Nathan Mendelsohn’s American Jiu-Jitsu Player in Brazil Blog, Entry #3: Training at Soulfighters, Rio Open, Tips, Injury

 Hey Everybody!


So let’s continue with the catch up….


After competing the World Cup(see entry #2) I was taken to the apartment of my good friend and black belt from Soulfighters team Marcus Antelante where I would spend the next two weeks. Marcus had spent two weeks at my house in California training with our team at Claudio Franca’s academy before the IBJJF Mundial 2010 and now he always makes me feel at home when I’m here in Brazil.


Tip: Try to help out any Brazilians traveling to the states to train or teach jiu-jitsu whenever you can because they never forget it!! I’m lucky enough to have a house with guest rooms and awesome parents who allow me to invite my friends from Brazil to stay at home with us and so whenever I come to Brazil they always receive me very well. I have found in general that Brazilians are much more welcoming people than Americans and so if you show them the welcoming spirit when they’re in your town they will most definitely return the favor when you’re down here. Also, they will take you to train at their academy and introduce you to everyone so you’re not the gringo in the academy that no one knows and thus you will feel more comfortable training and people wont be gunning for you as much. Also everyone will be more open to showing you techniques and will be more inclined to take a personal interest in helping you with your game.


I spent the next two weeks training at Soulfighters academy with top jiu-jitsu players such as World Pro Cup Black Belt Champion Tanquinho Mendes, Rio Open Middle heavyweight Black Belt Champion Diogo Araujo, and Brown Belt Heavyweight IBJJF World Champion Joao Gabriel Rocha. Tanquinho and Joao have both stayed with me at my house in Santa Cruz and are personal friends and so is Diogo and thus I always feel at home training at Soulfighters. As I mentioned earlier, helping to make Brazilians feel at home at your academy will go a long way when you make your trip to Brazil because they will most definitely make you feel comfortable at theirs.


Tip: When people show up to training in Brazil it is customary to go around the room and shake everyone’s hand, even people you dont know. When greeting black belts a bow also helps. If someone is looking at you with an ugly face and doesnt offer their hand right away then move on, but it is important to at least make the effort to greet everyone. If everyone is looking at you with an ugly face you might be in the wrong place. Either that or they haven’t gotten to know you yet, but in this situation, when you’re in an academy where you dont know anyone very well, it can go a long way to at least make an attempt to humbly greet your training partners.


The next two weeks of training went great. Marcus and I would train midday at the Soulfighters competition training under the instruction of professor Leandro Tatu Escobar, then we would go to the gym for strength and conditioning in the afternoon and then back to the academy to train again at night. Tijuca is a dense urban area that’s not near the beach so it was easy to stay focused just on training (though there are a few good places in Tijuca to go out on the weekends). I was in Jiu-Jitsu heaven!!


During the second week of my time staying with Marcus came the Rio Open. I was feeling well prepared and excited to compete as always, but two days before hand I began to feel sick. My stomach was tied in knots, I was suffering diharrhea and couldn’t eat anything. I figured out later that it was because the water I had been drinking, which I thought was filtered, was actually straight tap water. After one day of horrible stomach pain, I began to feel better and tried to fuel my body as well as possible to prepare for the tournament.


On the day of the Rio Open I felt good and was confident that I would perform well. I took a dose of Jack3D, warmed up and was excited to compete. In the beginning of my fight I felt good but as the fight went on I began to feel the drain on my body the sickness had taken. I’m usually good at pacing myself throughout a match but without proper alimentation I already felt toward the beginning of the match that I didnt have the gas or force that I normally do. I tried my best to use the gas that I had as strategically as possible but ended the match behind in points. I was really disappointed that I had made such a stupid mistake as drinking the wrong water and had cost myself this tournament because I felt that I was extremely well prepared and that this competition was an awesome opportunity for me to further my career, but every time you step on the mat you improve your game in one way or another and so I’m glad that I competed even though I didnt achieve the result I had expected.


Tip: And this should be obvious. DONT DRINK THE TAP WATER!! And even if you think that the water is filtered make sure you ask someone first because just because the head of the tap looks like it has a filter doesn’t necessarily mean that it does. This was a mistake I should have never made in my fifth trip to Brazil, but sh*&t happens and it cost me the tournament! 


After my match I felt horrible, like I was overheating and wanted to throw up. I have never felt quite like that after a match and I think it was the fact that I had used so much force and energy when I wasn’t properly alimented. But I went straight to the locker room of the Tijuca Tenis Club and took a cold shower and then I felt better and went back to watch the rest of GFTEAM and Soulfighters compete.


Tons of friends from GFTEAM and Soulfighters ended up coming home with gold, and thus I left the tournament happy even though I didn’t perform as well as I had hoped. From GFTEAM, one of my closest brazilian brothers Theodoro Canal was able to secure gold in both adult and master black belt featherweight, Ricardo Evangelista took home gold in absolute black belt adult, and Vitor Silverio was able to secure the middleweight purple belt adult title. From Soulfighters, Diogo Moreno Araujo took home gold in light-heavyweight black belt adult, Joao Gabriel Rocha took home heavyweight and absolute brown belt adult gold, and Erick Raposo took home gold in brown belt adult featherweight and then received his black belt on the podium. Congratulations everybody!!


Then, it was back to training. Everything was going good until my last training session with Soulfighters, when disaster struck. I was training with Marcus when I suffered a sweep from the de la riva with both sleeves dominated and landed directly on my shoulder, separating my clavical. The injury in truth was my fault because I stood up and tried to kick out of the dela riva hook and that’s why i landed on my shoulder with so much force. Doctor said 4 weeks without training, but this was three weeks ago and I’m already back on the mat training 70%.


Tip: Don’t get injured during your trip if you can help it!!!


Stay Tuned for More Tips and Stories!!!

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Nathan Mendelsohn