Felipe Giarolla: 'I have always walked with my own legs.'

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The new roosterweight purple weight Brazilian Champion, Felipe Giarolla, talks about how he started training jiu jitsu in Minas Gerais in Brazil and his training at Marcelo Garcia, in New York 4 months per year.

I live in a poor neighborhood in Minas Gerais (Varginha). In 2007, I was 14. I was a kid who wouldn't get off the street. I would stay all day flying kites, play soccer and riding my bicycle. It was school holidays when a friend asked me to try a jiu jitsu lesson in a social project of Professor Erik Cardoso. The first time I said: ''No, I don't wanna be grabbing men'' ... On the second day, my friend called me again and so I decided to go see what it was.

"On the 3rd day, I have I managed to swap some PlayStation CD's for a Gi with a boy on my street."

I fell in love with the art. On the 3rd day, I have I managed to swap some CD's of PlayStation for a Gi with a boy on my street.And since 2007, never stopped doing jiu jitsu.
With roughly seven months of training, my teacher saw that I had talent, and he made the proposal to train me beyond the project time, so I did not think twice to say yes. He would make me come two hours early every day to teach me.
In less than one year, I competed and won regional championships. At 15 years old, I've been champion at white belt of the South American, Brazilian and Paulista CBJJE championships.  Still in the juvenile division, I got the blue belt. I competed and won the Worlds CBJJE.

"I have always walked with my own legs."

I've always had difficulties, my family never was able to help me much, so I have always given my way, ask for help from house to house in my neighborhood. In school, I would do raffles, sell my stuff... I have always walked with my own legs.
With 17 years Master Rezende Filho, Pocos de Caldas, MG, called me to live and train with him on a project called "House of the Athlete" project where even Marcelo Garcia and Reinaldo Ribeiro had come from. I accepted the invitation and stayed 3 years training 4x per day. I went through a lot of difficulties, a lot of pressure since I graduated from school and I didn't want to go to college ... just do jiu jitsu. Many days I did not eat right, but I was always persistent. never gave up on my dreams. Not only me but the other boys at the House of the Athlete as well.
I lived with my friend, who became my brother, Matheus Diniz, who was from the same city as Marcelo and I always had his support.
In 2010, Matheus called me to try to compete at Mundial in the U.S., so we both applied for a visa. Mine was denied, but Matheus's not .Then he spent six months in the U.S. and in a way opened the door for me. In 2011, I tried one more time and got the visa, Matheus presented me with the people of the academy in the U.S. who "adopted" me. He gave me full support to stay there. I spent there six months, and I asked Marcelo for a scolarship to train at his academy during the time I was in New York. He supported me and I spent six months training with him.

The training at Marcelo Garcia is excellent! Both the elementary and the advanced class. Marcelo shows techniques everyday and we do a lot of drilling. There is no easy training, everyone goes hard. Really, I train much harder there than in Brazil. The guys are always competing and the level is only rising. I roll with and without Gi. He even told me that I needed to be complete in both. There, I train with Matheus Diniz, Jonathan Stava, Giani Grippo, Munch Khera ... among others.
Today I'm 20, and I'm going for the second time to the U.S. to compete at the Worlds. I do nothing but train jiu jitsu. I go through many difficulties everyday, but I never give up. I still want to succeed in life and help the people I love.