Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Training Reflections from Brazil

Above is a HL of competitors from one of the places I trained in Brazil.
Gracie Barra Pernambuco.

====== General thoughts on training in Brazil =====
The heat: A double weave for day-time training is pretty much impossible. Bring 2 single weaves. Hanging even a single weave to dry overnight will likely not be enough time to adequately dry as the moisture in the air will mean it is not dry after a night time training session and then before heading to train mid-day.

Diet: Acai is awesome. The fruit and the juice were amazing and fresh everywhere I went.
However, when eating rice, potatoes, meat et cetera, if you are unaccustomed to Brazilian food, it can feel heavy if you overeat and don't eat enough fruit/vegetables to accompany.  Know also, that lunch is considered the big meal of the day, not dinner. Eating out is also cost-prohibitive. Sure, you can find a street vendor with chicken/meat on a stick et cetera, but a sit down restaurant will likely run you $20-30/ or the equivalent in Reais.
Supplements are EXTREMELY expensive there. I saw a tub of protein like this one, that would be about 60 bucks in the USA marked up to nearly $100 in a vitamin/supplement store there. I highly recommend packing what you can rather than buying there. And it wasn't just the brand name: this was the norm.
In general, Brazil's economy is booming and the days of thinking the American dollar's conversion rate will make it a cheap stay are long gone. Anyone who tells you that hasn't been to Brazil in awhile, and expect as the oil rich reserves help boost Brazil's economy and with all the construction for the World Cup and the Olympics, prices will continue to rise.
There is also the "gringo price" for things.
The first place I went wanted to charge me a month's rate for my training there for a week.
It is what it is, and it's just something you should be aware of. That being said, private lessons, can be comparatively cheap for a good brown or black belt compared to what you will pay in the States.

Another HL from the GB PE school I trained at:

Transportation: The busing system is confusing if your Portuguese is weak and the bus driver's will likely be so strapped for time that explaining to you the ins and outs will be dependent on how friendly they may or may not be as well as how good their English may or may not be. Finding those who speak more than passable English can be difficult if you are outside of the major metropolitan areas. I did fine communicating with guys at the gyms I trained at, but stopping a person on the street to get directions was typically limited by my lack of Portuguese and their general lack of English.
Again, this may be different in Rio or Sao Paulo, but outside of those areas, and the airport, it can be difficult.

Some other general things:
Returning something with or without a receipt is virtually impossible in Brazil. Any store, clothing, supplement, a can of coke, whatever, don't plan on returning it. You buy it...it is yours.

If you look American or like a tourist, you may be targeted for crime. Traveling at night beyond major crowded areas or beyond the beaten path to a club or bar is ill-advised unless you are with a large, large group. If you are out with a bunch of couples, and the guys look soft, well, you might get robbed. It is best to go to and from the places you go directly. Cab to there and cab back. In particular for those that "look" American/European. I did not feel unsafe as I grew up on the west coast in a major city, but those I was with were noticeably concerned about being in certain parts of town past dark, and especially later on past 9 or 10pm.

Take some time to visit a few museums, or some of the niceer places downtown and see the sights.
I was fortunate enough to visit some awesome beaches, some amazing old colonial architecture, and see the country side on the way to a nearby Porto De Galinhas (term for old slave ships/slaves).

You will appreciate some of the easier things about America (like using the bank or dealing with a government agency - even the DMV) after visiting Brazil. The Jiu-Jitsu is great. The food is great. The people I met at the gyms I trained were great and were all super helpful: making sure I was safe getting to and from the gym, inviting me to seminars, asking about my fights, training in the States vs Brazil et cetera.

All in all, if you take all the money you waste in a year on eating out, buying shit you don't need, buying books and going to seminars, you can afford to make a trip to the birthplace of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. No one get irked about me not calling the birthplace Japan. I'm a Judo black belt, and what they do on the mat in Brazil is no longer the same as what they do on the mat in Japan.
They are different sports with enough time spent in isolation, give Brazil it's due.

Here is  HL of another gym I trained at, Kezen BJJ, now affiliated with GFTeam:

Below is a purple belt, nicknamed "Paulista" who I trained with during the day during my week in Brazil at Kezen BJJ. Super nice guy. Tough fighter. He's the guy with the tats on his feet (if you can see, on the left as the match begins). He had a fight coming up when I visited, hope they found him an opponent and he won.

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