(l to r) Fabio 'the general' Gurgel & Aaron Le BoutillierThe author of our 'year 1' series returns to Bangkok from his recent visit to Brazil. While on business, Aaron was able to find time to train at a number of places like Alliance under Fabio Gurgel. Here's his story.
My Brazil Trip
Aaron Le Boutillier
(l to r) Aaron Le Boutillier & Prof. DonAfter a steady 6 months of training at Bangkok BJJ and a sore amount of privates with Professor Adam Kayoom, I felt a trip to Brazil was pending. The fact that I had a training course through my job in Sao Paulo with a first class ticket with the airline TAM of course played somewhat in my decision!
One always wonders if you can really prepare yourself for training in the “motherland” and of course once you experience the warmness and kindness of the Brazilian people, then you realise immediately the answer is yes. Walking into gyms in Sao Paulo alone was a little daunting, is it possible to have a room with so many “cauliflower” ears and broken noses rolling around the place? , despite my earlier comments, I must admit the first night in Professor Fabio Gurgel’s gym was a little worrying. Had to gulp a few times and take a deep breath. If there was a shop that sold fake “cauliflower ears” I would have bought a pair.
On my first day of training for the airlines in Sao Paulo, I explained to my group that one of my passions in life was Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and two of the guys in the class were blue and purple belts at a club near the airport and on the outskirts of the “favella” (Portuguese word for slum) so of course by the end of the day an invitation was extended to roll at their club. Run by an older man by the name of Master Don, this was a real small close knit group of people, most from the aviation industry and not one of the more hardcore clubs one can find. None the less, Master Don, a BJJ and Judo black belt had been rolling since the age of eight and was happy to see a new addition to his Gi class. He gave me that smile, those of you that have trained at a new gym know the one I mean, “hello there, whoever you are, tonight I am going to make sure when you wake up tomorrow, you will remember my name!”
As it turned out Master Don was one of the nicest guys I met on my trip as were ALL of his students. Somewhat fascinated by my cheesy hooks and strangely flexible hips they embraced me like a long lost brother and we trained hard for 4 nights in a row. For me the rolling was as always a great way to bond cross culturally and without the need for language, but the real experience was being invited afterwards each night to drink the Brazilian assa-e which is the de-rigour drink after training. Mixed with bananas and so cold it gives you brain freeze, this was the true acceptance into the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Is there any way to make that sound as it should with that strong Brazilian accent? I think most of you guys know what I mean…….it sounds so cool……..shuuuuuu shhhhitsu!
Through a close friend Darryl in Singapore, I had the email and telephone number of Professor Fabio Gurgel and was told I had to train there at the Friday no-gi class and if possible take some privates from the man himself. Can you just call Fabio up and say “yo, it’s Aaron, can we roll tomorrow?” I thought maybe an introductory e-mail was the best bet. Chances are he would not respond which would give me the perfect reason not to go there and get crushed. He replied! His e-mail correspondence was nothing short of professional and business like and I was made to feel very welcome and to be honest a little surprised with his swiftness in response and general polite banter about the professional training I was doing in Sao Paulo and it turned out we had some mutual friends in that line of business.
So, there you have it. I had no choice; I had to go to the gym for the Friday no-gi night. I jumped in a taxi and made my way to Villa Olympia which is basically a fitness centre with the end part being Fabio’s gym. I arrived early, maybe a little early as I have a tendency to do and gingerly made my way into the long daunting gym of Fabio Gurgel. Lined with trophies, medals, posters and memorabilia that one would expect to find at such a famous Alliance gym. The Alliance gym!
The receptionist, a cute Brazilian woman with basic English skills introduced herself as did I (with a name card) she was hot………in fact……..all the women I met were! And she shouted to someone in a backroom that Aaron was here and guess what? Fabio walks out the room and welcomes me and chats away like we were mates for years. That relieved some of my fears and once he explained was busy in a meeting and that we would talk later and of course we had our private the next morning.
It was an hour before the start of the class so that gave me time to warm up the credit card with t-shirts, patches, sexy shorts and rash vests (for those of you training open mat last Saturday you would of noticed my new sexy alliance shorts and rash vest!) once I had sufficiently made it quite obvious how un local I was with my stupidly large bag of merchandise I started to warm up.
Things started to get scary from then on. Tough looking dudes started arriving, big dudes, steroid dudes, cauliflower eared dudes. Basically an uncannily large amount of scary dudes. I did my best to shake hands with them as they came in and hoped to God none of them would be my partner. Of course, my destiny was to be that a large majority got the pleasure of imposing their game on me.
To be honest……I did not too bad. The warm up was gruelling and I was pleased to see a few people having to leave the mats to throw up, I of course did not! I represent Bangkok BJJ and we do not do that kind of thing!
Rolling turned out to be fun and Fabio after a while put me with his 17 year old protégé, the next BJJ World Champion so Fabio forecasted. My Facebook entry for that night was “just had my ass kicked from one end of the dojo to the other by a 17 year old!” I will say no more on the matter.
I left feeling energised, sore for sure but somehow proud to have made the effort to go there and do it. Like the Nike advert says “just do it” and I was looking forward to my private with Professor Fabio the next morning.
As many of you know, the morning after can be a painful one and getting out of bed and making my way back to the gym was not what my body was telling me, but a private with Fabio Gurgel is not something you arrive late for. As usual I was there early, in fact real early! The gym was not open yet.
The private went well and Fabio explained to me what he had noticed from the night before when he had watched me roll, especially with his protégé and we took that private from there. My thoughts on Fabio Gurgel…..humble, polite, articulate and humorous and obviously a superb coach. So, in summary what have I come back with? Nothing new, nothing mind blowing just the following……….for those of you training at Bangkok BJJ you are truly lucky to have such an open friendly bunch of guys, for those of your training with Professor Adam Kayoom you need to realize how lucky you-we are to have him as a coach and to all the guys in Singapore and Bangkok who have helped me thank you for giving me enough of a game to gain a modicum of respect in the “mother land”.
Special thanks to Professor Adam, Darryl, Luke, Chris and Sebastian.