Back from Brazil!

Whats up everyone, so I just got off from the plane back from our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) training trip in Brazil about a hour ago. Sorry for not posting to the site while I was away. I planned on it but trying to fit in 3-4 training sessions each day combined with sites and the regular daily grind proved to be too much. Ill give everyone the cliff note run through to the best of my ability, we did a lot…

We left last week and landed in Rio after a not so bad flight that was about 9 hours from our connecting airport in Atlanta. With only <6 days to actually do what we needed to do it really turned out not to be enough time; having had been to Brazil a bunch of times before, having eight total people on the trip and a list of stuff to do a mile long, I had a feeling it would prove to be too much but we hit the ground running none the less and had a daily itinerary to work off of put together by ConnectionRio.com. If you aren’t familiar with CR, they run a hostel in Barra Brazil that is friendly with many of the top schools in BR. They can set up everything from daily travel and sights to training. Ill get back to CR later…

We started off our trip getting picked up by our van at the airport and shooting to CR. Upon arrival we were met by Dennis from CR, he is the owner and manager. When we got to CR we checked in and we all went for food and the best thing about Rio beside the views and training…acai.

acai with granola

acai in Brazil

Acai is a berry from Brazil rich in antioxidants and iron and a staple food to BJJ players and Brazil in general. If I had to guess I spent about $150 in acai during my 7 day stay and all worth it. I am obsessed.

On this trip I had a huge personal list of things to get done, I set a goal of 2-3 times training per day and I wanted this to be a sort of historical training trip as I wanted to meet as many BJJ red belts as I could. I have taken a big interest in the history of BJJ since I earned my black belt and it was something I was really looking forward to . I was unfortunately only able to meet one this trip but it was amazing and probably made the trip for me. Our first night in Rio we shot off to Copacabana and trained with Ricardo De la Riva.

Master Ricardo ‘De la Riva’ and Abusado Team Black Belt Dan Simmler

I thought this would be a great experience for everyone since my style involves a lot of De la Riva guard and reverse DLR guard so as a result so do the games of many of my students, what would be cooler than meeting the man himself. Master Ricardo is a BJJ 7th degree Coral (Red and Black Belt) Belt. The training here was great but we would only have the chance to train here one other night during the week. I got to learn a great new wrist lock from one of the heavy weight black belts. I genuinely enjoyed the atmosphere and training here. I got a good laugh because immediately after hitting hands with one of the black belts during a live roll he went right after my legs attacking a toe hold to knee bar and back and forth he went, never being threatened Master DLR said in portuguese to Dennis from CR ‘a guy who goes right after the legs is like the guy who goes to a party and just goes after the first girl he sees…’ I thought that was pretty funny.

Connection Rio has a great location to a lot, one place is Gordo BJJ. It’s literally like fifty feet from the front door step of CR.  Gordo and his brother are given credit for ‘inventing’ half guard, while they didn’t actually invent it they were the first to start to use it as a actually offensive position instead of a half way point back to full guard. I personally was the only one who trained there, Gordinho is a good friend and I haven’t seen him in about five years. It was a good feeling to walk in and have his head pop up and and say ‘Dan?! Brother what are you doing here…’ I felt right at home. I had the chance to roll with a few black and brown belts. That was the biggest thing for me, every class at every gym we went to had minimum 5+ black belts on the mat as well as a bunch of browns and a host of other colored belts as well.

I felt at home here and was able to really open up my game and was complimented many times on my guard game which has changed a great deal over the last twelve months which I am quite proud of so it was nice to hear. I got to roll with

Painting on the wall at the beach in Rio from '82

Robson Gracie [24 year old brown belt not the 77 year old Red Belt :) ] I hit a nice smooth D-Angle triangle set up which he pulled me to the side after and asked to see telling me he had never seen that set up before, that made my day as its my move start to finish.

We got great training all week, night sessions seemed to be the hardest, I couldn’t say if it was because of numbers, deeper talent pool, being the third or fourth session of the day or a combo of the four but most evening sessions ended at Nova Unao (New Union). NU is and probable will always be a competition power house and it was good to get to roll with different styles which vary greatly from gym to gym. I personally got great work outs at all gyms because being a black belt walking into gyms and academies in the home of the sport is like carrying around a target on your back.

View from the Heli pad at Corcovado Mountain

This is how it goes…you are paired up with a few blue belts to roll, then the purple belts, then the brown belts come at you like pit bulls because they assume because you are American your black belt means sh%*t but it still looks good if they can get the better of you so they go at you hard all while the black belts sit there watching, taping up their hands and breaking your game apart lol.

Then when you are dead and ready to walk off the mat once of the them says ‘My friend…you want to train?’ and its on. I was sore as hell all week but much to the surprise of many of the different black belts and to be honest myself more than held my own and I was excited about that. Of course during the many training sessions and stops to BiBi Soucos for acai bowls we had a chance to hit up the beach and see the sites too. The weather wasn’t the most cooperative I have ever seen but we were in Brazil and made the best of it.

Ipanema Beach after a great session at Checkmat BJJ

 

Grand Master Rosado putting Anthony in a RNC!

The highlight of my week was meeting Rosado. Rosado is the first black belt ever promoted by Carlson Gracie. I got to train a few weeks back in Vermont with 6th degree black belt Julio Fernandez and I told him I was going to try and train with Rosado and he said when he started training in 1975 Rosado was already a black belt. After talking to him I found out he was awarded his red belt in 1989. It is just crazy to me to this we didn’t even hear about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) til 1990 and this guy had 48 years already under his belt in the sport, its nuts. Not to mention Grand Master Rosado looks like he is in his early fifties not 70!

 

There is a lot more I want to write on the trip, I will add more to this post later…

Off to Brazil Tuesday!

So I am preparing for my ‘minimalist’ trip to Brazil. Ill be traveling with six other teammates from Worcester MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. We will be traveling to Rio and staying in Leblon for seven days.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

– Robert Frost

The trip is going to be a great one I hope and what I hope to be a relaxing but fun filled trip and a much needed vacation. I am trying to travel as light as possible with just the bare necessities. We will be on a tight itinerary and looking to go sight seeing, rock climbing, compete, meet three 9th degree Red Belts, train 2x/ day and somewhere in that craziness fit in hang gliding, a helicopter tour, trip to Rochina, and beach it up in between sessions on the mat. I have my good friend Itimar there waiting as well from Israel, he has been there  for a little over a month now. I can’t wait. Ill add more to this before we leave Tuesday evening.

BJJ Travel Trip #1

This weekend I was able to get to travel to Vermont. The trip was a roller coaster of events start to finish but thats another story all together. The weekend trip was sparked because I was attending one of my students and training partners weddings in Burlington. As many of you know I won’t go anywhere if I can’t train and I never go anywhere with out my GI in hand (except this time, I forgot it in the dryer).

I was able to get a great training experience, since I have received my black belt, I have taken a strong interest in the history of the sport and have gained a overwhelming respect for some of the higher ranking names in the sport. As a result I have been making plans for a HUGE future (near future) trip traveling the world meeting and training with some of the top ranking players in the sport. (I’m actually going to Brazil in two weeks where I will be training with two different 9th Degree Red Belts, four Coral Belts and a host of other top talent on the competition scene. This will also be my first time competing in Brazil, more on that soon…) This weekend I was able to train at Vermont BJJ with 6th degree Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Julio ‘Foca’ Fernandez. Professor Foca is a 6th degree BB under Carlson Gracie Sr (who I was also able and very fortunate to meet prior to his passing.)

I will add more to this post soon, I have a lot of photos to upload…just a lead in, I got to be a part of a big promotion and was able to watch as three people among others received their promotion to black belt!