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Rafaela Rosa, Leading By Example

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The dynamics of what makes a jiu-jitsu athlete a global star are not completely clear, but what appears to be undeniable at this moment is that this social phenomenon is seldomly just down to hard work or tournament results, and more to do with social media presence or who influencers chose to promote. If it were down to hard work, very few colored belt athletes in jiu-jitsu would be more revered than Rafaela Rosa.

A chief team coordinator in one of Portugal’s foremost neurologic clinics for senior citizens, Rafaela deals with severe cases of Parkinson, Alzheimer, and other brain disorders while finding time to train jiu-jitsu every day, often twice per day by coming to class on her lunch break for a few rolls before going back to work, only to return to the gym again for the night training… Oh, and she also teaches a kickass all-female class.

Amidst this hectic schedule, Rafaela Rosa has found the time to become one of the most accomplished brown belts on the world jiu-jitsu circuit, holding the 2021 IBJJF brown belt World title, as well as a silver medal at the AJP World Pro. This, in addition to 3 European titles (1 bronze), and numerous IBJJF Opens and National titles while holding wins over big names of the sport such as Amal Amjahid, Brianna Ste. Marie, Rose El Sharouni, Karen Terra, to name a few.

 

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A post shared by Rafaela Rosa (@rafaelarosa_bjj)

Rafaela’s first competitive experience was in swimming, a sport she played competitively during her teens for the well-respected Física team in Torres Vedras, the town where she was born. Rosa was a Breaststroke specialist, conquering 2 regional titles during this period and qualifying for the nationals, but as she reached her late teens Rafaela opted to pursue her academic studies and abandoned the sporting lifestyle altogether.

Life eventually led Rafaela to Hugo Miranda, also known as “Sabugo”. Even though Hugo was an avid jiu-jitsu practitioner who ran a small jiu-jitsu workgroup in their hometown at the time, Rosa did not show any interest in the sport, whatsoever, up until the couple’s 7-year anniversary. When she did, back in 2015, Rosa quickly became obsessed with grappling, competing for the first time 6 months into her training.

Guided by Hugo Miranda, Rafaela started making her mark in the sport with sequential National and European titles as well as a silver medal at the World Championships while climbing the colored belt ranks. Interestingly, Rosa has not been the only success story out of coach Miranda’s talent stable in Torres Vedras, a small town located in the Portuguese countryside in the South of Europe. Sabugo has counted plenty of achievements for himself and his students over the years with many national & European champions and medalists, but Rafaela is undoubtedly the star of Sabugo’s trained killer fleet.

Living a fast-paced fulfilling life is not often conducive to a strong social media presence, and it appears as if Rafaela has been a victim of just that. Despite her many sporting achievements and unique life, she is still an unfamiliar face to most who follow the sport. Hopefully, time and continued success may change that.

More recently, since the appearance of Checkmat Team leader and 9x world champion Ricardo Vieira in Portugal, both Hugo, and Rafaela have been making regular trips to the Brazilian’s training room – Fightzone – in Estoril. A great addition to the already vast experience of both athletes, which we expect will result in many more medals in the near future.

Throughout her career, Rafaela Rosa has truly embodied everything that should be praised in modern society, someone who values her fellow humans through the life changing work at CNS (neurologic campus), while also being a true example of how far you can get with hard work and a positive mindset in a demanding sport such as jiu-jitsu, an exemplary figure for the younger and current generations.

Main Achievements of Rafaela Rosa thus far:

2021 Medal Tally
– 1st Place IBJJF World Championship, adult brown belt 53kg
– 2nd Place AJP Abu Dhabi World Pro, Master 1 black + brown belt 55kg
– Quarter-Finals AJP Abu Dhabi World Pro, adult black + brown belt 55kg
– 1st Place AJP Portugal National Pro, adult brown belt 55kg
– 1st Place AJP France National Pro, adult brown belt 55kg

2020 Medal Tally
– 3rd Place IBJJF European Open. adult purple belt 58kg

2019 Medal Tally
– 1st Place IBJJF Portugal National, adult purple belt 58kg
– 1st Place IBJJF Portugal National, adult purple belt ABS
– 1st Place IBJJF Paris Fall Open, adult purple belt 58kg
– 1st Place IBJJF Rome Open, adult purple belt 58kg
– 1st Place IBJJF Rome Open, adult purple belt ABS
– 1st Place IBJJF London Fall Open, adult purple belt 58kg
– 1st Place IBJJF London Fall Open, adult purple belt ABS
– 1st Place IBJJF Geneve Open, adult purple belt ABS

2018 Medal Tally
– 1st Place IBJJF European Open, adult blue belt 58kg
– 2nd Place IBJJF World Championship, adult blue belt 58kg
– 1st Place IBJJF Portugal National, adult purple belt 58kg
– 1st Place IBJJF Portugal National, adult purple belt ABS
– 1st Place IBJJF London Winter Open, adult purple belt 58kg
– 1st Place IBJJF Paris Fall Open, adult purple belt 58kg
– 1st Place IBJJF Paris Fall Open, adult purple belt ABS
– 1st Place IBJJF Madrid Open, adult purple belt 58kg
– 1st Place IBJJF Madrid Open, adult purple belt ABS
– 1st Place IBJJF Lisbon Open, adult purple belt 58kg
– 1st Place IBJJF Lisbon Open, adult purple belt ABS

2017 Medal Tally
– 1st Place IBJJF European Open, adult blue belt 58kg
– 1st Place Buffalo Cup, adult blue belt 58kg

2016 Medal Tally
– 1st Place IBJJF European Open, adult white belt 58kg

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