I have been training and kicking it with Terere for nearly a year now but I am still full on fanboy, so when he said we would travel over to Sao Paulo together for the IBJJF Open, I was like ‘holy shit son, road trip with Terere!’. Little did I know by agreeing to traveling down with him I would be putting my life in serious and frequent danger, as homeboy drives like he passes guard, rapidly. I made the executive decision after being in the car with him for about a minute that I needed to go to sleep as the terror of being awake was too much to deal with. This didn’t really help, within a couple of minutes of awakening, a random dog just appeared directly in front of us. Now you have to bear in mind we are on a motorway, so I have no idea where this mysterious animal appeared from. He had less than a second to decide whether to hit the dog, swerve into the wall or into the whopping truck that was alongside us. It is lucky homeboy has the reflexes of a cat, he swerved wall-side, missing the dog and unbelievably not ploughing us into the concrete for a surefire fatality either. I was happy to see the dog had somehow escaped a full on squishing by the truck too. Dude just laughed about it whilst I had to change my pants as soon as we arrived in Sao Paulo. This was only the first of two dog related incidents that befell us over the weekend, the second involved Terere diving out of the way at super speed as a large, angry creature came right at him. I was directly behind and completely unaware, which left me narrowly escaping having my armed gnawed off by one of the rapid wolves of Willoughby Chase.
Our first stop was the Alliance headquarters, it was pretty cool meeting the General Fabio Gurgel and seeing this famous academy. The mats were crazy big, super clean, even the staff were well-dressed without a single pair of havaianas or board shorts in site, the spot even smelt delicious. It was pretty much the exact opposite of the FT Academy which is small, mad grimy and constantly smells like stinky ass kimonos. Yet whilst Terere’s academy is awash with positive energy, constantly full of life with mad shit popping off at all times. This spot was huge, but its atmosphere felt very impersonal and sanitised. I also felt a little perturbed by the list of a thousand rules at the side of the mats. One of said rules advised cats not to moan, if I wasn’t able to complain about anything that would eliminate about ninety percent of my conversation. Dope gym but I’m all about the grimyness of that ole favela stylee academy, if if don’t look like somewhere Rocky would train then I’m not even messing around.
I was competing Gi and No-Gi, the first day of the competition which was the saturday was in the kimono. I didn’t fight until three in the afternoon, so it was a long-ass day of waiting after getting there at nine to watch my homie Willian Mello smash his division at purple belt pluma – he is defo an Alliance fighter to watch out for. After my personal revelation that using the same thing that found me success at blue belt (deep half) just wasn’t working at purple, I had implemented a new game-plan as instructed by Terere. The idea was now to play guard rather than looking to fight from one particular type of guard. This went well, I got the initial sweep from X-guard and came up on top into dude’s open guard. I remember pausing to think ‘Wow that shit really worked well’, whilst pondering on this for a split second, dude arm-barred me.
It was pretty upsetting, not just losing, which does suck or being submitted which really sucks ass but doing so it front of Terere was the worst. After he gave me my purple belt, I really wanted to legitimise it through competition victory. So coming into the second day I was hungry and I mean legitimately hungry. I was the only one competing in No-Gi, so everyone sans me had gone out for an all you can eat the night before. I was stuck at the gaff explaining to the nice old couple who I was staying with why I still can’t eat the delicious assortment of food they were sticking up in my grill.
In my first match I swept from deep half, the old homie obviously does work at purple but I had found myself there organically rather than fought to get into that specific position. I passed dude’s guard, he attempted to turtle and I took his back and dived on the rear naked choke. I had a bye in the first round so my second match was the final. I pulled guard swept from deep half again, saw his foot and jumped on it for the straight ankle lock. I had never really celebrated after winning before but when I hit this submission I jumped up, slapped my chest and strutted like the Nature Boy himself. Winning there in front of Mestre Terere, finishing both opponents quickly and achieving my first success at purple was seriously too sweet. I feel like I had put in my best ever competitive performance. I was super happy after winning No-Gi Brazilian Nationals at blue in my first comp here in Brazil to then winning Sao Paulo No-Gi Open at purple at what would be my final one.
Post competition I felt high as hell for the next three hours and ended up at some sort of charity fund raising thing for a local favela with Terere and his extended fam. I had no idea what was going on in this piece, there was a small fair ground which led to a surreal bumper car battle with everyone and a stage where a chick dressed like Snow White was lip syncing to some crazy ass Brazilian pop with some dude who looked like Big Ears acting as her hype man. Thankfully, I was then put on a coach for the six hour drive back to Rio without any hint of death on the way which made for a nice change of pace.
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