Luta Livre and Working Hard Learning Portuguese in Rio

Training luta livre, riding a longboard and learning Portuguese in Rio – all in an average week for American wrestler Torryn Heffelfinger. Find out more…

One of the highlights of this week was going with Alexander Pequeno Nogueira to his luta livre academy near Complexo de Alemao. On Thursday afternoon several of us met up, piled into Pequeno’s car, and headed to train.

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.

Torryn Heffelfinger Connection Rio

Pequeno showed some great attacks from multiple positions from leg locks to a really nice armlock from top half. Some of the leg lock positions were a bit difficult for me (because I have a basic leglock game at best), but I really enjoyed the armlock from half. With the technique you bait the deep half, trap the arm that shoots under your leg, and attack arm lock.

The rolling was intense, not mean or ill spirited, but intense. It’s been a while since I have rolled with pure luta livre guys, and I forgot just how fast paced they roll.

Torryn riding his Bossa Boards longboard in Rio

Torryn riding his Bossa Boards longboard in Rio

Besides the more active rolling pace another difference was the types attacks the luta livre guys were going for. I found myself defending leg locks, bicep slicers, and shoulder locks. I had a ton of fun rolling, and after training I hit the sauna to relax and stretch.

A large group from the gym headed out to get pizza after the training and asked if I wanted to go, it was a great opportunity to relax and get to know the guys better. I have been working hard and speaking more Portuguese, so it was great to talk only in Portuguese and get to know the guys I was training with more.

While it’s not essential to know speak the language down here in Rio, knowing a little bit will go a long way. A fairly large number of people speak at least a little English. Most academies will have at least one person on the mat who can speak to you. That said knowing even a little Portuguese will take you a long way. The Brazilian people are incredibly helpful and nice people, so making an effort to know your basic, greetings/please and thank yous will make any person here more willing to go that extra mile to make sure you get what you need or where you want to go.


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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