Why Training BJJ in Rio is better than in the USA

With so many amazing black belts living and teaching in America, many people feel you don’t need to go to Rio to train BJJ. Australian black belt Dan Cherubin disagrees – find out why.


I came to Brazil with two intentions: one was to to compete in the Rio Open / International Masters & Seniors competition, and the second was to train, learn and evolve my skills on the mat.

I’ve been training at the De La Riva academy in Copacabana the past week and a bit and I have to say the training has been amazing. I’ve used this week to prepare for the comp this coming weekend and I’m so happy I choose this academy to train, the level is super high and the environment is as friendly as you will get.

It’s interesting to note that before I came to Brazil people would talk like it was the most dangerous place in the world and if you go to a jiu-jitsu academy you were likely to be beaten from one end of the mat to the other. I’ve had the complete opposite experience, everyone I have met on and off the mat in Brazil has been super friendly and I’ve seen nothing to suggest otherwise.


One of the true reasons I came to Rio is simply this, in Brazil in any academy you will find a lot of black belts training, at De la Riva’s academy every night there is around 10-20 high level black belts on the mat and since I’ve been here I have not rolled with a colured belt, literally every roll I’ve had has been with a black belt. This, to me coming from Australia, is unheard of.

I’ve had many people ask me why I don’t go to the USA to train, they always say to me “Dan why go to Brazil when all the best guys are in the USA and its cheaper to get there?” My response is quite simple, the US is amazing, it has some of the best jiu-jitsu guys in the world for sure, but there will be one or maybe two black belts rolling on any given day and a bunch of coloured belts.

You will learn a lot for sure but in Rio you can hit the mat and have many black, brown belts rolling every day, every session and you can learn so much direct from the source. For example at Master De La Riva’s academy he takes the class. He is a 6th degree black belt and on the mat rolling there could be 10 – 20 black belts. Just down the road you have red and black belts teaching, and in another academy there is a 9th degree red belt.

You have amazing teams in Rio such as GFTeam and CheckMat, Alliance, Gordo jiu-jitsu and many more, all within a one-hour (or less) radius. All have many, many black belts training at a very high level.

Life in Brazil

Brazil is also very safe as far as I can see, I have been walking around every day and seen nothing to suggest otherwise, I’ve also walked around a lot late in the night and never had a problem. Of course you have to be smart and avoid bad areas or situations but this is no different to back home in Australia and in Brazil I’ve seen many police on the street patrolling or parked on the side of the road.

I feel safe here, just try to blend in a bit and believe me if there is one guy why will stand out its me: I’m a 6’3″ 105kg red head, I stand out like a sore thumb but its about what you wear and how you act, don’t come to Brazil with gold chains hanging around your neck, treat people with respect and be humble and you will be fine.

Rio is an amazing place to come and visit for a jiu jitsu trip, the old stigmas are just not true and its very easy to visit here. The training is beyond world class as the top academies set the standard for the rest of the world and the people are vibrant and very friendly on and off the mat.

Your game will go to new heights by training with the large volume of high level black belt players on the mat and you will see the true jiu-jitsu lifestyle every day.

Evolve, learn and love jiu jitsu.

Dan Cherubin

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