Still not sure which city to choose to get your Jiu-Jitsu thing on? Here are a few more observations which could quite possibly help you make an informed decision…
VI. Differences in the shopping experience
Getting in your weekly food shop can be difficult and stressful in the Jiu-Jitsu hotspots of Ipanema and Copa, supermarkets are super tiny and hella cramped. I don’t know whether there is a lack of spacial awareness or just a lack of giving a shit but people just roll right through you. If that elderly lady wants her bag of Feijao and you are in her way then best believe her trolly is on a collision course with your shins unless you bounce like a Gummi bear. Whilst the supermarkets I visited in São Paulo were vastly different, they were spacious and presented a tranquil if slightly bizarre shopping experience. During one particular visit, which happened to be the day before the São Paulo Open where I was suffering from supreme hunger due to a difficult weight cut brought on from the consumption of copious amounts of hot dogs (a Brazilian delicacy). When I saw a female shop assistant gliding through the middle of the store on roller-skates, I assumed I was suffering from some weird-ass hunger based hallucination. However when I saw another chick frolicking along on her skates with seemingly not a care in the world, this next level randomness was confirmed. Generally Rio based employees seem to be having a kip or texting everyone they know so I guess this was a logical way of ensuring productivity is increased in the neighbouring city.
VII. Leisure time
When Terere told me we were about to go to the ‘praia de São Paulo’ I was more than a little confused as São Paulo is a whopping Metropolis with very little green let alone a beach. We ended up at a huge park where seemingly every single person that lived in the city had descended upon that very sunday afternoon. There were literally thousands of people taking up every inch of space available, it made Central Park seem like a quint little spot. This mass of humanity were doing a huge range of activities, longboarding, a random sort of tennis game with no net, chilling with the fam, playing games of football and dudes sat blazing cones. You could get your hands on coconuts, corn on the cob, cakes, beer, acai, selgardos, tapiocas, basically all the deliciousness that you could ever want & just like at the beaches of Rio you are being constantly terrorised to indulge in them. I was not the biggest fan of Rio’s beaches due to the ridiculous levels of humanity and the inability to just be able to chill and have a read without being forced feed Globos. The park was similarly the same experience, it looked dope as hell, seriously beautiful scenery going on with a cityscape in its background but this was somewhat difficult to enjoy when you have a million people, all up in your space stealing your air.
VIII. The existence of sub-cultures
In Rio there is a huge amount of ethnic differences which is one of the things that I love. But when it comes to different sub-cultures you are hard pressed to spot any, pretty much everyone, rich or poor wears the same thing, board shorts and flip flops. One of the first things I noticed about São Paulo was how hip hop influenced it was. You see enough dudes walking around rocking low riding jeans and high top nikes, I saw so many Raiders caps it made me want grow a Jerry Curl and start calling everyone ‘biatch’.
In Rio there is a lot of bad tattoos floating around, you don’t see many large beautiful looking pieces which have obviously took hours in the chair to actualise their dopeness. The most prominent of ink usually involved a child’s or former lover’s name scrawled across the forearm. You are also see a lot of girls sporting Ramones tees, in fact you wouldn’t believe how many Ramones fans there are in Rio if the tees are anything to go by. However there was a surprising lack of alternative kids and the few that I saw were eyed somewhat strangely. Whilst In São Paulo there is enough plugged ears, septum piercing, dope sleeves and misunderstood characters floating around doing their thing without any fear of lynching for not wearing their Havianas!
IX. Musical goings on
Rio is all about the funk, walking through the favela on any given night you can hear Baile Funk popping off. It reaches its pinnacle during weekends when huge parties are held that last well into the next day. This music was something which born out of the favelas but due to its massive popularity has reached far beyond. These huge parties or bailes even have middle classes ‘braving’ the favela to get in on the action. Terere’s brother, Patrick is himself a professional dancer and can be seen each Sunday on the Brazilian equivalent of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ performing his favela based funk moves. The parties themselves are basically the same as any mad one, drink bevies in large quantities or whatever you like to indulge in, have a bit of a dance and try and hook up with chicks who you hope you can do the do with at the end of the night. The music itself is a fast paced, bassy dance music which is predominantly made up of lyrics about who you want a slice of or who you have already had a slice of, who you now hate as they are hooking up with someone else. Personally I really wasn’t feeling it, it really wasn’t saying very much to me, although cats in a chemical state of inebriation somehow seemed to get it.
Whilst São Paulo defo more my cup of tea, I previously mentioned you could tell dudes here were hip hop just from their dress sense. Hip Hop and reggae nights are advertised around the streets with huge flyers. Some of the best and most famed Brazilian rappers are from the city, cats such as Criolo, Emicida and OGI. In the face of massive oppression and inequality in the city you can see why this form of music is really starting to pop off like it did in New York nearly 40 years ago. Lyrically rappers such as Criolo and OGI deal with the social and political issues that exist within their communities and the city at large. Whilst I wasn’t at the level to understand their entire message but they impressed the hell out of me.
Poverty in Rio is obviously a huge issue, unfortunately I do not have an ability to paint an accurate picture of the hardships I saw in the lives of the people there. I witnessed one of the most tragic instances of this absolute poverty walking up a huge flight of stones stairs into the favela, there was this really old women sleeping under a blanket. This lady who should of been retired somewhere having a nice kip, yet she was stranded homeless and alone on a cold flight of stairs in the middle of the night. Of all the things that I saw living inside a slum this image really haunted me and will be forever etched into my memory, it really brought home how fucked up some things are in Brazil.
Whilst I am in no position to even speculate whether poverty is worse in São Paulo but at the very least Rio’s extreme poverty is offset by its amazing natural beauty, you only have to look up to see mountains and you are never far from the ocean. As I was arriving into São Paulo on the outskirts of the city there was a favela which was made up entirely of tents. In Rio I was so used to seeing people cobbling together their own gaffs, but as poor as they were they had running water and electric most of the time whilst these guys would be struggling on without those basic necessities. As we entered the city, every possible space there was for a person to potentially bed-down was filled with someone and their possessions. The cities’ embankments, bridges, underpasses, doorways and benches were entirely filled with people struggling to get by. Just like in Rio the crazy thing is the amount of ridiculously affluent people living in such close proximity with people who literally have nothing.
Check out the third and final instalment of BJJ Hacks video series on Mestre Terere which is as dope as they come