it has been a busy few weeks here in Rio, but I finally had a chance to write down some of whats been going on in Brazil.
A few weeks ago. I had the opportunity to teach a wrestling seminar at Academia Fight Co. in Nova Friburgo, a small city about 140 km north of Rio. The gym, ran by Anderson Franca, is home to many talented fighters including UFC striking phenom Edson Barboza. Nicole and I went up a couple of days early to enjoy a mini-vacation and some R&R.
On Thursday morning Nicole and I packed up our bags hopped a bus to the Rodavario (Rio's main bus station) and took a coach bus about 2 hours north to Cachoeiras de Macacu, where we were picked up by Alex Davis and taken to his farm. For those who don't know, Alex is a judo and BJJ blackbelt and manager to some of the biggest fighters in MMA. Besides being a figure in the martial arts world he is a strong advocate for environmental conservation and has his property set up as a pristine natural environment. His 7.8 million square yard farm, much of it Atlantic Rain Forest, was breath taking. Nicole and I spent our mornings laying in a hammock, reading, and sitting down to a Brazilian style breakfast (breads, cheeses, fruits, granola, and of course coffee). On Friday afternoon Alex's brother Andy, who is an ecologist in the U.S., took us along a trail up through the jungle. As we hiked he explained the wildlife and history of the area. One of the more interesting things was their water system, which used a piping and filter system working with the change in elevation to bring water from the nearby mountain stream and into the house. So the water we drank from the tap was pure mountain water, no chemicals added. Our final destination was a large waterfall about 100 feet high, that cascaded into a large pool. We took the chance to swim, sit under the water fall and enjoy the refreshing mountain water. Friday evening Alex and I went out into his outdoor dojo (yes that's right Alex has an outdoor dojo) and rolled. We started first at a flow and then picking up the pace. Being an accomplished judoka one of the first things I noticed with Alex's game was his grip game. He has a great feeling for changes in pressure and adjustments, which made hand fighting and rolling fun. We spent the better part of an hour transitioning from position to position and enjoying the arte suave. I have to say rolling in an outdoor dojo, surrounded by jungle and mountains was one the coolest and most fun experiences I have had so far in my BJJ journey.
Soon after we finished rolling a thunderstorm hit and after dinner we sat out and watched lighting light up the night sky. The silhouette of the mountains against the bright flashes of lightning was one of those sights that makes you stand in awe of the world around you. I went to bed listening to the sound of rain and the rushing river nearby. On Saturday morning the sun was up bright and I got some yoga in outside on their stone patio. After a relaxed breakfast Alex and I headed down to the river for a swim. The water was cool and refreshing, and so clean you could drink straight from the river. We sunned ourselves on the rock, talking BJJ and life. Over the course of the two days at the farm one of the best things was Alex's stories. He had stories from the old school days of judo and BJJ in Brazil, about the history of Brazil, and some far out stories of some of the things he has seen living in the jungle. Next Nicole and I packed our bags and took a bus to Nova Friburgo, a 30 minute ride winding through the mountains. Alex's daughter, Michele, and her husband Anderson picked us up and took us to their gym. The gym was very nice. The upper level has a nice weight room and the lower level has a large mat space and full sized boxing ring. After a quick lunch we headed back to the gym for the seminar. The seminar went great and I had 29 fighters show up. The seminar lasted around 2.5 hours, going over positions for grappling and MMA, both attacks and counters. Everyone seemed to pick up the techniques fast and the time flew by.