BJJ Community Celebrates Life Of 70-Year-Old Blue Belt Sandi Duquette As She Enters Hospice Care

The incredible contributions of BJJ blue belt Sandi Duquette are being celebrated within the jiu-jitsu community following the sad news that she has been admitted to hospice with liver cancer.

Sandi began jiu-jitsu at age 65 with the encouragement of two of her sons, who are BJJ black belts. The martial art proved to be just what she craved after retiring from her career as a large animal veterinary assistant, and she persisted with it over the years, eventually taking up judo and Muay Thai as well. She eventually earned her blue belt in 2018 under Ryan Fiorenzi of Kaizen BJJ Plymouth in Michigan.

Image Source: Sandi Duquette via Facebook
Image Source: Sandi Duquette via Facebook

Sandi, who often trained between five and six times a week (sometimes twice a day), wasn’t content with testing herself in the academy, and she began entering tournaments. She signed up for the IBJJF World Master Championship in 2018 and came home with two gold medals after being the only person in the female Master 7 light featherweight and open class division. Indeed, she was the only female competitor in the Master 7 division at all.

The next year, though, Sandi’s luck changed. Following the previous year’s push for the IBJJF to add more female master divisions to Pans, she signed up for the tournament. Though she was still the only competitor in her light featherweight division, she faced off against the only other woman in the Master 7 blue belt category, Susan Gordon, in the open weight division. Cheered on and coached by her son, Sandi won the match with a choke and claimed a well-earned gold medal.

Later that year, Sandi entered Master Worlds for the second year in a row, taking home gold as the only competitor in the women’s Master 7 blue belt featherweight division and then bronze in the open weight division.

On December 4, Sandi celebrated her 70th birthday with her beloved dog Mele Jane, who turned 12 on the same day.

Image Source: Sandi Duquette via Facebook

Sandi is currently back in Hawaii with her family and has an estimated 2-4 weeks left to live. Though the jiu-jitsu world will mourn her absence, we also embrace the impact she had on the sport both on an individual level and as an ambassador of the masters BJJ movement. Sandi has touched countless lives on the mats with her contagious smile and friendly ferocity. She will forever be remembered as an inspiration with a true fighter’s spirit, always ready to show up and face whatever challenges were there to meet her. Beyond that, though, she has shown the world that it’s never too late to change your life and pursue your dreams.


  1. Sandi is such a special human being, and I’ll always remember her huge—and hugely infectious—smile. It was the first thing you saw every time she walked into the dojo.

    Sandi, you’ll be incredibly missed. We love you. 💔


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