Nathan Mendelsohn’s American Jiu-Jitsu Player in Brazil Blog, Entry #4: Training With GFTEAM

 Hey everybody!


Let’s pick up where I left off last time.


After the Rio Open I had to change locations because I was staying with my friend Marcus Antelante who is now traveling to the United States to teach classes in Atlanta. So now I’m here with my Brazilian Brothers Leopoldo and Theodoro Canal in Recreio. Whenver Theodoro travels to Santa Cruz, CA he stays with me and my family and whenever I come to visit Rio he always receives me in his home and takes really good care of me.


Here with Theodoro and GFTEAM we train jiu-jitsu twice a day,  in Meier with the GFTEAM competition training during the afternoon and then here in Recreio at Theodoro’s academy at night. We also fit in cardio conditioning and weight lifting in between training sessions.


Every day we get in the car from here in Recreio and travel to Meier to train with the GFTEAM competition team under the direction of Master Julio Cesar. The training there is as tough as any Ive ever seen with champions such as Rodolfo Vieira, Theodoro Canal, Denilson Pimenta, Ricardo Evangelista, Vinicius Marinho, Jake Mackenzie, Italo Lins, Marcus Morcego Dos Santos, Vitor Silverio and many many more. The majority of the training consists of brown and black belts with only select blue and purple belts present.


The style of training here in Brazil is different than in many of the academies I’ve seen in the U.S. There is much less emphasis on exercises and technique and much more on sparring. i believe this is because all of the serious athletes are taking care of their physical conditioning outside of the class and thus there is no need to take up their time that they could be training jiu-jitsu with doing push ups and sit ups etc. Also, though there are definitely a fair amount of techniques being showed I feel like most of the technical progression comes from the athletes sharing techniques with each other rather than a specific instructor passing tons of different techniques per class. This leaves much more time for sparring and technique sharing where, in my opinion, most of the evolution of your game takes place. Also, the atmosphere of training is much more relaxed. You feel like everyone is truly enjoying to train and the discipline comes from a respect for the belt hierarchy rather than a rigid militaristic structure to the class.


GFTEAM has a great sense of comoraderie as well. It truly feels like a family and I feel lucky to be associated with such a great group of people. A few weeks back we had an awesome barbecue Brazilian style at one of the kiosks right here on the beach in recreio with everyone from GFTEAM present. Sun, meat, women on the beach and good friends made for an awesome day.


There’s also three other gringoes who I’ve met down here training with GFTEAM, all from Amal Easton’s academy in Colorado. Purple belts Devin Rourke and Elizabeth Tran and blue belt Mary Hatcliff, all really tough and really good people! Elizabeth and Mary have already gone back to the U.S. but Devin is still here in Recreio training with us on the daily.


Unfortunately, I’m still injured and though I’m putting on the gi everyday I’m still not able to train 100 percent. i was in an awesome rhythm of training before I got injured and its really kind of bumming me out to be spending so much of my trip without being able to train fully. Thinking of how much I would be improving right now if i could be training hard is making me go crazy! I hope to be back to training full out next week, i’ll let you know!!


Stay Tuned!!





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Nathan Mendelsohn