What it’s like training at Nova Uniao in Rio de Janeiro

This week has been an exciting week down here in Rio. On Wednesday morning my friend Dawud from over at CR HQ made the short walk here and we got a drill session in. We both just focused on one standing pass and broke it down and drilled 100 solid, technical reps. While it might not sound like much, hitting 100 PERFECT reps is hard work; both mentally and physically.

This blog is written by Connection Rio team member Torryn Heffelfinger. He’ll be blogging weekly on life and training BJJ in Rio de Janeiro. In the following excerpt from his weekly blog ‘Training the Dream”, he details training in lita livre with the current Connection Rio MMA camp.

Wednesday evening a large group of us went on the weekly academy visit, this week we headed to Nova Uniao. While most people know Nova Uniao for their top notch MMA fighters like Jose Aldo and Renan Barao, they are known in the BJJ world for having top notch grapplers, especially in the lighter weights.

It was really interesting because so many of the guys were MMA fighters and don’t training in the kimono as much, you will have blue and purple belts that have just tattered belts and roll well above the “common” belt level. After an extensive warm up, which included jogging, cals, tumbling, and 30-sec positional sparring with the higher belts, Master Andre Pederneiras (whose black belt is so worn it actually looks white) taught technique.

Unlike a lot of gyms where you will learn multiple techniques, we only covered one technique. The technique was a standing pass from when your opponent sits up into a single leg. It wasn’t a complicated or flashy pass, but it applied simple positional changes, in a way I wouldn’t ever think of, to very easily pass your opponent. The moved was drilled extensively for 15-20 minutes and then came the live rolling.

Because a lot (not all but most) of the guys are around my size, they have aggressive fast paced attacks, which made for some fun sparring. The 100 reps I drilled earlier helped a lot for my passes, while I didn’t hit the exact pass I had worked on earlier that day my positioning felt a lot better and I was able to work off of it to other passes.

The class was huge (at least 30+ people) which gave us all opportunities to work against many different styles of BJJ. The team at Nova Uniao was super friendly and I hope I can make it back there to train in the future.


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!

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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