Leticia Ribeiro started her jiu-jitsu training in Brazil, at Gracie Tijuca academy, in 1994. She fell in love with the sport, trained 2-3 times a day, and received her blue belt in three months. Leticia holds nine world championship titles, seven in gi, and two in no-gi. She has been competing at the Worlds ever since the women’s divisions were introduced in 1998. She received her black belt from Royler Gracie, and Vinicius Aieta in 2000, after winning her first title in the black belt division. In 2008 she moved to California, and started leading Gracie Humaitá female team. In 2013 she opened her own academy, Gracie South Bay. Leticia is a third degree black belt, IBJJF Hall of Famer, and one of the busiest instructors teaching women’s jiu-jitsu seminars and camps all over the world.
Which belt level has been the most challenging for you?
White belt was the hardest for me. When you start training, you don’t even know how to move your body. Everything is new, even hip escape, and shrimping are difficult movements. When you get closer to the blue belt things become easier. You start to understand the game more, have better control of your body, and breathing. That’s when the fun really starts! I felt that after my first armbar. I thought: I love it, I want more!
Tournaments were tough back when I started training. There were only two divisions, and all belts together for women at the first Worlds in 1998. After a few years they separated blue belts, later on purple belts, and now we have all belts separate. I’ve seen the evolution of the women’s jiu-jitsu from the very beginning. I’m very happy with the progress. We have lots of good, technical fighters now. When I was a white belt, we did not have a lot of girls but I was lucky to have Leka Vieira to look up to. She was always two belts ahead of me, and had her female team. She has always been a huge inspiration for me.
What advice would you give to women who have a hard time in training?
My advice to all the women who train BJJ is to keep going! Be confident, and be patient with yourself in the learning process. The hard times will pass, and the armbars and chokes will come. It is great if you want to compete, but it is also okay if you don’t want to compete. Jiu-jitsu is for everyone, it will help you in different aspects of your life.
It takes away all the stress at work, kids, family, and everything else that can disturb your day or sleep. Many people say that they don’t go to train because they are too tired from work. To me it sounds like an excuse. No excuses! After work get your gi, and go to class. I can guarantee that you will feel much better after training. Enjoy being on the mat not just to train but to enjoy your team who is your new family because your jiu-jitsu academy should be your second home. Good luck and good training!
WBJJF is hosting Southern Regional Championship, a womens Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament, on Saturday, March 29th. This is a no-gi and gi tournament for all ages and experience levels. It is shaping up to be the biggest event of its kind with nearly 100 competitors signed up.
The tournament benefits Rescue Her, a charity that fights human trafficking. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry behind illegal drugs, and fire arms trafficking, and it generates a staggering 32 billion dollars a year. Approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation. It is a modern-day slavery that victimizes children as young as 3 years old. Rescue Her raises money for prevention, intervention, and desperately needed after care both in the US and abroad.
Fenom Kimonos is sponsoring the event by providing cash prizes to the expert divisions. Purple, brown, and black belt ladies have a chance to win up to $500.00, depending on how stacked the brackets are. Come out to see the best Texas jiu-jitsu women in action, and support a great charity!
Who wants to take a picture after a long, sweaty work out? Jiu-jitsu women do! No make-up? No Photoshop? No problem! These ladies have a cool, messy hair, don’t care attitude, and they are definitely comfortable in front of the camera. The cheerful pictures are a great contrast to glossy, overworked magazine images that girls, and women are seeing every day. The women seem to be having a genuinely good time, and the photos make you wish you were there.
Back in 2011 SoCal women started the trend of taking group pictures where everyone was trying to choke the person next to them. Now most seminars, and open mats end with a friendly group choke or some other creative shot.
Here are some of our favorite pictures from women’s jiu-jitsu events. We hope you like them!
The Original Group Choke
Australian Heart in Gis
The Circle of Chokes
Raise the Roof
Australian Girls in Gi annual two-day camp is one week away! This is shaping to be one of the largest women’s BJJ camps in the history of Australian Girls in Gi with over 75 spots sold out. The instructor for the weekend is Sophia Drysdale, the first Australian female black belt, who is successfully juggling training, competing, teaching, and being a mom.
AGIG has been bringing women together for events, competition, networking, and training since 2010, and the group is led by outstanding efforts of Jess Fraser, a Melbourne based purple belt. For more information or to register, please click here. Happy training!
As the year comes to an end, it’s time to look back and celebrate women’s jiu-jitsu belt promotions. Lots of girls and women earned stripes on their white belts, fewer made it to blue and purple belt level. Even fewer made it to brown belt and just a handful of dedicated ones achieved the ultimate goal of becoming a black belt. And then there are the super women who earned stripes on their black belts. You are all amazing!
Only the ones who train know how much hard work goes into earning a stripe or a new belt. The countless hours of drilling, and sweating, being frustrated and getting smashed, injuries, and the random submissions transform into a huge smile on the day of the promotions. We all know the feeling of not being ready for the promotion, but excited and elated at the same time.
We congratulate you on achieving your goals this year and hope that 2014 is full of happiness, good surprises, and lots of laughter. Leave behind grudges, sadness, and regret. May you continue to surround yourself with people who enrich your life, and stand by you through thick and thin. Keep it simple, and make it memorable!
Here are some pictures from 2013 belt promotions. We hope you enjoy them.
Nina and Eve
We end our fenomenal girls’ series this year with AJ Wurtz, from Midland, Texas. She is 9 years old, loves jiu-jitsu, color purple, and One Direction. When AJ grows up, she wants to own a bakery. Everyone meet AJ!
How did you get started and how long have you been training?
My whole family trains at Bruno Bastos BJJ, in Midland, Texas, but my older brother started first. I used to go and watch him train. The kids’ class looked a lot of fun and I wanted to try it. I have been training for almost a year now, and I am a four stripe white belt.
What do you like the most about jiu-jitsu?
My favorite part is learning new techniques. I like to learn and try new things. I also love all of my BJJ friends and my coaches.
Do you like to compete? What is your favorite tournament so far?
I like to compete. My family has competed three times. Competing is fun but also challenging for me because I compete against girls and boys. My favorite tournament so far was Fight to Win Torque in Dallas, Texas. It was the first one for my whole family. I got a bronze medal, and got to go to Six Flags the next day.
What is your favorite submission?
I like armbars a lot. I also get to train judo with one of my coaches, and my favorite judo technique is o-goshi which is a hip throw.
Do you ever get bored in training?
No, I don’t get bored because my coaches make training fun. I’m always ready for class, and also love seeing my friends.
Who do you look up to in BJJ and in life general?
In jiu-jitsu I look up to my coaches Bruno and Petya Bastos. They are like a family to me. In real life I look up to my parents and my big brother.
What do your friends think about BJJ?
My friends like that I train jiu-jitsu and think it is awesome! They think my gis look cool. I wish they could watch me compete.
Mom: AJ has the biggest loving heart. She doesn’t discriminate against anyone. The first time she was ever in big trouble at school was because she stood up, and defended her friend who has a physical disability. She was sent to the office for pushing the kid who made fun of her friend who is missing parts of his feet. Needless to say, she was not in trouble when she got home. I praised her for standing up for her friend.
Dad: AJ loves to talk. A lot. She is also extremely competitive with her big brother. One day in kids class, her talking and arguing with her brother got her into some trouble with her coaches. They both ended up in the corner, facing the wall but having to hug each other the whole time until her coach was sure they had learned to love each other again. I will never forget that day.
At first AJ was not very motivated to train. However, I saw that she did not like to lose in sparring, so I realized that she had a competitive spirit. I asked her if she would like to compete. AJ competed and lost her match. She was upset and cried, but started training more and harder after the loss.
She is motivated by challenges. If she is motivated, she goes after what she wants and that has made her much more successful in tournaments. I try to teach my students to do the best they can every day, not only in jiu-jitsu, but also in school and at home. Always try to fight for what you believe is worth. AJ is a good role model because she fights for what she believes in and has a great attitude doing it.
Third degree BJJ black belt Hannette Staack has had a busy schedule in 2013 teaching in the US and Europe. She will be closing the year with a trip to Houston for another 3-hour, women only seminar that is becoming an annual tradition. The early bird price of $40.00 is available until November 16th, after that the price is $50.00.
Not only is the price of the seminar an absolute steal but the participants have a chance to win her brand new signature gi that is a collaboration between Fenom Kimonos and Hannette herself. The gi features contrast stitching, inside tape, and beautiful, detailed embroidery in her favorite colors: green, yellow and blue. This is a perfect gift for someone who appreciates the subtle feminine design, and bright color scheme.
We were inspired by a recent photo of Hannette Staack and Suay Al-Aziz. Two good friends who found each other through BJJ, one lives in Chicago, the other in Florida, spending quality BJJ time together in Brazil at BRA-021 camp and supporting Fenom! How cool is that?
Do you have a friend or friends that you can’t wait to train with no matter how far they live? Do you have a friend who has matching bruises in the most odd places? Do you have a friend that comes over with a gallon of ice cream and box of tissues when you’ve had a bloody bad day on the mat? Do you have a friend who is just plain awesome?
If so, here’s a chance to win a free gi or a free private lesson for you and your BFF at Hannette Staack Women’s BJJ seminar in Dallas, on August 24th! Take a picture of the two of you wearing Fenom gear* and post it on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, or email it to info [at] fenomkimonos.com. A random winner will be picked on August 23rd. Be creative and good luck ladies!
*Fenom gear = at least one of the following: Fenom gi top, gi pants, belt, rash guard, t-shirt. Fenom logo must be recognizable and visible.
Our fenomenal girls’ series continues with Maddie Sheng from Smithsburg, Maryland. She is 13 years old, loves art, animals, and jiu-jitsu. She is a straight A student and a great role model for teens. Everyone meet Maddie Sheng!
My dad took me and my younger brother to try out a BJJ class as a summer activity five years ago. We liked it and have been training ever since. We train at Frederick Fight Club, under Vicente Junior, third degree De La Riva Black Belt. I train 6 days a week.
What is the best part of the training?
The best part of the training is learning crazy new moves, drilling them, and then putting them to use on the mat in sparring. I like to roll with different people, especially if they can help me work on my weaknesses.
You compete a lot. How many tournaments have you done so far and which one is your favorite?
Yes, I compete a lot. I have been competing since I was eight years old, so I’ve lost count of how many tournaments there have been. I usually do gi, no-gi, and girls’ open class so I get a lot of matches. I really liked flying to California to the Kids Pan Ams this year. I took bronze medal in teen 1 yellow belt division. However, my favorite tournaments are Junior Grappling Association events.
My favorite submission is the triangle!
Do you have any favorite BJJ ladies that you look up to?
I really look up to Emily Kwok. We try to go to Princeton BJJ any time we are visiting my grandparents in New Jersey, which is about 2-3 times a year.
Do you do any other sports or do you have hobbies?
I love to draw, and I love my pets! I have a dog named Abbey, a pot-bellied pig named Pugsley, and chickens. I also do judo and circuit conditioning training.
What do your friends think of jiu-jitsu?
What would you tell other girls who are not sure if they should try BJJ?
The best advice would be to try it! It definitely helps build your confidence. I see a lot more girls in jiu-jitsu now compared to 5 years ago.
How are you doing in school? What do you want to be when you grow up?
I’m in Honors Classes and get straight A’s. After college I want to be either an artist or a veterinarian. I will still be doing jiu-jitsu, or course. :)
This is what Maddie’s coach Kendrick D. Stephens had to say:
Maddie is a very attentive and technical student, always eager to learn more. She has become increasingly more aggressive in the last few months, and is definitely a force to be reckoned with. After her next belt promotion, Maddie will be taking on a new responsibility to help guide new students with their BJJ development. Maddie has a bright future in BJJ!
This is what Maddie’s parents had to say:
Maddie is very humble. We have watched Maddie putting her opponent to sleep with the triangle choke but she doesn’t tell anyone that. After tournaments she does not call her friends to brag about how many boys she beat or how many matches she won. Her achievements are hers and she is content to keep it that way. We are very proud of the young lady she has become!