Gabrielle Garcia, black belt 29, had a 2015 European Championship of her dreams in Lisbon, last January 24-25th. The athlete who once cried for being booed in the competitions showed a complete Jiu-Jitsu, much faster and offensive, and was hailed with applause by the crowd at Casal Vistoso, before and during the fight – which led her to tears again, but now from joy.
Alliance’s biggest star chatted with GRACIEMAG about what she has learned from the absolute and super heavyweight gold at the IBJJF competition, in one of her best performances until this date: five fights, five wins and five submissions.
Check it out and learn from the champion, Gabi Garcia:
GRACIEMAG: What was more exhausting until now in your career: keeping an undefeated streak since 2009 or burning 40kg and managing to stay in shape?
GABI GARCIA: I believe that maintaining an undefeated record in Jiu-Jitsu is now a more exhausting mission, physically and mentally. You need a lot of training and dedication in training, so diet and weight loss are just one component of it all. Thus, when I’m fighting I do not think about keeping an undefeated record; in fact I do not even remember that. I just think about making no mistakes – so much so that when I loose a position I do not forgive it, and then I train it with an increasingly drive. Now, losing weight and dieting will be present for the rest of my life, I come from an obese family and it makes me live on a diet!
Have you analyzed your performance in the European yet? Do you think you missed something?
In my opinion I had a magnificent championship; I’ve waited years for the moment to step on the mat and be applauded standing up by the whole crowd in the gymnasium, and at the European 2015 this day has come true! I swear I felt like crying when I stepped in to fight, it was an inexplicable emotion. I believe I made a mistake in the absolute final against Mackenzie. I missed a position that cost me an advantage: I was focused in submitting quickly and then let my hip high. After that, I had to stay calm and quietly got out of the position to finish the fight. I really enjoyed my performance because I was fearless, pulled guard, swept, got the back, and did the things I wanted to do, but now without fear of making mistakes!
What did you learn out of this mistake?
I missed a position, but I am human and can make mistakes. It was nice to see that I’m not invincible, no one is, and must train even more. I have always respected Mackenzie and now I will get even closer to her game! Mackenzie is very tough; she has experience as a competitor and her father (Megaton) is in her corner. She is a complete fighter, and was the full merit for getting the position. I’ll try to fix this loophole soon to avoid this kind of advantages.
You have demonstrated a beginner’s joy in the social networks when doing a basic technique. What do you recommend to our readers and fans that would like to work on their weaknesses?
I suggest to all Jiu-Jitsu practitioners to devote 90% of the training to their weaknesses. Today, I hardly play on top at the gym, I just do guard because I know that if I need it will have to be up to date! People said I would not take the back, did not call for the guard, and these really were my weaknesses. Now, I train so much those aspects that I trust anything can go wrong!
What valuable tips you’ve received from Fabio Gurgel for attacking the arm and submitting all the girls?
I’ve trained the armbar thousands of times, which came out twice in the European, and almost all of them came out wrong. But I fell in love with the position and tried it in every practice, from any position. Fabio even lost his patience when teaching me repeatedly where to spin and the right position of the head and body. I did it the wrong way over and over again, but it came out correctly at the right time. That means it was worth it to train a lot!
What Fabio says?
I cannot speak here exactly what happens in training to maintain secrecy and gym etiquette, but he says some things that sticks in our minds and reappears at the time of competition. For example: “Invite your opponent to live what you suffer in the gym every day.” I went out there to kill or be killed, as he always asked. I hope to have Gurgel around until I retire. He gets angry, and we argue just like every family does, but I love him like a father.
Another day in Barueri you heard jokes from an abusive supporter, such as: “Before I did not want to, but now that you’re good-looking I want a picture with you!” Did you suffer any Harassment in the 2015 European?
(Laughter!) Gabriel Medina said the other day, as I read on Graciemag_br’s Instagram, that “the more you win championships, the more beautiful you look.” There’s nothing more certain than that. Harassment increased, and it raised very much my self-esteem, so much that I realized how diet is really worth. I’ve never received so much love, so many photo requests, and I still came back from Portugal with a suitcase full of gifts from the fans! Nothing can pay for it, I’m too happy – eager to fight everything and deliver my game, even if the result isn’t victory. As another fan told me: from “Fiona” to muse! It was funny. I loved this European, I could not walk in the gymnasium because of so many people wanting to hug me and congratulate me. For anyone who has always been booed, this is the biggest slap in the face of people who always doubted that one day I would get there.