There and Back Again

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I’m currently spending between 3-4 hours on the bus traveling to and from the academy each day. There are  benefits to this bus travel, it gives me hella time to read, listen to podcasts and peep multiple albums each day which is pretty sweet. However there are some glaring negatives, anyone who has visited Rio knows these aren’t any old buses, to get on the bus, is to take your own life and put it into the hands of people we can loosely call ‘drivers’. Coupled with this, buses are the main mode of transport for the less affluent people of Brazil, which make up a large percentage of the population, to define them as massively overcrowded would be a serious understatement. At 7.45 AM you have to be comfortable with small spaces, confident with your own sexuality and have some serious grip strength!

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Here is a list of observations / experiences that I have compiled so far on my bus adventures:

1. It is not an overstatement to say the bus drivers are some crazy ass dudes. I would go as far as to say that many have suicidal or maybe homicidal tendencies. They think nothing of overtaking on blind bends, besides oncoming traffic there is the potential of massive cliff drops into the ocean, this does not appear to bother these dudes one bit. The work ethic seems to be based around the principle ‘increase the speed’. What I struggle to understand is, no matter how quickly they get us to our destination, they just have to do the same loop again, so what’s the point in trying to kill everyone in the process? One incident that sticks out, involved over-taking another bus and near head on collision with a car coming the other way. After narrowly escaping potential death hearing someone scream very loudly from the car that the bus driver was a ‘puta’, there’s a word to google for you!

2. It appears that Brazilian men are the exception to the rule and can indeed multi-task, well bus drivers anyway. Due to the incredibly crowded nature of the morning bus, I’ve spent a great deal of time near the driver, perched precariously on the bottom step next to the door, usually on one leg, to the point if the driver broke to hard I would fly backwards through the front window! Anyway I’ve witnessed drivers having a chat on their phones, I’m assuming talking to their homies as they are having a good laugh. Multiple drivers sending text messages. My personal favourite was when I driver pulled out some sort of form and decided it was the best time to complete a written task!

3. The Entrepreneurial spirit of the Brazilian people can be seen whilst travelling by bus. It’s not uncommon for dudes to get on and sell you sweets and other sorts of tasty snacks, I guess who doesn’t want a delicious last meal before they plummet 50 feet to a fiery death! The biggest surprise however, occurred when a particularly charismatic salesman got on and began to sell sets of pads and pens. The real shocker came when people were actually buying them! Now don’t get me wrong they were super cute, pink and covered in glitter and at the bargin price of 3 real (less than £1) but at what point does someone who is traveling home from work decide ‘I really need that pink pen set to make my day complete’.

4. Old Brazilian women crossing themselves. I have witnessed this phenomenon on two separate occasions and each time it confirmed to me that I was indeed about to die a horrible death. If a women who has been traveling this way her entire life is so scarred she is relying on God to save her, what hope do the rest of us have!

5. The bus gets crowded like nothing else I have ever experienced. The Brazilian people deal with this so calmly, respectfully and really go out of their way to help each other. People will always make way or give up seats for the elderly or women with children, scream in unison if the driver has missed someone’s stop and there is also the incredibly helpful custom of holding people’s bags. There is very little room in the walkway between seats, there is simply no space to hold a bag on your back or shoulder, so some very kind people take your bag and put it on their knee for the remainder of your journey. Here’s where the issue arises, I use my bag to carry my dripping wet Gi to and from training each session, so not only is my bag usually wet, it smells non too delicious! I very so bad for the poor women who has the bag that smells of spicy aids perched on her knee for 45 minutes!

Part 2 of this badboy coming………

I’m gonna start a little technique series hitting you up with something new each week. This week we have Cobrinha purple belt and all around kickass dude Andre Khabbazi showing some serious details on the knee-cut pass, if the opponent has a reverse Dela Riva hook.

Brasileiro Sem Kimono Stylee

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Whilst this blog has been written many times before by Jiu-Jitsu dudes, I guess but this this is my take on the obligatory “gringo competes in Brazil”. This was my day competing at the CBJJ No-Gi Brazilian Nationals. I’ve been putting in the work on the mats, since arriving in Rio and I’ve trained twice, sometimes three times a day. The only issue with this, has been that I was competing in a No-Gi comp and all my training has been in the Gi. I’ve probably done 4 No-Gi sessions, going ‘sem kimono’ is not really a big thing here in Rio. I was basing my training on the principle that if I’m not doing No-Gi then my opponents won’t be either. That was the theory anyway!

I was competing at 80KG masters division, now I’d arrived in Brazil as the fatter version of myself weighing around 87KG as a result of a multitude of goodbye meals, drinks etc. So I had a bit of weight to get rid of but I’d been eating super clean for the last 3 weeks, which really sucked ass when everyone else is eating acai every day and I’m eating Broccoli.  I was hoping to wake up on the day at around 79kg so I could eat some breakfast, I wasn’t going to be competing until 3PM which means serious hunger.  Anyway I hit the scales in the morning to discover I was 77.8KG so perhaps I could have eaten that piece of bread my heart longed for.

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We arrived at the spot at around 9AM as some of the dudes were competing early but this meant that I had a long ass wait until my fights. Competing in Brazil for the first time was always gonna bring out the nerves but the competition was held at the Tijuaca Tennis Club which is pretty much the most famous venue for Jiu-Jitsu. This is the spot where classic matches & feuds have taken place, world champions have been crowned and legends have been created. So you could say I had the nerves like I was peeing next to Dirk Diggler! And damn did I have some time to sit around and worry!

Time rolled around, I managed not to be a dumb-ass and miss my category when it was mumbled out of the speakers in barely audible Portugese. I was seriously hoping to pick up some magical black belt powers left over from classic mat battles. The first dude I fought trained at Carlson Gracies so I had already decided that he was gonna be a beast. Thankfully my nerves couldn’t talk me out of it and the match went according to the Mozineo gameplan, I swept from deep half, came up on top, passed his half guard and submitted the dude with a kimura from side. The rush of adrenaline competing on those mats was like nothing else. There was at least 500 people in that piece and Brazilians don’t seem to do anything quietly, so the noise was crazy.

In the final, homeboy was a strong ass dude, whilst I won 17-2 on points which sounds like a beat-down, it was still tough. It was seriously awesome to have 20 something of my Connection Rio homeslices there supporting, it wasn’t quite Rocky 4 crowd conversion but I had my own peoples cheering for me. Special thanks to my dudes Mike and Jimmy for cornering me.

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Boom I won! I can legitimately say I a Brazilian National Champion which is something I am going to tell every single person I ever meet for the rest of forever! What made it even more sweet, I stepped off the podium to see Professor Terere, I got a massive congratulatory hug. At this moment the realisation hits me ‘I won a gold medal in Brazil in front of Terere, this is the best moment of my life!’. Celebrations involved the immediate consumption of acai and demolition of 21 slices of pizza, keeping it classy but gangsta!

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There is an epilogue to this celebratory tale, come Monday morning any notion that an am indeed dope as hell was shattered abruptly. Some killer dudes came over from Sao Paulo to train at the academy and I was unceremoniously triangled in roughly 20 secs by a 16 year old blue belt – bubble burst!

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Oh and check the sweet new mini doc on Professor Terere and the inspiration dude he is

Kicking it with Terere

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As i said in my first post it is not very often that a person gets to spend time with their hero, so I certainly feel privileged that I get to train with Professor Terere on a daily basis. Last week this got even more awesome when I got to kick it with him. We finished another badass morning session, putting in the drills and rolling like lives depended on it. I was buying a new Gi from the club but Terere had forgot to bring it from his place, so he was like ‘come to my house after training’, maaaaaan I was like ‘oh shit I am going to Terere’s gaff!’

When we first got out of the gym whilst we waited for our lift, Terere was giving me tips how to pick up Brazilian chicks. Whilst I didn’t quite get all of his advice, I have the distinct feeling even if I needed it, I would not be able to run game as successfully as him! He is seriously one of the happiest people I’ve ever met, so after briefing me on how to mack on hotties, he began to leisurely sing and dance. Bearing in mind we are in the middle of the street, but I’m not one to be left out, so I started busting out my white boy moves as well, anyone that has ever seen me dance knows the deal. In a rare moment of clarity at least a third of a second into my ‘dance’, I thought ‘dude what the hell are you doing?’. Terere has got crazy ass rhythm and looked dope as hell, (check the 0.50 of the video to see his skills) myself on the other hand have no rhythm to speak of and I just looked like a nob.

Walking through the favela together, it became clear just how loved he is by his community. We stopped and spoke to everyone we came into contact with; adults, old people and children, everyone has got love for him and he reciprocates it right back. We passed a group of 7 or 8 little dudes, their faces light up when they saw Terere and he made time to speak to them all and drop some knowledge. 

It became pretty surreal when we arrived at his spot, so I’m sat chilling at his house watching the football with his Dad, drinking a smoothie Terere made for me. I seriously had to check myself, I’m drinking a smoothie that a 2 time black belt world champion and in my opinion the greatest Jiu-Jitsu fighter of all time made for me, this shit was straight up gangsta.

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After grabbing my Gi and chilling for a bit, we took a tour through the social project ‘Espaco Crianca Esperanca Cantagalo’ which translated means Child Hope Space . First stop, we hit up a sowing spot as Terere needed to get his Gi amended. He puts on his Gi to show the chick what he wants doing but realises he has no belt, ‘Moz have you got your belt’, I’m like ‘yeah sure’. I give Terere my blue belt and he puts that bad boy on! If I ever washed my belt, I definitely wouldn’t now! We had a joke it’s been a long time since he wore Faixa azul; 1997!

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As we were walking through the social project I notice this muriel of Terere himself, according to my good friend Nico translated this say’s “This is Fernando Terere, from Conta Galo, 6x world champion in Jiu-Jitsu, an inspiration in this sport and the community and worthy of this great contribution, may God bless him”. How cool is that shit? It shows shows just how inspirational the dude is, not just to the world of Jiu-Jitsu but the huge favela community he was raised in here in Rio. The reason I wanted to come and train with him was due to him being the a multiple time world champion and the owner of the sexiest Jiu-Jitsu known to man. What I have come to see today has made me revere him as an amazing human being who gives freely to his community and provides inspiration for the many that really need it.

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A little epilogue to this tale, when I left Terere, the lift of the social project was obviously on the blink, so I had to hit up the stairs, we are like a thousand feet in the sky. These stairs are on some crazy ghetto shit business, there is no light, so I feel I’m descending into Freddy’s boiler room. I hear foot steps and any second expect Mikey Myers to come at me brandishing a butcher knife, however I get a very angry Brazilian vocalising to me or maybe themselves what I can only guess is how pissed off they are at 15 minutes worth of straight stair climbing!

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