INSIDE BJJ Congratulations on your recent championship at the 2011 Worlds. This is your sixth World Championship. How was your preparation for the tournament? What is your opinion on your performance?
Leticia Ribeiro Thanks. We trained a lot for this tournament as a team. Being together all the time is one thing that made us stronger. We did physical conditioning, bulgarian bag training, and specific movement training with with Stephen Nave. For sure the hard work paid off. The performance was great! As always, we want to submit our opponents but the most important thing in the end is winning. I think my experiences means a lot and helps our team.
INSIDE BJJ During your post fight interview, you called on the IBJJF to start testing for performance enhancing drugs. Recently, Felipe Costa, Rodgrigo Medeiros, and Caio Terra have also spoke out against the use of performance enhancing drugs in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. How much of a problem are performance enhancing drugs in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? What should the IBJJF do? Is the IBJJF even listening?
Leticia Ribeiro I think the IBJJF has started to pay attention to this problem especially after hearing from the athletes. I talked about that in my interview because I think drug use is unfair to everyone training hard to get to the Worlds and be champion. We know the drugs tremendously in performance and during training. I hope things can change and the IBJJF starts testing next year.
INSIDE BJJ There are fewer women competitors in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Many gyms only have a few women in their classes. How did you get started in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? What was it about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that kept you going?
Leticia Ribeiro I started because i did not like to workout and be at the gym. I always preferred to practice sports outdoors at the beach or in the woods. A friend invited me to go to Jiu-Jitsu class and I fell in love the first day. I started training three times a day and competing. I haven’t stopped since then. I started at Gracie Tijuca in 1995 and received my black belt in 2000 after my first world title.
INSIDE BJJ What are the specific challenges you have faced as a female in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Leticia Ribeiro In the past, it was worse. It was very difficult to find a sponsor and even harder to be in a magazine even for champions. Now things are much better. The girls can make a living from the sport especially the black belts. I think it’s going to get better as well. We need to keep working hard, training, and developing women’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu programs around the world.
INSIDE BJJ You lead a successful team of women, how can the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community get more females interested in the sport?
Leticia Ribeiro A lot of people ask me about how to get more girls into the gym. In my opinion, the first step is to focus on creating ONE good student. This helps because the girls that came to the gym for the first time are more comfortable training and practicing with a girl. If you have one girl who is a blue belt or above, it really helps to attract new girls to the school. Another good idea is to have a women’s only class if you have enough students. It’s also important to offer self-defense to female students since some girls don’t want to compete but they want to learn self-defense
INSIDE BJJ What is your opinion on the future of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Is there anything you would change about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu right now?
Leticia Ribeiro Four years a go I arrived in the United States to teach and the sport has gotten bigger every year. Progress has not stopped. I’m very happy that I get to be a part of developing the sport that I love. One thing that I think we have to change are the rules to make the sport more dynamic especially for the fans watching. Ten minutes for a black belt match is too long. I we want to see BJJ on TV, we need to change the rules to make the fights less boring and more exciting.
INSIDE BJJ What is next for you? Is there anything you’re working on right now?
Leticia Ribeiro I’m teaching a lot. I just started to my training for the Worlds NO-Gi. We’re doing a lot of physical conditioning. As always, in October, one month before the tournament, we will have a girls camp in San Diego with the Gracie Humaita Female Team. I can’t wait.
INSIDE BJJ Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Leticia Ribeiro I just wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS to all girls working so hard to develop the Women Division in the sport training at the gym, competing, and teaching around the world. I know how hard it i, so you girls deserve success and all the best. GOOD LUCK !!! Thanks ATAMA FIGHT GEAR for your support and the opportunity to have my signature gi. Thanks to my fans and everyone for the messages of encouragement and support. Thank you very much. Good Training for all and BIG HUG !!!