The Dream Art project was founded in 2018 by Isaque Bahiense and has rapidly emerged as one of the top teams in jiu-jitsu. The idea was to provide up and coming jiu-jitsu athletes with all the resources they would need to become professionals, including facilities, medical support, English classes, and financial resources. Anna Rodrigues has been part of the team since its inception and has been one of the primary leaders of the group. In addition to her responsibilities as a team leader, Anna has also been in peak form as an athlete. She won her first black belt World title in December 2021 and followed it up with her second in June 2022. Now, she’ll be part of the inaugural IBJJF FloGrappling Female GP that goes down Friday August 12th in Austin, Texas. We caught up with Anna to get her take on the growth of female jiu-jitsu, the female GP, and her advice to the new generation of jiu-jitsu competitors.
Growth of Female Jiu-Jitsu
Over the last decade jiu-jitsu has grown tremendously all over the world among men, women, and kids. Anna started training at a time when jiu-jitsu was growing rapidly and has seen many changes throughout her years in the sport. “As I graduated through the belts things changed. When I reached the black belt I had the pleasure of being part of the best phase of women to date, and we can still do much more. Every year that goes by we have shown an incredible level of technique and the whole world needs to know that. Not to mention that it is not devaluing one to value the other, but making both grow in a way that is good for everyone. If we grow the sport grows too!”
Inaugural Female Grand Prix
On Friday August 12th Anna will be part of the inaugural female GP. Her results in the past year have been nothing short of incredible. “2022 has been great! Not only for solidifying my career but also for the sequence of challenges that I put myself to the test and went through all of them.” Those challenges included winning European, Pan, and World titles, and now the GP. “It means a lot to me to participate in the first female GP in history. I'm so young and with many good opportunities at hand, the GP has always been greatly encouraged by women. For me to be there is to represent them in the best possible way.”
Anna’s opponents in the GP include Bianca Basilio, Ffion Davies, and Nathalie Ribeiro. Although she’ll be the lightest competitor in the bracket as a natural light-featherweight, Anna is still confident she can impose her game. “I always feel very good against anyone. I know they are amazing women, but I know I always do a great job. When I dedicate myself to doing something I don't do it for fun, I do it because I'm someone extremely competent with my dreams. I have a month to prepare for the GP and gain 10kg. I am lighter and younger. This is challenging and my mind loves a challenge.”
While all her opponents will provide a worthy challenge, Anna has one opponent in particular she’d like to test herself against. “I've always wanted to challenge myself against Ffion! If possible in the first round. I think she is an incredible opponent. She will help me to evolve a lot. I intend to gain 10kg and find a good game to fight with that weight!”
Advice for the New Generation
With the growth of jiu-jitsu has come a new generation of competitors that look up to the current leaders in the sport. As a multiple-time World Champion and coach at Dream Art, younger competitors often look to Anna for advice. “I say to the younger girls who train with me, because you are a woman it will never be easier, it will always be more difficult. But we can never be victims of the world. We need to fight more and more for our space and our opportunities. Opportunity is not charity. It's only won with a lot of hard work!" In addition to working hard to achieve individual goals, Anna also believes in supporting all women in the sport. “I would like all women to support each other. We fought hard for this GP to happen, and now we need to value it together.”
Be sure to catch Anna and the rest of the world-class competitors at the IBJJF FloGrappling GP on Friday August 12th, only on FloGrappling.com.