Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Brazilian adventures - end of weeks 2 and 3....

After all the excitement of the first week here in Barra de Tijuca, weeks two and three have been a bit of a blur and I can't believe how fast the time has passed. Four months and three weeks prior to coming to Brazil, I was at the end of another adventure on the other side of the world in Thailand. Sat at home on a very damp and dreary Wednesday afternoon, wondering 'had I really been to Thailand?',I looked out of the window to see the wind and rain and it was enough for me to reach for the phone and book a flight to Rio. Once everything was finalised with the flights and accommodation, I started to mark off the days and at the time, sixteen weeks to count down seemed like an eternity.

Fast forward nineteen weeks and I am now on my last week of my BJJ adventures and now it seems like yesterday that I was sat back in the UK, pining for sunnier climes. The weekdays here in Rio follow the same pattern, training at 2pm in Dennis's class and then training in Gordo's class at 630pm. The house has filled up in the last week and there are people from all over the world living their dreams and all training hard. The weather has been hit and miss the last two weeks, with a few damp days in a row, which makes drying training gear a nightmare on the washing lines. That said, as I type up these notes in the early morning, the sun is making an appearance, so hopefully we'll all have dry gi's and rash guards to train in today - HOORAH!!

There's a great mix of people at the house, from all corners of the world, including Russia, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Australia, USA and more and at all belt levels; two days ago Carlos Rocha arrived here to prepare for his upcoming UFC 122 bout against Kris Mc Cray and made himself a popular house mate in no time.

As for my own training, I am still doing two classes a day, the 2pm class and the evening class at 630pm; in the afternoon class, most of the housemates are in attendance, which makes for great training and bonding new friendships between each other, as well as lots of japes and general mickey taking.

The evening classes are the ones I look forward to, as there many senior grades on the mats and is the ideal chance for me to put into practice, the techniques learned in the afternoon class with Dennis, as well as all the other helpful hints from other senior grades, such as Jeremy Arel, founder of Gerbil Jiu Jitsu and in the photograph below.

Jeremy is training here full time and has vowed to stay here in Rio until he gets his black belt and is not shaving until he gets the job done; Jeremy has shown me a number of little pointers to help improve my game, as well an unstoppable guard pass (which remains a secret for a while lol) that I've been using with high success in the evening classes against the purple and brown belts. I've yet to try it out on the black belts, because they don't usually let me get that far down the line in the first place!

Two days ago saw the arrival of Teta, who teaches at Frontline Academy in Oslo and is here for one week visiting family and friends and marked the beginning of my cauliflower hand. I've rolled with many black belts, but Teta seemed and felt a breed apart and at least five steps ahead of the game, well my game that's for sure. With a smile on his face after each submission, it was a long and tortuous ten minutes on the mats with Teta, but I'm sure I learned a lot, aside from tapping out that is.

Other memorable rolls have been with the purple belts at the club; some have been all out wars for the whole round, whilst others have been one sided traffic, both for them and myself and some have been technical from start to finish. Of the brown belts I've rolled with, Jeremy feels like a steam roller, as he applies the pressure game, leaving no openings at all and Rafael never ever breaks a sweat and taps you out time and time again, making you wonder if you really deserve your purple belt at all! As for the black belts, well they ain't a black belt for nothing as they give you a thorough going over, but never hurting you and after every submission, they came back with a few words on where you went wrong and tips on improving your positions.

For the time I have been here, I haven't seen anything groundbreaking regards the techniques shown (although I have seen a few slick sweeps and passes), it's more the little gems of advice from the senior grades that have made all the difference to my game. Rather than showing me new ways to move and execute techniques, they have shown me tweaks and pointers on the things I do in every roll, as well as pointers on keeping my positions tight and from this I go back to each session and try them out in the afternoon class and in the evening classes against the purple belts and I'm not doing a bad job if I may say so myself, which I'm sure is what it's all about :)

So, that's been the last two weeks out here in Rio; training hard through the week and R+R at the weekend, taking in the sights, sounds and beers of Ipanema and Copacabana, as well as all the touristy stuff such as visiting Sugar Loaf and Cristo Redemptor, keeping the yin and yang in equal balance. Tomorrow (Thursday) will see me embark on a new chapter in my life, as I turn the big four zero and only then will I know that if indeed, life does truly begin. From where I am sat in Rio, with a fine view of the Pedra de Gavea, the sun in the clouds and training a few hours away, I think I already know the answer.........

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