DAY 13 &14
After a slow start, we head out to the centrinho. Our plan is to take a boat to Costa de Lagoa. It’s a little group of fishing villages on the lagoa that can only be accessed by boat.
Liz’s friend Melissa has arrived with her mother for a few days’ stay. Melissa is out old roommate who married a brasiliero and now lives near Sao Paulo. Her Portuguese is perfect and it’s nice to have a translator for a change.
The municipality runs the water taxi service but it looks like each boat is operated by an independent contractor. The boats all have the same blue and white paint job but otherwise are not standardized. Passengers are packed in. I couldn’t even spot the life jackets on the first one we took. It’s probably no such a big deal since the lagoa appears to only be waist-deep.
Costa de Lagoa is beautiful, but there’s not much to see. Climb a steep hill to a waterfall that looks fantastic – but the man-made pool at the bottom looks a little stagnant and gross. There are a few shops, but they’re just selling the same tourist trap treasures as any shop in centrinho.
Still, it looks lovely. There are no cars here. The closet thing we saw was a strange, busted up contraption on the edge of the woods – like someone tried to build a flying car out of a golf cart. The narrow, winding alleys and flowers busting with colour give the place a fairy tale feel.
After touring the village we settled in for lunch. A stray black and white kitten, only about 8 weeks old was mewling under one of the tables. It stole Aya’s heart. But the poor little things eyes were infected and crusted shut. It stumbled a bit aimlessly until it settled down right in the path of the restaurant’s foot traffic. People sighed and stepped over it until a waitress wrapped her hand in plastic and moved the tiny invalid to keep it from being trampled.
We all had a great fish lunch (except Melissa’s mother who is allergic. She had chicken,) and caught the water taxi back to centrinho. The local kids were swimming right next to the boat and play a game of cat and mouse with the taxi operators. When the drivers are at the back of the boat loading passengers, the kids hide on the top deck of the bow. They wait until the drivers discover them and dive off the bow 50 or 100 meters from where they started. It’s the lagoa version of bumper jumping.
I was particularly excited for jiu jitsu tonight – my first group class. When I got to Glenio’s I was a little disappointed – only two other students. Everyone else is still traveling, he explained. Still, any new training partner is exciting and I am sort of used to smaller classes. There was a Mauro, a brown belt and Eduardo, a three-stripe white.
The class started off as usual with some stretching. Then Glenio announced we’d be palying a game to get warmed up. His daughter’s boyfriend translated it as “piggy in the middle.” I remember it as monkey in the middle, but soccer-style. Glenio got a ball and we went to it. The only thing worse than going against a Brazilian in Jiu Jitsu is going against three of them in soccer. Especially when I’m not wearing my glasses and I‘ve been drinking beer for two weeks straight. I managed to get out of the middle a couple times but at the end I was stuck in there for at least five minutes. They were laughing as they shot the ball through my legs and around me at every imaginable angle. I was so out of breath at the end that Glenio asked if I was a smoker. Soccer cardio is different than BJJ cardio, I guess.
Glenio asked if I wanted to go over anything particular from any of our lessons. I didn’t want to impose on a group class, so I just asked to do what they normally do. What they normally do is just roll.
I started and finished the night with rolls against Mauro. He’s a little taller than Glenio, but probably not much heavier – around 75-80 kilos. Glenio late told me Mauro has been with him since white belt and has been training about eight years. Glenio reminds me to go light, nao force and to work the techniques we’ve covered in the lessons.
I pull guard and go to work on the scissor sweep series. It’s not really working for me – but just because it’s obvious to Mauro what I’m up to. We go back and forth with a few sweeps and reversals. Mauro’s real strength is in his guard, but I was playing bottom so much, I didn’t really see it for a while. I decided to stop hunting for the new techniques and just play my game. I’d work Glenio’s techniques when the time came. Here are some things I remember:
• When I pass, I am doing something wrong with my head. Mauro is catching it in a guillotine all the time. The guillotine is on the wrong side and he never finished it, but wow is it annoying.
• Gotta watch the footlock on the De La Riva sweeps. Three times I swept Mauro, and three times he went straight to the footlock. I wonder if he was baiting it. The way he sits in base with one knee up invites the DLR.
• I had success with the Gringo grip triangle setup. I have been writing the technical descriptions for Draculino’s new website and this is a tip from Brandon “Wolverine” Mullins. It’s a setup that pins one arm to your opponent’s chest so you can get the leg over for the triangle. I used it twice and it worked both times.
• After all the work we put in this week on breaking the grips for the armbar – I couldn’t do it. Didn’t try the ol’ heel in the ribs, though – I probably should have. I did manage to keep him from turning into me by lifting my butt of the floor the way Glenio showed me.
• My passing still seems like the weaker part of my game. I was trying to change directions and keep him guessing, but Mauro is just too experienced for my crude passing game. Got by a few times, but he would always get a hold of my head. So annoying.
Next I rolled with Eduardo. Eduardo is maybe about 190lbs or so. Glenio said to go real light and that Eduardo had a sore arm. I went light, but somebody forgot to give Eduardo the memo. I can’t blame him for taking an opportunity to look good on a big gringo. Here’s how it went:
• I establish guard and go for a triangle.
• I can hear Glenio walking Eduardo through the escape, so I just decide to chill and let him do it. I keep my legs tight, but don’t try to make the angle or lock the triangle.
• Eduardo escapes and begins to pass.
• I turtle and Eduardo jumps to my back like it’s the mundials final.
• He’s working for the choke, but I keep my cool and eventually escape. Spent too much time hanging out on my back.
• I pass his guard. Hang out in cem kilos for a few seconds before transitioning to mount.
• I go for the X choke. Glenio is standing right over us. I realize I’m not doing it the way Glenio showed me. I switch my grips and begin putting the choke on. Just as I am beginning my squeeze, Glenio calls time.
We get a water break and Glenio says next time, he’ll have some bigger people for me. He says I’m too strong for these guys. I’m trying to go easy and be technical, but a big guy can never catch a break – I’m used to this.
Then I roll with Glenio and he completely destroys me. Experience and skill make up for any size difference. It’s the beauty of jiu jitsu. He’s passing my open guard like it’s nothing (and apparently it is.) He was holding me in cem kilos to force me to work the escapes I leaned from him. I couldn’t get any of them working. Pretty much every time he passed, he held me, began working to north/south and finished me with a one-handed lapel choke. It was a nasty affair.
Glenio took a few minutes to explain what was going wrong. My timing was bad. Glenio showed me a trick to bait an opponent to try for mount so you could reverse him at just the right second. He also showed me a bit of a nastier reversal where you reach around, grab the chin and pull the chin up as you lever down on the neck with your elbow.
After that it was another 20 minutes straight of rolling with Mauro. Mauro’s got more tricks than a Vegas show. He caught me with the same reversed arm bar out of two different places. And a lot more of that annoying guillotine control. I was using the shoulder choke on occasion to break it up, but Mauro got wise quick and controlled my outside arm before I could sink it behind his back.
By the time I got home I was exhausted, Everyone else was in a festive mood. The fixer and her boyfriend had cooked supper. It was my request, maqueque de pesce – a sort of fish stew, almost like a curry. The version I’ve had elsewhere was thicker and used more shellfish. This was almost like a soup with great hunks of boney fish in it. It was still delicious. So was the dessert – sort of a passionfruit trifle. It was fragrant and not too sweet. I was so tired from jiu jitsu I could hardly enjoy it. I fell asleep uncharacteristically early on the couch.
Everyone else went for caipirinhas. I stayed home and dreamt of omoplatas.
Today I am staying home with Aya so Liz can have a free day with Melissa. Jiu Jitsu tomorrow afternoon with Glenio. Need to schedule something with Marvio. Still need to figure a way into Centro Floripa for a class at the main Ataque Duplo academy.