Week two in Rio (or – The Mystery of the “over-packed mats: Solved”)

So, as I promised, I got up early this past Monday and hit the 7 am – 9 am class. My hope that it would be less crowded was dashed as I counted 42 people in the first class and 35 in the second. We once again started with static stretches and went straight into rolling. My “double-dose” asthma medicine seemed to be working well so, even though I was getting crushed from black belts I stuck around for both classes ( occasionally I would be getting crushed under someone and just stop struggling and try to count all the stripes on their black belt 🙂 I have to admit, it is pretty cool to have that many 4-stripe black belts on the mats with you.


A shot of the live sparring, about 10 people off screen

Anyway, the pattern was the same Tuesday. On Wednesday I switched back to the evening class. Professor De La Riva has classes running from 4 pm – 8 pm on M-W-F so I figured, why get up at 5:45 am if it will be just as crowded. Wednesday was a break-through! I met a guy named Louis, From the United States. He has been down here training for about three years. It seems that his work placed him here and after three years they are yanking him back to the states :-(. Anyway, I was talking to him about the crowded mats and the “All-sparring” regime that had been going on for the last two weeks and he shed some light on the subject for me.

“Well”. he said.”The big IBJJF Masters International Open is coming up next Saturday and tons of people from affiliate schools are coming here to train up.” That made total sense to me. I remember people having asked me if I was competing and I was just not putting two-and-two together. Louis told me that normally there was about half as many people on the mat and that Professor De La Riva normally does a traditional warm-up – technique – rolling type of routine and he assured me that after the championships the mats would thin out and we would get back to a more “traditional” training regimen.

The fact that the International Masters tournament was coming up this Saturday, right here in Rio completely made sense with so many black belts on the mats rollin’ HARD!

The next person I talked to was a Frenchman named Guyton. Guyton is a purple belt from France, team B19. Guyton explained to me that there were currently two separate teams visiting from France. His team consisted of about 12 visitors who would be there until just after the Championships. The other team brought about 10 people for the same duration. This explained it all to me. I kept thinking…It can’t be possible for all 25 classes of the week to be jam packed “to the walls”. But I guess when there is an International championship happening, in your hometown, and you happen to be Ricardo De la Riva…well, I guess it is possible.

The last person I rolled with on Thursday was a Frenchman named Martin. Martin is BIG dude and I had just watched him give hell to a very talented brown belt. Martin was a purple belt and he explained that he was an MMA fighter and had a fight coming up in a month or so. We started rolling and immediately I knew I was in trouble. Martin is clearly a purple belt because he trains so much MMA This guy was beasty. I was quite literally helpless.


Louis resting against the wall to the left. Smelly gi guy is also in this shot….

This really doesn’t bother me a bit. I am used to getting steamrolled by guys all over the world. Big Brian, Big Jerry and Big Zak back at my home school (the Ohio Combat Sports Academy) crush me all the time. No, I wasn’t bothered in the least. In fact, it has been happening a lot lately and I have found that when I quit struggling futilely I am able to slow my mind and start paying attention to what it is they are doing that is causing me such trouble. It’s funny because, while I feel like my BJJ is stumbling physically I have never felt that my mind was noticing so much. Anyway, there I was getting my guard passed and moving for deep-half when Martin gave a cross-face to beat all cross-faces and shut down my deep-half sweep. So, I’m tucked down tight and I take a breath to slow down and think. And that’s when I smell the ammonia. Yep, you know what I mean…like a litter-box a week overdue for changing. You guys know what I am talking about….


Yep, He had clearly not washed his gi since his last class and, I would wager, it had been sitting closed up in a hot gym bag since. Look, I have had this happen to my gis a couple times. Always, without fail, it occurs when a hot sweaty gi is left in its bag for a couple days after being used in the gym. This is, IMHO, one of the very basic NO-GO’s of BJJ. EVERY class, a fresh gi. If that means it is still damp from the washer (which happens a lot in the tropics – they don’t use dryers down here), then so be it. A quick mention to your partner will suffice to explain the dampness. But, that ammonia smell only comes from one thing: neglect.

Friday morning I woke up with a scratchy throat and a runny nose. Damn! By 2:00 pm I was full-blown laid out. Fever, Sore throat, nausea, etc… I missed Friday class and haven’t been back in yet (been 5 days!) My only consolation is that I am confident that I will be back on the mats by Monday, when the mats should have thinned out a bit. Then I can start working on the De La Riva pass that I have been imagining and tweaking in my head ALL WEEK long! Oss! Here is to a better week coming up!

Oh, smelly gi guy told me he was leaving after last week so I should be safe for awhile. Of course, if he ever reads this he’ll probably swim back across the Atlantic to kick my ass! I can only hope he bring a clean gi to do it in!

2 thoughts on “Week two in Rio (or – The Mystery of the “over-packed mats: Solved”)

  1. Pingback: First week in Rio De Janeiro… | YoloBJJ blog

  2. Pingback: Deftac BJJ – Cebu City, Philippines | YoloBJJ blog

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