The 18th edition of the World Championship starts next Thursday, May 30 in Long Beach, and the top athletes in the competition can’t wait for the time to come.
Brazilian competitor Gabrielle Garcia, main star of the women’s team from Alliance, wants her fourth world title in the open class. The victory is not new to her, but her game she said may surprise many.
“I’m finding myself better on bottom than on top. I’m comfortable in my guard,” she said in a chat with GRACIEMAG. Check out what we learned from her below.
GRACIEMAG: You usually train with guys like Leo Nogueira, Tarsis Humphreys, Michael Langhi, Antonio Peinado and other feared black belts. How is this reassuring for competition?
GABRIELLE GARCIA: The tension pre-Worlds is always great, but the atmosphere at the gym is very good. Every one helps each other and drills are on fire. Fabio Gurgel is demanding a lot from us and I hope this brings results. It’s very tense, I joke that this is a kind of ER. You come out of the coma, open your eyes and see the light every time the training ends (laughs). I see that they train hard with me; they don’t take it easy on me. They train as if I was a man and that sets me apart from other women. My training has always been with men, nothing can be more difficult. No championship is harder than a training session at Alliance. My training is much stronger than it ever was, but with something different: this is more focused on technique. I leave the gym exhausted and still do the physical training with James Heck four times a week.
What else have you been sharpening in training for the competition?
I’m finding myself better on bottom than on top. I’m comfortable in my guard. Before I was terrified and it was a serious mistake. But Fabio was always telling me, giving me tips, controlling me when I was put in these positions in training and now I feel sharp and comfortable. I would like to fight a whole championship in my guard, but I never have time. Girls pull me to their guard before (laughs). Of course I’m not going to put on a show of guard and berimbolo, but I guarantee it won’t be easy to pass my guard nowadays. My back taking was also awful, something I’ve been correcting a lot. I’m not ashamed to talk about my errors, but you can be sure that whatever position I’m in, I’ll be well trained.
You are undefeated for a long time in Jiu-Jitsu. How do you gain valuable lessons when you win?
It’s because I remember very well the taste of defeat. It wasn’t so long ago that I lost, I’m not ashamed of any of my losses, because they were what made me train so much and it makes me not want to lose. And Fabio always makes sure to remind me (laughs). I can learn a lot from the wins, I’m very demanding. I want to grow technically every day, because I have always been strong. I need to always be improving my technique, and even winning, there are fights that don’t satisfy me because I make a lot of mistakes. I know where my mistakes are and I always train to fix those. I’m always working on the positions that still make me uncomfortable. This week I felt very sick during training and Michael Langhi, a great champion and a friend told me: “Let’s go Gabi, train even if you are sick. It’s not long until the championship. It is during these times that we know who the champions are. Everyone is tired, you can’t go wrong.” It was all I needed to hear. Even sick, there is always someone on your side motivating you. Alliance is actually a factory of champions. I am grateful for all that my team does for me, without them I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.
After every year you become a greater reference for women who practice Jiu-Jitsu. What does this mean to you?
I’m happy with the attention, I get a lot of emails and messages, people who are inspired by me. There are even several girls with my tattoos now! I have seven Facebook profiles, it is difficult to manage everything. I’m moving everything to one, my official Facebook Fan page, because I can’t answer everyone. Today I get to the championships and I can hardly walk, people want to show their affection and admiration. I am very happy; it’s the result of much sweat and training time. People know how much I devote myself to this sport, how much I love what I do. I hope that women look at me and see that it is possible to be serious with Jiu-Jitsu and have it as a lifestyle.
What is your biggest secret, besides your love for Jiu-Jitsu?
I love the moment, I love being with my team during the competition, Jiu-Jitsu unites friends. I think my secret is to not be afraid of defeat, never think about what comes next, I always think about the moment. I have great confidence in my training and I never think: “Oh, I’m Gabi Garcia” … Because when I think about something like that I think I can settle down. I’m not invincible and I’m far from it, but to beat me, it will be ten minutes of a lot of fighting. And if I lose some time, it will be because the girl really deserved it more than me. Another factor is to have great professionals at my side, like Dr. Paulo Muzy and nutritionist Rodolfo Peres. They also have their part in this secret.