Roberto Correa de Lima is a fifth degree black belt better known by his nickname ‘Gordo‘. A childhood friend of Renzo, Ralph and Ryan Gracie, Gordo grew up alongside them on the mats and he still has close ties to the Gracie family. Gordo is best known as the creator of the half guard as an attacking position, something he developed while still a purple belt and a student at Gracie Barra under the Machado brothers.
A former world champion himself, Gordo is a sought-after trainer who has helped coach many others onto to championship titles. He was an instructor at Gracie Barra for many years before opening his own academy, and was the head of the Gracie Barra Combat Team, the MMA squad who represented the powerhouse team.
Gordo Jiu-Jitsu in Barra da Tijuca is popular with visitors, both Brazilian and from abroad. Many who choose to visit and train BJJ in Rio will base themselves at Gordo’s due to it’s close proximity to the Connection Rio hostels, located less than a block away from the academy (less than 60 seconds away).
The academy is a standalone building solely dedicated to martial arts. A two-storey building, the large downstairs mat has the main classes while the smaller upstairs area (complete with a half cage wall) hosts the kids classes and boxing fitness sessions. The academy is extremely clean and well-presented, with very nice showers and changing facilities.
Gordo’s is probably the most popular jiu-jitsu gym in Rio de Janeiro for foreigners. It’s not uncommon for the busy classes to be half full of gringos, with people from all over the world. Of the locals, there are many black and brown belts though most of the purples and blues will come from abroad. It’s an environment where many different styles of jiu-jitsu clash, and can make for both interesting and challenging training.
Though he appears standoffish at first, Gordo is friendly to everyone who comes to his academy and he speaks passable English. He will teach in both Portuguese and English, usually repeating the technique 2-3 times in Portuguese before finishing off the instruction in English.
Teaching is divided between a group of instructors, including Gordo’s brother Rafael ‘Gordinho’ and partner Rommel Cardozo, both fourth degree black belts. Classes usually consist of 2-3 techniques and you will have plenty of time to refine the position. The game ‘King of the Mat’ is played during most sessions, with a group of people playing guard and the rest of the group trying to pass. Should you get swept or submitted, you will return to the back of the line but if you pass guard, you will replace the person on bottom and stay in for as long as you can.
The rolling is competitive and rounds are usually around 6-7 minutes in duration. There are players from lightweight to heavyweight, with most in the 80-85kg range.
Depending on the time of year, it’s possible to encounter some big names from the world of jiu-jitsu on Gordo’s mats. When their travel schedule allows, many Gracie family members will train there, including the likes of Kyra, Gregor, and sometimes even Roger Gracie will swing by.
It might seem off the beaten track to someone staying in Zona Sul, but Gordo’s academy is located in the nicest (and oldest) part of the sprawling suburb of Barra da Tijuca. The neighbourhood is peaceful and a popular place for visitors to stay when training jiu-jitsu in Rio due to the convenience of Connection Rio being so close to the gym and the picturesque nature of the area. Commuting to train at Gordo’s would be difficult, but if you’re in the area it’s a fantastic place to train.
Academy Fact File:
Main instructor: Roberto ‘Gordo’ Correa de Lima.
Price: R$65 drop-in (day), R$165/week, R$265/month. (last updated 2013)
Matspace: Approx 90sqm downstairs, approx 30sqm upstairs.
Facilities: Dedicated jiu-jitsu academy, cage wall, puchbags, showers.
Average number of BB’s at training: Between 6-12 each session.
Av number of people per class: 20-25
Speak English?: Yes
Location: Barra da Tijuca.
Suggested transport: Bus. Major bus stop around 15 minutes walk away, another well-serviced bus stop less than 100m away (556/557).
MMA / no-gi: No.
Other martial arts: Muay Thai, boxing fitness.
Years open: 5
Titles / champions / championships: World, Pan-Am and Brazilian champions, UFC fighters.
Notable students: Antonio Braga Neto, Kyra Gracie, Rafael dos Anjos.
206 Rua Correa de Aruajo,
Largo da Barra
Barra da Tijuca
Rio de Janeiro
Gordo jiu-jitsu is tucked away in the charming neighbourhood of Largo da Barra (also known as Barrinha, meaning ‘Little Barra’) the gym can be tricky to find for first time visitors. Next door to the prestigious ‘Swiss school’, Gordo’s gym is a 10-15 minute walk from the Passarela da Barra, the pedestrian bridge at the eastern end of Barra that is a major transport hub served by buses from around the city. Savvy commuters from Zona Sul will use the buses numbered 557 (from Copacabana) that stops just 100m behind the academy.
Currently no website.