Rising out from Europe’s growing pool of talent. The sky is the limit for this young athlete!
She’s been training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a little over two years and already has a 2020 IBJJF European bronze medal to her name. She won the 2018 JJ Championships in both ‘ne-waza’ and ‘striking’ disciplines. All this and she’s in her last year of high-school.
She’s is one of Europe’s rising stars and standout talents and we’ve been fortunate enough to speak with her and get an insight into how she balances academic ambitions, huge sporting aspirations and also training in what is still a very male-dominated sport.
Ian: Firstly tell me your name, age and where you’re from, what part of town?
Alexa: Hello, my name is Alexa-Maria Teodorescu, I’m 17 years old, I am from Bucharest (Romania).
Ian: So where do you currently train and under who?
Ian: Were you a good kid at school?
Alexa:I am still in high school and I see myself as a good student. I don’t have so much time for studying but I do my best to have good grades and pass all the exams. I always study my 3 favourite subjects (physics, math, Romanian literature).
Ian: When and how did you first get into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Or did you start traditional ju-jitsu first then get introduced?
Alexa: I first started with traditional Ju-Jitsu 11 years ago and moved to BJJ 2 years ago. After some problems with my other club, I decided to change the teams and start a new journey. I met Professor Tudor 3 years ago at a competition and found out about BJJ. After my decision, I called Professor Tudor and asked him if I can move to his team, his answer was positive so my new journey started at his team 2 years ago, as a white belt in BJJ. I have never quit traditional ju-jitsu. I’m still competing in fighting & ne-waza.
Ian: Have you done anything else besides Jiu-jitsu?
Alexa: When I was a little kid, I tried so many sports, such as basketball, football, ballet, swimming and others, but I started every sport with the thought of no competing, just fun. Once I started Ju-jitsu I had the same thought, but after the first competition, everything changed.
Ian: What has been your most memorable moment in jiujitsu so far? Can include your recent success at the Europeans, but also can be something else.
Alexa: In 11 years, I collected many memorable moments. One of my favourite moments of my Ju-Jitsu life is in 2018 when I became double world champion in ne-waza(BJJ) & fighting. I won one of the finals by the decision of the referees. My recent success at the Europeans is for me a great performance, even though I got third place because I was not in my best mood, I was feeling bad and dizzy all day because of some health problems. After each fight, I was thankful and tried to fight as good as I can in the next one.
Ian: What’s one of the things you find most frustrating with BJJ, can be anything?
Alexa: In my case, the most frustrating thing with BJJ is the training partners. I love all the training but there are not so many girls to train with and most of the guys at my gym are much heavier than me. I wish I had more training partners in my weight category. Even though I wish for more girls at my gym, I find most of the training with the heavier guys as a challenge for me. I like to challenge myself as much as I can.
Ian: Who would you say are your top 3 in the world of jiu-jitsu, can be past and present? And why?
Alexa: I don’t really have a top 3, I admire most of the champions in BJJ. As a girl, I try to find motivation in the behaviour of other girls that are champions in BJJ. One of my favourite girls is Jessa Khan, an 18 years old brown belt BJJ girl that wins most of her competitions. What I like about her is that she is training hard and improving her game continuously. Other people I admire are Nicholas Meregali and Mikey Musumeci.
Ian: How is it training there and how much has Professor Tudor been a help to you throughout your journey?
Alexa: Moving to Absoluto Fighting Center was a great decision. The training there are different from my other team. The atmosphere is awesome, we are like a family, all people that fell in love with Jiu-Jitsu. Professor Tudor helped me from the very first day, he told me what he expects from me and showed me the plan for my future BJJ career. By telling me what native talents I have and analysing my fight game, we came together by a common decision related to my game. Professor Tudor was always by my side in every competition, in my worst and best times. My performance is the result of our teamwork. I thank him for being in my corner at every competition and believing in me. After every competition, he devotes some of his time to discuss with me all my mistakes and we try together to find a solution. Also, all my teammates and my other coaches help me in my training, Professor Florian Bav, Professor Eugen Stanescu, Professor Ciprian Carausu.
Ian: Has there been anyone else who has helped you a lot with your progress, can also be outside of your club, for example, could be friends or family supporting you?
Alexa: Family and friends were always by my side since I started to compete in international competitions. I think family and friends play a big role in my life. My family is my number 1 supporter, they have a big emotional impact on me. Until the age of 15 years old, they came to every competition and supported me financially as much as they can. No matter the result of my competitions, my parents are happy and proud. On the other part, my friends always cheer me up before the competition and congratulate me after my achievements. I am thankful for my family and friends, I don’t think I would have got here without them.
Ian: How do you find competition? Do you get nervous?
Alexa: After 10 years of competing at national and international tournaments, I am still getting nervous before every fight and I get butterflies in my stomach. I’ve lost fights because of the stress which I could have won and I’ve won fights that I didn’t believe I could have by having a good mental state.
Ian: How do you compete with those nerves? And what advice would you give other competitors to calming those nerves?
Alexa: In my opinion according to nerves, it’s completely normal to be nervous but in time you’ll need to learn to fight your emotions and control them as much as you can. Before every fight, I am trying to settle my mind and entering the mat in a happy mood. I think that fighting happy is very important. I am fighting because I like the sport and the feeling that I have when winning. My advice to all the young athletes is to train and compete with passion and love for the sport.
Ian: When did you start competing?
Alexa: I started competing at the age of 8 years old.
Ian: Did you always do really well in competition? If not, then when did it start working for you?
Alexa: I have won every fight until 2014 when I have lost the final of the World Championship U15. I’ve lost just a few fights in my career until now but I’ve learned the most from them.
Ian: How is it competing in a sport where it is still highly dominated by male athletes?
Alexa: Sincerely, it’s a nice feeling. I like to be a girl that practices this sport because I am trying to fight as well as the boys/men. When someone finds out that I practice BJJ and have international medals at this sport, they remain surprised and say “wow so you can beat me” and as a girl, you feel powerful. Every year, the number of female athletes is growing.
Ian: Do you modify your training and sparring at the gym?
Alexa: Yes, I try after every competition to analyse my mistakes and modify the training plan. Each training has a theme. Sparring can be positional or just free sparring, between 3 and 6 minutes.
Ian: In some gyms, women struggle to find training partners of similar weights and sizes, what advice would you give to them to structure their training?
Alexa: I have the same problem. I usually try to do light sparrings with the ones that are heavier than me. I suggest them to try to train with everyone and protect themselves from injuries. Before every sparring, the best is to communicate with their partners and settle some rules. I think that we can learn something from everyone. Personally, I train more with men under 70kg and I chose my partner depending on his fight game.
Ian: It’s something we see all too often when a good female athlete puts a male athlete in a difficult spot and they try and use a lot of strength, sometimes going too far. Have you had to deal with this in the past?
Alexa: Yes, I have been in this kind of situation many times. I try to stay calm and tell them to stop and I end the fight unless they stop.
Ian: The women’s divisions are really gaining headway on the international circuit at the minute and there are some true standouts who are really exciting to watch, what do you think gives them that edge?
Alexa: Jiu-Jitsu is practised more by men and it’s nice to see female athletes fight because usually women are underrated and nobody thinks they are capable of such things.
Ian: Apart from you of course, who should we be keeping our eyes on in the upcoming female divisions?
Alexa: I don’t have some names but in my opinion, the girls from UAE represent the future generation of champions in BJJ apart from the Brazilian ones.
Ian: What is your favourite submission and why?
Alexa: I like the bow and arrow choke because it’s a controlled technique. When attacking the bow & arrow choke, you typically start with back control. Once you establish a good collar grip, the bow and arrow choke is yours. By getting the back you get the points and this choke is a way to finish the fight faster than staying at the back until time’s out.
Ian: Have you ever had a serious injury, if so what and how did you recover from that?
Alexa: Unfortunately, I dislocated my shoulder 3 years ago and I am still recovering through kinesiotherapy and physiotherapy. I get help from Brotac Medical Center, a clinic run by Dr Cornel Brotac where I have a whole team which helps me with all my injuries.
Ian: Have you ever had to overcome any other adversities in your life, can be none jiu-jitsu related? How did you overcome that?
Alexa: I fought two finals with a dislocated shoulder and it was very dangerous for me. Even though I was very scared, my thought of winning the gold medal was more powerful so I didn’t give up.
Ian: How do you prepare for your competitions? Do you have any strength and conditioning programs in place?
Alexa: Unfortunately, I don’t do any strength or conditioning training for now but I’m looking forward to starting.
Ian: How is your diet? Do you watch what you eat, especially nearing competition time?
Alexa: Before every competition, I have a very strict diet made by my nutritionist, Cristian Margarit. He is always helping me with losing weight. Usually, I try to be careful with what I eat and to avoid gaining more than 3 kg than my competition weight.
Ian: What is your favourite food?
Alexa: Spaghetti al’Amatriciana, I love Italian food.
Ian: What is your least favourite food?
Alexa: I hate seafood, I have tried it so many times but I still don’t like it and anything that is spicy.
Ian: What are your next plans for jiujitsu?
Alexa: Start strength training again and focus on my upcoming competitions in the adult divisions.
That really was awe-inspiring, what a great mindset and what an in-depth insight into someone who has had some great success already as an athlete and shows great humility.
I think Alexa inspires ‘all’ people involved both in and outside of the sport and I think she has built a great coaching and support network around her to give her guidance when she needs it.
We believe big things lie ahead for this young athlete in 2020 and beyond, so please keep a watchful eye when you see the name: