I had been feeling super sickly since arriving back from Sao Paulo but like a dumb ass I was attempting to train through it. I would feel ok in the morning then train two hard sessions, which would lead me to be full on ill again the next day. I hadn’t actually discovered at this point that I had contacted a stinking stomach infection, it would be a week later and four hours at the ghetto UPP (hospital) to find out that useful info and receive a stockpile of medication to combat it. The doctor sat behind a table that looked like it had been in use since the 70s, unbelievably operating without a computer he made a correct diagnosis despite the language barrier and based on a single symptom, dude was next level awesome.
Our academy had been invited to visit a social project in the Andarai favela which has just become an affiliate of FT Jiu-Jitsu. The Andarai favela had recently been pacified which basically means colonised by the police, prior to that, it was one of the most dangerous slums in all of Rio with drug traffickers besieging residents with open gun battles popping off in the streets. Fortunately when we landed in that piece there was none of this BUT we were presented with a Kilimanjaro esque monster hill. I was not doing too well by this point and began to pour in more cold sweat than Stallone in Cliffhanger as I attempted to make my way up. It did make me wonder how anyone would have the energy to lick shots at each other after scaling this mountain. When we actually ascended this bad-boy, we found ourselves in what appeared to be a small village hall with a few filthy mats thrown out on the floor. I was slightly concerned about contacting full on aids if I didn’t wash myself immediately post-training, which wasn’t an option as ‘the worst toilet in Rio’ wasn’t packing a shower but was very much afloat with a sea of urine.
Whilst that doesn’t sound like most ideal conditions to actually train in, the atmosphere there was unbelievably welcoming as we were meet by a troupe of smiling little guys and some equally beaming parents. The social project is run by black belt Eliton Viera, he has about twenty children ranging from five through to fifth-teen years old training in the evenings after they finish school. Social projects are ran as charities, so there is no cost for the children of the community who were all rocking mismatched and predominantly oversized Gis which have been handed down to them.
The little guys of were all relatively new to Jiu-Jitsu but were ridiculously eager to learn. After showing techniques, the children of our Fernando Terere social project each worked with a pair from Andarai, sharing their knowledge and expertise which I thought as really dope. I am always amazed at the speed with which the little dudes pick up techniques and how naturally it appears to come to them. When I say ‘amazed’ I mean it actually sucks that techniques I have to rep everyday for two months to perfect they pick up in a single session then bust that shit straight out! Everyone was just so appreciative of us for being there and sharing some cool stuff with them which in turn made me feel rather good about the world. We got a chance to roll which was super fun besides the fact I had continued to pour in cold sweat and generally felt like passing out after each child had throughly beat me down.
It was a real privilege to see the amazing work that Professor Viera was doing there in his own community with these children. Whilst I have only met dude a few times, it is glaring obvious how hardworking, caring and generous this cat is. The community in Anadarai like many favelas in Rio is suffering from extreme poverty, it is difficult to overstate the importance that Jiu-Jitsu has in the lives of these little guys. The social project provides them with some much, from a fun form of exercise to a place to meet friends and socialise. There are positive role models to guide them which gives them a chance of stay off the streets and the negative influences that reside there. It is even a place where they know they will be fed.
Post training we had a chance to chill and get our Churrasco (BBQ) on together. I was in no way motivated to eat anything as my stomach had lost the ability to digest food, unfortunately every time I looked down, my plate contained more meat. This would come back to haunt me very soon. A highlight of the afternoon was peeping a slightly inebriated 100kg Brazilian black belt who speaks not a single word of English spit 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ in its entirety.
Upon arriving home one of the worst things that has ever happened to me in the history of my life occurred. I was seriously feeling bad and realised this food was coming straight back at a dude. Sat on the floor in the bathroom trying to be as discreet as possible as walls are paper thin in this piece, I made a fatal mistake that would cost me dearly. I leant in too close to the bowl as I began to empty my stomach, I vomed with such velocity that it hit the water and rebounded straight back into my mouth! There was this surreal moment which felt like an eternity but must of been a millisecond where I pondered this wholly un-natural sensation occurring in my mouth and the reason it had befallen me. Safe to say, I then violently puked up every single thing I had consumed ever. It was a throughly soul destroying experience, which in the three seconds it took me to pass out after I hit my bed made me question the very nature of my existence.