Not many teams can claim to have developed the depth of talent produced by GF Team over the past decade. The squad’s first major player was Rodolfo Vieira, an athlete who broke out as the #1 heavyweight in the sport back in 2011, ten years ago. Vieira’s success put the spotlight on the rest of the team at an international level, who proved the Cachanga tree bore plenty more fruit in grapplers such as Ricardo Evangelista, Igor Silva, Italo Lins, Vinicius Marinho, to name a few.
Although that generation of athletes provided plenty of trophies for the Meyer, RJ, based team, placing the green, yellow, and blue shield on the map outside of Brazil, the squad soon showed its success was not just a generational fluke by pouring out another solid team of soldiers through Amanda Monteiro-Canuto, Gutemberg Pereira, Jaime Canuto, Victor Honório, Maurício Oliveira, Patrick Gaudio, Ana Carolina Vieira, etc.
As these competitors went on to become veterans themselves, the third cohort of outstanding talent is now emerging. With it, the Cachanga training system has undeniably proved to be one of the most reliable in the sport. Leading the way of this renewed squad are Israel Sousa, Pedro Alex, Wallace Santos, João Victor de Oliveira, Marcos Carrozzino, and Julia Alves – the subject of our article.
Currently still a brown belt, Alves is already regarded as a top-tier athlete in Brazil. Sadly, due to the scarce international opportunities during the current COVID19 restrictions, Júlia’s name is still relatively unknown to the American and European fans of the sport. That will very likely change as soon as normality is restored.
A good barometer into a young athlete’s future is how they handle pressure. We had a glimpse of that when Alves met 9x middleweight world champion, Bia Mesquita, at the black & brown belt mixed division of the AJP World Pro Brazilian Qualifiers this year (2021) in Abu Dhabi. Widely regarded as the most dominant female athlete in the sport, Mesquita ran through the qualifiers, submitting all her opponents in under a minute on her way to Júlia. The display of superiority did not phase GFT’s rising star as she went toe-to-toe with Bia, losing the match by 2 points (advantages) – one for a double guard pull and another for being forced to turtle from the guard. All in all, a truly impressive performance by Alves.
Alves vs Mesquita At World Pro Highlights:
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Mesquita and Alves met again at the final of AJP’s South America Continental Pro a few weeks after the World Pro. This time Júlia took Beatriz to the golden score overtime round, losing that one by 1 advantage point.
At 20 years of age, Júlia’s talent is, at this point, undeniable. Like so many of her predecessors, Alves started her jiu-jitsu career at a social project, a very common style of cooperative in Brazil where coaches from financially precarious areas teach children for free, hoping to keep these kids out of trouble while their parents work. Júlia was 13 when she joined Mike Souza’s classroom and immediately fell in love with this martial art.
Her dedication only increased when she came across the competitive side of jiu-jitsu: “When I did my first tournament, I felt like this is what I wanted to do for a living. With each competition, I applied myself more and as the results showed up, I knew I was on the right path“, Júlia explained to BJJ Heroes.
At the age of 17, Alves had her first shot at the IBJJF World Championship in California, and she didn’t miss it. Already training at GFT’s headquarters with Master Júlio César at the time, that gold medal only increased her self-belief.
Although successful on the mats, things didn’t exactly translate to financial stability. Jiu-jitsu is still a hard sport for someone trying to make a living, even more in the female division. “I did a few raffles and worked at my local town office to sustain my jiu-jitsu career“.
Today Alves is a full-time athlete, and her tournament results speak for themselves with gold medals at the IBJJF World and Pans titles, CBJJ’s Brazilian Nationals and Brazilian Team Nationals, the AJP Grand Slam Rio de Janeiro, to name a few. As aforementioned, the future is very bright at GF Team and Alves is on her way to becoming a fundamental piece of the team’s future endeavors.