It’s International Women’s Day, and without further ado GRACIEMAG.com gives them the floor.
What do women who do Jiu-Jitsu these days struggle with? What peculiarities do Jiu-Jitsu women have to live with?
Fair warrior Michelle Nicolini, a collector of titles and participant in all the IBJJF tournaments, was chosen to speak a bit about her routine, in an exclusive interview.
What is your routine as a female black belt in Jiu-Jitsu?
Well, I have breakfast in the morning, a mid-morning snack and I take the chance to perform the normal chores that every woman should do. I make lunch and I go train. Training sessions are always very grueling. In the afternoon I do physical conditioning and at night I practice Jiu-Jitsu again. After that training session I go home to sleep. I have one day a week of scheduled rest, essential for my performing properly in training.
In addition to your opponents, what hardships do female fighters have to overcome day after day?
The greatest difficulty is the lack of support from sponsors. There are many girls who would like to become professionals like men are, but have no backing. I would also like to see more girls in championships. That way we could demand greater equality. These days the championships that reward cash pay 50% less to women than men. I know how hard it is to reconcile work at home, children, practice, but girls let’s fight!
You just returned from doing seminars in Europe. What are your observations regarding the growth of the gentle art there?
It was my first time in Europe and I found everybody to be really interested. There are lots of girls starting out, some higher ranked. I feel they could work more with kids and teenagers, work on the foundations. Among men the growth is very visible. I think Europe is a great place to work with Jiu Jitsu.
Female Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t have silly girls anymore” Michelle Nicolini
What are your goals and dreams?
My goal this year is to compete more than in all previous years, and once again become light featherweight world champion. I’ll get my third title in this division. To do so I’m putting together a plan of hard and careful work. I dream of fighting at and winning the ADCC 2011, I went to the last two tryouts and got cut at the semifinal, but the dream persists, I know I can achieve it.
What was missing for you to get the world title in 2009? Are you training this year targeting defending champion Letícia or are there more fighters in your division that may surprise the two of you?
The fight at the 2009 Worlds was very good but small details defined the result. Details we will try to correct this year. I was very sad for losing, but I’m much more determined to win gold again. With respect to opponents, there are no more silly girls in female Jiu-Jitsu. I’m keen to all competitors, but of course given our history in Jiu-Jitsu and last year’s final I’m watching Leticia more closely.
You still remember your first training session in Jiu-Jitsu?
Yes. I went with a friend and I showed up there in sweatpants and a T-shirt. I felt really tired from the training session and I think that’s why I liked it. The teacher put me with a blue belt who taught me the basics. I trained every day of the week. I started getting addicted. After two months I decided to do an in-house championship at the gym, and I lost. After a month I did another internal championship, lost again, then went to the Sao Paulo Championship … I lost again (laughs)!
I thought to myself, I don’t even want to hear about any more championships, I’ll just train. As time went by I regained my desire to compete and I won in my fourth championship.
What do you recommend to girls around the globe who are white belts or thinking about beginning training?
I recommend girls train with lots of enthusiasm, heart, and for beginners who aren’t taken aback by all the grabbing, to acquire technique, develop the art. Jiu-Jitsu is endless; it’s not something boring, because we are always on both the good and the bad end of things at the same time. It’s a game where in order to win you must position yourself better and think faster. It’s pure strategy. Train, even if you’re wearing perfume, makeup, nails and a pink kimono, just train. There’s a very feminine and charming side to the world of Jiu Jitsu.