This week has been very eventful with a climb up Pedro de Gavea, a visit at the Checkmat academy and my preparations for the Luta Livre tournament.
This blog was written by Connection Rio sponsored athlete Michael Tlalka. He’ll be blogging weekly on his experiences in Rio de Janeiro.
Trip up Pedra de Gavea
Pedra de Gavea is a landmark in the jiu-jitsu community. Standing at 842 metres above the sea level, it has been climbed by most of those who have ever trained at Gordo’s. The entrance for the climb is located about 200 metres from the house and only a gate and a few guards are the signs of the journey ahead. The beginning seems easy enough. A steep yet asphalt-y road leads you for a bit until you encounter the forest.
The climb is not difficult but will quickly sap your energy if you don’t pace yourself. The muddy ground turns every step into a potentialy hilarious-yet-dangerous slipping hazard and will definitely ruin your fancy suede trainers. After two hours of hiking, you encounter the “Carrasqueira” which is the difficult part of the climb.Those who know me, are aware that heights are not one of my strengths (those would be my baking and badminton skills) so climbing the exposed rock face was a bit of a challenge. However, under the “expert” guidance of Mr Magee (and Austin’s excellent performance as the elephant lookout), I felt safe every step of the way.
If you’re less daring/athletic/stupid, the difficult part can be climbed using ropes. Once you’ve made it to the top, the view is breath taking. On a clear day, you can see the ocean, the Rocinha favela and Zona Sul. I’d advise every one who visits Rio to make the effort to climb Pedra de Gavea. Not only will you add your name to the list of those who have conquered the mountain but you’ll also be rewarded with a feeling of true achievement.
This week the academy visit took us to Checkmat. The first thing you notice when you step out onto the mats is how hard and unpleasant they are. I am not sure if it was a calculated move made by the founders but it explains why Checkmat is famous for it’s top game fighters and aggressive guard passing.
So this week saw the start of my tournament preparations. While I am competing on short notice, I am upbeat about the fights and the cut. Having navigated the terrible website (with the help of some clever cariocas), I’ve figured out the right way of registering so I am well on my way to competing.
I’ve had the pleasure of working on my stand up with the in-house wrestling experts Jeremy and Torryn and my takedowns have never felt sharper. Over the next few days, I’ll concentrate on limiting my intake of rice and beans and doing hill sprints. The last few hundred grams should fly off.
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!