BJJ in Rio: the Experience

Coming to Brazil to train jiu jitsu had been a long time coming. It just seemed to make sense; I wanted to take jiu jitsu more seriously and gain the life experience that comes along with living in a new country. I picked my moment, saved up some money, made my plans, and flew south of the equator. Rio de Janeiro has been my home for over two months and I’m just over half way done with my stay. Man, has it flown by! I am training with my professor’s professor, Roberto Correa, better known as Gordo, and living at the Connection Rio HQ house, both of which are located in Barra da Tijuca. My experience here has been invaluable, and I cannot stress enough how incredible of an opportunity it has already been to come to the BJJ motherland.

Patrick with Roberto "Gordo"

Patrick with Roberto “Gordo” at GJJ – Rio de Janeiro

This article was written by Great Grappling Jiu-jitsu student Patrick Hassing, while visiting Rio de Janeiro from South Carolina, USA. 

When I’m back in the United States, I train at Great Grappling BJJ located in Charlotte, North Carolina with black belt Jeremy Arel. He is without a doubt the most influential person for my coming to the Connection Rio house. He had made two extended stays here as well and worked at the HQ house for some time. Jeremy made a name for himself here by writing a blog about his stay ( It’s funny to talk to people about him because so many visitors know of him through his blog. He’s a bit of a legend for those who visit. He went from purple belt to black belt at Gordo’s, opened his academy stateside, and has been a leader for the grappling community in the Carolinas ever since. I have been training with Jeremy for about a year and a half now, and I don’t intend on leaving. His teaching style is honestly one of the best I have seen in the jiu jitsu community; his dedication to the sport and to his students is unquestionable. I truly love training at Great Grappling and will be happy to step foot on those mats when my time here comes to an end.

Patrick with Professor Jeremy Arel

Patrick with Professor Jeremy Arel

However, training in Brazil is a game changing experience that gyms in my hometown can’t provide. I do not have the ability to roll with four or five black belts in a day while in Charlotte, and I can’t make the type of connections back home as I can here. I never know who will be training at Gordo’s when I arrive. On many occasions, I will walk in to be greeted by some world champion black belt whose name is plastered all over BJJ forums. In fact, I have rolled with more black and brown belt world champions here than I have white belts! This level of training is only found in a couple places around the world, and Rio is certainly one of them. The beginning of my training here was, as expected, a bit of a learning experience. Don’t get me wrong, my partners were all great guys and very helpful, but I had never gotten beat so badly, so many times. There are a wide variety of game strategies played at Gordo’s academy. After a few weeks my body and mind started to adjust, and my jiu jitsu started to improve immensely. My game has certainly progressed while being here. I can say that constantly rolling with black belts has forced my game to tighten up.

Gordo’s class regimen doesn’t focus as much on learning and drilling techniques as Jeremy’s. Instead we focus on rolling and going live. The Brazilian culture seems to be more relaxed and less structured. The techniques are shown, and Gordo gives very sound advice. Usually, though, it’s done informally through one-on-one questions and practices before or after class. The main difference I see is that I get to ask the burning questions I have after rolling, and there are three or four black belts that can show me an answer. Because each black belt has a different game, I can get vastly different answers, but all are viable options. I get to pick the brains of masters.

Patrick Hassing at Gordo Jiu-jitsu

Gordo himself has been an incredible coach. It’s easy to see why he is so highly respected in the community. He is calm, intelligent, and confident. He allows a lot of freedom in his gym as well. The gym doubles as a hangout spot for his students and friends during training. I have yet to see him yell at anybody for talking or slacking off. I don’t think that’s his style. But what he does allow for is a place where you can be in good company and get to know your partners. I find that instead of having to will myself to train when I’m tired, I pack my stuff and go to hang out with my friends on the mat. It’s an incredible feeling to be welcomed into such a prestigious and tight knit school. Everybody is welcome.

This trip has certainly lived up to its expectations thus far. I have trained with some of the best and I’ve improved in areas where I felt needed growth. I have made friends from around the world and feel very much connected to the jiu jitsu community in a way I never could have imagined. It’s hard to predict what may come next. I never know what a day will bring here. I don’t stress too much about it though. I think back on how I was 6 months ago while sitting at my desk at work, and I know this trip was worth every penny.

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!


No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment