Competing BJJ in Brazil

Part 2: The Most Difficult Part

Looking through my notes the other day, I worked out that I’d competed ninteen times during the calendar year I spent in Rio; only three of these occasions were outside of the city.

Rio is home to a plethora of federations and organisations that hold competitions. This is by no means an exhaustive list but, there is jiu-jitsu’s official body the CBJJ, then there’s, FJJ Rio, FJJD Rio, SJJSAF, SJJIF, and the CBJJO.

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You are literally spoilt for choice and could compete every weekend if you are willing to travel, placing your life in the hands of the city’s homicidal bus drivers.

The difficult part is actually signing up. I am assuming like myself, you are used to entering tournaments via the organiser’s website, fill out a form, use a credit card and booya you’re good to go. However, in Brazil with the exception of the CBJJ’s events the process of actually securing your spot on the bracket is not nearly as straightforward. Each individual federation requires you to become a member.

The best possible scenario is, you have an academy as your permanent base and the professor is willing to help you sign up. In which case, all you have to do is find a photography shop (I have never seen a single passport photo booth) and get some pictures taken, hand them over with the money for your membership and entry and the rest will be done for you.

Both memberships and entry fees for regional competitions typically cost between 60-80 reals (£15-20).

Bearing in mind the example above is a best case scenario, if you’re dotting around academy to academy you will have to do it yourself. This means heading over to the federation’s offices to collect your card. An understanding of Portuguese is extremely beneficial, the process will already take longer than you would have ever deemed imaginable and despite the advertised hours the office might not actually be open when you get there.

If you already have your membership and just want to sign up – then you have to physically put your entry fee into the account of the organizer, which means going to the bank with their details to deposit the money. This is more arduous than it sounds, banks in Rio tend to have queues that tax years from one’s lifespan.

This should come as no surprise to anyone that has ever visited Brazil, where even the most basic of tasks seem to have multiple layers and inexplicable intricacies which makes just about everything complicated and time-consuming.

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Whilst this may appear to be a needlessly long-winded and frustrating process (it is!), but its culmination leads to some of the most gratifying, fun, challenging and self-defining moments that you are likely to have on the mats.

Part one can be found here.

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