Asides

Finding Jesus on a Bogota Street

Colombia’s capital city, Bogota is awash with churches; it would be a struggle throwing a stone without breaking some stained glass.

Generally, I have found Catholic churches in South America to be less severe than their European counterparts, maintaining colour and vibrancy while still reveling in delicious gaudiness.

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But, visiting Bogota’s Primatial Cathedral, I was surprised to find the iconic Baroque structure light on ornamentation. This included artwork, there was a shocking lack of iconography.

This was a disappointment. I am always intrigued at the almost perverse morbidity of long-dead Catholic artists in depicting their saviour in the highest states of duress.

I actually discovered the most striking images of God’s only begotten son out on the street.

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The street was where homeless artists ply their craft, creating haunting images of Christ for mere pennies from passers-by.

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The use of chalk ensured the Son of Man was put to death each night, trampled out of existence by thousands of walking feet before his eventual resurrection the following day.

How I Found Myself In a Football Riot In Brazil

Brazilian football fans are presented as passionate and fun-loving, a fanbase that dance in the stands with their faces painted, and turn games into one giant party. I recently discovered this isn’t a complete picture.

Leaving the Tijuca Tennis Clube on Sunday, sporting broken ribs and an insatiable desire for pizza, our group managed to walk into the middle of a pitched battle between Brazilian football hooligans.

Brazil’s most popular team, Flamengo were playing Sao Paulo based, Corinthians that afternoon. Whilst not a local derby there exists a passionate rivalry between the two teams.

As we reached the end of the street, in the square across the road, chaos was unfolding before our very eyes.

There was none of pseudo macho posturing or the usual ‘come-on then’ rhetoric that is predisposed to the idiots at home, I didn’t even see a single ‘wanker’ gesture. Fists were flying from all angles. Many of the angry looking men had acquired weapons of sticks and bats and were using them to bash each other.

Whilst we were close to the action it seemed a relatively safe vantage point, that was until a mob decked out in Flamengo’s red and black charged in our direction.

As they entered the street, there was a collective ‘shiiiiiit’ from our group as we sprinted to get away from these weapon-clad brigade of hate-filled mentalists. Broken ribs or not, I moved like the Flash.

There appeared a very realistic possibility of being beaten by a large blunt object had we failed to react. We weren’t the only ones who’d come to this same conclusion, a middle aged woman, apparently more attuned to the danger, had taken off slightly earlier and left us in her dust.

Other fleeing people took refuge in whatever shop or business they could find as shutters slammed down.

We made it back to the Tijuca Tennis Clube, figuring a venue full of grapplers would be the safest place in Rio. As we reached the entrance in an effort to help an acai vendor save his stock, the doors were shut on us, we had to plead to be let in.

The word soon went out and jiu-jitsu athletes started pouring into the street, many appearing far too eager for an opportunity to choke out some football fans.

Making it home later that afternoon – after eventually acquiring pizza, to discover this violence was just the tip of the iceberg following serious disturbances within the stadium.

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Brazil might have some of the most passionate and fun-loving fans in the world, but they are equally passionate about punching each other in the face.

Wrist-Lock Out of Nowhere

The nefarious wrist-lock, a submission so dastardly that its mere utterance elicits headshakes and tuts from respectable members of the jiu-jitsu community.

So the question then is, what is one to do after being wrist-locked with extreme brutality?  Does one seclude oneself from the rest of humanity to revel in desolation? Or internalise the anger until it manifests itself in genocidal rage?

After pondering this for some time, I concluded the correct recourse was to learn from the dude that had inflicted the shame upon me.

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Originally from Rio, Wilson trained at Cia. Amazonense de Jiu-Jitsu, in Manaus. The academy owned by third degree black belt, Rigoney Castro Costa Jr.

The Monday following the Manaus Open, the academy was not due to open; it was another of Brazil’s ever-occuring national holidays. However, Mestre Costa sympathetic to my plight agreed to open up.

Following 5×8 minute rounds, where the jungle humidity had led me to empty bucketloads of sweat out onto the mats, we got down to business. I was given a step-by-step account on how I’d been caught.

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Wilson played knee-shield half guard, with his knee under my chin, this had lured me into an attempt to smash both legs to the mat, grabbing at his lapel in the process. As soon as I’d took the bait, he’d immediately cupped behind my elbow with boths hands and curled himself up like a hedgehog, forcing my trapped wrist back at a tendon-tearing obtuse angle.

He was meticulous with his detail, keen that I picked up all the nuances of the setup and the finish. I was instructed to drill it over and over again until he was satisfied with my understanding.

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I shall forever be indebted to my new friend, Wilson for his willingness to share this forbidden knowledge. It is now my aim to unleash this devastating and self-esteem shattering finish upon everyone that I roll with.