Arriving in Rio for the first time

Coming to Rio is a daunting experience. The city doesn’t have the greatest of reputations (thanks a lot City of God and Elite Squad) and the language barrier seems overwhelming at first. However, Connection Rio made sure that my arrival was as smooth as possible.

This blog was written by Connection Rio sponsored athlete Michael Tlalka. He’ll be blogging weekly on his experiences in Rio de Janeiro.

They arranged for my pick up from the airport and after a Linkin Park filled ride, I arrived at the Connection Rio HQ. I was shown to my room and invited to eat out with the guys. I jumped on the opportunity to make friends and we were off to eat Brazilian BBQ at Baby Beef. Rubbish plane food and long breaks meant that i was ravenous so I got my money’s worth in this glorious all-you-can-eat establishment.

Afterwards we headed for drinks at Bar do Oswaldo. The conversation was flowing and revolved mostly around everyone’s rio experiences. I’ve picked up a lot of helpful tips that will let me get the most out of my trip and even bumped into some people I knew from back home. Jack Magee arrived in the bar with his proteges and it was nice to meet him in less “adverserial” circumstances. It just goes to show how small and interlinked our community is.

On my second day, we went to the beach with the guys and tried to fit in to the best of our abilities. However, four pasty gringos stand out considerably at Barra beach. In a desperate attempt at being a carioca, we’ve rented a surfboard and tried to brave the waves. After a few near death experiences we went back to quietly sunbathing. I have a tip for all you future travellers: buy sunscreen and apply it BEFORE coming to the beach. Otherwise you’ll arrive at training the next day feeling like death and dying a little bit everytine some forces you to play off your back.


Training in Brazil differs greatly from my experiences back home. Turning up to open mat and being able to spar with black and brown belts is an eye opening experience. It takes some time to adapt to the climate and get over jet lag so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not performing at 100% straight away. The higher belts will offer advice and little tips that will improve your game so be friendly, open and don’t fight as if it’s the final of the Mundials.

Overall, my first week in Brazil couldn’t have been better. I have sampled some of the Carioca lifestyle. I’ve trained with some great fighters and made friends from every corner of the world. Till next week.


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!

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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