A little-known place in Brazil to train BJJ and MMA (No, it’s not Rio!)

Normally I write writing about training and the BJJ lifestyle in Rio, but for the next few weeks I will be writing from Rio Grande do Sul in the city of Gramado.

I am down here training with and helping coach the Oxygym Fight Team with Andre Benkei and his other coaches. I am here to help guys work on their wrestling for upcoming fights; along the way I am having some great new experiences.

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.

The city of Gramado in Rio Grande do Sul

The city of Gramado in Rio Grande do Sul

The City of Gramado
Gramado is about 125km from Porto Alegre and is located in Southern Brazil’s more mountainous region. The area was largely settled by Italian and German immigrants in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s and the influence can easily be seen.

When I first came into the city this past Thursday the first thing I noticed was that the city looks more like a European Alpine city with some Brazilian flair added in. The surrounding area is subtropical forests with tons of exotic pines and hardwoods with the bamboo and palms mixed in. One of the first places I was taken was a huge waterfall (several hundred feet high), which cascaded down into a huge valley below.

Over the weekend I had the chance to get out and explore more of the city. The down town area is a huge collection of shops and restaurants, micro-breweries and parks. We all spent a ton of time exploring the city and I am looking forward to getting a chance to see more of what it has to offer. The one thing I wished I would have brought is my longboard; the streets are in great condition with gently sloping hills which would be perfect for cruising on my Bossa longboard.

On Thursday night we went out to a local churrascaria (all you can eat Brazilian steak house). The waiters were dress in traditional guacho (Brazilian cowboy) clothing on their belts they carried a large knife to cut off slices of various meats table side. About halfway through the meal I realized it was Thanksgiving back in the States. I may not have had a turkey dinner, but I’ll gladly take filet minon, ribs, and other tender cuts of meat instead.

Torryn in Gramado

Torryn in Gramado

The Training
As I said above while in Gramado I am training at Oxygym. Oxygym is a large fitness center in a refurbished warehouse. The gym has a large (and very modern) fitness area, with an assortment of treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and weights. Seeing all the weights put a huge smile on my face. Since being in Brazil I’ve only been able to use barbell free weights once, so the idea of having access to a full gym for two weeks sounded awesome. I quickly wrote up a simple lifting program that I have used before during heavy training.

Click here for Torryn’s weight training program

Within the gym is Academia Oxygym, where the martial arts and combat sports training goes on. The area has a large tatame area for striking or grappling, with another smaller tatame area in a separate next door. The academy also has a large cage which is perfect for MMA training. I have been to a lot of gyms in Brazil and I have to say this is one of the larger and more modern gyms I have worked out in.

The training here has multiple classes in wrestling, boxing, muay thai, or submission grappling throughout the day and at night there are classes in either BJJ or Judo. Everyday there is also specific pro training for guys with upcoming fights twice daily at 1 and 6 p.m. As you can imagine I have been busy training my butt off. I am getting 2-3 sessions in a day depending on the day. I haven’t had a chance to work my striking lately so it feels good to break the rust off and get some serious mitt work with the coaches and some good sparring in.

On the grappling end, I haven’t made it to the gi class yet but I got some great nogi training, which is taught by Edson Diniz. We worked a lot of half guard technique, including a really nice back take when you opponent has the whizzer. The back take fits perfectly into my game, and is great because I am working to develop a style of guard game that works well for me. I can’t wait to see what the coming weeks bring for training and I am excited to soak of everything I can while training here.

Torryn Heffelfinger Connection Rio

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