The Last House on the Left Part 2

 

Six months living in the mecca of gringo Jiu-Jitsu in Rio; The Connection Rio house. Part two of my experience at the gaff, we have more delicious tales of random ass dudes doing random ass shit.

Hermits:

In my time in the house I noticed a strong correlation between being Irish and spending a large percentage of time lying in bed. Maybe this was due to the intense climate that isn’t conducive for their skin, my Irish homies are some of the whitest dudes I have ever met. There was one particular young, Irish blue belt, he was a little quiet but a nice dude with an amazing level of Jiu-Jitsu knowledge. He was a little unlucky when he first arrived, first getting ill and then suffering from some of the world’s worst mosquito bites, mosquitos also seem to love the Irish more than most. This run of bad luck then prompted him to just give up training completely and spend, practically the entirely of a three-month stay lying in bed and eating M&Ms. We are talking bunk beds in a room full of dudes that smells like a rotten ass sandwiches a large portion of the time, defo not the ideal place to spend your holiday.

Then we have the strange case of Stretch Armstrong. Homeboy had a three-month stay at Connection Rio, he decided in advance that he would train his entire time at renowned Jiu-Jitsu academy Gordos which is conveniently located two minutes out of the front door. Things didn’t go according to his original plan, after a number of sessions he decided that he didn’t enjoy warming up, drilling techniques that he had no interest in or even getting there on time because “the black belts don’t have to”. The simple solution to this, he resolved, was to give up training Jiu-Jitsu in its entirety. In fact the most effective course of action would be to stop leaving the house completely and instead spend a minimum of 12 hours a day stretching on the mats. No matter the time of day or night, no matter if there is people on the mats drilling techniques, he knew no boundaries of personal space and would quite happily stick his cock in your face as you eat some spaghetti.

 

Idiots: 

We had the man affectionately known as ‘Meat-head’, now Meat-head was about 6 foot 2′ of Chilean muscle, not a shred of fat on his cut frame but also barely a brain cell in his whopping head. There was one particular incident where I was sure that this guy was messing with me, I was sat on the sofa and got up to make some food. Upon returning from the creation of some hotdog delicious I find homeboy in my seat, all the rest of the seats free but he decides to sit in mine. I was like fine, whatever, so I then go and sit on the mats. After finishing the delish, I get up again and go and make a coffee. When I got back the meat-head had plonked himself down exactly where I was in front of my Macbook and all my stuff. I was thinking this dude is actually fucking with me here, so I went and sat next to him so close that we were practically snuggling, it only took a few seconds before his discomfort showed and he gave me a bemused look and got up. I instantly realised it wasn’t intentional, dumbass just kept getting lost walking around the living room.

I also encountered a lot of question askers – don’t get me wrong asking questions is perfectly acceptable and indeed the most sensible course of action when you arrive somewhere new. But there is definitely a limit to how many of the same question a person can ask without receiving an inverted atomic drop. We had one Street Fighter 2 character who was the archetypal Russian bearded wrestler. Aside from spending his time drilling spinning pile drivers, homeboy would ask question after question to the point where dick slaps were about to be distributed then he would wander off and ask the same questions to someone else. The mundane line of questioning would usually go something like this,  “are you training tonight” to which I reply “yes, you know I train every day dude” followed by  “what time are you training at?” to which my response would be “the same time as when you asked me yesterday 8 o’clock bro’. Finally “what time are we leaving for training” to which I reply “THE SAME TIME I TOLD YOU TWENTY MINUTES AGO PENIS HOLE!”

 

Aside from these random individuals who without doubt added to the experience, it has been amazing spending six months day in and day out around so many people who share the same passion as me. If you’re looking at coming to Rio to get your train on, I would no doubt recommend staying at Connection Rio. I would like to thank house managers Torryn and Nicole for holding it down and being real good people’s. Also the benevolent God of gringo Jiu-Jitsu Dennis Asche for making it all possible. To all my dudes who I shared the space with and got to kick it, thank you all for being awesome.

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Oh and on the Jiu-Jitsu tip, I was recently choked out cold for the first time. What really made this noteworthy was the fact that I was put to sleep by 15-year-old yellow belt and new house mate; Gabriel. Whilst rolling, he got the bow and arrow choke but I had my hand in and thought I’d be able to defend and more foolishly thought he wouldn’t even be strong enough to get the choke anyway. How wrong I was! Sounds from the academy began to encircle themselves around me and then suddenly drown out. Then I’m somewhere else, I have no idea where but I had this feeling that I shouldn’t be there. The next thing I know, I was being stood over by a very worried looking teenager, whose face read ‘how am I going to tell everyone I just killed Moz?’ It was awesome, I was only out for a few seconds but it felt like a full on psychedelic experience. My biggest fear of being choked out was waking up rocking that morning-glory, which would be the cause of some serious embarrassment, so I was relieved to find this hadn’t occurred upon regaining consciousness.

Hamburger Hill Epilogue…

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Following up on the madness I experienced last Tuesday, this is what happened in the following couple of days…

23rd April

It was pretty crazy to wake up the next day and see it had gone worldwide on all media outlets. I discovered this had all jumped off due to the murder of innocent dancer, Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira at the hands of the police. Watching the news on the BBC, I could see the same things I see when I walk out of the front door, this was pretty bananas.When I left the gaff that morning it was weird that everything was so tranquil after such unmitigated chaos. The aftermath though was clearly visible, there was glass literally everywhere, burnt out cars and cars that had survived were sporting nice new bullet holes.There were also reporters all over the favela interviewing people. I was under the impression that they would have been interested to get the perspective of the token favela gringo so I stuck my swede out trying to get noticed but I was sadly mistaken when no one took any notice of me.

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Whilst I was training we had a visit from the police, who came and searched the apartment. The police were attacked the previous night from people in the surrounding apartments, so they obviously felt this was a necessity. Dudes apparently came in rocking masks, I’d imagine this is a measure taken so the drug traffickers don’t know who they are to retaliate on them. It doesn’t seem like the best idea for police already under the microscope for misconduct to be given anonymity from their actions, I’m just glad I wasn’t in that piece at the time. I have come to see in the last few days just how universally hated the police are here in the favela and seeing how this whole thing has played out it is apparent that they are not the good guys in this situation.

24th April

I discovered the lift had been closed due to the rioting so after training I had to walk up the 20 or some of the ghettoist flights of stairs known to man to get back to the gaff armed with bags full of shopping. This massive climb took over ten minutes and sucked so much ass, I passed quickly by the obligatory sleeping crackhead on the way up, for the next four flights I got my shuffle on, as I didn’t wanna get my cottage cheese jacked. As I reached the top fully covered in sweat & absolutely dying. I turned the corner to discover ten or so B.O.P.E (Brazil’s military police) stood directly in front of the entrance to the gaff. These dudes carry the biggest guns I have ever seen in my life and are pretty much the scariest dudes in existence. Whilst the regular police are strapped with some big ass weaponry they also are happy enough to be texting in one hand, eating a salgado with the other whilst checking out chick’s asses. These dudes rock the meanest muggs and appear focused on nothing else but pain and destruction.  Very quietly I muttered com licença’ as I stepped through the middle of them. Did they smile at the dumb-ass gringo obviously dying from walking up seven thousand stairs? Nope, their dead eyes pierced the very depths of my soul and read any impure that I’d ever thought about having. I did attempt to strap on some nuts and takes pictures of these dudes but managed to fail due to their extreme scariness.

There was continued violence that evening as members of community returned from attending the murdered dancer’s funeral. But this didn’t reach up into the favela. That was it everything back to normality although it is still impossible to walk anywhere in the favela without having a whopping gun pointed in your face.

 

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This is a pic and video came from a blue belt match at yesterday’s Copa Arnold competition, dude in a wheelchair was helped onto the mats by the score keeper and ref and competed against his able bodied opponent. If you already do Jiu-Jitsu you know the deal but how awesome is it you can have a sport where this can take place?

 

Hamburger Hill

 

A room with a view
The two sides of Rio
The two sides of Rio

Literally just put this bad-boy together as it was happening, hadn’t planned on dropping this, hence its slight rushed nature.

A couple of weeks ago I moved into Cantagalo favela. This favela is home to legend of Jiu-Jitsu Fernando Terere, who happens to live just down the road from me, it has also produced other Jiu-Jitsu greats such as Jackson Sousa, Alan ‘Finfou’ do Nascimento and the homie Rodrigo, “Aquiles” Conceição. The decision to move into the favela was an easy one, the gym is 2 minutes from the gaff and all my friends from the academy live here. From what I had seen so far I had come to the understanding that favela life is real life in Rio, this is where 22% of the population of Rio, 1.4 million people live and I totally wanted to experience that.

Training hasn’t resumed full time after the Easter holiday, so with the Arnold classic this Saturday and the Brazilian Nationals to compete in the week after, I begrudgingly decided to go to the beach to do some sprints. I had my kicks on ready to bounce out the door when their was a massive explosion, the lookouts usually set off fireworks when the police are coming to let the dealers know they are here. But this explosion was much louder than usual, loud enough to bring everyone out of their houses. Smoke started to billow above the favela and hang in the evening air, after 3 more of these explosions I figured that sprints on the beach probably wasn’t the most sensible plan. As I was later informed this all began at the bottom of the hill which I have to walk down to reach the beach, I would have walked directly through what turned into a raging gun battle.

Whilst watching events occur out of my bedroom window, police helicopters appeared in the sky as the explosions continued. There was babies crying, hundreds of dogs barking and smoke everywhere. It had began to look like some straight up war-zone. At this point I noticed 5 children on their roof flying their kites without a care in the world, this was obviously nothing new to them.

I joined everyone else outside at the front of the gaff. The police station is about 50 feet from us and there were a group of police with automatic weapons drawn outside of it, they were pointing said weapons at people appearing in the windows. People began to pelt them with missiles which sounded like glass as they hit the floor, laughter and cheering broke out and the police searched for cover.  Then there was a full on ‘HOLY SHIT’ moment when the police retaliated by opening fire, I sprawled like I was Hector Lombard and hit the deck. There was crazy amounts of glass breaking and people screaming as the police continued to fire. I don’t know if anyone was hit or whether it was warning shots fired but it was full on brown trousers time as I crawled back into the safety of the gaff.

I’m now thinking things cannot get any crazier and then all the electricity was cut in the favela, hundreds and thousands of lights vanished in an instant. This made things super creepy, low hanging smoke-filled the air and the shadows reflecting off the flames dancing in the dark sky.

From my the view in the bedroom window I can see outside the favela, I began to look at the apartment block opposite and this really brought it home to me the inequality of life in Rio. I could see directly into these people’s gaffs, they were just getting on with their evening as normal, families eating meals, couples watching T.V. All this whilst fully fledged battles between armed police and dealers was going on in such a close proximity.

A final act of crazy shit, the police cars outside the station were torched and exploded, all this whilst people looked on and cheered. The Sounds of automatic gunfire carried on for the next hour and then everything went quiet, the quiet was only broken when the lights came back on about three hours later to the sounds of cheering. What has without doubt been the craziest experience of my life, appears nothing out of the ordinary for those who live here.

I really hate doing sprints anyway.

My man Caranguejo dropping more Jiu-Jitsu knowledge, an awesome sequence from the closed guard