10 years of Jiu-Jitsu in Rio: How Connection Rio founder Dennis Asche first came to Brazil

How Connection Rio founder Dennis Asche first came to Brazil to train jiu-jitsu in Rio de Janeiro is a common question. To go from a blue belt in the USA to getting a black belt in Brazil is a dream of many, and Dennis is proof that this dream can come true.

Dennis’s Story of 10 years of Jiu-Jitsu in Rio

In a comprehensive interview with Connection Rio media partner Train BJJ in Rio, Dennis will reveal:

• The full story of how he came to Brazil for the first time
• Going to Helio Gracie’s farm to train BJJ with the founder of the art
• How he funded his return trip
• Old school stories of training BJJ at Gracie Barra in Rio de Janeiro
• Why he decided to make Rio de Janeiro his home
• How and why he founded Connection Rio to help others come to Brazil to enjoy the same experiences he had

Dennis’s story is incredible, and he talks about everything from training BJJ with world class black belts to dodging bullets near favelas!

What were your first impressions of the training BJJ in Rio?
It was great, at that time there were no real Gracie Barra gyms outside of Brazil so all the champions who have since left and opened their own schools were still on the same mat. It was awesome. The attitude was different, it was very tough, very competition-orientated. There were limitless black belts on the mat, and varying styles and body types to train with.

What about the city – what did you think of Rio? Was it much different then?
Rio de Janeiro was wild when I first arrived. It was untamed compared to today. I’ve seen a huge change in the last 10 years: infrastructure, and how the city is run. When you walk down the streets at night now, you can tell there’s a big difference. It’s much more relaxed, you could used to cut the tension with a knife. But some of the most uncomfortable moments – I was on a bus going past Rocinha and saw a gunbattle, I could see the muzzle flashes and hear the shots going off. Definitely not a pleasant experience. There were a number of experiences like that. But it’s much more relaxed now and overall, a lot better to be here.

For more info, head to the Train BJJ in Rio Facebook page. The eBook featuring Dennis’s interview qill be released soon and will be available as a free download.


From training and accommodation to academy visits and special tours, and even small group classes with the best teachers Rio has to offer, Connection Rio offers everything you need for the perfect jiu-jitsu holiday!

Take a look at our brochure – we’ve got houses with pools, huge gardens, and apartments next to the beach: all within 30 seconds walk of top BJJ gyms in Rio!

Connection Rio is the best combination of accommodation and BJJ training in Rio de Janeiro. Contact us today and plan your trip to train BJJ in Rio!

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