Brazil is the world’s fifth largest country with colonial ties to Portugal. Brazilian culture is predominately based on the religious beliefs and language of its mother country. However, over time, African traditions have also had a great influence and are incorporated into modern Brazilian society..
Brazil has one of the world’s fastest growing economies. In recent years, Brazil’s exchange rate is now less favorable for most tourists. Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport is the largest in the country. Galeao International Airport (GIG) is the gateway to Rio.
Rio is Brazil’s main tourist site. I recommend anyone looking to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Brazil should come to Rio. You have a chance to train at the original Gracie Academy, along with multiple and varied tourist attractions.
Before You Go:
Remember in Brazil, they speak Portuguese, not Spanish. You will need a visa prior to entering the country. A basic tourist visa will allow you to stay 3 months. Visas are obtained by visiting any Brazilian Embassy. Some travel agencies, for an extra fee, will help you obtain your visa through the mail.
Basic requirements for obtaining a visa are: a completed visa application form plus
1. Passport photo
2. Travel documents , copy of E ticket(s)
3. Valid passport with 6 months remaining
Carnival in Rio is internationally known for its party atmosphere, which lasts for four days, Saturday through Tuesday (Fat Tuesday), prior to the beginning of Lent. . You should know that many Jiu Jitsu academies close down during this week. Most would-be Jiu Jitsu trainees are out partying as well. As you might expect, there is a large influx of people from all over the world and traffic in the city this week makes it tough to get around. I advise anyone coming for serious training to avoid this week. The dates for this week change every year. Carnival is usually held in February; however, sometimes the dates run into March
What to Bring
You should plan on hot weather clothes. If you are planning on going in July (winter months in southern hemisphere), you may also include a sweatshirt and jacket, July nights can get chilly. Flip flops are the footwear of choice in Rio, also a good pair of sneakers for extensive walking.
Beach wear is a must and as much underwear that you can fit in your bag. Sun block, hat, and sunglasses are a must. I recommend bring one Gi and buy another one while you are in Rio
Tips on Training
Can White Belts train in Brazil? Yes! The essence of being a martial artist is to never end your journey of knowledge. It has been my experience that While Belts are always the most eager to learn. This is especially true in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (“BJJ”). Beginners have a monumental task, that of survival. Being a White Belt can be somewhat intimidating as everyone else knows more that you, so it can really be tough on your ego. Making mistakes, forgetting the details, constantly being caught in bad positions is all part of the initial BJJ experience. Well, the good news is nobody cares! What I really mean to say is that there is no such thing as a White Belt World Champion! This is the time to make all the mistakes, no one is really keeping track, except for you. This is the time to learn especially from your mistakes. Therefore, take your time, learn at your own pace, and I promise you, your persistence and hard work will indeed pay off. With a White Belt around your waist you have nothing to prove….. that is until you want to test for your Blue Belt.
After receiving my Black Belt in BJJ from Royler Gracie and Louis Vintaloro in 2010, I discovered a new threshold of performance was expected. Every time I step on the mat now, I find that as BJJ Black Belt, my performance level must be upheld each time I train. If I have an off day, my disappointing performance becomes someone’s victory! And worse, such expressions as “I tapped out a Black Belt” can appear all over Facebook in record time. I can still remember the first Black Belt that I tapped out! So my advice as a Black Belt to a White Belt would be “ enjoy it while it lasts.”
The first time I trained in Brazil, I had only six months of prior Jiu Jitsu training. At the time, I was soaking up so information, the fact that I wore a White Belt was not an issue at all. One of the most important things is to remind yourself to stay within your training comfort zone. If you are new to Jiu Jitsu, remember to pace yourself. Pushing too hard may cause an injury which may keep you from progressing. It is extremely vital that you set realistic goals. Beginning students can sometimes put too much pressure on themselves as well as becoming their own worst critic. Remember slow and steady wins the race!
Below you will find a list of tips for the beginner who has decided to travel to Brazil for more
1. Know the basic moves: that is break falling, rolls
2. Stretching: Should be practiced on a daily basis as it is one of the best ways to help your body both prepare for and recover from an intensive training session.
3. Know the Rules: I have found that certain training facilities have very specific rules regarding a beginner’s performance. For example, the rules dictate when a beginner is allowed to apply leg locks. It is important to discuss this topic with your trainer.
4. Customs: Courtesy to and respect for both training partners and teachers is a must. It is an unstated but nonetheless integral part of the Jiu- Jitsu experience, especially so in Brazil. It goes without saying that you should leave your ego at the door.
5. Running: Cardio Training can only benefit your Jiu- Jitsu. If you have committed to traveling to Brazil for training, running or extra cardio work outs at the gym would be an excellent way to get your body in top condition.
6. Diet: It goes without saying; a healthy, nutritious diet is of extreme importance. You know your body and its demands, as such; eating well will assist you during the training session as well as helping you to recover in time for the next session.
7. Communication: . It would be helpful to study the Portuguese language and specifically, the terms most often associated with Jiu Jitsu and you will most likely hear during training sessions. I included a list of expressions in Chapter __
In front of the Gracie Academy in Humaita, Rio de Janeiro
My first visit to the Gracie Academy back in 2000 was an eye opening experience. I had never trained Martial Arts outside the USA before. The original Gracie Academy is located on the second floor of a Catholic school in Downtown Rio. A 20 minute cab ride from Ipenema, the Academy is located in a section of Rio referred to as Botafogo.
Walking through the front gate of the school and following my teacher, Louis Vintaloro, up the steps. I was not sure what to expect. Louis had been to Brazil a few times and knew his way around. I was very lucky to have his guidance because at this point of my Jiu Jitsu training, I spoke no Portuguese and had no idea where to go in Rio.
Halfway up the four flights of stairs to the Academy, everything went pitch black. I was really kind of freaked out at this point, being in a foreign country, never training at this school
before, and now a black out. I kept thinking to myself, is this some sort of sign?
As it turns out, Rio, because of the intense heat, sometimes loses power during peak hours. It however did not seem to bother any of the students or trainers, as everyone kept training in the dark! Finally, the lights came back on and I was put at ease.
Royler Gracie taught most of the classes when I would visit the Humaita school. If Royler were traveling or competing, his brother Rolker would cover class.
One of the biggest differences between training in Brazil and in New Jersey is the amount of brown and black belts training in class. I felt very fortunate that classes at Performance Jiu Jitsu in Fair Lawn were run the same way as classes in Brazil. Still however, in Brazil, most of the class is taught in Portuguese with a quick explanation in English. As you might expect, this took a bit of time to get used to. Royler speaks English very well, so when he would teach a class, the language barrier was not an issue.
There always seem to be visitors from all over the world at this facility; therefore, both the students and teachers are very comfortable with foreigners stopping in for training. I recommend this Academy to anyone coming to Rio for training. Just stop by for a visit and you will feel most welcome
The old pictures showing the various victories of all the Gracie brothers line the walls. It really is a cool part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu experience. The best highlight for me was when I had the chance to train with Master Helio Gracie in Rio in 2003.