1 month of BJJ training in Rio

Fri 25 September 2015 by real




Hi. I recently came back from a 2 months trip to Brazil (7-8/2015). On the first month I was doing some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Rio de Janeiro. I want to tell you about the experience, and provide you some useful information if you ever want to do this yourself. While the phenomenon of strangers coming to Brazil for BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) is not something new, it is still somewhat difficult to find information online about how to do it properly. I thought I can add my 1 month of knowledge here.

This document is by no means an official guide. It contains mostly my opinion about things, and may also contain wrong or outdated facts. Make sure to doublecheck anything before relying on this information.

For any questions or suggestions you are more than welcome to mail me at real(&)newtolife.net. (Just replace the (&) with a @).

About myself

I was born in 1987. I am not a very experienced BJJ fighter. I started my BJJ trainings somewhere in 2014, about 1 year ago, and I still proudly wear my white belt. My main background in martial arts is Judo. I currently own a blue belt, and I am training for about 24 years, probably since 1991.

Judo has mainly two parts for the fight: The standing part, where the main goal is to throw people to the ground and win points, and the ground part (newaza), where you are supposed to hold your opponent back to the ground for long enough time, or apply some submission like a choke or an armbar. In the judo clubs where I was trained, the standing game was the main part, and ground game took only about 20% or even less from the total time of training.

I didn't know about BJJ until recently. Being an innocent Judoka I believed for many years that my ground game was really good. It rarely happened to me that I met another Judoka that won me on the ground. In competitions, people always tried to avoid spending time with me on the ground.

On my stay at the kodokan I met a few guys that beat me really hard on the ground. I had to ask where did the learn this kind of Judo, and they answered that it's not Judo, it's BJJ. Coming back home from Japan I found a good BJJ academy and started training. After about one year I decided to check out how Brazilian Jiu Jitsu looks like at the origin.

Some history

You don't have to be a genius to see that there is some relation between Judo and BJJ. They have somewhat the same kimonos (Although the BJJ ones are a bit more colorful, one must admit), and the main rules are similar.

In the beginning of the 20th century Kano Jigoro, the founder of Judo, has sent few Judokas to spread the art of Judo overseas. One of those Judokas was Mitsuyo Maeda, which was also known to be a judo groundwork expert.

Maeda has arrived to Brazil in 1914 and started teaching Judo to his first Brazilian students. A notable student was Carlos Gracie, which also continued to teach the art to his siblings. His brother, Hélio Gracie continued to develop an art called the Gracie Jiu Jitsu, an adaptation of Judo that focused on ground work, because he was not able to perform judo moves that required direct strength against the opponent.

Another school of Judo in Brazil originated from Geo Omori, a Japanese that opened the first Judo school in Brazil in 1909. One of his notable students was Luiz França.

The new form of groundwork based Judo in Brazil has evolved over the years to what is called today Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Note that BJJ is not the same as Jiu Jitsu, which is a pretty old Japanese martial art. The correct order of things would be: Jiu Jitsu -> Judo -> Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

A place to train and a place to sleep

Finding a good BJJ academy to train and a place to stay were my first priorities when planning the trip to Rio.

Most websites mention ConnectionRio as a place to stay together with likely minded BJJ fighters. I eventually didn't stay there because there weren't available double rooms at the time (I came to Rio with my girlfriend, she is probably not dorms material). I did have the opportunity to talk to Dennis Asche from ConnectionRio over mail and he seemed to be a great guy. If I was arriving to Rio by myself I would have probably chosen to stay at the dorms at ConnectionRio.

I searched the web for active BJJ academies around Rio. Some academies that were mentioned by many are Academia Gracie, Terere Academy, Gracie Tijuca, Academia Gordo and Equipe Fabricio Jiu Jitsu. You can see them on the map here.

I assumed that any of those academies would be good enough for a beginner like myself, so it was just about finding a place to stay in a good location which is close enough to one of those academies.

I considered staying at a hostel somewhere nearby, but I found out that hostels around Rio could be pretty expensive. In addition, I came to the conclusion that a hostel doesn't have the facilities needed for a person that trains twice a day. I also thought about renting a place in Rio, however without any local help I realized that it might take a while before I managed to find a good deal, and I didn't have much time to waste.

I heard about Airbnb as a good method of renting a place for short periods of time. I managed to find a pretty nice apartment through Airbnb which was 3 minutes walk from Equipe Fabricio Jiu Jitsu Academy. I paid for it 1500 US dollars (Including airbnb's commission and all the other expenses). It was an apartment suitable for 2 people, it included a working laundry machine (Very important if you are training a lot!) and a guard at the entrance. Note that it was a pretty fancy choice. You can probably find a cheaper apartment if you show up alone.

That said, I think this apartment was the best thing I could do with my money with respect to accommodation. It felt pretty safe (The building had a personal guard!), I could make my own food at the kitchen, clean my clothes using the laundry machine, and wake up 20 minutes before the morning training starts, without having to worry about being late. In addition, the beach was about 8 minutes of walk away. So, thank you airbnb :)

Equipe Fabricio Academy

Equipe Fabricio

Equipe Fabricio Jiu Jitsu Academy is located in the street of Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, number 1017. (See the map above) You can't really miss it, it has a super big plastic yellow window, and there are always some kimonos hanging from it.

It was founded by master Fabricio Martins, a 7th dan degree coral belt of BJJ. Fabricio Martins himself still teaches in this academy a couple of nights a week.

I don't know Fabricio Martins personally, but on my only meeting with him he appeared to be a really cool person. He went out of his way to shake my hand and welcome me to his academy.

I found about Equipe Fabricio Jiu Jitsu academy by searching the web (As mentioned above). It has a pretty active facebook page with daily pictures of training sessions and competition days. You can also find information about it at the trainbjjinrio website.

On my first day in Rio I went to the academy to find out where it is and check the training hours. Thinking about it now, it was probably a bad idea to just show up and not send a message to the academy ahead of time, but everything worked just fine. Everyone was very nice and friendly (As Brazilians always are :)). Despite my lousy Portuguese people at the academy were very patient and explained the training hours.

Training hours

(The training hours as written by the coach)

  • There are training sessions every morning at 7:00 at all days (Except Sunday).
  • At Tuesday and Thursday there is a training session at 6:00 in the morning.
  • At Monday, Wednesday and Friday there are training sessions at 10:30, 12:00 and 16:00.
  • There are training sessions every night at 18:00 and 19:30 (That's where master Fabricio Martins sometimes shows up).
  • At Saturday there is an open mat training session (Mostly fights) at 10:30 in the morning.

Generally, there is a training session going on at all times, except for when people sleep or eat lunch.

If I remember correctly it costs about 180 reals to train as much as you want for a whole month.

I showed up twice a day to the training of 7:00 in the morning and to the evening training of 18:00. The morning training session was mostly about basic techniques (Most of them were very new to me), and it also included lots of fights. It is usually 2 hours, sometimes a bit more.

At the evening training session of 18:00 you can meet some really tough fighters. Usually at least third of the participants were not from Brazil. I met there people from Chile, Argentina, Jordan, Belgium and more.


I was never given a brochure about etiquette when training BJJ in Brazil, but I did manage to infer some ideas from my stay in Rio, and generally from my experience on the mat. The following advice can help you keep your friends on the mat:

  1. Don't stink. Always wash your Gi (They call it Kimono in Rio) immediately after you finish training. If you plan to train more than once a day, bring more than one Gi. (I had three Gis with me). You can really stink if you use the same Gi for a few days without washing it. In addition, it endangers your health and your friends health. In addition, make sure to wash yourself immediately after training. Somewhat of a trivial advice, but it could be useful if nobody ever told you about it.

  2. Don't change your pants on the mat. There is a toilet room in every mat, and you should change your pants there. This one was not trivial for me. In my local club people don't really care where you change your pants, but then again, all of us are guys back home. On the other side, it seemed like changing your shirt on the mat is not a problem.

  3. Be careful with new opponents. If this is your first fight with an opponent you don't have experience with, start easy. Even if your opponent has a very high belt, he might have not trained for a long time, or maybe has recovered from an injury. You don't know, so start easy. As the fight progresses you can sense if you can use more power and speed. Generally, don't go crazy. Remember that there is another training at the evening :)

  4. Be on time. It seems like in Brazil being late is the usual thing. In many training sessions people only showed up 10 or 15 minutes after the training session has begun. However, I think that people will appreciate if you show up on time, especially if you are a guest in the academy. Being on time implicitly means that you appreciate other people's time, and the teacher's time. (It's just my opinion though. Maybe the guys there thought that there is something strange with me showing up on time...)

  5. Respect the teacher ('Professor' in Portuguese) of the dojo and people of higher rank. Even if you think you know some technique better, or you have a better idea about how to do something, make sure to try first what the teacher suggests.

The BJJ training

I have only trained in Equipe Fabricio Jiu Jitsu so my experiences mostly relate to that academy. I can only assume that training in other places in Rio are somewhat similar, though I can't know for sure.

The dojo was made of two rooms with mats. There were mats on the walls too, which means you can roll all the way without being afraid of the walls.

The room on the right is mostly for the younger ones, and the beginners. That said, you can find there many tough black belts that probably want to review their basics (Or just enjoy kicking your ass). The morning training of 07:00 every day happened there.

The room on the left usually hosted more advanced training sessions. The evening training session of 18:00 usually happened there.

The 07:00-09:00 morning training session

The training usually begins with a run around the mat, then some power exercises. Usually a lot of abdominal exercise. Next is some crawling on the mat. I don't know how is this called, but BJJ people have some really interesting techniques for crawling on their backs on the mat. The warmup part is usually about 20 minutes more or less.

Next comes the technique part. The coach explains some basic BJJ technique, like getting out of mount, getting out of a guard, a sweep or a basic Judo Uchi komi (Static practice of throwing techniques, usually without actually throwing).

Finally there are some fights. The coach pairs people on the mat together for fights. This is very different from my Judo club, where you have to be somewhat pushy to get a fight with a good opponent. Usually in every training session you get to have something like 3-6 fights. The fights put emphasis on correct technique, and less on great force.

Although many of the fights were pretty tough, my opponents always took care of me and made sure that I stayed alive and safe, which was pretty nice. I noticed that the higher the rank of my opponent, the smoother the fight was. The higher belts didn't use much force at all (Yet still managed to beat me every time).

Usually in every morning training session there was at least one fighter with a purple or higher belt, but in many cases there were even 2 or 3 black belt fighters.

The 18:00-19:30 evening training session

The evening training session is instructed by a different coach.

The training session begins with a warmup most of the times. (There were a few times where the training began immediately with fights). The warmup is usually a run around the mat, some power exercises (Mostly abdominals. Sometimes it was 400-600 reps) and some BJJ crawls on the mat.

Next comes the technique part. The techniques at the evening session were more advanced than the ones at the morning sessions. During my month in Rio, the techniques were mostly about fighting a standing person when you are on the ground. It was a real experience watching the coach demonstrating those techniques. He was really good.

Finally, there are some fights. There are usually many people in the evening training session, so you get to do less fights, but you do get to watch some really good fights. In a usual training session I got to participate in about 3-4 fights.

In a usual evening training session almost everyone has at least a purple belt, and sometimes you will meet even 6 or 7 black belt fighters. Many of the people in this training session are not from Brazil, so you get to feel many different fighting techniques.

Main stuff that I have learned

I showed up knowing almost nothing about BJJ, and I learned a lot during one month of intensive training. Some of the main things I have learned and managed to apply in my fights:

  • How to get out of an opponent's guard, and how to do it without getting my hand broken.
  • How to pass an opponent's guard from standing.
  • Some techniques for getting out of an opponent's mount.
  • Never give your back.
  • Some Judo throws can put you into a trap when applied in a BJJ fight.

Comparison to Judo

From my experience, A BJJ fight doesn't feel like a Judo fight at all. I will list here the main differences and similarity points that I have noticed:

  • You can stand both in Judo and BJJ. In Judo, you can finish your fight with a throw, however in BJJ a throw will only give you a few points (and a position advantage), however, it won't finish the fight. You still have to come up with some submission to finish the fight.

Another thing is the idea of "Pulling a guard". In BJJ it is allowed to jump over your opponent and catch him with the legs. In all my years of training Judo I have never even thought about doing this (I think that it is not allowed), but in BJJ this is the usual.

This has a very strange effect on how BJJ fighters fight. In competitions a BJJ fight will begin from standing. BJJ fighters usually don't stand high. They stand in some kind of a crouch, ready to jump over their opponent to grab a good position on the ground. Their crouch probably defends from a possible sudden guard pull of their opponent.

  • BJJ fighters don't spend much of their time learning Judo throws (Takedowns in BJJ language). This is somewhat dual to the fact that many Judo fighters don't spend much of their time learning newaza techniques. In a competitive Judo fight the referee will stop the ground work pretty quickly if nothing interesting happens. I heard that this is about to change, but probably it won't change too much.

  • More things are allowed on the ground in BJJ. You can pretty much make a bar out of anything. Leg bars and other strange bars are allowed. The fight never really stops. Your opponent can be standing while your are on the ground, and the fight will still continue.

Doing groundwork fights in Judo some time ago, I can recognize now many basic mistakes I was making. In the hope that these will be useful to other Judokas out there, I will list them here:

  • Some Judo fighters think that groundwork is just like standing, but on the knees. I was famous for this mistake. The two Judo fighters walk on their knees and try to "throw" each other on the mat. In BJJ experienced fighters sometimes start the fight on the opposite base: on their butt.

  • Using your back as defense. It is a common Judo groundwork technique to lay on your stomach and close yourself for defense. I think Judo fighters can get away with this just because the competition referee will usually stop the fight at this point. If you do this at a BJJ fight you will soon be in trouble. It is very hard to save yourself after you have given your back to your opponent. Giving your back to your opponent exposes you to all kinds of chokes and unfortunate things.

  • Trying to choke your opponent when you are inside his guard. Big mistake! It is very hard to choke someone when you are inside his guard. In addition, you put your arms in danger. You have to get out of the guard first. They have a saying in BJJ: Position before Submission. You have to get to a good position before you can go for the choke.

If you wonder how effective is Judo groundwork in a BJJ fight, I can give you my personal perspective. On my first days in Rio, except for a few real beginners, everyone on the mat would beat me. On my last days there I could manage to beat most blue belts on the mat, and have a decent fight with the purple belts. The brown and black belts had a level of technique that was way beyond anything I could handle :)


Generally, I didn't experience any serious injury. Many fights were intense, but it seemed like people really take care of each other. Most of the people didn't use too much force when finishing a submission.

I was told that it is a good practice to tap early, and I made sure to follow this advice. This practice helps you focus on technique and not on using force to escape submissions. It also lets your opponent have the experience of applying a technique successfully.

On my first week of training I had some cuts on my skin in a few fingers and toes, and also in both of my elbows. For a while it was pretty painful to sit on my knees because of the toe cuts. I made sure to cover all my cuts with tape.

I was worried that those cuts will get worse, but they somehow healed after the first week and never appeared again. My skin in those places became a bit tougher. I assume that those cuts happened because my skin in those places has not yet got used to the BJJ training.

I used mouthguard in some of the fights, mostly at the evening training, where fights could get tougher. I didn't use Earguards (but maybe that's because I still lack some knowledge about life).

Generally I was impressed that BJJ is a sport where you can train a lot and still stay alive if you are being reasonable with your training. I don't think I would have been able to do Judo the same amount of time per day and stay in one part.

That said, I did manage to meet some people on the BJJ mat that were taking it easy because of injuries they have. It's a martial art, after all, and injuries are probably inevitable part of the game.


I went to see one BJJ competition during my month in Rio (I didn't participate, though). It was a great experience.

The competition was divided over a few days, where each day was dedicated for different sets of belts and weight classes. I went to see the black belts competition day.

Outside the competition stadium there were some stands that sold cold Açaí and BJJ Kimonos. The entry was free for observers.

There were about 8 different mats with fights happening simultaneously. The mats were inside a big cage, most likely to stop the crazy crowd from stepping into the fights. Every fighter came with his whole team, and the team members made sure to support their fighters very loudly :)

The fights were very technical but still involved lots of speed and power. For most of the fights I understood very little of what I saw, but I could still appreciate the quality of the fights.

The whole event had a great vibe to it. Highly recommended.

BJJ Competition

(A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Competition)

The Portuguese language

Portuguese is the official language in Brazil. People in Brazil can sometimes understand some really basic English or Spanish, but don't count on it. That said, Brazilians (And Rio's Cariocas especially) are generally very friendly people and they will try to help you even if you don't speak a word in Portuguese.

I brought with me Pimsleur Brazilian Portuguese audio course together with an old MP3 player, and learned a bit every day. It really helped. If you know some English or Spanish, you can catch up the basics of Portuguese pretty quickly. My language is written from right to left. If I managed to learn some Portuguese you have no excuses.

Knowing even a little Portuguese can really help you with the daily logistics and also on the BJJ training sessions. On the very least, it shows people that you made some effort, so they can make their effort to meet you halfway.


When I told some of my friends that I am going to visit Brazil, I was immediately warned that Brazil could be a dangerous place. I have to admit that during my 2 months in Brazil nothing bad happened to me. On the contrary: The Brazilian people were very friendly.

I think that if you follow some general reasonable safety guidelines nothing bad should happen to you (At least not too often).

These are my main conclusions regarding safety in Rio, and generally in Brazil. I got most of these pieces of advice from locals.

  • Most of the people in Brazil are extremely friendly and helpful. Like in any other place in the world, there is a very small minority of people that might be dangerous for you.

  • Never walk with too much money in wallet. Have about enough for the day. If somebody ever tries to rob you, just give him the wallet. Don't fight for 100 reals, your life doesn't worth it.

  • Don't put all your money in one pocket. Split it between 2 or more, so that if you get robbed, you can still recover and buy a metro ticket back home. Another idea is to have two wallets. I usually walk with two wallets when I visit far places in the world.

  • Don't take your passport with you. Leave your passport at home / hostel / hotel, and take a copy with you instead. During my stay in Brazil I was only asked for my passport when moving to another major destination: In long term buses or Flights. You don't need your passport on the street.

  • Don't wear shiny valuables. I did see some of the locals wear valuables, so this might be an outdated advice, but still: If something is important to you, don't bring it to the street.

  • Don't walk with a big backpackers bag at the streets. A small simple backpack is ok.

  • Walk with comfortable shoes. Heels are not made to survive Rio's streets.

  • Beware of ATM scams. (Especially in GIG airport) Before you head to Brazil tell your credit card company that you are going to do so. If you can, come with two different international credit cards. Be alert when you go to withdraw cash from ATMs. Use only ATMs inside banks, prefer the ones that have a guard. Look closely at the ATM and make sure that it looks reasonable. Try to move the plastic where you enter your card, to make sure nothing was installed there. Cover the keypad with your other hand when you type in your PIN, to make sure it is not filmed.

  • Don't walk to strange places at night. Some places should not be visited even during the day.


Rio de Janeiro is a place that understands the needs of the BJJ fighter. You can find quality healthy food at reasonable prices. I don't eat meat so I can not share a first-hand experience of trying it, but people say that the meat in Brazil is pretty good.

I mostly ate at Kilo Restaurants. Those are restaurants where you choose whatever you want and you pay by the weight. I ate very often at Restaurante Temperarte in Rua Bolivar, where a big meal should cost about 40 reals. (It depends of course, on how much you eat). Most likely you can find a 30 reals big meal in a less fancy Kilo restaurant.

Food at Restaurante Temperarte

(Food at Restaurante Temperarte)

Another great feature of the Brazilian food are the fruit shakes, that are virtually everywhere. There is a fruit shake stand every 300 meters or so.

I really liked the Açaí. I think that I ate at least half a kilo of Açaí every day. You can get half a kilo for about 10-15 reals. When I came back home I tried to buy some frozen Açaí and make it with my own blender, but whatever I tried, it was never as good as the Açaí I ate in Rio.

Finally, there are the supermarkets. There are pretty big supermarkets in Rio. If you have a kitchen, you can buy some groceries and make your own food. It's probably the cheapest option for food in Rio.


I don't have much experience with BJJ gear, but I was told you shouldn't expect any great bargains for BJJ gear in Brazil. If you have stuff that you need on the mat, you should probably bring it with you.

I write here the list of stuff I brought (That is related to BJJ training). It might be different for you, but at least it could give you some ideas.

  • Two Gis. I brought two white Judo Gis, and bought a black BJJ Kimono at Equipe Fabricio's Academy. (About 350 reals) I learned why BJJ people love black so much: If your Gi is white, it will turn black after a while anyways from all the time spent on the mat. I think that three Gis is a good number if you want to train twice a day and show up with a clean dry Gi every time. You can do with less, but then you might show up with a dry dirty Gi or a clean wet Gi. (It's somewhat of a philosophical question what is worse).

  • Knee and elbow protectors. I think that I have used one of the elbow protectors for one training session, but that's all.

  • Tiger balm. I used it about once for my shoulder.

  • Traumeel ointment. It saved me once at home, so I took it with me to Rio. I used it a few times in the first week for an inflammation on my elbow, which happened because of an old Judo injury (Lots of Seoi Nage). The inflammation was gone, though I'm not sure if it's the ointment that made it happen.

  • Tape. Quality sport tape is hard to find where I live, so I assumed it might be rare in other parts of the world too. I brought two rolls. I didn't use much of the tape I brought, just a bit on the first two weeks. I don't know if you can find good sport tape in Rio.

My Gis, drying

(My Gis, drying)

I was planning to travel Brazil after my first month in Rio, so after my last training session I washed my clothes, packed everything into a box and sent it by mail back home. Gis can be pretty heavy and I didn't want them on my back for another month. It cost about 400 reals to send the three Gis (And some other stuff) back home. The package arrived after about one month.

Gis Package

(This package has arrived after about one month)

Stuff to do in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a great city.

One of the things I liked the most about Rio is the people: The Cariocas. Most people in Rio are very warm and expressive. I lost my way more than once in Rio and people went out of their way to help me, despite my poor Portuguese. The people in Rio generally seem to be pretty happy and easy going. Nobody is in a hurry. Everyone is a bit late, but nobody is really worried about it.

Almost everyone walk in Havaianas with a great skill, even on the rough street floors (I tried to do it myself, but I think I was not born with the required skill). During the day you can see many people with their swimsuit on, and it seems like there are always people at the beach.

There is a high awareness for health and sport, or at least this is what it feels like. There are many shops for healthy food, and many people on the street look very fit. There are trails near the beach for runners and bike riders, and people are using them during all the times of the day. It is also pretty hard to ignore all the martial art academies signs on the streets, and the street commercials for UFC fights.

I collected here some of the places I enjoyed visiting in Rio:

  • The beach. Rio is famous for its beaches, and rightly so. I visited the beach of Copacabana and the beach of Ipanema. Both are really nice. You can get a chair for the whole day for about 5 reals. The sun is good and the people are beautiful. Don't miss it.

  • The Corcovado mountain, and the statue of Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor in portuguese). It's a pretty high mountain that has the statue of Jesus with his hands to the sides. The statue itself is pretty big. There is a train that takes you to the top of the mountain, and you can see all of Rio from above. On the way up you can buy small status of Jesus that glow in the dark. At the top you can also see many tourists that try to take a selfie picture with Jesus Christ. If only Jesus had known...

  • The Sugarloaf mountain is another very high mountain next to sea. You get to see a beautiful view of Rio and to buy Açaí at the top. I have also seen some small monkeys at the top.

  • The Hippie fair in Rio. It is open every Sunday. This is a pretty large market that is made of many booths. You can buy there all kinds of Brazilian souvenirs, jewelery and art. Above all I recommend the cakes sold on each of four sides of the market square.

  • Nossa Senhora de Copacabana street. This street is one of my favourites in Rio. It is a pretty long street, and it is pretty crowded most of the day. You can see there many people in swimsuits walking to the see, many shops and restaurants, and various booths that sell stuff. Equipe Fabricio Jiu Jitsu Academy is on this street too.

  • Rio's National Museum and the park around it. When I visited there they had some dinosaur skeletons and some mummies.

View from the way to the Corcovado

(View from the way to the Corcovado)


I mostly used the metro lines when travelling around. The metro doesn't cover a big part of Rio, but it does reach some interesting places. You can buy a metro ticket for about 3.5 reals for the whole day. If you use it a lot, consider getting a metro card and load it ahead of time. I don't think you get any discount for doing that, but it will save you the hassle of waiting at the line.

For anywhere that the metro doesn't reach, I took a taxi. Taxis in Rio are not so expensive. I remember one taxi ride that took about 30 minutes, and I ended up paying about 30 reals. Taxis in Rio use a counter to determine the final price of the drive, so make sure your driver uses a counter.

If you plan on using a taxi, I recommend checking out the 99taxis mobile app. It can help you connect with reliable taxi drivers. If you don't have internet connection, in most places it should not be too difficult to hail a taxi from the street. Before you get in, make sure that the driver has a counter and a taxi license. The Taxi license should be somewhere on the front, with his picture on it.

I haven't tried the buses, so I don't have much to say about them.



The currency used in Brazil is real. I think that Brazil is a bit more expensive to live in than most of its Spanish speaking neighbours.

These are my estimated costs if you plan on staying in Rio for BJJ training for one month.

  • Flight: Check how much it costs to fly to Rio from your country.

  • Accommodation: About $1000 - $1500 (US dollars) if you use airbnb to rent an apartment. You can find a cheaper apartment if you manage to rent directly from someone in Rio, but it will take you some more logistics.

  • Food: About 70-100 reals a day. It depends how much you eat out (And where). If you make all your food yourself, it will probably be even cheaper. Remember that if you train every day, you have to eat well.

  • BJJ training: About 180 reals for a month.

Simple math will give you a maximum cost of $2300 US dollars per month, without the flight.

Managing your money

Regarding managing your money in Rio: I mentioned in the safety part some safety tips about your money and ATMs. In addition, you should know that getting money out of ATMs in Rio could sometimes be a hard task.

My advice to you: Show up with two different international credit cards. I came with a Visa and a Mastercard. This is useful because if one of your cards does not work with some bank, your other card might work. Also, in case one of your credit cards will be cancelled by the credit card company (Due to some credit card fraud).

I managed to withdraw money from the following banks: Itaú, Santander and Bradesco. (All of them are somewhat red or orange). I never managed to withdraw money from any other bank. You might have a different experience.

Also be aware that the money runs out in most of the ATMs in Sunday, so be sure to withdraw enough money to survive the weekend.

Every withdraw from the ATMs has costed me some constant commission, so in every withdraw I took the maximum amount of money possible (800 reals).

I always paid with cash, but it seemed like the locals pay with credit card even for pretty cheap things, like a small meal at a cafe.

Final Notes

Training BJJ in Rio was one of my best martial art experiences ever. I learned a lot during this month and I already miss the people in Equipe Fabricio Jiu Jitsu Academy.

If you are not sure if it worth it, then let me tell you, it does. Buy the flight ticket and start rolling on the mat.