Julia Alves 2023 Worlds Q&A
The GF Team lightweight makes her black belt Worlds debut on June 3rd.
Julia Alves won gold at the 2022 World Championships as a brown belt and was promoted by Julio Cesar of GF Team on the podium. The first place finish capped off an excellent career in the colored belts, where Julia won gold at the Worlds, Pans, and Brazilian Nationals. Since her promotion, Julia has competed in two IBJJF events, winning lightweight gold at the Rio Winter Open in 2022 and at the 2023 Rio Fall Open. Now, she’s ready to take on the lightweight division at the 2023 Worlds as a black belt, a division that has historically always been one of the toughest and most competitive. In this Q&A, Julia shares her thoughts on her start in jiu-jitsu, her career in the colored belts, her goals as a black belt, and much more.
How did you first got started in jiu-jitsu?
“I started jiu-jitsu at the age of 13 in a social project that was located in the same neighborhood where I lived. I started on my own initiative, as I was a very active child and did not like to sit still.”
What has it been like training with GF Team? Who are some GF Team athletes you look up to who have helped guide you through your career?
“I've been part of GF Team team since I was 15 years old, but I started training at Matriz, directly with Mestre Júlio Cesar when I was 18 years old. I admire many athletes there, especially those around me, training with me daily, adding to my growth and pushing me forward. The woman I most admire but who is no longer part of the team today is Mayssa Bastos. I always saw her working hard towards her goals, training jiu-jitsu and always looking for perfection. In addition, she was also a person who always saw potential in me and motivated me through words and actions. I spent some time with several athletes during a camp: Thamires Aquino, Amanda Monteiro, Israel Sousa. All of them also contributed at that time. I admire my master a lot too. His whole way of working and leading the team enchants everyone, as he treats everyone equally. Many other athletes are also part of my journey. I'm very observant and many times I learned just by looking at the way the person behaved and looked for professionalism on the mat.”
Throughout the colored belts you won many major titles like the Worlds, Pans, and Brasileiros. What were some of your favorite competition memories from the colored belts?
“I really like the feeling I get when I remember my 2019 Pan title. I had just moved up to the adult ranks and I knew that this championship would show myself that I was on the right path. I had six fights in the division that day. I fought really well and I could see that everything I was doing was leading me to the path I wanted. I also remember the World Championship I competed in that same year. I was feeling very good and confident, but I ended up losing in the third fight and that made me very sad at the time. However, after spending a few days I could see that it should be used as motivation, and that's what I did. I worked even harder so that I could continue to evolve and conquer my space.”
In 2022 you won the Worlds as a brown belt and you were then promoted to black belt. Can you describe what that day meant to you as a competitor?
“Last year's World Championships were very important. In the previous year I had lost in the semi-final and that hurt a lot, because I know how much I dedicate myself. Mestre Júlio wanted to promote me to black belt, even after my defeat, but I asked him not to, because I wanted to be World brown belt champion. So in 2022 I arrived willing to give more than necessary and I had an incredible performance: four fights in the division and three submissions, in addition to having three more in the absolute. After that I was promoted to black belt. I was very happy, for many reasons, but the main one was for not giving up. I went through the hard way. I went against everything and everyone that put me off and I got it, exactly the way I planned.”
You’ll make your black belt Worlds debut this year in the lightweight division. Last year Ffion won lightweight gold and this year Luiza has dominated the division. What are your thoughts on matches with girls like Ffion, Luiza, Nathalie, and Janaina?
“They are extremely technical girls, physically prepared and experienced. I have to enter cold and attentive, knowing that any margin can be an opportunity for them. Despite the points they have in their favor, I believe I'm ready and I'll do my best, regardless of who my opponent is. I worked for nine years to get to this moment and now is the time to show it all.”
What are your goals as a black belt competitor?
“As a black belt I want to win all the biggest titles and break records. Next year I'm going to drop in category, actually that was my plan for the first year of black belt, but some things went out of plan and I had to postpone this project. I think about being an athlete as far as my body can handle and after that, continuing my legacy teaching and being able to direct people to conquer their space in jiu-jitsu.”
You can watch Julia Alves make her black belt Worlds debut on Saturday June 3rd. The event will lived streamed exclusively on flograppling.com.