These days a lot of dudes will tell you that you need to go to America to get the best in Jiu-Jitsu training. However in my humble opinion it really is all about making that pilgrimage to the mecca of it all and visiting the motherland. Saying that, it can be difficult to decide just where to go in Brazil. Do you hit Rio and study conceptual Jiu-Jitsu with Rico Viera at Checkmat? Get terrorised by Rodolfo at GF Team? Train with Terere and learn to back-step in a way that all women will instantly fall in love with you? Or soak up all the history at Gracie Barra? Maybe you peep São Paulo and train with the Miyaos at Cisero Costa, get dropped on your swede training with Calasans at Atos or kick it with the General at the beautiful Alliance academy .
Unfortunately as I only trained at one of these gyms, I can’t make this decision any clearer for you. BUT I can break down some of the main differences I observed between these two huge ass cities.
I. Work Habits
A lot of people seem to sleep whilst at work in Rio. Most days I would notice someone grabbing a bit of shut eye, there was the pizza delivery dude that would be taking a kip on the back of his moped or the lift attendant who managed to doze off between floors but always wake up as we hit the ground. One time when I attempted to board the bus, the women who collects the money was having a cheeky snooze, I actually had to give her a good shake to pay my fare. In my time in São Paulo I didn’t notice a single person drifting off whilst in paid employment which was a refreshing change. Although in both cities mobile phone usage appeared to be a prerequisite of holding down a job. Wherever you went, you would find employees on their phones the entire day. Whether it was workers on the shop floor, the police in between beating people with there whopping batons or even bus drivers behind the wheel they were whatsapping their friends, inundating Facebook with selfies or sending over dick pics to their girl.
In Rio, guys wear board shorts & Havaianas, nothing else. You are looked at somewhat strangely and I was even questioned for sporting a pair of kicks. When I arrived in São Paulo for the first time I was literally in awe to see people rocking Nikes, Adidas and Cons, it was a beautiful thing! Men and women were wearing jeans, some cats were even wearing hoodies, as everyone from Rio will tell you that São Paulo is ‘cold’. Perhaps the craziest thing was dudes were actually wearing a t-shirts in the day time.
I, myself managed to go nearly eleven months without sporting a pair of flip flops until a super kind family friend copped me the most distasteful pair ever imagined for my birthday. If I ever become a battle hardened black belt with aliens on my swede for ears then I will be perfectly happy to throw on a pair of Havaianas but as it stands the very thought of them emasculates me to my core.
III. Getting around
I love Rio so much, it is without doubt my favourite place to be in the entire world BUT that shit is not easy to navigate if you don’t speak a word of Portuguese. My life definitely became a bit easier after six months or so when I gained the ability to understand the most rudimentary aspects of the language. I have no idea how tourists make their way around successfully, find the things they are looking for and not get jacked for everything they own on a daily basis. There is nothing in English and nobody speaks English. Whilst I didn’t want to be surrounded by English speakers, when you are lost and feel like you are about to cry, someone helping you who speaks a little of your native language goes a long way to avoid an emotional meltdown. São Paulo on the other hand, I found to be totally gringo-friendly, many signs were in English, the metro runs in English as well as Portuguese and if you are struggling with life more people seem to be able to help.
I thought the traffic situation in Rio was one of the worst things that had ever existed until I experienced the urban nightmare of São Paulo’s streets. The gridlock’d roads are teaming with kamikaze moped drivers who are constantly weaving through the traffic. These guys seemingly have one thing on their mind which is hurtling themselves into your vehicle at maximum velocity and hopefully taking you with them. I was given a statistic on good authority by a friendly black belt, he informed me that three moped drivers are killed each day in the city. Whilst I am usually sceptical of random statistics that people just seem to pull out of thin air, the fact he was a black belt and these moped mad men are full on suicidal provided enough validity for me.
V. Love of literature
Whilst I am not suggesting that cats in Rio lack an appreciation of good literature but I never saw anything on the same level as this groundbreaking machine which could possibly lead to a literary renaissance. I was walking through the Metro station when I noticed a funny looking vending machine. Upon closer inspection I didn’t find any Cherry Coke or a single Snickers bar but hella books! I had to wait as there were three people in line for this machine all of whom were taking their time in making a selection. Unfortunately you can’t really make it out in the picture as my flash had decided to act like a punk-ass biatch but there was something for children, a selection of cookery books and even Voltaire if you felt the need to brush up on the age of enlightenment!
More coming in Part II…
This week I have my sadistic teammate & homeslice Adam Simpson, a brown belt in both Jiu-Jitsu and Judo showing details on how to make your bread-cutter choke deliciously unpleasant for your opponent.
Don’t forget to check Part II of the BJJ Hack video series with Terere which I think is the most accurate portrayal of the legendary dude captured on film