Angelica Galvao

Angelica Galvao competing
Photo by @atosjiujitsuhq
See her IG
Interview by Women Who Fight
November 2018

Angelica Galvao is a leading competitor on the BJJ scene. Mother, wife and Athlete, she is a wonderful role model with a strong belief in hard work with the experience of winning several tournaments, most recently becoming a UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Pro Champion (2018).


How did you start training BJJ?

I started training BJJ because of friends. I was born and raised in a small beach town where we didn’t have many options as far of things to do. My friends were always saying how cool it was and I decided to give a try. But the first time I watched Jiu Jitsu was during a tournament in my town, and it was also the first time I saw Andre, he was a blue belt at that time. We didn’t get to meet each other but I remember people talking about him and stopping to watch his matches already. What called my attention the most that day was the fact that the person on bottom could still attack and win with techniques.


Tell us about any injuries you have had. How did it happen and how did it make you feel?

Well, I have had many injuries. Some have healed, but some will be with me along as I live.

I have fractured my right arm, dislocated my left one. I had to have an ACL reconstruction on my right knee and I also have a herniated disc on my neck. Injuries are hard, both mentally and physically. For an athlete, it can destroy our identity because it can keep us always from doing what we do best. But at the same time, it’s also part of the athlete’s path and there is nothing we can do but keep the discipline to heal and treat it well. Training for performance is different than training and living the BJJ lifestyle. Performance pushes you to break your limits, to train when you don’t want to. The intensity of training is high, and so are the chances you can get hurt.


Tell us about your road to recovery, mentally and physically. Is there any advice you would give to someone in the same position now?

Trying to keep myself busy was the best thing. Using that time to evaluate my life, work in the areas I needed to work, finding balance in life. My knee surgery was the hardest one, especially because I had decided to give myself that year as my last season. I began to spend more quality time with my daughter, which made me realize how much time I had lost with her. I learned that being productive is not doing one thing all day long, but having the ability of balance and execute the many roles that we (women) have in our daily routine.

World Pro Champion Angelica Galvao UAEJJF
Photo by @flograppling
Galvao family in gi
Photo by @angelicagalvao

What does your daily routine look like? And how often do you train?

At the moment, since I’m not planning to compete anytime soon, I train at least 3 times a week and also lift weights 3 times a week.

I work on the office everyday at Atos HQ, teach 2 times a week, on top of being a wife, mom, housewife.


How did you train through pregnancy? What alterations did you make and how did your expectations change?

I did not train BJJ during my pregnancy. I would do activities in the water (to prevent impact), stretching, cardio on the treadmill. Nothing very hard or heavy. I was very young, at 19 years old I didn’t know much about what to expect. It was a big change in my life, but I would not change it for anything in this world. Sarah is a blessing. Today, I’m 32 and she is 12, we enjoy doing things together, our relationship is great. I feel very well accomplished in life.

How soon after having the baby did you start training jiu-jitsu again? How had things changed?

I tried to get back on the mats after the 3rd month but I could not keep up with consistency. I felt that I was also disturbing Andre’s training. We didn’t have other resources as a family, so I knew that Andre’s performance was the only way to bring food to our table. Then I just quit it and start to lift every morning around 5:30 am because it was the only time I had both, husband and daughter sleeping. I began to lift and haven’t stopped since then, I did miss Jiu Jitsu but I’m sure that the time I spent lifting helped today on my BJJ career.

Andre and Angelica Galvao
Photo by @maedabrand

There are expectations of mothers having to sacrifice their careers when they have children. Did you feel supported in your community/family to continue training? What advice would you give to those mothers who gave up training and are apprehensive to begin again?

Andre has a huge part in everything I am today. He always challenges me and encourages me telling me that I am capable of. If wasn’t for him I would probably just stay at home taking care of my house and family. My advice is that you must surround yourself of people who really care and support you. Train in a safe environment. It is not about showing up for training, is about belonging to that place, having commitment with yourself and that place.


How do you feel before a competition? And what do you normally do to prepare/the week before? and on the day itself?

I feel nervous, everyone does. The difference that we learn through experience is the way we handle it. I like to rest the 4 days prior the event. Watch movies and constantly picturing myself as victorious. It is a reflection of my training, so on the competition day you just need to be confident and bold. Everything else has been worked during the training camp.

Angelica Galvao by @wartribegear
Photo by @scorsato

Any tips for the women who aspire to have similar success?

Nothing beats hard work. Hard work is NEVER in vain. And it is applied for everything in life.

Find a thing you have passion about and invest in it. Your priority will define the way you live, what time you get up, what time you go bed, what kind food you eat, the people you hang out with.

I usually need a day or two out of the mats. I can still lift or train a little, but I just don’t feel comfortable on the mats.

I don’t have any plans for competition in the near future, but I enjoy training, keep learning and evolving. My plan is to continue the work to maintain my team as the best team in the world. Helping others to achieve their dreams.

Angelica Galvao during a strength and conditioning session
Photo by @electrum_performance

Talk to us about a competition that did not go the way you wanted and what did you do after to feel better?

Things don’t go our way all the time. Along as you know you did your best, you should not be hard on yourself. You will be upset, that is totally normal. But nothing changes. Winning or losing you have to go next day top the gym and continue the endless process of evolving in Jiu Jitsu.

Angelica Galvao winning UAEJJF & IBJJF competitions