Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Training Holiday in Rio
Here is a small insight into life in Rio, the beach, the parties, training and competition. It was around January 2017 I began entertaining the idea of going to Brazil to train, I’m very new to the Jiu Jitsu journey but even so, fell in love with the martial art very quickly. I wanted to experience BJJ from the roots as well as explore the amazing culture of Brazil. After hearing about Steve’s exploits and achievements as well as the team training at Stealth I was very excited and quickly felt excepted and a part of the family. In the following 9 months at the gym, I felt my game improve quickly and my enjoyment increase so here’s a big shout out to you beasts who’ve helped me on my journey!
I’m living in Ipanema, the South Zone of Rio, close to several beaches, and surrounded by many bars and restaurants – although the best thing to buy here is acãi, a fruit berry smoothie which has protein, milk powder and nuts added to it. It’s awesome!
The general atmosphere of the city is that of a very relaxed pace of life, a healthy social life, and physical fitness are highly valued. All day people are running, skating, cycling or working out on the beach. The beach is a big part of the culture here which suits me just fine. That being said, tensions between favela bandits and police are high. Generally however, this doesn’t affect gringos and I can enjoy life separate to most of the violence that takes place.
I’ve been training under Ricardo Vieira at Checkmat/Fight Zone. The BJJ schedule is four times a day, I’ve been going twice a day to ensure I don’t burn out. However, last week I did burn out and spent two days in bed with Pringles and Netflix – I needed it! The first training session was the scariest by far. Apart from speaking no Portuguese, I felt the pressure of my recently achieved Blue belt and the desire to uphold this rank in the land that BJJ was born in; this, coupled with the fact that me and Chris were fresh gringo meat to feed on. It carried on like this for a week or so before I began to adjust to the pace of training and relax a bit. It is a rarity to see a white belt on the mats and to find yourself surrounded by brown and black belts is a daily occurrence.
Every “roll” is like a competition fight so it’s intense from the moment you slap hands! This hard, grinding mode of training ensures your conditioning increases exponentially. Also, the importance of the fundamentals such as breathing, energy consumption and grip fighting are drilled into you. On the other hand, because every roll is 100%, time spent on technical improvement is slow and sometimes, the days lesson can be forgotten because your focussing so hard on trying to survive. There’s a balance between hard fighting and light sparring, and I think Stealth BJJ has found that healthy balance.
Me and Chris competed in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam after the first week of training. Walking out into such a huge arena in front of so many people was amazing! Despite a tough weight cut I felt good as I stepped onto the mats. Unfortunately, this time it didn’t go my way. After dropping two points and two advantages, (a nasty omoplata and choke attempt, followed by a sweep), I jumped when in his full guard which accounts to a slam, resulting in a disqualification 2 seconds before the end. Ah well, it was a good match, onwards and upwards!
My Portuguese is improving and I’ve found the Brazilians to be a welcoming and exciting people. When strolling down Ipanema beach, it is easy to see why the Portuguese explorers and subsequently Steve Campbell, decided to stay for so long. It’s been a fantastic experience so far but I look forward to seeing you back on the mats soon!! Ooosss