Facing demons head on

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As we have all heard before, Jiu-Jitsu is a metaphor for the way we live our lives. The way we act on the mats and how we handle the challenges presented to us is directly correlated to the way we handle good times and bad in life. In this regard, Gracie Barra black belt Fabiana Borges conquered a couple of really big feats at the last Worlds, in June, personally and professionally.

Professionally, Borges outdid herself. She came in second in a stacked crowd of very skilled featherweight black belts, including Bianca Barreto of Gracie Barra, Ana Michelle Dantas of Gracie Humaita, and Bruna Ribeiro of Atos JJ. It was teammate Bianca Barreto who told gold in the division, but it was the personal lesson learned from the fight with Barreto that almost outweighed the silver medal Borges so covets.

Borges had three matches that day. The first two she won by points. When she got to the final, she discovered she had to fight the one person she was afraid of the most:  Bianca Barreto. “I fought her twice before,” Borges said, “She got me so quickly both times. She’s the one who’s always intimidated me.”

With a guarded attitude, Borges took to the mats and faced her demons head on. She wanted to play it cautiously. She didn’t want to be taken out so quickly again like the last two times. She focused on not making any mistakes.

So, when the match began, Fabiana Borges pulled to the half guard and started to work on her sweep, but Bianca Barreto controlled her head and got the guard pass to side mount. Borges was able to escape and reposition to full guard. As the match went on, Barreto almost passed again, but Borges got half guard and swept her. Borges went on top and tried to pass Barreto’s open guard, but she locked to full guard. With only 20 seconds left in the match, Borges couldn’t break free and lost on points.

As Borges gleefully walked off the mats after her loss, she exclaimed, “I almost had her!” And then she began to explain, “Before my match, I thought, ‘she’s the best. I’m never going to get her!’ But as I got into the fight, I started to become more confident. Then I swept her and I thought, ‘I can do this!’ That’s when I really started the fight with the right attitude. Now, next time I know I can get her!”

Borges says the experience changed her life and the way she thinks. “I’m more mature now,” she said, “My first two fights I got through because of my experience. I worked on time and paced myself through each fight. Then I had my fight with Bianca and for the first time, I took it to the end.” Borges says she now knows that if they compete again, she has a good shot at winning. “I know I can win,” Borges said, “After that experience, I think differently and believe in myself now.”

Achieving that goal and having that kind of personal epiphany is what all the great jiu-jitsu masters emphasize when they talk about the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle. Borges’ belt ranking may not have risen that day, but her spiritual evolution did.

Borges says that all her training at GB America helped her reach this victory. “I learned a lot from my training partners,” she said, “Especially my top game. I’m more confident now. I think I can play on top and on bottom.” Borges says she still has a lot of work to do. “I want to thank everyone at GB who helped me to get better, from white belt to black belt.”

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