When I arrived in Rio the only thing I was here for was to train with Mestre Terere. I wasn’t here to peep Jesus, climb Sugar Loaf mountain or get into any of those whopping asses, I just wanted to train with my hero. For the last twelve months that is exactly what I have done, twice a day I have hit the academy and learnt as much as I possibly can from him. I have watched, almost as an innocent bystander as my body has fallen apart from the wars that go on each day. Looking at me you might assume I have been hid in a cupboard for the last year as I have managed to escape any hint of a tan, there is not much opportunity between gaff and gym to catch much of the blazing Rio sun.
To say that the Terere is charismatic would be a gross understatement, dude literally lights up the entire spot, it is impossible not to be drawn in as he gives cats tips in how to pick up chicks or randomly starts busting a move. Sometimes you meet people and you be like ‘that is a cool ass mutha-fucker’, he is defo one of them. On my first day at the academy my first roll was with dude himself, it felt like that moment before you opened your presents on Christmas morning and your brain is literally about to explode with excitement. I have trained at a number of gyms with a ‘famous’ instructors before and have never had the opportunity to roll with them or been made to feel so welcome. Twelve months later after rolling together many times, it is still just as dope, I still get hella excited and I still get mercilessly beaten down.
Over this last year my game has changed so much from his direct influence, he drops the dopest of details, that immediately make you think ‘holy-shit that changes everything’. When I arrived in Rio all I really had was a game based around deep half or as he put it ‘your little half guard’. I really had nothing else, my passing sucked ass I really didn’t play any open guard. Through his guidance I now see guard as one all encompassing thing that has to be learnt in its entirety in order to react to an opponent. These days I actually enjoying the challenge of having to pass dude’s guards rather than viewing it as the Rubik’s cube you threw out of the window as it pissed you off for being far too difficult.
However training with Terere hasn’t always been easy, he is a perfectionist and expects super high standards from all of this students, some days it is hard to live up to this. There are wars going on, on his mats everyday and the standard is super high, some sessions you can feel your own progression and other sessions a 15 year old orange belt will passes your guard. Homeboy is not afraid to tell you where you are going wrong either, he has made it clear to me on multiple occasions exactly why I suck ass. This super directness can seem a little harsh at first but he provides you with the information you need to go to work on that area of your game and make that shit work.
I have got an abundance of awesome memories to take home but no doubt the most memorable was getting promoted to purple belt. The moment homie put that belt around my waist was one of the most intense feeling of happiness I have ever experienced. I am not the most emotional of dudes but when I gave my promotion speech I was welling up like I just watched Mufasa get killed. Winning at the Sao Paulo No-Gi Open came a close second, after I finished homeboy in the final and left the pen I was immediately embraced by Terere. He told me he was really proud of me and that we had done it together. I guess it sounds kind of weird, what does it matter as a thirty year old dude if another dude who is only a couple of years older is proud of you? But the fact he is my hero and one of the greatest ever in the thing that I love more than anything in the world made it a ridiculously special moment.
The level of his teaching is most visible in the kids that train at the academy. The club is ran as a social project with children from the Cantagalo favela that Terere grew up in, training for free. These kids are smashing it in the competition scene, only this last weekend they achieved seven golds, one silver and four bronzes. The level of some of these young guys is nothing short of amazing, there are teenage yellow and orange belts thirteen, fourteen and fifth-teen years old that are absolute beasts. These guys are playing the most progressive form of Jiu-Jitsu, from the lapel guard to the berimbolo and are already super difficult to roll with. The social project is also ran by black belt Professor Julio Nogueria who is another inspirational cat, this dude works a ten hour day then comes to teach at the academy each night, accepting no payment for this. His love and dedication to the club and his community in general is immense, dude regularly pays for food for the children out of his own pocket. I feel totally privileged to have got to know these guys over the last year to see them grow and evolve as young grapplers, it has been awesome. Rolling with these guys everyday has totally helped to evolve my own game too.
That is it, I’m about to nip home and see all my peoples.
The adventure is over but my Jiu-Jitsu spanning adventures straight from deep half will continue.