Leticia Ribeiro is one of the most revered female BJJ athletes of all time. Come read about this prolific athlete and how she continues to contribute to the art of Jiu-Jitsu.
Tactician (n):someone good at planning tactics: the specific means of accomplishing goals.When it comes to BJJ, Professor Ribeiro is like the keenest tactical general. She leads her garrison into battle with the most efficient and effective strategies in order to dominate their opponents on the mats. Her troops are prepared for what they will be facing and there is not one angle that anyone could approach from for which she is not ready with a counter. Although an adept tactician in her field of BJJ today, once upon a time even Professor Ribeiro was an eager apprentice. It’s time to take a look back and see how this sharp woman has become the heroin we have all come to admire.
BJJL: Where did you grow up, what was your childhood like?
LR: I grew up in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. My childhood was great! I still have a lot of great memories, back then we played a lot in the streets. It was safer more so then than it is today.
BJJL: What did your family think when you decided to start practicing BJJ?
LR: In the beginning it was hard, back then Jiu-Jitsu was a male sport. We had very few women training and competing. Soon as I started to train I fell in love with the sport and I knew that it was what I wanted for my life. After my mom really understood how I serious I was and what this meant to me, she gave me her full support.
BJJL: What was your first competition like?
LR: My first competition was the Copa Gracie. It was in 1995. I was a blue belt. I had three fights and three submissions by arm bar.
BJJL: Who or what motivates you and pushes you to achieve your goals?
LR: In 1996, that was the first time I knew I wanted to be a world Champion. I went to watch the first world championships ever. They didn’t have a women’s division but it was great to watch the black belts competing for the first time, especially Royler Gracie. I dreamed that one day I would be there and I worked for it.
BJJL: What has been your biggest challenge since you began BJJ?
LR: I think my biggest challenge and goal was to help develop women’s BJJ programs all over the world and to make the female divisions stronger. WE DID IT!!!
BJJL: What matchup would you like to have that has never happened?
LR: I have fought ALL tough fighters from my generation and after mine. I can SAY THAT I’m really happy, satisfied with my career. I have achieved a lot as an athlete and a teacher.
BJJL: What is your pet peeve as an instructor?
LR: I don’t have anything bad to say about teaching, my students, I love what I do so that makes my job REALLY easy.
BJJL: How does your tournament prep differ from your normal training?
LR: My routine changes, my day completely changes that’s why I decided not to compete so much lately. I’m focused on my gym and my students. If I decide to compete again, I will dedicate my whole day, my whole life, towards training.
BJJL: Any charities that you support?
LR: Right now, we are trying to support young talents from Brazil. We are helping them to have a better life living with the sport, just like us.
BJJL: What are your thoughts on the Equal Pay issue in BJJ?
LR: I think it is time for that. I talk about myself and many other fighters that I know. We train hard, we changed and dedicated our life for the sport. We do all that we can to see the sport grow and we ALL DESERVE better opportunities. I know how things once were and how they are, they are MUCH BETTER and getting better and better. I’m so happy with all the progress, even if it is slow but continuous.
BJJL: You truly fight for your students. You walked out onto the mat during World’s in 2014 (blue belt match). You wouldn’t let your student leave the mat (time had expired) until you had the ref correct his error. This led to your student winning when originally the ref had sided with her opponent. I’ve NEVER…seen anyone else do that. What prompted you to do it?
LR: Yes, I fight for them now. I know how hard they train and how much they want to be champion. I know being a referee is hard, they have to think fast and mistakes are going to happen. As instructors our jobs are to help referees also. Mistakes at worlds are sad for the sport and for athletes.
BJJL: How has BJJ for women changed in the last 5 years?
LR: I moved to the USA 8 years ago since worlds came back to the US. Things changed a lot for the better, the IBJJF is doing a great job. I can see the progress of the sport at each tournament and seminar that I teach and am so happy to be part of that.
BJJL: Would you like to see BJJ return to submission only?
LR: I would like to see more submission only tournaments, it’s fun.
BJJL: Are there any IBJJF rules you would like to see changed or completely removed?
LR: I think right now, the double pull. If they give two points for whoever gets on top, it will stop that a bit. It’s boring. They should do something to block it.
BJJL: So many are apt to return to the mat even though they are injured and they reinjure themselves (often worse). What advice can you give on injury prevention and proper recovery?
LR: I’ve had some injuries in my career but nothing serious thank God. I think the best way to prevent injuries is to workout in order to make your muscles stronger and keep your joints safe.
BJJL: As one of the female legends and pioneers for up and coming female BJJrs…what advice can you offer up?
LR: Believe in yourself, give 120% when training, keep going, dedicate yourself to what you want, DREAM…ACHIEVE.
BJJL: Proudest Moment?
LR: It was 3 years ago when I opened my first academy here in America and now I am opening my 2nd.
BJJL: Long term goals?
LR: I want to change people’s lives with Jiu-Jitsu and to be happy.
BJJL: Any regrets?
BJJL: Is there anyone you would like to thank, that you have never had the opportunity to thank for helping you get to where you are today?
LR: I’m thankful for many people in my life. First God, my family, my partner Morango, my friends, my students, and everyone that helped me to get to where I am today.
William Ward said, “the mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” Professor Ribeiro started out on a journey 2 decades ago. Along with her peers she ushered in a brand new era for BJJ. She is a pioneer in the game, a brilliant professor, and a remarkable inspiration. Her contributions to BJJ will be felt for years to come. She has had a hand (be it directly or indirectly) in developing each generation and helping elevate the game and its competitors to ALL new heights.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu keeps it real. It’s hard physically and mentally. Now imagine if you didn’t get support from your family, friends or even teammates. To continue takes a different kind of strength. This is a repost of Ishtar Al-azawi’s Facebook post. (reprinted with permission)
I am not one to rant normally, but there has been a subject the has been bugging me for a while now; Being an Arab Muslim girl that trains and competes in BJJ I get a lot of criticism "its a mans sport" or "why cant you do something more feminine" "this sport isn't for women" "are you a lesbian" "your an Arab women not Western" the best one so far is "no man will accept to marry a girl that fights"
I wasn't really going to speak out about this matter but if I don't, if we don't who will ? why should Arab women be made to feel bad about training Jiujitsu ?
The crazy thing is if was to go out every night and smoke shisha or to a bar I don't think i would be given as much grief as I do now, the call me "westernized" regardless of where I grew up I am Arab and a proud Muslim, I participate in a sport that has given me confidence, drive, happiness and I feel that I can protect myself in most situations now.
The amount of women that have been exposed to rape, abuse, muggings and mental or physical abuse not only in the Middle East but the whole world is worrying, I personally believe that every women needs to learn how to defend herself, and not only that but gain self confidence to steer away bullies.
Stop this judging taboo and start supporting us! we are the pride of the Middle East we are proudly carrying our homeland flags, we work 9-5 jobs and we manage to look after our homes and train and compete.. we deserve more than you nasty remarks and criticism!
I am also so saddened to see that some women have been given ultimatums to stop BJJ if they get married, or even refused marriage because their partners do not accept for and Arab woman to participate in such a sport, we should be encouraging more women to participate so we can create strong ladies teams!
And to all our male sparring partners if you can't leave ur egos at the door then don't step on the mats BJJ isn't just a physical discipline it's a mental one too, and on the mats we work just as hard as you do! We all are very familiar with that one guy that will either smash to prove no girl can beat him or treat u like your a China vase that will break... Or u get the guys that will completely ignore ur existence because they see u as a waste of Mat space ! This is unacceptable and this is definitely not a jujitsu mind set !
An example of great Arab men that support us is SHIEKH MOHAMMED BIN ZAYED AND HIS BROTHER SHIEKH TAHNOON.. i think a lot of men should ask themselves if BJJ isn't for women then why would our leaders implement it into every school, and create a national team for girls to compete here and internationally!
Our leaders are great examples of how you should be!
So next time you have something negative to throw at us, our response to you is ; WE ARE MOTHERS,SISTERS, WIVES, AND DAUGHTERS, WE ARE WARRIORS, WE ARE FIGHTERS, WE ARE GENTLE YET WE ARE STRONG AND WE HAVE ENDURED ENOUGH !!STAND WITH US AND NOT AGAINST US ! Please share to show some support for WOMEN IN BJJ ! Osssss!
Today in the Rickson Interview: We talk to Rickson about Ronda Rousey's comment that she thinks she could beat any BJJ woman under any set of rules. Rickson - "So I hope she has a great, brilliant future."
On the GreatMMADebate June 23 2014 Ronda Rousey stated:
"One thing I couldn’t stand when I was only watching MMA coming from Judo, is all these people saying that that all of these Jiu-Jitsu people would beat any judo fighter on the ground. It was such a stereotype. I still think that I can beat any BJJ girl in the world, any weight division, gi or no gi, black belt all the way, in any rule set that they want.
To be able to pull off being someone in Judo that can submit on the ground, it takes so much more skill because we have so little time to do it. Like Flavio Canto, Olympic bronze medalist from Brazil, who was known to have one of the best ground fighters in Judo... He could definitely win a world championship in Jiu-Jitsu. I really feel that the Judoka who excel with their ground work, have never really gotten enough respect.
This fight against Alexis, who is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, the kind of person that should be the type to tap me on the ground with no problems, it would be nice to prove a point."
BJJ Legends: Recently Ronda Rousey was noted for saying that she could beat anybody, any female Jiu-Jitsu athlete in a Jiu-Jitsu competition. I have two questions. One is: What are your thoughts on that? Do you think it's true of not?
Rickson Gracie: In Jiu-Jitsu competition?
BJJ Legends: Yeah. And two, either way, whether you think it's true or not, do you think it says something about what the perception is of Jiu-Jitsu, outside of our community?
Rickson Gracie: No. First, she's saying something based on her momentum. She may talking... Because she never competed in a Jiu-Jitsu tournament. If she competes in one and win easily, I will maybe respect what she's saying, believing what she's saying, but she never proved.
She's been demonstrating a lot of good positive elements on the cage. I don't know if those opponents are weaker. I don't know if she's really super.
BJJ Legends: Well, she has that medal in the Olympics as well.
Rickson Gracie: Yeah.
BJJ Legends: Do you feel that plays a role at all?
BJJ Legends: So as in judo... Judo is a very tough sport. In order for you to become an Olympian, you have to really commit and be exceptional. In order for any Jiu-Jitsu competitor to be facing, it has to be a world champion. It has to be somebody in that level.
Even though I cannot confirm if she can really win or lose, I think she should be more focused on what she's doing right now, which is a great job in the MMA, and leave Jiu-Jitsu aside. I know she's been training some Jiu-Jitsu with my cousins and stuff. So I hope she has a great, brilliant future.
For fans of the Magazine we did a quick YouTube search and found these two old videos of Ronda competing in what looks like a BJJ no-gi tournament. In one she indeed kills it and the second she has to work a little harder. Neither opponents appear to be black belts or world champions.
Women are different than men. Women appreciate a different learning environment from men. When we look for a Jiu-Jitsu gym we're looking for something more. We seek a nurturing place to grow. We seek a welcoming environment. We seek a place that helps foster a sense of security. We seek a second home. Ezra Taft Benson said, "The fellowship of true friends who can hear you out, share your joys, help carry your burdens, and correctly counsel you is priceless." When we walk into an MMA academy, the intimidation factor can be overwhelming. Trying something new is frightening enough and seeing a wall lined with silent students doesn’t make a woman want to return.
Look no further, said environment is provided by, Brown Belt Lana Hunter, Sundays (noon) at Pinnacle MMA/GFT San Antonio TX. Blue Belt Terry Cutler (El Paso Jiu Jitsu Team Alliance) speaks on her first encounter with the then purple belt. “I love Lana! She was the first female I met that practiced BJJ at a GIGs [Girls In Gis] event 2 years ago. I had no experience, she was super nice. We became friends and she invited me to her event”
The stress free environment Hunter’s class fosters sets each attendee at ease. There is no pressure. One could have the technique of an octopus but you feel like a Prima Ballerina. The clumsiness one may be prone to in co-ed situations seems insignificant. One feels accepted be she a newbie with only days of training under her belt or a seasoned fighter with national/world titles. Fellow brown belt Katharine Harrison (Cooper MMA, Austin TX) has known Hunter since the beginning of her BJJ journey and is an ardent supporter noting, “Lana is awesome and anyone is lucky to be able to attend her class.” Hunter’s class teaches you not only about a sense of self-awareness during a technique but a sense of those around you and how it all connects in BJJ. Each and every session you attend builds upon the last and slowly but surely, your confidence level begins to grow. The co-ed environment starts to become less intimidating to you. Eventually, you are eager to try out your skill set in any setting with much more confidence.
Hunter is providing women the golden opportunity to train BJJ with partners their size, various skill levels and from multiple affiliations. Just 5 years ago, no classes like this existed. Girls in Gis paved the way. Still, it begs the question, what made Hunter want to do this? She answered with, “I volunteered to teach a women’s class at my academy to give women in the community an opportunity to train with each other and to provide a women's-only environment to encourage new women to try BJJ. BJJ has brought so much good to my life. I wanted to give back to it and what better way than to share my passion with others and specifically, women.” The feedback Hunter has encountered thus far for her efforts has been nothing but positive. She makes mention of remarks students make after a session, “I know the classes have been a success because the ladies are asking me when the next class will be held. They also start recommending the class to their friends and encouraging them to come join the fun!
Hunter is well known in BJJ circles having competed since 2008 Gi and No-Go at Mundials and Nationals and consistently placing in the top 3 in her divisions. When encountering Hunter, you will know immediately, her goal in BJJ is not only to better herself but to help other women reach the level that she has in the sport that she loves deeply. Watching her seamless transitions with each technique from start to finish gives one the impression that she was born doing this. That is simply not the case. She also started from square one (losing two matches the same day in her first competition) before she could become the Head Hunter in Charge and lead her own group of Lethal Ladies.
Jess Zamora (Pinnacle MMA/GFT) is clear about what impact Hunter’s class has had on her, “I found out about Lana's class from a family friend who attends Lana's gym. I was motivated to go and learn ways to defend myself. That developed into a deep rooted interest and love for BJJ. I’m proud to say I'm affiliated with Lana's gym Pinnacle. Lana is one of the main reasons I chose to stay and attend as a full time BJJ practitioner.” Like Zamora, Hunter’s initial goals were not exactly what they are now. She started out passionate about becoming an MMA fighter. Lucky for the women of San Antonio (I guess not her BJJ opponents) she was destined for something else. A knee injury took away her stand up game and from there her ground game was born. Hunter’s passion for this sport is clear by the way she instructs each student. No one in the class gets left out for any reason.
Hunter trains under 3rd Degree Black Belt Bruno Alves and it shows in her thoughtful teaching style. Her class continues to grow and she reflects upon this, "One of my most favorite and rewarding parts of teaching is hearing how much students enjoyed the class! Being able to lead a class that has been a positive and enjoyable experience for the student is definitely a huge reward. If I had to pick a 2nd favorite aspect of teaching, it's seeing students able to execute the techniques that I've taught! The classes have achieved my goals of providing an environment for women to train with each other! Seeing the benefits of the class I do hope to make the class more frequent one day (see Facebook page below for exact class dates and times). This can provide more continuity from one technique to the next.
One might think, any women’s only class should be successful. Just put a female BJJ instructor in a room with other females ranging from all ages, sizes, and skill levels and the class will be a success. I’ll let those who may have their own up and coming women’s class be the judge of that. What I can say is that Hunter’s class is such a success because of her. She takes the time to get to know each and every one of her attendees. There is a genuine love that she displays with each technique. It makes you want to perfect those movements just for her. Hunter’s level of commitment and devotion is absolutely authentic. The environment is indeed amazing, but the HHIC is what keeps the mats packed. As a women looking for a place to train now or in the future where ever the road leads remember this, “The hardest choices in life aren't between what's right and what's wrong but between what's right and what's best.” Jamie Ford
Follow Professor Alves, Hunter, and Pinnacle MMA/GFT at:
Introduction As a young man, I feel obligated to say that we need to expand our consciousness regarding women in Jiu-Jitsu. Women having been fighting in MMA for years, women’s boxing was accepted as an Olympic sport, and now women can serve in combat in the US military. So it bothers me when there are still discussions about whether or not women can handle a little Jiu-Jitsu. Most articles that make general statements about women are directed towards beginners: how to survive, what to expect, etc. I’m more interested in supporting the girls who are already training and love it. More women than ever are getting involved in Jiu-Jitsu and they are the role models for bringing more women into the sport. They train gi and no gi, they compete, and they roll with men and women. So what advice can I offer my Jiu-Jitsu sisters?
Tip #1 – Learn to analyze Jiu-Jitsu The skill of being to analyze movements, applying or resisting a technique, will serve as the foundation for everything below. Just as we exercise physically to develop muscles we must also strengthen our ability to articulate WHY techniques are and are not working. How often have we come across a technique that didn’t work well in sparring and abandoned it? Being able to troubleshoot issues makes it much more likely that we critically think what we are doing with our bodies. The goal is to raise your awareness over every part of your body so that you can sense everything that is going right or wrong with the techniques and resistance to them. Not to mention, this will also improve your communication to your partner or instructor to get more input.
I went to this camp in LA. Knocked my socks off my bare feet! I'm a black belt and I've been training for 15 years. I've trained with a lot of wonderful people. I have never trained with 4 world champions on the same day in the same room. If you've got an problem with your technique there WILL be someone in that room who's gone through it too.
My hat is off to the Gracie Humaita Women's team. They are an aspiration.
A WOMEN'S GRAPPLING CAMP WITH LETICIA RIBEIRO (and Special Guests)
Train like a champion with the champions!!!!
Attention all female Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters/grapplers: here is your chance to train with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion LETICIA RIBEIRO, 3rd degree black belt under Royler Gracie (who appeared in BJJ Legends, jiu-jitsu magazine) and leader of the Gracie Humaitá women's team, one of the best female fight teams of all time. Join us in Los Angeles for a three-day Gi and No-Gi grappling camp exclusively for women, led by Leticia and her talented team members, including Penny Thomas, Bia Mesquita, Mackenzie Dern among others.
This is a very exciting opportunity to sharpen your Jiu-Jitsu skills with one of the world’s best female fighters. This camp is OPEN TO ALL TEAMS, SCHOOLS, and LEVELS. Come learn the techniques, strategies, and approaches to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that have made Leticia one of the most dominate forces in the sport today!
Well, it’s official. Women’s grappling has arrived. Of course it’s been around for many years, in that there have always been highly skilled, highly decorated female competitors. (For instance, Leticia Ribeiro, Leka Viera, and Luka Dias have paved—and continue to pave—the way for those of us who now contemplate their shoes and how one might fill them.) There just haven’t been very many of them. But if the 2011 Mundials of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu were any indication, that is changing—fast. Arguably, this year’s Mundials provided a snapshot of the fact that in recent years, the popularity of Brazilian jiu jitsu among women has grown by leaps and bounds. This year, the white, blue, and purple belt divisions were huge, populated with game competitors who put on a big show of heart, technique, and love for the sport. And the brown/black divisions were absolutely stacked, featuring, among other things, an open division containing upwards of 30 competitors.