said that previous to Jiu Jitsu she had a gap in her life and that it had been filled when she began her training.
As a colored belt, Karen excelled in competition, winning her very first tournament after only a week of classes. After just 3 years, Karen was IBJJF World Champion in the Purple Belt division, a title she would win again in Gi and No-gi as both a Brown and Black Belt. Incredibly, in 2018 Karen won the Worlds just six months after giving birth to a baby girl.
Karen and her only coach, now husband Mayko Araújo reside in Pheonix AZ. They have a new BJJ academy, Mayko and Karen Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Karen continues to train for the highest levels of competition and coaches hugely successful Kid's and Women's programs at her academy.