Full Name: Mirella Atallah
Belt Colour: Purple
Professor: I received my purple belt from Professor Andre Galvao on Dec 2, 2018, in Lebanon this belt meant so much to me because I received it in my beloved Country in the presence of my coach Daniel Hilal and professor Said Khatib
Short Term Goals: Compete as much as I can!
Jiu-Jitsu saves lives. If you've been following this blog, you will find many examples of this. Here's another amazing story from someone that used BJJ to help her get through some difficult problems and hard times. Mirella Atallah was inspired by her instructor in Lebanon to bring more jiu-jitsu to the middle east. She is now sharing her story with others in hopes that It will inspire more people to give it a try. Make sure to read the full article as we discuss the importance of the art for self-defence and how empowering this sport is for women struggling to find their confidence.
How Long Have You Been Doing Jiu-Jitsu For?
This is my 5th year
Where do you train out of?
I moved back to Montreal in February 2018 and started training at Brazilian Top Team HQ under professor Fabio Holanda
Do you prefer gi or no-gi?
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
You always learn so much from your instructors.
But in particular, I learned the most from my instructor in Lebanon. Daniel Hilal's dedication and generosity with people is just remarkable he is a true leader on and off the mats. He took a sport that was barely known in the region and dedicated all his time to the art and his students, against all odds he placed Lebanon on the jiuJitsu map worldwide.
He made a difference and athletes from around the region come just to train with him. This is how he attracted another unique Lebanese Jiu-Jitsu athlete, professor Said Khatib black belt under the Mendes Academy both of them leading the sport to another level! I can’t help but be inspired by these 2 outstanding athletes I feel so blessed for the opportunity to know them and be part of this journey.
What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that applies to everyday life?
Never give up even on your worst days, give your 100%. There is always a way out.
How often do you train?
Minimum 6 days a week
What made you want to start training?
I started with Kickboxing and I had one purpose in mind and that was to lose weight and be healthy, after a few years I got the courage to start jiujitsu I always felt I’m too big
Do you plan on training your whole life?
Until the last breath or if I lose a hip:)
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
Jiu-Jitsu is like a never-ending puzzle you are always trying to find the right piece for the right place action-reaction, each person is unique every roll is interesting you can never be bored different reactions, strength, body types. It’s a type of meditation for me personally once I step on the mats I leave all my troubles away. It is the only way to clear my mind.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
My weight dropped drastically I’m around 147 pounds now. My body is stronger and healthier I’m 41 years old and look way younger when they ask me what is my secret I say Jiujitsu!
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
Yes definitely, BJJ helped me to be sharper and strong-minded. Helped me to be in control of my life and have confidence in myself
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything differently?
No wouldn’t change a thing! Grateful with my journey and the people I met along with instructors and training partners!
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
Jiu-Jitsu will change your life like it changed so many before give it a month and you will be hooked.
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
I want to get my Black belt in 4years and be the first Lebanese female black belt. I want to do self-defence seminars and teach in the middle east. I want to inspire more women to start that journey because I work so hard every day towards that goal.
What’s your favourite move?
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
I would be still looking for a sport. I Tried Tennis for a while, kickboxing, Muay thai, boxing and I’m a certified yoga teacher
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
Great interview with professor
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
Every training partner did! Once you find that person and you start training regularly you always end up pushing each other and that’s why there is a lot of support in the sport. Most of the people are caring and want you to succeed they point out your mistakes and try to improve you, because if you improve they improve with you. The better you get, the better they do as well.
Has your wrestling helped with your jiu-jitsu game?
Yes big time, a wrestler mind is attack, attack, shoot and score. I’m really afraid of rolling forward (I still don’t know what is the source of that fear) standing in bjj was my nightmare until I started training wrestling I have more confidence now I work more on top and actually my last competition at the Pans for the first time I didn’t pull guard.
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
Rolling forward actually most of the moves you look at the teacher and you think that is simple but getting my body to do the move was very hard until things started to make sense.
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
I would like to share this knowledge with so many people especially women from the Middle East. JiuJitsu saved my life and the life of many others. I always say if you listen to endless inspiring stories on the mats how Jiu-Jitsu changed lives you can’t but be impressed by this amazing sport.
Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it?
Besides the difficult health issues I had for a long time, JiuJitsu helped me go through my divorce (was married for 11years). Bjj builds self-confidence and special bond with your team and teachers they become your family and a great support group.
What advice would you give to someone that recently got diagnosed with a disease and is having a hard to getting back to doing what they love?
Never give up, don’t let the negative thinking mind take control. I’m not underestimating the danger of serious diseases but with will you heal faster be hungry for life. I met a girl around 2 years ago she is a 3 time Cancer survivor she is around 35 years old, what a great inspiration, her hunger for life astonished me and when things get bad I think of her and I think "What’s my excuse!?"
Do you believe jiu-jitsu helped you gain some confidence?
100% you can’t be weak minded
What advice would you give to someone that is in an unhealthy relationship and is having troubles getting out?
Start Jiu Jitsu and you’ll see how things will fall in their place slowly.
Do you believe more women should begin training? Why or why not?
Yes, definitely every woman should learn how to defend herself from physical and emotional abuse and Jiu-jitsu will help in both.
What's it about jiu-jitsu that's so life-changing and why is it difficult to find the same benefits from other sports?
I personally think that other sports you are competing with others while in Jiu-Jitsu you are competing with yourself, it reveals all your fears and strength you learn so much about yourself it requires a lot of discipline and dedication.
When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?
As the first female Lebanese black belt, that never gave up! I want to inspire more women to start and never hesitate if they are old, young, big or small, we are human beings we come in all sizes and shapes. Nothing matters as long as we start. The journey is for you, not for anybody else.
I live by this theory, Age is a state of mind the only limit is the ones we set for ourselves, It’s not too late, now is always a perfect time to start!
I know if I can, you can too.
Martial arts empowers people to become the best versions of themselves and awakes a deeper understanding of the resilience of the human spirit. You never know what life throws at you and difficult times can be hard to avoid, but having a safe haven on the mats has been a lifesaver for many people. As the sport is growing, we need more brave and passionate practitioners like Mirella to lead the way in expanding the sport into regions where it's unpopular so it can help more people achieve their happiness. Thank you, Mirella, for proving to the world that jiu-jitsu is empowering and that no matter what circumstances you are in, you can always find relief on the mats. Share this article to help inspire and empower others to live their lives to the fullest!
If anyone would like to contact, collaborate, or sponsor Mirella, please follow her on Instagram and/or LinkedIn and send her a message :)