Hall Of Famer Michelle Nicolini Interview With WBBJJ.com


michelle nicolini


Michelle Nicolini is one of the elite fighters in women’s Jiu Jitsu. She is an IBJJF Hall of Famer, an 8x Jiu Jitsu World Champion, ADCC champion and the World Pro Cup champion. She is a black belt under Robert Drysdale and is one of the main stars in the Checkmat BJJ Team.


We wanted to catch up with Michelle and see how everything has been going since her latest win against Angelica Galvao at the first Polaris Pro event held on January 10th, 2015.


polaris pro


WBBJJ.com: Hello Michelle Nicolini! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me and the followers of White Belt BJJ about your Jiu Jitsu Journey, and your recent bout against Angelica Galvao at Polaris Pro.


Michelle Nicolini: Thank you! It has been a pleasure to have the space here to talk bit more about my BJJ journey. Fight with Angelica was nice. I was training for that fight, sub only for some time, and I could get my goal.


WBBJJ.com: How is everything going with you since your recent win against Angelica Galvao at Polaris Pro?


Michelle Nicolini: Everything is great. Nothing to complain! After Polaris I went back to London and I keeped training at London Fight Factory, my team Checkmat and I was getting ready for Europeans. I fought last weekend and I got another gold medal. Now I’m back in Brazil for the Abu Dhabi pro trials in Natal. I will be fighting on Sunday.



WBBJJ.com: What was your game plan going into the match and what concerned you the most leading up to it?


Michelle Nicolini: My game was the goal of the show: SUBMIT my opponent.


WBBJJ.com:  You are known for your footlocks and you won the match with one. What is it that draws you personally to the lure of foot attacks? Is it because they are effective against larger opponents? Or is it more because you feel safe, defensively speaking, when attacking legs and feet? I ask because I am beginning to find my way with them and would like to know your perspective.


Michelle Nicolini: Footlocks are easy for me. I saw it in many different places. But I think the combination of my game make it happens more. I get sweep for example, I end up on top, or I gonna pass or if you start to resist to much I will try to attack your foot.




WBBJJ.com: You have said that you are tired of fighting for medals and that it is time for you to continue with MMA. Are you taking the time to do that now that Polaris is over? or are you training for an upcoming BJJ event?


Michelle Nicolini: I did the Euros cause I was already in Europe. So always nice to fight where BJJ is still growing if we compare with America. But this year, we had so many competitors that maybe this event gonna be bigger than others in US. Polaris was awesome. I’m sure they will have big success in the second edition. And they paid good! I’ve some other things before, but I’m already thinking about Abu Dhabi Pro in April. As I lost last year, I’m super motivated to win this year. MMA probably in June.


WBBJJ.com: Did you watch this season of the Ultimate Fighter seeing as it featured all ladies from your MMA weight class? How do you think you would have done if you were on the show? Who was your favorite straw-weight fighter of the season and why?


Michelle Nicolini: I didn’t watch all the show, but I was following some. I’m super excited to meet one of the finalist girls one day in the cage. They are all good. I think if I had been there I would had learn a lot from the coaches and I could do good too. But when they asked me if I wanted to go in the house, it was too late, I had other plans and I preferred to not cancel. I will be there one day!


WBBJJ.com: You said about Ronda Rousey that “Talk is cheap if you never show up” (referring to Worlds). A fight between the two of you in MMA wouldn’t happen because of the weight difference, that being said, do you think you can beat her in the gi? What would you do to nullify her takedowns and extra 20 – 30 lbs?


Michelle Nicolini:  I believe on my Jiu Jitsu. I fought big girls before. I won sometimes, I lose others. Its hard to say the result of a fight before it happen. But I would for sure pull guard and I’m sure she wouldn’t pass!  You need have lot of ability to pass a guard without expose yourself.


WBBJJ.com: We have a large following of BJJ ladies and a large amount of white belt followers (obviously haha)? What advice do you have for white belts starting out in BJJ? And then what advice do you have specifically for the ladies who are starting out in BJJ? This is your time to share your knowledge with a lot of new BJJ players!


Michelle Nicolini: White belts, don’t miss the classes. Go as much you can so you will learn the sequence of the techniques and it will be easier to memorize. For the ladies, I know sometimes it’s hard to train with the guys, but I trained most of my time with them. And as much we learn easier and better it will be. Remember to not try exchange power with them, be technical and faster!


WBBJJ.com: Without giving away all of your secrets, when you are rolling with the guys, what adjustments (if any) do you make to your game that perhaps other ladies could use?


Michelle Nicolini: One of my coaches I had, Drysdale, he always used to say for me to not exchange power with a guy, so I learned it so good. Of course BJJ is little bit about power but I’m 100% convinced if you move yourself first then you try to move your opponent you will have a large advantage. So it’s not a secret, I move more than my opponents. I use a lot my legs, cause they are stronger than my arms. And all works good!! I think so heheheh.


WBBJJ.com: Thank you very much for your time Michelle. Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge? Any sponsors you would like to mention?


Michelle Nicolini: Thank you to Tatami fight wear, first year together and it has been so good for me. They gave me a great support. Thank you to my team Checkmat, The House Fight Co., London Fight Factory, all the people who always send me messages and to everyone reading this article. So glad you guys want to know about me, my BJJ career. Thank you!!


WBBJJ.com: Thanks again and best wishes to you and yours!


Michelle Nicolini: Thank you!!


Check out some videos of Michelle Nicolini in action below. In the first video Michelle breaks Tammi Musumeci’s arm or comes very close to doing so. The second one is a fantastic highlight video.




BJ Penn – “My Whole Game Is Basics”




BJ “The Prodigy” Penn is a true BJJ and Mixed Martial Arts Legend. His list of achievements is too long to list and most of us already know of them anyway.


In this video series BJ explains that the secret to his meteoric rise was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu basics. In the video below he goes so far as to say that his entire game is basics.


For a fledgling white belt (and blue belts like myself), it is tremendously easy to get caught up in the flash of today’s BJJ. There is so much dynamic maneuvering going on and the advent of new and exciting guards, that it makes it difficult for a white belt to simply focus on the armbar from closed guard.


However white belt, this is a game of patience. There will plenty of time down the road to get as flashy as you would like. Take it from BJ Penn, fundamentals are your best friend!


I highly recommend reading his book Why I Fight: The Belt Is Just an Accessory


It is an incredible story if you are a Jiu Jitsu lover. BJ tells all about rising up from his struggles growing up in Hilo, Hawaii to going on to becoming the first American BJJ Black Belt to ever win the World Championship (Mundials). Check out that match here.




Should I Give Up Everything To Be A BJJ Athlete?




Budo Jake of Budovideos.com answers a question from a Purple Belt living in Italy, who asks if he should give up everything to become a full-time BJJ athlete. Jake is straight forward and honest in his reply. He gives a conservative perspective, a non-conservative perspective, and finishes with the reality of the situation.


This video is among the first for Budo Jake’s new YouTube channel. The flagship Budovideos channel will remain the same. Jake wanted to start this new channel so that he could directly talk to his friends and fans who enjoy his work. I definitely recommend subscribing because Budo Jake constantly brings wisdom to the table.



A Fireside Chat About “The Accidental Fart” – Lauren LaCourse



(Emily Kwok and Lauren)


A Fireside Chat About “The Accidental Fart” – Lauren LaCourse


I think it’s high time we had a talk: the accidental fart talk.


About a week ago I was training at my academy Palm. My teammates and I partnered up for the sparring portion of class and, per usual, the high intensity rolling began. But it was during this fateful session of training that one of my teammates, in the silence of focused jiu jitsu practice, accidentally let one loose. Immediately after which, he proclaimed, “Oops! There it is!”


Naturally, because I have the humorous maturity of an 8-year old, I burst into laughter. And while my other teammates went about their sparring unfazed, I struggled to contain my giggles for the rest of the evening.


Now, as embarrassing as events like these are, they happen to everybody (except me, of course =D). Those on the receiving end of a blast of gas from their partner usually either stay mum about it, or, if they’re like me, proceed to laugh but graciously continue with what they were doing.


Unless you’re this poor bastard in the video below.



In any case, as I said before, it happens to everybody. But, in my infinite wealth of knowledge, I’ve decided to offer up a few tips for those looking to deflate the situation.


From my experience (limited, I swear), there are four basic ways to handle the ol’ duck call; prevention, intention, deflection, and acception (not a real word, but in the celebration of literary devices…).


PREVENTION: “The best offense is a good defense.”


Repeat after me:
I will not eat Taco Bell before training.
I will not eat Taco Bell before training.
I will not eat Taco Bell before training.




INTENTION: “I meant to do that.”


If you decide to go with intention, not only must you own up to your fanny frog, but you must pretend that it was intentional. Something along the lines of, “It’s the new way I’ve been getting people to tap to my triangle”, should do.


Note: there’s a good chance you’ll lose a lot of training partners using this method.


DEFLECTION: “Was that you, (insert innocent teammates name here)!?”


We’ve all done it. Farted and then blamed it on someone else. As the wise rapper Shaggy once said, “It wasn’t me!” And the same excuse can be used while rolling. Just be sure to stick to your guns on this one. Take that shit to the grave. But in case you were wondering, guilt really is a terrible burden to bear.


Another form of deflection includes the “pretend like it didn’t happen” approach. Neither of these methods is really believable though. We know someone drove by on a motor scooter and we’re pretty sure it was you.


ACCEPTION: “The high road.”


Own it. Own that unmuffled intestinal cry. It’s probably your best bet. And if you’re clever, like my teammate was that night, you’ll be able to add a humorous spin on it which, in a very weird way, makes the unplanned butt dumpling somewhat enjoyable for those who have a grade school level sense of humor like I do.


So I reiterate, accidental farts happen to everyone (EXCEPT ME!). It’s nothing to be ashamed of. And hopefully, with my intelligent guidance here, if the unfortunate occasion does arise, you’ll be able to handle that momentary cheek squeak like the champ you are.


This blog post was written by Lauren LaCourse

Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook Twitter: @LaurenLaCourse



A Kids Article On Training For Pan Kids Championships


I am Michael Garlington. I am 13 years old and am from Annapolis, Maryland, near the United States Naval Academy. I have grown up here my whole life. I have been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the past two and a half years. Currently I am a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Yellow Belt in the middle of training for the IBJJF Pan Kids tournament being held on February 15th, 2015 in California. My goal is to be someday become a BJJ world champion.


I used to play several different sports throughout the year like most kids. I played soccer, baseball, basketball, football, and Kung Fu. Even though I enjoyed playing those sports with all of my friends from school, my heart wasn’t all the way into any of them. One day my father and I accidently turned on the UFC channel and saw the one and only Rhonda Rousey break another girls arm. I turned to my dad and said, “I want to do that as a sport”. So he went out and found my academy.


After the first couple months of training I fell in love with the art of BJJ. Ever since, there is nothing I would rather be doing then training at the academy. Currently I train 6 days per week. From Monday through Saturday I am at the gym or at a competition. Two to three days per week I train with adults for more advanced technique and hardcore live rolling. Then the other two to three days per week I’m training with other kids which involves a lot more drilling and helping out other children.



(Michael winning gold at NAGA)


Four months into training BJJ and I wanted to join our competition team. After watching all the advanced kids competing and bringing home the gold I wanted to try it out. My first tournament I didn’t do so well but that just drove me to work harder and come back next time with the gold.


Currently I am the top kid in Maryland for my weight class. After 6 months of training I went out to my first Pan kids and got third. The year after that I got promoted to a higher belt rank which caused me to fight up at the next competition level for kids, and I lost in a nail biting match in the semifinals to achieve third once again.



To travel across the country to compete with kids all around the world can be very intimidating, but with the right amount of confidence and skill there is nothing that can stop me. Kids that I used to think were unstoppable, I am now beating! I have hit a win streak in my NAGA competition career which has given me a new found confidence! My confidence is helping me to compete and win. With this attitude I just know I can come back from Pan Kids this year with the gold medal!



(Michael cleaning up the mats)


Next year I will be trying to get into Dematha high school because it is a school with a great wrestling program which will help me also with my Jiu Jitsu career.


This Jiu Jitsu career of mine was not accomplished by myself. I owe my success to my instructors, my parents, and my training partners. I could not have had these successes without Mr. and Mrs. Ives, the owners of Ivey League Mixed Martial Arts. I didn’t think it was possible to have such great instructors and mentors. In addition to great instruction I also have amazing training partners. You can’t get better at something if there is no one to push you and make you better, and at my academy that’s what all of my training partners do. Finally I have to thank my parents. They have spent so much time driving me to tournaments and practices, and their support is what gives me my biggest confidence boost.



Check out his local paper’s write up about BJJ Youth Fighter Michael Garlington and their family’s battle with autism.


If you want to help this future champion get to the tournament and win the gold please click here.




[UPDATE: 2/15/2015 – He won! Thank you everyone who gave their support!]




Testosterone, Steroids, MMA And Brazilian Jiu Jitsu




We have all heard the stories of BJJ and MMA fighters, both male and female, getting busted using steroids. Sometimes we are surprised and other times not so much. Why do these athletes feel compelled to take performance enhancing drugs? The answer is testosterone.


Testosterone injections can make male rats more aggressive in marking their territories, cause castrated red deer to grow antlers, and induce female rhesus monkeys to screech like males.



To put it simply, some athletes believe that taking synthetic anabolic steroids will propel them to the next level. The hope is for stronger muscles, increased aggression and faster recovery times.


In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu we are taught to focus on technique rather than strength, and leverage rather than force. However some athletes at high levels of competition feel that technique becomes relatively equal on the mats and in the cage, therefore strength and athleticism become important again. It is one thing to beat an athletic, unskilled fighter with technique and leverage. That changes completely once both competitors are the same size and generally drink from the same pool of knowledge. 


The question for these athletes than becomes, to cheat? or not to cheat?


Both men and women produce testosterone naturally, but under normal conditions women only possess about 10% of what males have.


In my researching of this article I found that, ironically enough, studies are now showing that men having low levels of testosterone can be a tremendous health risk. If testosterone levels decline, various symptoms may arise. Men may experience fatigue, weight gain, loss of libido, decreased mental sharpness, loss of motivation, mood swings or irritability and declining muscle mass. Research has linked declining testosterone values to several chronic diseases and risk factors, including heart disease and vascular disease. Lower testosterone also correlates with worsening blood sugar levels in diabetics and decreased heart strength. Other studies have shown worse heart function in men with lower free testosterone levels. Finally, there is an overall increased mortality rate among men with lower testosterone values. One study has even shown that certain men with lower testosterone levels may be at risk for more aggressive prostate cancer than those with higher testosterone levels. [Source]


These health issues will certainly degrade and lessen one’s abilities to perform well at Jiu Jitsu and MMA.


READ ALSO: Ways That Jiu Jitsu Brings Family Closer Together


What are the risks involved with taking synthetic steroids or PEDs? Men may develop prominent breasts, shrunken testicles, prostate gland enlargement, infertility and impotence. Women may develop a deeper voice, an enlarged clitoris, increased body hair, infrequent and/or absent periods. Both men and women may experience baldness, severe acne, liver abnormalities, increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), high blood pressure, heart and circulatory problems, rage, violence, depression, and drug dependence. Use among teenagers can inhibit future growth. [Source]


[WARNING] The video below is graphic and disturbing but it shows how harmful steroids can be.



It is clear from research that steroid and PED abuse can lead to a host of other problems. It is also clear that having low testosterone can pose significant health risks. The bottom line is talk to your doctor and have your levels checked regularly. There is a ton of information, articles and other blogs out there about steroids and testosterone in BJJ and MMA. This article is simply my non-expert opinion on the matter. WBBJJ.com doesn’t condone any illegal activity whatsoever, especially black market injectable drugs.


Are there ways to boost your testosterone naturally? The answer is yes! I suggest checking out this great article from a fellow BJJ practitioner to see how.


Also get the truth about over-the-counter testosterone boosters here.


How to get DQ’d in BJJ: Bicep Slices, Heel Hooks, Slams & Stalling




[NOT FOR THE FEINT OF HEART] Some white belts and even higher belts go into Jiu Jitsu competition not fully aware of the rules of the game. If you are competing in the IBJJF or an organization that uses their rules, it can prove to be quite exhausting learning every nuanced detail. That being said, you should at least start out by knowing how you can be disqualified in competition. Learning the most egregious errors of our game is important for your safety, and the safety of your opponent.


These videos show the consequences that occur when people utilize maneuvers that are not allowed. Great job Hello Japan for putting these together!




Below is the IBJJF Table of technical fouls and illegal moves.




10 Good BJJ Habits For White Belts To Form In 2015




Good BJJ Habits For White Belts To Form In 2015



1) Show up on time.


You should always make it a point to be on time to Jiu Jitsu, if not early. Your coach makes it a point to be on time. All of the other students are there on time as well. It is disruptive to others to show up late and you might miss out on a key detail that could change your entire game! You are paying so why not maximize the return on your investment! The person you are not paying is the drilling partner who has to catch you up mid-class. Everyone is late sometimes, but you shouldn’t make it habitual.


Showing up early also allows you time to stretch before warming up. You would be surprised how many injuries can be prevented simply by stretching your muscles before practice.


2) Eat healthier.


You are what you eat! Eating the proper foods at the proper times will give you the energy needed to power through the most grueling of training sessions. Proper eating habits will also boost your recovery times so that you can get back to the training room and feeling great as soon as possible. I could write out a proper diet here for you, but you already know what is good for you and what isn’t. Check out this article from Grapplearts.com to help get you going in the right direction.


3) Try No-Gi.


Throw on your wildest spats and your zaniest rashguard and hit the mats like a fricken superhero! Everyone is slipping and sliding. There aren’t nearly as many grips to be had. Stalling is limited. What happens is that you end up improving your Gi Jiu Jitsu because you are forced to look at your grappling through the lens of a varying mechanical movement structure. Situations progress differently in No-Gi. The knowledge of which is well worth having in your repetoire. Give it a try in 2015 if you haven’t already (If you feel strange in spats, you can keep your Gi pants on like Eddie Bravo does).


4) Wash your belt.


My anti-hate shield is up and armed. So fire away you superstitious cretins who think you will experience a loss of power by washing the piece of cloth that keeps your Gi closed. Think about it logically. You wash your Gi right? Imagine the mojo that you wash away every time you wash your Gi! The resulting mojo loss is staggering compared to what is retained in your dirty belt. If you believe in the force you understand that it comes from a source. That source loves cleanliness, trust me.


If you heed my advice and wash your belt, and your Jiu Jitsu is weakened, send me your belt and I will perform some other ritual for you that will re-infuse your belt back with the power of the gods. In the mean time stay away from black cats and walking under ladders.


5) Try some form of cross training.


There are lots of extracurricular activities that you can do in your spare time that can greatly improve your BJJ; weight-training for strength, yoga for flexibility and relaxation, kettle bells, stability ball drilling. Find something that is fun for you and do it with the intention of improving your Jiu Jitsu. It is easier to to practice different disciplines when you are married unto the BJJ lifestyle. You are never cheating, you are always enhancing.


6) Take a private lesson.


There is no better way to pick a coach or instructor’s mind, or improve faster, than with direct private lessons. It takes a level of confidence to speak out in the middle of BJJ class to ask for clarification. I imagine that every single one of us at some point has had a question that we didn’t ask out of fear of disrupting the class or being put on the spot. Private lessons eliminate this and allow you the opportunity to get very specific in terms of improving your BJJ. You can make note of your most difficult situations do deal with, and have your coach focus primarily on that. With private lessons you learn what you want to learn.


7) Attend a seminar.


If it is at your school or another school, attend a seminar! They are great fun and it gives you an opportunity to meet new BJJ friends and connections! Many of the people who have helped to expand Brazilian Jiu Jitsu throughout the world regularly come to your town! What other sport allows you to train with it’s legends and superstars the way ours does? Very few. The wealth of knowledge that can be gained from a seminar far outweighs the minimal cost. That minimal cost also serves to keep academies open, and legendary teachers eating.


8) Visit another school.


Schools have open mats for a reason! Take advantage of them. You can learn some new techniques and perspectives. You can have a competitive roll with people that you haven’t rolled with before but the added tension of competing is not present. Visiting another school, more times than not, will make you appreciate your school (and instructors) even more!


9) Learn to relax more.


Do people always tag you in any post that involves being a spaz? Are you fearful of being submitted under any circumstance? That is all fine and well but know that there is something to be learned from being able to relax on the mats. The best explanation I have ever heard about relaxing and thinking on the mats is this one here by Ryron Gracie.



10) Compete at least once.


Competing one time is as valuable as months of training at the academy. There is something to be gained from preparing for competition. The tension that you feel and conquer during the buildup is worth it alone. You suddenly find yourself eating better and hanging out at the academy more. You find yourself growing closer to the other folks who compete at your academy. Your coaches work closely with you helping you improve in the areas that they see you needing work. On competition day, you find out truly where you stand at your level. You will medal, or you will not. For sure though, you will have learned many valuable lessons, and had the greatest time of your life.


More than likely you already adhere to the principled good habits above. If that is the case than great! You will be sure to have a successful year practicing our favorite sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!


As always thanks for reading!



Ways That Jiu Jitsu Brings Family Closer Together


Ways That Jiu Jitsu Brings Family Closer Together


Anyone alive today will tell you that there seems to be a pronounced decline in family cohesiveness and togetherness. This is not my personal opinion (because I have not been alive long enough to see the progression take place) however it doesn’t take more than a short stroll through the history books and TV media to see that the family unit is indeed becoming further and further separated. Volumes of research have been produced on the topic and there are statistical warehouses of data that can be examined for exact numerical figures.




For this article though I would like to primarily focus on how Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brings families together. Throughout this past year tons of parents have sent in their pictures, videos and stories of how they are enjoying their BJJ Journey with their children and loved ones. After having received so many fan and follower submissions I began thinking about Jiu Jitsu and the familial bond, and this is what I have come up with.


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is primarily for self-defense, but it is also a game and a sport. Parents want their children to be safe and to be able to defend themselves. Children want these same things, but they want to play games and enjoy sports as well. Jiu Jitsu satisfies all of these needs in one fell swoop. Boys, girls, men and women can all benefit from and be successful with BJJ, and all of these rival factions can compete against each other. This is one of the main factors influencing BJJ and familial togetherness, is the fact that they can do it together, and yet against each other. Life is full of ironies.



(Dad enjoying last roll with his son as a white belt)


Sometimes a parent will take their child to Jiu Jitsu for such a long time that their own curiosities are awakened. Perhaps they decide they would like to be a more knowledgeable coach for their child. Perhaps they want to make sure that their child doesn’t become physically able to discipline them, instead of the other way around. “No Dad. I was telling you that I am borrowing the car, not asking.” Conversely on other occasions, the child may come to watch Dad or Mom do BJJ, and then they become curious and interested. The bottom line is, it’s hard to watch a room full of people doing Jiu Jitsu, without eventually wanting to try it out for yourself.



(Mom and daughter BJJ team)


Now that the family is doing Jiu Jitsu together, there is always something to talk about! There is always something to relate to. It is never a drag to go on vacations together because vacations usually revolve around BJJ tournaments!


The same holds true for BJJ couples. Inevitably your Jiu Jitsu practicing mate is going to insist that they try out a move on you. You realize that if you don’t learn to love this martial art, your relationship with this person is probably doomed because of their obsession. Every time you go to hug your boyfriend or girlfriend, they will be vying for double underhooks or some strange sequence of positioning that you do not understand. Sometimes they may even inadvertently go for the submission win and eventually you will find yourself saying, “I should really learn how to defend that.”



(First father/son blue belts at my academy)


The family that does Jiu Jitsu together, stays together. They enjoy their time together. They share a vast amount of commonalities. Everyone eats healthy, lives a healthy lifestyle and lives happily ever after.


What do you think? Do you know of any families like the Gracie Family? Where practically everyone does Jiu Jitsu?


Check out some more pictures that we have been sent below!



(Daniel V. and 10 year old daughter’s white belts)



(Coach “PA” George McGinnis and son)



(Brent A. with his daughter, son and Relson Gracie)