Birthdays, Concerts, and Leg Locks!

Another week down in beautiful Rio! This past week things finally “quieted down” and it was business as usual here. All the gyms were back to their normal schedules and packed with top notch blackbelts and/or fighters hungry to train after Carnival.

This post was written by Connection Rio team member Torryn Heffelfinger. He blogs weekly on life and training BJJ, wrestling and MMA in Rio de Janeiro. This is an excerpt from his weekly blog “Training the Dream”. Click the link to read the full post.

You couldn’t ask for better weather this week, the days are hot and filled with sun but as the Rio summer begins to wind down the nights are cooling off and are very comfortable. By comfortable I mean I can finally sit outside in a pair of shorts and be able to relax without sweating.

It’s been a fun week both on and off the mat. On Thursday Nicole and I went to a Jack Johnson concert down at HSBC Arena. Jack Johnson has always been one of our favorite artists, so when we heard he was coming through Rio on his South American Tour we knew we had to go. We had a great time, and Jack played all of our favorite songs. Being there in Rio listening to him play was really a special occasion for the both of us. Early on it our relationship we spent a lot of time listening to Jack Johnson and talking how great it would be to travel and live somewhere tropical, so it was a really nostalgic moment for us. There were a surprising number of gringos there, many of whom walked up to Nicole, with her bright blue eyes and blonde hair, and tried to ask questions in horrible Portuguese. We must really be looking like we have mastered the city if people think she is a Brazilian.

bday-partyOn Saturday afternoon Nicole and I went to one of her friend’s mothers surprise birthday party. It was a day full of fun and there was a ton of delicious homemade Brazilian food to eat. When we left they pretty much had to roll me out of their house. They even sent us home with a big batch of chicken estrongenoff, which several of the guys in the house and I have been working our way through. It was really nice to be welcomed with open arms into the family and to make new friends. Plus it gave me a chance to work on my Portuguese as well.

Watching the UFC at the Connection Rio house - yes we have cable!

Watching the UFC at the Connection Rio house – yes we have cable!

When we got back to the house their a large group of guys were seated around the TV watching the UFC 171. They quickly made room on one of the couches and I settled in the watch the main card of the event. Overall it was a great card with an even better main event. By the end of the fight between Johnny Hendricks and Robby Lawler guys were up on their feet and yelling at the TV. All in all it was a great day!


In the gym training this week has been, as always, great. Like I said above with Carnival being over everyone returned to training with a new vigor. With everyone training hard it was impossible to not train hard as well. I have been coaching wrestling at Rio Fighters for two months and it’s awesome to see how much the wrestling of the fighters there has improved. These guys are tough, hard working, athletic, but above all else they are extremely open to learning. Everything I teach they, try ask questions, and they are always hungry for more. In the next couple of months a few of these guys will be fighting, and it will be great to see them perform.

Torryn coaching at Rio Fighters

Torryn coaching at Rio Fighters

One training that really stuck out in my mind was training leg lock defense. One thing I that surprises people who roll in an MMA setting (and myself included) is just how many leg locks some of these guys will go after. I’m not just talking about straight ankle locks or toe holds, people will go after knee bars and heel hooks and seize on any opening. This is something that at a lot of places around the world is viewed as almost taboo.

I remember I when rolling back home, unless I really trusted the person to know what they were doing, I would tap to heel hooks attempts and ankle locks fairly fast. Down here though, at least in the MMA and luta livre world, its a different story. I had a very decorated black belt explain it to me like this. A leg lock is just like any other position, you have to work both the offense and the defense to get comfortable with it. He said when people refuse to train the positions because they view it was dangerous that they leave themselves more open to injury because they have not learned how to properly defend and counter them.

Overall within the world of leg locks I am feeling a bit more comfortable with the positions and as I was told I am approaching it as just another set of techniques needed in the world of grappling. I still tap fairly quickly in some situations, but that is more from knowing when the guy has the submission locked in tight rather than out of being uncomfortable with the position.

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!


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