Favela Training

*Edit* At the request of Gary (Jerry even, Rommel can't pronounce some names, haha), I'm editing this to say that it was, indeed, Gary that made that "get on the bus for 5 Reals" comment.


Last night, again, thanks to Christian (what, he's a cool dude), I got to experience a side of Rio that I'm almost certain most people never see.  He had an invitation to go to the favela's and train, so we rounded up a bunch of guys and headed on over their for some night training.  For those who don't know, the favelas are large shanty-town like cities in Brazil that house the poor.  You may have seen iconic images of brightly colored square houses all stacked every which way on giant hilltops.  Some can be quite dangerous.  The one we went to seemed fine.


Apparently they discovered this gym when Dennis and the rest of the Connection Rio crew were checking out a local muay thai social project.  Apparently a muay thai instructor runs a night class once a week for a good 60-70 kids out of a basketball court.  The Real Rio Show took the camera's down their and filmed it with a bunch of the dudes from the house (some of whom are no longer here).

So we hoped in some cabs and headed on over.  Everything you may have heard about absurd public transit drivers is completely true.  I felt incredibly uncomfortable sitting in the front passenger seat of that car.  That dude was driving like he was in a Die Hard movie.


We get there and it was a seriously packed small part of town.  A good 100 or so people were out and about packed into a small city block.  We walked that block and up to the second floor of a small concrete building where classes were being held.  It was about the size of my basement and had solid concrete walls with very very thing "puzzle" style mats laid down.  One wrong flip or one wrong sweep and you'd get a face full of a very hard surface.


The black belt teaching there was amazing.  He was one of the smallest individuals I'd ever seen in my life.  Less than 5 feet tall and about 50 kilos.  He also made a point to roll with everyone of the crazy gringo's that had come, which I felt a bit guilty about (the kids needed the training much more than I did).  


Speaking of those kids, they were fantastic.  Mostly younger, with some older higher belts thrown in.  Their technique wasn't the best, but they made up for it with pure damned moxy.  They were the nicest people in the world but as soon as they slapped hands and someone said "combate" they turned into little demons.  As soon as the roll was over, all smiles again.  Great kids.  One of them even had some exceptional English skills, and helped translate a bit.


On the way back I joked that the neighborhood seemed awesome.  The training was full of laughter, as well as the sounds (and more importantly, delicious delicious smells) of the streets below.  "I don't feel like I'm going to get robbed or stabbed", I remarked.  To which Hywel replied, "I'll give you 5 Reals if you get on that bus.  And then 5 more if you make it back".  It was the bus to Cidade de Deus, the City of God.


Thanks to Christian (again, BJJ Globetrotter), for snapping pictures of me getting my ass kicked.  I swear it wasn't that bad (well, that black belt was like a little ball of doom but that doesn't count).

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