Interview With Sophia Nordenö

Sophia Nordenö is a brown belt under Pedro Duarte and Åke Zaar, and she’s been training under team Hilti in Sweden. During her time in the U.S, she is training and representing Barum Jiu-Jitsu in San Diego.

Sophia is a big fan of no-gi and won the European trials for ADCC in 2015 in. She was also FILA champion No-Gi in 2013, winner of World Combat Games the same year (with gi) and Swedish champion in BJJ and SW 2013 and 2014.
Her latest achievement: bringing home the victory for one of the first and only professional women’s only jiu-jitsu competition who was organized by GrappleTV.

The cash prize at Kumite of $1,000.00 is the second best paid event after ADCC.

Sophia went to San Diego the first time two years ago, inspired by the atmosphere and nice surroundings (also add some love to that) and she had a great desire to return. She says she hasn’t moved there (yet) but her wish is to stay and have the opportunity to work as a physiotherapist or work with jiu-jitsu.

Sophia and Gabrielle Mc Comb (Gracie Humaita) in the final at Kumite. Photo by GrappleTV.

What is the best thing about training in San Diego?

‘The best thing about San Diego is the weather! It is so amazing to be able to go to the beach right after training only 10 minutes away. It is a very warm and welcoming atmosphere, a lot of different places to train and the opportunity to train like a professional. There is so much knowledge about jiu-jitsu in every part of this town.’

Sophia explains that the biggest difference training in San Diego compared to what she was used to in Sweden is the set-up of the training. She is used to do a lot of hard sparring almost every training session, but the training in San Diego is more varied, with sessions that include “only” drills or technique and sparring.

Sophia not only won the event but also got the fastest submission of the night with a leglock against Veronica Mayorga. Photo from GrappleTV.

How is the environment for female jiu-jitsu in U.S compared to Europe?

‘There are a lot of female competitors and women that train jiu-jitsu here. There are female teams and it is also not a big deal that I, as a female, train hard and setting up goals for my training giving 100% to develop as much as possible. There are also more people the same size to train with and a larger amount of girls with a high technical level.’

Women’s Kumite

This was the first event who only had female competitors on the bracket. Sophia feels that it is a very important step for female jiu-jitsu and also a possibility to show that female jiu-jitsu also belongs at such events.

“We train as much as the guys and put our heart and soul in this, of course, we deserve to get paid too!”

All of the ladies competing at Kumite. Photo by GrappleTV.

How was it to compete in a different kind of set than IBJJF?

‘To compete in submission only events fits me a lot better, I feel more comfortable since I am never chasing points while competing (yet). I really like the scramble and looking for submissions, that is probably one of the reasons I had the best success in ADCC competitions.’

Sophia’s preparations before Kumite was not so different from her regular training: she always keeps training regularly no matter if a competition is coming up or not. Before the event she feels relaxed and prepared. She is always trying to have the mindset that the things she can affect she makes the best out of and the things she can’t effect she doesn’t pay much attention to. 

As Kumite opened the doors for this type of events for female only, what are your hopes for the future?

‘I really hope that it will open up for more events. It doesn’t necessarily have to be women only, but it is definitely going the right way when females are allowed on the bigger events. EBI (Eddie Bravo Invitational) will have their first female event for flyweights and Five Grappling will also increase a number of female fights for their upcoming event.’

“I think it is important that we as female competitors show what we can do, don’t hold back and be shy, claim your space and do marketing for yourself.”

Sophia’s upcoming plans for 2017 include the qualification for ADCC in May. During her stay in San Diego she will compete much as possible before coming back to Sweden closer to summer.

We wish Sophia the best of luck and look forward to seeing her compete again soon!

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Johanna Tavares

Johanna Tavares is a purple belt under Renato Tavares de Moraes. She trains under Renato and Eduardo "Teta" Rios, representing Frontline Academy in Oslo. Besides jiu jitsu, Johanna is also a club manager, fitness instructor and CrossFit level 1 trainer. She contributes to the Ladies Only BJJ blog and website also teaching women only jiu jitsu classes at Novus Academy and organizing open mat for all them jiu jitsu ladies in Norway.

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