The First Week Back…


Courtesy of BJJ Hacks

By the end of my year in Rio I was fully ready to leave but nine months at home in the UK I was fiending like Renton to get back. This time I would not be spending a full year, my grand plan, to spend about three months, compete in some big comps, travel to some more cities and of course train a little Jiu-Jitsu.

Predictably my flight here was fraught with dumb-assness. I hadn’t really looked at the tickets prior to their purchase, they were cheap as hell which made them the only viable option. Unfortunately when I did check the day before leaving, I realised I had a connection in Toronto which was a seven hour flight itself, then a nine-hour layover there. All before my twelve-hour flight to Rio, which is pretty much what it usually takes from home without all the other shenanigans.

As luck would have it, I managed to spend two of my hours in Toronto looking for my ‘lost luggage’. Upon arrival, the tannoy instructed everyone to collect their luggage before moving on to their connection. I thought this was random and never having done it before, I went to double check with someone in the know. I was informed that this was in fact the case. I made my way through visa check only after asking one more airport employee if this was indeed the done thing, again I was reassured it was. I waited half an hour for said luggage which surprisingly never arrived. I quizzed a third employee and told unequivocally that I had to collect my stuff, prior to joining the long ass lost luggage queue. Ninety full minutes in this queue by this point I hate every single thing about Air Canada. The first dude sends me somewhere to look for my bags, he assures me that they will be there which of course they are not, I have to then wait to get back to the front desk. Finally I get to speak with a dude who isn’t actually a dumbass, he informs me immediately that I didn’t have to pick them up and they would meet me in Rio. By the time I had been selected for a random check and had some dude putting his fingers in the inside of my pants, Canadians become by far the worst people walking the Earth.

Arriving back in Ipanema and bearing witness to the natural beauty of the ocean, its endless stretch of beach, the mountains towering above both acting as their omnipotent guardian, the picture was of course sullied by millions of cats taking selfies. The only thing on my mind was the obligatory acai, which I needed before my brain exploded. From the first taste my Jiu-Jitu power levelled up immediately and I almost arm-dragged the waitress.

I headed up into the Cantagalo favela which I had previously made my home. It was a real blessing being adopted by my very own Brazilian family, so it was a full on reunion of awesomness when I got back to the gaff. My little bro Gabriel is now sixteen and trying to balance a girlfriend who he obviously wants to see every single minute of the day, as well as his Jiu-Jitsu, boxing and getting up for school at 5AM to start his day at 6. Although this doesn’t seem to be a problem for him as I discovered on the mats later that evening. They don’t call him ‘Godzilla’ for nothing, he was causing maximum carnage to everyone in radius of his Jiu-Jitsu. Gabriel’s little brother Vinicious was only six months old when I left, he is now at an inquisitive fifteen months and very interested in the random gringo who seems to have just moved up into his space. The little guy has already discovered that my foam roller is an excellent device to beat Gohan the dog with.


Making my entrance into the Fernando Terere Academy that evening I felt (undeservingly) like a returning hero. Unfortunately the head honcho himself, Terere wasn’t there but I was met with a rousing reception by Professors Nogueira & Fabricio and the rest of the fam. The warmth and love that I received from everyone was next level of delish and it made me feel beyond grateful to be part of the family here. Training itself was obviously war, the desire to prove your dominance against another on the mats works cross culturally and irregardless of friendship or respect, I wanted to vindicate my own improvement by smashing cats and they wanted to beat me down to show exactly the same thing. So I left the mats a tired and broken man but without a hint of jet lag.

Courtesy of BJJ Hacks

Courtesy of BJJ Hacks

Of course being back in Rio necessitated a visit to the Jiu-Jitsu haven in the heart of Barra, the Connection Rio abode. I had the privilege of taking part in my bro Torryn’s promotion to purple belt. Dude is the wrestling coach at Rio Fighters, a former collegiate wrestler, active MMA fighter and a near five-year blue belt. I honesty couldn’t think of a dude who had a more overdue and deserved promotion but he certainly got put through the grinder to receive it. Connection Rio owner, Jiu-Jitsu entrepreneur, long time black belt and general kickass dude, Dennis Asche orchestrated this torture at world-famous Gordo’s Academy. After a brief warmup, the promotion involved a technique test, techniques from guard, passing, escaping vulnerable positions and a series of submissions. This honesty must have been nerve-racking in itself, you have twenty dudes stood around silently critiquing your every move. This was preceded by one hundred shots, I’m sure years in the wrestling room meant this was nothing new but it still looked like it sucked hella ass especially with what was to come. Finally, there was a supreme test of attrition with an hour of straight rolling with a new dude jumping in every two minutes. He fought for every minute of that hour battling though on heart and determination. At certain points I attempted to empathise with him and concluded I would have unquestionably broken down into tears. It was a privilege to have been part of this.

Courtesy of Connection Rio

Courtesy of Connection Rio

This first week was also in a large part about beating up a small child. Terere’s social project has a Jiu-Jitsu protegé, fourteen year old orange belt, Jhonathan ‘Moricano’ Marques During my first stint at the academy he was a yellow belt and had this ridiculously difficult Miyao brothers stylee guard. His guard retrieval was awesome but at the time he had little else. What a difference nine months makes! I arrived back to see him obliterate competition level blue belts as well as give purple and brown belts a torrid time. As my young friend wasn’t supposed to be rolling due to a competition at the weekend (which he won), I had to wait until Monday to try to test his game. The weekend was spent wisely discussing with prior victims how to pass this guard. I spent far too much time over those two days fathoming the game of a fourteen year old and how I planned to kill it.

When Monday came, I was primed and ready to go. I was then more than elated when I passed his guard, to the cheers of onlookers in the academy. With the awareness it was a child, I resisted the urge to jump up and bust out my victory dance. However the balance was truly restored when I spent the next five minutes trying to desperately avoid being swept in his Rubix Cube like guard game. Then the inevitable occurred in the last 20 seconds, as I posted to defend a sweep the little dude arm-barred me. He is unquestionably a phenom with an outstanding all-around game that doesn’t simply rely on this devastating guard, he has dastardly submissions coupled with tenacious passing!


Courtesy of BJJ Hacks

During my year in Brazil I trained a lot, rolling hard twice a day in addition to that extra, ‘essential’ drill session. This resulted in a great deal of time spent being completely run down, over-trained and lacking the motivation or enthusiasm for my time on the mats. I guess it must be an age thing but waking up in a morning everything has started to hurt these days. Spending time pondering this, I resolved that this time I would ‘train-smart’, I would roll hard once a day and just drill technique for the other session. Predictably though, I didn’t heed any of my own advice and I spent the last day of my first week struggling to move out of bed because I’d rolled like my life was about to end twice a day everyday since being back.

Courtesy of BJJ Hacks

Courtesy of BJJ Hacks

After scoring gold the last two weekends at the FJJD Mineirio & CBJJO Mundials respectively, Fernando Terere’s very own Jhonathan ‘Moricano’ Marques showing cats how he does his thing. A special debt of gratitude to BJJ Hacks for putting this bad boy together.

Thanks to BJJ Hacks for shooting this bad-boy

To donate to Terere’s Kids Project:

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