Every BJJ gym in Rio de Janeiro has it’s own character and flavor. Some are hardcore gyms that pump out competitors and champions, while others are more focussed on the social aspect and providing a place for recreational martial artists to enjoy the art we all love so much.
If you’re travelling to Rio to train BJJ, then you should choose carefully which academy to train at depending on your goals.
Some people are looking to take home the latest technical developments, some want to prepare for an upcoming tournament, some are visiting their master to get promoted, but the truth is most just want somewhere to roll between hanging out on the beach.
But it’s difficult to judge what kind of person a gym caters for until you actually step on the mat, which involves the possibility of wasting time and money. Read on for some advice on choosing the right BJJ gym in Rio for you.
You Want To Be Up On The Latest Technical Developments
With the explosion of online training resources, such as the popular MGinAction or Mendes Bros Online, it’s easier than ever to get cutting-edge material from world-class coaches. But there’s still plenty of world class jiu-jitsu in Rio de Janeiro.
Gyms such as Checkmat, Terere’s new academy and Alliance in Leblon are among some of the trend leaders in sport jiu-jitsu. It’s true that Nova Uniao and Gracie Humaita enjoy plenty of success in tournaments but many see the styles of instructors such as Rico Vieira and Terere as being more modern, creative and dynamic.
As such, they’re great gyms to pick up the latest developments in jiu-jitsu and coincidentally they all feature excellent teaching. It is worth noting though that due to the competitive nature of these gyms, the training is often tough in comparison to some other places and may not suit someone who is not a competitor themselves.
In cases such as this, it may be worth checking out some of the more old school masters such as Jose Henrique ‘Leao’ Teixeira of Escola de Jiu-Jitsu, as the gym receives 5th, 6th and even 7th degree black belts on a daily basis. Though the attitude of the gym is less directed toward competition, the level of insight and technical detail is off the charts, though it would probably suit someone with an already solid foundation looking to refine their skills rather than someone looking to ‘take home’ the latest techniques.
You Want to Prepare For an Upcoming Tournament
If you plan on competing in Brazil there’s no better way to get ready for an upcoming tournament than to spend a week or two in a competitive BJJ academy to finish your preparations. In cases such as this, it’s imperative you find an academy that is like-minded, as you’ll need everyone to be willing to train at the same level of intensity.
Gordo Jiu-Jitsu is the academy of choice for many visitors, both Brazilian and foreign, due to their almost totally open-door policy. It’s not unusual to see grapplers ranging from current Mundial or Abu Dhabi Pro champions alongside hungry blue and purple belts, all with the same goal in mind.
GFTeam, Carlson Gracie and Nova Uniao historically have always produced huge teams of competitors and so it goes without saying that training is spirited during competition season, but the gyms are more inclined to receive grapplers from within their own associations during these periods so as to avoid any political problems.
Somewhere to roll between hanging out on the beach
Not everybody wants to come to Rio and go balls to the wall. Many are here on vacation and simply want to experience jiu-jitsu direct from the source. In cases such as this, it’s obviously best to find a gym that welcomes visitors, but the vibe of the gym is probably more important. You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a tough roll after a week of drinking beer on the beach!
Gyms such as De la Riva’s in Copacabana or Brazilian Top Team in Leblon are popular with tourists because of the recognisable names, central locations and open-door policies. For those staying in Barra da Tijuca, Gracie Barra is a good option because they run classes that cater for different levels. But if you’re only thinking of training at any of these gyms only once or twice, make sure to confirm in advance what the drop-in fees are – it’s disrespectful to think you can train for free just because you’re passing through.
Whatever level grappler you are, there is a place for you to train here in Rio. From white belt to black belt, hobbyist to professional, you can find a BJJ gym in Rio to suit your needs.
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