It’s really a pleasure to be here with you at BJJ Summer Week 2018. Please tell us more about yourself?
I’m Michelle Nicolini and I am 36 years old and I’m from Itu. I’ve been training Jiu-Jitsu since I was 17 years old. I started Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil. I didn’t know what it was but a friend told me to try one class. They invited a girl with me, and since that day, I haven’t stopped.
Being in good shape is critical for any BJJ Athlete do you have any advice to our readers about diets? Do you have a special diet?
I am very disciplined about that. It’s something I take very seriously. I can’t say that it’s a sacrifice, but I eat in a healthy way. I decided not to eat many things, such as chocolate or anything with cocoa. I don’t eat fried stuff, sweets, sodas, and bread. I try to avoid sugar and white flour. But if I want ice cream, I can have it, I’m not that crazy! I think that you need to find a balance in your life and eat what you like. But, of course, try to eat as healthy as possible. There is a lot of info on the internet or you can simply ask your doctor what is the best diet for you. In my opinion, you have to choose the proper diet for you, it’s not the same for everybody.
Who influenced you the most during your career? Who do you love to train the most with?
The person who influenced me the most was Robert Drysdale, the guy who was my coach from my white belt to my 1st
-degree black belt. I think that I am who I am today because of him. I want to be the same athlete as he was. He was very disciplined with the way he competed and I think he was my biggest inspiration. I also like to watch other names, like my head coach Leonardo Vieira and Romulo Barral. They have all helped me in a certain way to develop my game in Jiu-Jitsu.
You are known for having one of the best guards and shin-to-shin techniques in the world. Can you give us some insides?
Shin-to-shin is something many people talk and ask me about. I don’t know exactly how and if I created the shin-to-shin, but when I started to do it, I felt it was very helpful. I was a purple belt and I started to do more of it against the big people with whom I used to train. I think it’s because I use it all the time in competitions when I sense weakness.
What do you think about leg attacks in BJJ nowadays?
I love leg attacks! I think that when I was living in the US and then moved back to Brazil in 2009, I started training under Rodrigo Cavaca. I left Drysdale in the US and I started training again with Checkmat and went to Rodrigo Cavaca. Even the yellow belts, little boys were doing leg attacks and I started to pay more attention to that. Now, I love it! I have two or three favorites and I use them a lot in the competitions. If you know that details of the attacks, it’s easy not complicated.
What are your future plans, because you have basically won every major event in BJJ?
In 2016, I retired from BJJ competitions. Since then, I don’t compete anymore. I sometimes do some no GI competitions because if I don’t have an MMA fight, I have time to choose some of the tournaments. I found something that is more challenging for me, the MMA. I am very happy with the progress of my career and at this new sport, everything is new for me. Of course, Jiu-Jitsu helped me a lot, but my focus now is the MMA. I think I will fight again in November this year and that’s my plan for the rest of the year.
You are traveling a lot. Do you have any favorite place? For vacation and Jiu-Jitsu?
I’ve been traveling a lot since 2009 when I started to do seminars. So, what I do is I live in Brazil where I moved back last November. I’m training in São Paulo at Demian Maia’s place. I travel after my fights for seminars or holidays. I have many favorite places, and of them is definitely Cagliari. I like small cities, and since I first came here a few months ago, I realized that this is going to be a very nice place for a holiday. For training, my favorite place is London, at London Fight Factory. I also like to train in California in Long Beach with our head coach Leo Vieira or with my good friend in Phoenix, Arizona. But, I love Australia and all the places where I have been. I am so lucky I can travel with Jiu-Jitsu and get to know many beautiful countries and cities.
What do you do in your free time when you are outside the mat? Do have any hobbies outside Jiu-Jitsu?
I am either all day at the gym or traveling. In my free time, I try to be with my family, my dad, my mum, my sisters, my niece, and my two lovely dogs. I miss my dogs a lot when I travel. So, I try to spend most of my free time at my parents’ home in Brazil. I like cycling and going to the beach. I enjoy my free time because I rarely have it. If I am training for a fight, I train hard for two months with no break. I get crazy when I have a fight.
Do you have any advice for our readers? Any tip that can help people on the mat or real life.
My advice for people who start Jiu-Jitsu or any other martial art is to know that it’s not only a sport. It’s a lifestyle and should be as your therapy. When you are preparing to go training and sometimes you don’t feel well or are having a stressful day, but as soon as you put your GI on and step on the mat, your day will become better. Follow the concepts of martial arts which is not like one more sport where you go to win or lose. You learn, have fun, meet people with the same thoughts. Take Jiu-Jitsu as a lifestyle, not only as a new sport in your life. I hope you’ll find a good place and a good teacher whom you trust and stay around good people.