Thursday, September 28, 2017
OK ...this is a long one....My experience training at a different school. I have rarely entered a school I didn't like. I took time off of Jiu Jitsu (about 8 years) and wanted to get back into it. About a 10 minutes walk from my house is an excellent school (Rocinha Jiu Jitsu) if you want to compete and they focus a lot on sparring. They have always been ranked in the top 7 of schools in Rio when they compete. They also run free classes for children in the favela.
I been involved with BJJ for about 20 years now (1 stripe brown belt) and I am 55 yrs old. My first exposure to Jiu Jitsu was through the Gracie Family. My body has suffered much being involved with BJJ and Judo (before I started BJJ). Many injuries that I have had but I wanted to return but now with a different mind set. I'm not the big bad ass nor do I aspire to be. I'm just someone who wants to enjoy the process and drilling techniques with limited rolling according to what my body can handle. I use my body to make my living so I'm not in a position to get hurt seriously.
About 4 months ago, I found this school that was about a 15 minutes bus ride from my house outside of Rocinha. I spend most of my life in the favela and I wanted to do one thing outside. So, I found this school in Gavea. I went there, watched a class. I liked what I saw. It seemed like a good place. I enrolled for 4 months. When I started, the class breakdown was 15 minutes warm up, 3-4 techniques taught, then open rolling. For the first two weeks things were great and I was enjoying myself. Then after, things started to change. The head instructor would make snide remarks about me "being a wrestler", which is not true, but whatever. I told him that I had not trained in 8 years and that I wasn't in great physical condition. I told him that for the first 3-4 weeks I wanted to get the hang of the warm ups and drilling the techniques. My purpose was to return because I missed training and I wanted to improve my health. Then one evening he called me out to roll with this 22 years old 3 stripe blue belt who outweighed me by 50 pounds. I rolled with him, it took me about 2.5 minutes to pass his guard as he had killer grips (we spent the first 2 minutes just grip fighting). I passed as he tried to triangle me. Got to side control and tapped out due to being so tired. The head instructor ridiculed me for this. I found it strange because he knew my conditions going into this. I was way out of shape. I felt no shame personally because I was there to put effort forth the best I could. I ended up going back and went through warm up, drilling and the instructor asked me if I was going to roll. I told him that I wanted to sit out of rolling as I didn't feel like my body was ready. He told me to sit on the side of the mats, which I did. But made snide comments to the others about me not rolling. (At the time, I was getting full blood screens done for constant fatigue). I later found out that my thyroid was not working which is why my body feels tired and aches all the time. I have a illness called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. This makes even easy things seem complicated. I notice the day after training, my body is sore all over. It never used to be like this when I was younger. Aging sucks. I'm just happy that I am making the attempts to at least get on the mats. As his classes went on, I found the set up of the class changed, more focus on warm up (20 minutes) and rolling (30 minutes) and only teaching 1 technique. I was losing interest as I couldn't help that this instructor didn't like the fact that I wouldn't roll. So, I felt like this was his way or trying to get rid of me. I think he was testing me as he knew a little about my history. The other classes I went to where he was not the instructor were much better. The other teachers kept with the warm up, 3-4 techniques then rolling. They understood and didn't seem to mind my not rolling. So, I would try to avoid the head instructor. But I still didn't feel comfortable having to "play this game" and support a school where the head instructor was an a$$hole! Fast forward 2 months. I quit that school as I just didn't feel welcome and the best character a black belt can show is how they treat their students. Especially the new ones. So, I went searching for a new school. Even with my physical condition the drive to train within my limitations is important. I want to not feel so crappy all the time. I did research, watched youtube videos.
A friend of mine mentioned Gracie Barra. I live in Rio de Janeiro. So, I found their headquarters which is a 10 minutes bus ride from my house, then a 10 minutes walk to the academy. I went, watched a class and asked a lot of questions. I watched how the classes were set up etc and I liked what I saw. I liked how everyone would say hello and or shake your hand when they saw you. First impressions mean a lot. Before I signed up, I took the introductory class but I also took the instructor aside and explained my health situation. Both of the instructors were very understandable and welcomed me. They advised me to do what my body is capable of doing and don'y worry about what you can't do at this time. The only thing I didn't like was that you had to buy and wear their uniform which was something new to me. But everything else I liked. The price was fair and 5 classes a day to train, so I had no excuses. I signed up for 1 month, liked it, then after that time passed I signed up for 8 months in advance. The way I train now so I'm not sore all the times is, I do the warm ups, train the 3-4 techniques, then depending on my soreness 1-2 times a week I do the "situational sparring". I'm not at the full open rolling yet as a month into training I pulled hamstring and couldn't train for 3 weeks. This was a set back. I did go for therapy to help speed up the progress but now I'm a little attentive. I don't want to get hurt again. So, I'm doing what I can with full support of the school and the instructors. The problem with training is my mind says "Ya, go roll", but my body tells me "No, you are not quite ready". I have learned that everybody's body is different, as for mine, I need to accept my limitations. I highly advise new students to check out Gracie Barra. Their curriculum is good and the instructors care about their students!
Remember each of our journeys has a different path! No EGO...I am listening to my body, I want to continue doing jiu jitsu as long as I can.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
I cant remember how it started but Amber who works with EFT (Educate the Favela) contacted me about spreading the word of this free entrepreneurship course going to be held for Rocinha residents. We organized to meet at the top of the hill. I remember that it was a Thursday afternoon. The project was to start the following Tuesday. Not much time to promote but enough for me to spread it through all my facebook groups.
Owning your own business is a huge sense of pride for favela residents. Courses like this usually cost money but through several NGO's and Networking Groups, like Bazzah, this was going to be a reality for many here who want this opportunity.
The course runs 16 weeks every Tuesday Evening from 6:30pm until 9-9:30pm.
For those who finish the course, theres the opportunity to receive grant money to help them start their own business.
My role in all of this? I'm not really sure as I already have my own business that is doing very well. But I was invited and if I can offer my help in any way, I will. With 10 years of running Favela Adventures there have been highs and lows but it has been worth it. I have learned through trial and error in regards to creative marketing ideas and dealing with employees. I hope my experience I can share with others and along the way, I hope to learn as much as I can through this course.
I have told the organizers that I don't mind taking part and helping if needed but I do not want to be given grant money. This should go to people who are in the beginning stages and really need financial help to start their businesses. I feel honored that people value my input!