A huge number of BJJ competitors and hobbyists alike will feel the desire to visit Brazil in order to train Jiu-Jitsu, but the idea can be incredibly intimidating. Just the experience of travelling to an unfamiliar place can be scary for some, but adding in the idea of stepping on to the mats and training with unfamiliar people can magnify this tenfold. That’s why it’s very important to be prepared, and ensure that all the major concerns have been addressed before the trip is booked. Then once the trip is booked, there’s even more preparation that goes behind making a journey to Brazil to train BJJ back where it first started to surface.
Ultimate BJJ Guide: Training Jiu-Jitsu In Brazil
It’s not as if this is entirely new ground, as many BJJ competitors and hobbyists have decided to travel to Brazil in order to train in the past. Generations of grapplers have walked the same path, made the journey to the home of BJJ in order to try and improve their skills in the sport. That’s why it’s worth listening to those that have taken those steps and made their own mistakes along the way, in order to learn from them and avoid making those same mistakes. Below is every question you might have had about training Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil, and all the information you’d ever need to make your BJJ trip.
Is It Worth Visiting Brazil To Train BJJ?
BJJ is not as much of a niche sport as it once was, and there’s high-level Jiu-Jitsu all around the rest of the world outside Brazil now. There’s still a huge amount of value to be found in travelling to Brazil to train though, and not just because the country is a fantastic holiday destination. Some of the best grapplers on the planet still live and train in Brazil, and some of the biggest academies will have dozens of black belts on the mat at any one time. There’s a massive number of academies all across Brazil that are exceptional sources of Jiu-Jitsu knowledge, with friendly and welcoming instructors ready to share everything they know about the sport.
Is Training Jiu-Jitsu In Brazil Different To Everywhere Else?
The culture of Jiu-Jitsu gyms in Brazil is generally a little less relaxed than the rest of the world, but this isn’t universal. There are some traditional gyms and some more modern ones, but generally there will be things that visitors might not be used to doing. Most academies will no longer have higher belts ‘pulling rank’ in any situations, but it’s something that can happen and you just need to accept as the visitor to their gym. You’ll hear Brazilians calling their coach ‘professor’ too, but this is just the Portuguese word for instructor or teacher. Still, it’s a nice signal that you’re willing to adapt to their culture if you follow suit and refer to the coach in the same way.
It’s practically a guarantee that everyone will line up in rank order at the end of the class, maybe at the beginning too. You’ll probably find that people will bow slightly as they get on and off the mat too and a small handful of gyms might even bow to pictures of Helio Gracie, among potential others. There’s no way to know for certain what traditions that gym will have before you get there, so best practice is to watch what everyone else does and repeat after them. For what it’s worth, at least the ‘slap and fist-bump’ is universal language when approaching someone for a roll.
Where In Brazil Should I Train?
It can be difficult to pick the best place to train BJJ in Brazil, but there are a few locations that stand out above the rest. Melqui Galvao has his first academy in Manaus and has opened up a second building in Sao Paulo, while Dream Art is one of the most successful competition teams in the planet with gyms in the same locations. There’s also the first home of the legendary original Alliance Jiu-Jitsu team in Sao Paulo, and Nova Uniao in Rio de Janeiro too. There’s no need to limit yourself either, and it’s not impossible to visit more than one academy during your time training Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil. These are just a handful of the elite training locations spread out across Brazil and deciding where to go is impossible without taking into account your own personal preferences. It’ll depend on who you’re affiliated with already, what competitors and coaches you look up to or try to emulate, and what sights you want to see during your time in Brazil.
How Long Should I Train Jiu-Jitsu In Brazil?
There’s no minimum stay, but anyone looking to train BJJ in Brazil should really be looking to make the most of the effort they’re putting in to flying into the country. With that in mind, it’s best to plan for at least a week or two of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil. Most academies will be teaching concepts or techniques in a cycle that lasts weeks at a time and training for at least a week or two will likely give you a great overview of one or two specific areas depending on how lucky you are timing your trip. If you’re planning on visiting more than one academy, it might be worth staying for longer than that. The longer the better of course, and if you’re someone who can afford to spend a month or more in Brazil then it’s worth taking advantage of that opportunity.
Is Training Jiu-Jitsu In Brazil Expensive?
Travelling to Brazil to train BJJ is as expensive or cheap as you make it really. It’s going to cost money to get there and obviously the higher the level of gym you train at, the more expensive it will be. There are ways to cut costs elsewhere though, like travelling during quieter times of the year or staying in cheaper accommodation like hostels. Visiting multiple gyms will also likely be more expensive, as they all need to be paid and this might require more travelling around the country. The best way to approach this question is to decide your budget for the trip, decide where you want to train, decide how long you want to go for, and then figure out how to pay for everything else with whatever is left. If some adjustments need to be made then that’s fair enough, but if you’re visiting Brazil to train then it makes sense to prioritise that above sunshine and comfort.
What Do I Need For My BJJ Training Trip To Brazil?
It’ll depend on whether you’re intending on training in the gi or in no gi while you’re over there, but the majority of academies in Brazil will offer both. That being said, they will tend to focus more on gi training and some gyms will even organize their training in terms of ‘seasons’ where they focus on either one depending on the time of year. Find out what you’re going to be doing and how many training sessions you’re doing each day, then pack at least enough equipment to last you at least two full days of training. That gives you time to wash everything used on day one, dry it over day two, and then use it again on day three while the second day’s equipment is drying. Ideally, pack a third day’s worth of equipment as well just to be on the safe side.
You’ll also need anything else you would normally take on a holiday like a passport, money, sunscreen, and enough clothes for the length of your stay. It’s always useful to attempt to learn some of the local language when you travel abroad, but even more so if you plan on training Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil. You’re going to want to understand what the coach is saying to you after all and while you can probably cope well enough without speaking Portuguese, learning some basic sport-specific terms and pleasantries will definitely help you when it comes time for class.
How Do I Plan My Trip To Brazil?
Once you’ve made all the relevant decisions you can take a breath, because you now have all the information you need to start booking your Jiu-Jitsu training trip to Brazil! All you need to do now is reach out to the gym (or gyms) that you’ve decided to visit and make them aware of your plan. They won’t turn you down of course, but it just allows you set yourself up for a smooth introduction when you arrive for your first day of training. Book your accommodation and your flights into the country, along with any transfers between your accommodation and the airport.
It’s also worthwhile figuring out how far away your accommodation is from the gym (or gyms) you plan on visiting, and finding out how to travel between the two. You’ll need to know if there’s any public transportation available and the times relevant to you, the rough cost of an Uber if you’re travelling that way, or the quickest way if you plan to travel by foot or hired car. The last thing you want is to arrive on your first day and get lost looking for the academy!
What Else Could I Do In Brazil While I’m There?
There’s a lot more to Brazil than just Jiu-Jitsu and even if that’s the focus of your trip, there will be plenty of down-time between training sessions too. It’s worth making the most of your time in the beautiful country and getting some sightseeing done when you have chance. What you see will depend on where you go of course, but there’s something to do everywhere. Christ The Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Ipanema are all in Rio de Janeiro, while Sao Paulo is full of museums and there are Amazon jungle tours leaving from Manaus all the time.
There are some truly incredible things to do and see all around Brazil so it’s worth doing some independent research into the sights and activities that are available in the area you’ll be visiting for BJJ. Figure out when you’re going to have some free time between training and make some plans to see what Brazil has to offer outside of Jiu-Jitsu.
Top Safety Tips For Visiting Brazil
It’s no secret that Brazil can be a dangerous country, but like most others it really depends on where you’re going and what you’re doing. Those staying in the major cities will be significantly less at-risk than those staying further on the outskirts or in cheaper accommodation, but even that can be navigated safely so long as you stick to a few simple rules. Don’t carry around lots of money is sound advice no matter where you find yourself in the world, as it’ll avoid drawing attention to yourself. You should also really avoid the favelas at all costs. These are unique areas of Brazil where the poorest parts of the country live, but they’re unfortunately rife with crime and are not recommended for visitors to walk through.
It’s worth spending the money to avoid public transport too. While it’s definitely possible to use public transport in Brazil and this will certainly save you some money, it isn’t a comfortable or an entirely secure experience. It might put a little dent in your spending money, but ordering Ubers is the best way to go if you have to travel by vehicle. If you stick to these simple rules then Brazil isn’t really any more or less dangerous than most of the rest of the world, but ignoring them is definitely a risk that you don’t want to take.
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