Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Rumble in the Bronx

Trigger warning: this is probably not my best display of professional language

They say New York is the city that never sleeps. I may sound cliché, but it’s definitely a philosophy that I’ve embraced during my stay here.

Typically when in D.C. or when I’ve less willingly been dragged out to the suburbs of Philly, I train all day and stay in at night (I mean, unless there are fights on), but here in New York there is too little time, too many breweries, and too many people to see for me to try to sit around after training watching Power and Empire (but no I don’t watch Narcos).

This is my New York gansta face

After two extremely stressful months of trying to re-adjust to the American lifestyle and living in a perpetual state of “glorified homelessness”, coming to New York was a much-needed grounding experience for me. With the exception of one friend that I’ve known for 12 years, everyone I know in NY I met in Rio!

Word Is Bond 

I always say that I’m going to do stuff and then once I’ve told enough people it becomes inevitable. I have to do it. I always live up to my word. That’s why I ended up in Brazil, despite the fact that I didn’t know the language or have a lot of money (or ya know a visa). That’s how Terere Kids Project was founded. We made it through the first two years solely on my ability to front my own money and the faith that I could hustle it back before I starved to death. That’s why, despite a lack of any sort of solid foundation in DMV, I planned a trip to New York to re-integrate myself into the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle that I have been missing so much since I left Rio.

It's been beyond dope to see the spread of this logo throughout the world! 
FT Jiu Jitsu was already established but this particular logo was devised by 
Deus Fight Co and myself when I created the Terere Kids Project blog!

Once I’ve told enough people I’m going to do something, I do it.

Luckily one of the people I told was HT, a close friend from Rio who I consider to be my mentor in respects to writing and managing the social project. He also happens to be the senior editor of Flograppling, who happened to be streaming the IBJJF NoGi Pan American tournament in NY this past weekend. He was able to hook me up with a job working the event (if you watch any of the archived events… that was me!). Then I stayed for about a week after the comp, catching up with friends, doing a ton of academy visits, and for the first time ever, I got my hands on a professional camera to play around with.

Bronx Jiu Jitsu

BxJJ was one of the places that I knew I had to hit up on my trip considering my boy Fernando Reals, a brown belt under Shaolin and professor at his own social project, has made to pilgrimages down to the Mecca with his wife Justine, and little man Ernesto. Last year he brought a rack of people in tow, including Nat and Osiris, and Pabs Carela.

BxJJ is owned by Junior Ortega, a black belt under Shaolin, who was born and raised in the Bronx.  Opening the academy was his way of giving back to the community that raised him and the vibe is a straight up New York rude boy style. 

This was a refreshing approach to pedagogy for me seeing that anyone that has interacted with me in the last two months since arriving home from the mountainous concrete jungles of Rio running around in sports bras and yoga shorts, would know that censoring my language and transitioning back into the world of academia has been a struggle, to say the least.

Now I’m not trying to promote explicit language, but the fact that zero fucks were given as to what kind of vernacular was used just goes to show how at home everyone felt training there.

Despite the language, BxJJ is definitely a family oriented gym

Academy visits or I training at an academy that’s NOT in the favela normally entail a level of polite decorum that I’m capable of, but really prefer to reserve for when I’m being paid in a work setting.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all about respect. I bow on and off the mats, tie my belt facing the wall, shake hands, and never ever arrive late to class (unless I take the wrong subway train and just don’t make it to class). But when it comes time to roll I like to put on trap music, forget about the world, and get down with my little killas. That’s what training at Terere’s was like. Fun, family, 50 cent, and 15-year-olds trying to berimbolo their way to your back and choke the shit out of you. 

Rolling up to Bronx Jiu Jitsu was like stepping right back on the mats with my brother Terere and all the kids from the community that I miss so much.

Another reason I really wanted to check out BxJJ was to see my boy Pab's new self-defense class. The sport of Jiu Jitsu has been blowing up lately, between MMA fighters trying to improve their ground game so that they avoid embarrassing choke out's like Conor McGregor suffered or women looking to get into better shape, the sport is growing more than ever! 

His class was pretty dope. We worked on break falls (that means falling on your ass correctly), practiced some Judo throws off haymakers (that's a big punch), and some grip breaks that lead to broken arms. The class is taught in a gi but focuses on real life, drunk in a Bronx brewery scenarios.  

Shaolin Jiu Jitsu

Polaris inteviewing Shoalin for his superfight with Terere 

So I’ve made several mentions that my beloved Bronx boys are all officially under the Shaolin BJJ name. Vitor Shaolin is a black belt under Nova Uniao’s Andre Pederneiras and teaches at a posh, playboy school located a few blocks away from time square.

I got invited to go to check out their afternoon competition class by Fernando and Junior, but ended up in Brooklyn instead of Manhattan because apparently I was supposed to go down and not up when entering the subway.

Note: I know it’s a few blocks from time square because I took the wrong train, missed training, had to get off the subway at union square to pee and find cell signal and decided instead of sulking around that area I would just take a 40 minute leisurely stroll to Shaolin’s and get up with HT from Flo and my boys from the Bronx and the end of the session.

Shaolin is actually scheduled for a super fight against my brother at the next Polaris event that will take place on October 29th in Poole England. Polaris was actually there at Shaolin’s so missing class was actually an EP

I've been in New York for less than a week but definitely have been through too much stuff to fit into one blog. So check back later for more on different academies (and breweries!).